Skip to main content

An Analysis of Hyper-Masculinity in Magazine Advertisements

Abstract

Hyper-masculinity is a gender-based ideology of exaggerated beliefs about what it is to be a man. HM consists of four inter-related beliefs, namely toughness as emotional self-control, violence as manly, danger as exciting, and calloused attitudes toward women and sex (Zaitchik & Mosher 1993). Adherence to HM is linked to a host of social and health problems in North America, such as dangerous driving and violence toward women (Parrot & Zeichner 2003). Advertising is believed to play a role in constructing hyper-masculinity (Kilbourne 1999). In this study, eight U.S. men’s magazines published in 2007–2008, differentiated by readership age, education, and household income, were analyzed for hyper-masculine depictions in their advertisements. Using a behavioural checklist with good inter-rater reliability, it was found that 56 % (n = 295) of 527 advertisements depicted one or more hyper-masculine beliefs. Some magazines depicted at least one hyper-masculine belief in 90 % or more of advertisements. In addition, reader age, education, and income were all inversely related to the prevalence of hyper-masculine beliefs, with HM depictions presented more often in advertisements targeting young, less educated, and less affluent men. Implications of these findings for the well-being of men and society are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Akers, R. (1998). Social learning and social structure. A general theory of crime and deviance. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alaniz, M. L., & Wilkes, C. (1995). Reinterpreting Latino culture in the commodity form: The case of alcohol advertising in the Mexican American community. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 17, 430–451. doi:10.1177/07399863950174002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Allan, K., & Coltrane, S. (1996). Gender displaying television commercials: A comparative study of television commercials in the 1950s and the 1980s. Sex Roles, 35, 185–203. doi:10.1007/BF01433106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Allwood, M., & Bell, D. (2008). A preliminary examination of emotional and cognitive mediators in the relations between violence exposure and violent behaviors in youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 989–1007. doi:10.1002/jcop.20277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. National Institute of Mental Health. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Beale Spencer, M., Fegley, S., Harpalini, V., & Seaton, G. (2004). Understanding hypermasculinity in context: A theory-driven analysis of urban adolescent males’ coping responses. Research in Human Development, 1, 229–257. doi:10.1207/s15427617rhd0104_2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Brauer, J., & Tittle, C. (2012). Social learning and human reinforcement. Sociological Spectrum, 32, 157–177. doi:10.1080/02732173.2012.646160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Catlett, B. S., Toews, M. L., & Waliko, V. (2010). Men’s gendered constructions of intimate partner violence as predictors of court-mandated batterer treatment drop out. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 107–123. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9292-2.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender and Society, 19, 829–859. doi:10.1177/0891243205278639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Das, M. (2010). Gender role portrayals in Indian television ads. Sex Roles, 64, 208–222. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9750-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Dewey, M. E. (1983). Coefficients of agreement. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 487–489. doi:10.1192/bjp.143.5.487.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Donaldson, M. (1993). What is hegemonic masculinity? Theory and Society, 22, 643–657. doi:10.1007/BF00993540.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. El-Mouelhy, M. (2004). Violence against women: A public health problem. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 25, 289–303. doi:10.1023/B:JOPP.0000042393.90825.fc.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Fischgrund, B. N., Halkitis, P. N., & Carroll, R. A. (2012). Conceptions of hypermasculinity and mental health states in Gay and Bisexual men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 13, 123–135. doi:10.1037/a0024836.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fite, P., Wynn, P., Lochman, J., & Wells, K. (2009). The effect of neighbourhood disadvantage on proactive and reactive aggression. Journal of Community Psychology, 37, 542–546. doi:10.1002/jcop.20306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Furnham, A., & Mak, T. (1999). Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: A review and comparisons of 14 studies done on five continents over 25 years. Sex Roles, 40, 413–431. doi:10.1023/A:1018890719743.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Garst, J., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (1997). Advertising’s effects on men’s gender role attitudes. Sex Roles, 36, 551–572. doi:10.1023/A:1025661806947.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Gerami, S. (2003). Mullahs, martyrs, and men. Conceptualizing masculinity in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Men and Masculinities, 5, 257–274. doi:10.1177/1097184X02238526.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gerbner, G. (1966). On defining communication: Still another view. Journal of Communication, 16, 99–103. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1966.tb00021.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hammond, W. P. (2010). Psychosocial correlates of medical mistrust among African American men. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 87–106. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9280-6.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Hardin, M. (2002). Altering masculinities: The Spanish conquest and the evolution of the Latin American machismo. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 7, 1–22. doi:10.1023/A:1013050829597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hill, J. P., & Lynch, M. E. (1983). The intensification of gender-related role expectations during early adolescence. In J. Brooks-Gunn & A. C. Peterson (Eds.), Girls at puberty: Biological and psychosocial perspectives (pp. 201–228). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Jenson, J. M. (2007). Neighborhood and community effects on individual behavior and social functioning. Social Work Research, 31, 195–197. doi:10.1093/swr/31.4.195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Jhally, S. (Executive Producer & Director). (1999). Tough guise: Violence, media, and the crisis in masculinity [Motion picture].USA: Media Education Foundation.

  26. Katz, J. (1995). Advertising and the construction of violent white masculinity. In G. Dines & J. M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race, and class in media (pp. 133–141). Thousand Oaks: Sage University Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Katz, J. (2006). The macho paradox: Why some men hurt women and how all men can help. Naperville: Source Books.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kervin, D. (1990). Advertising masculinity: The representation of males in Esquire advertisements. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 14, 51–70. doi:10.1177/019685999001400106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kilbourne, J. (1999). Can’t buy my love. How advertising changes the way we think and feel. New York: Touchstone.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Klein, J. (2006). Cultural capital and high school bullies. How social inequality impacts school violence. Men and Masculinities, 9, 53–75. doi:10.1177/1097184X04271387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Krahe, B., & Fenske, I. (2002). Predicting aggressive driving behavior: The role of macho personality, age, and power of car. Aggressive Behavior, 28, 21–29. doi:10.1002/ab.90003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Krantz, G., & Garcia-Moreno, C. (2005). Violence against women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59, 818–821. doi:10.1136/jech.2004.022756.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Lackie, L., & DeMan, A. F. (1997). Correlates of sexual aggression among male university students. Sex Roles, 37, 451–457. doi:10.1023/A:1025613725757.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lombard, M., Snyder-Duch, J., & Bracken, C. C. (2002). Content analysis in mass communication: Assessment and reporting of intercoder reliability. Human Communication Research, 28, 587–604. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.2002.tb00826.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lukas, S. A. (2002). The Gender Ads Project. Created in 2002, South Lake Tahoe, California. Retrieved from http://www.genderads.com.

  36. Mankowski, E. S., & Maton, K. L. (2010). A community psychology of men and masculinity: Historical and conceptual review. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 73–86. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9288-y.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Markowitz, F. (2003). Socioeconomic disadvantage and violence: Recent research on culture and neighbourhood control as explanatory mechanisms. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 8, 145–154. doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(01)00059-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Mediamark Research and Intelligence. (2007). Magazine Audience Pocketpiece. Retrieved from http://www.gfkmri.com/.

  39. Mills, M. (2001). Challenging violence in schools: An issue of masculinities. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Morgan, M., & Shanahan, J. (2010). The state of cultivation. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 54, 337–355. doi:10.1080/08838151003735018.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Mosher, D. L., & Anderson, R. D. (1986). Macho personality, sexual aggression, and reactions to guided imagery of realistic rape. Journal of Research in Personality, 20, 77–94. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(86)90111-X.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Mosher, D. L., & Sirkin, M. (1984). Measuring a macho personality constellation. Journal of Research in Personality, 18, 150–163. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(84)90026-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Mosher, D. L., & Tomkins, S. S. (1988). Scripting the macho man: Hypermasculine socialization and enculteration. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 60–84. doi:10.1080/00224498809551445.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The content analysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Neuendorf, K. A. (2011). Content analysis-A methodological primer for gender research. Sex Roles, 64, 276–289. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9893-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Paek, H.-J., Nelson, M. R., & Vilela, A. M. (2010). Examination of gender-role portrayals in television advertising across seven countries. Sex Roles, 64, 192–207. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9850-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Parrot, D. J., & Zeichner, A. (2003). Effects of hypermasculinity on physical aggression against women. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 4, 70–78. doi:10.1037/1524-9220.4.1.70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Pyke, K. D. (1996). Class-based masculinities: The interdependence of gender, class, and interpersonal power. Gender and Society, 10, 527–549. doi:10.1177/089124396010005003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Rudy, R. M., Popova, L., & Linz, D. G. (2010). The context of current content analysis of gender roles: An introduction to a special issue. Sex Roles, 62, 705–720. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9807-1.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Saez, P. A., Casado, A., & Wade, J. C. (2009). Factors influencing masculinity ideology among Latino men. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 17, 116–128. doi:10.3149/jms.1702.116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Scharrer, E. (2001). Tough guys: The portrayal of hypermasculinity and aggression in televised police dramas. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 45, 615–634. doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4504_5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Signorielli, N. (1993). Mass media images and impact on health. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Smeaton, G., & Byrne, D. (1987). The effects of R-rated violence and erotica, individual differences, and victim characteristics on acquaintance rape proclivity. Journal of Research in Personality, 21, 171–184. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(87)90005-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Smiler, A. P. (2006). Conforming to masculine norms: Evidence for validity among adult men and women. Sex Roles, 54, 767–775. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9045-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Snethen, G., & Puymbroeck, M. (2008). Girls and physical aggression: Causes, trends, and intervention guided by social learning theory. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, 346–354. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2008.05.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Suarez-Al-Adam, M., Raffaelli, M., & O’Leary, A. (2000). Influence of abuse and partner hypermasculinity on the sexual behavior of Latinas. AIDS Education and Prevention, 12, 263–274. doi:10.1207/s15427617rhd0104_2.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. Watts, R. J. (2010). Advancing a community psychology of men. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 201–211. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9281-5.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Wells, S., Graham, K., Tremblay, P. F., & Magyarody, N. (2011). Not just the booze talking: Trait aggression and hypermasculinity distinguish perpetrators from victims of male barroom aggression. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 35, 1–8. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01375.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. White, P. G., & Gillett, J. (1994). Reading the muscular body: A critical decoding of advertisements in Flex magazine. Sociology of Sport Journal (SSJ), 11, 18–39.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Wilson, B. D. M., Harper, G. W., Hidalgo, M. A., Jamil, O. B., Torres, R. S., Fernandez, M. I., et al. (2010). Negotiating dominant masculine ideology: Strategies used by gay, bisexual, and questioning male adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 169–185. doi:10.1007/s10464-009-9291-3.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Zaitchik, M. C., & Mosher, D. L. (1993). Criminal justice implications of the macho personality constellation. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 20, 227–239. doi:10.1177/0093854893020003001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Megan Vokey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vokey, M., Tefft, B. & Tysiaczny, C. An Analysis of Hyper-Masculinity in Magazine Advertisements. Sex Roles 68, 562–576 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-013-0268-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Hyper-masculinity
  • Hypermasculinity
  • Advertisements
  • Gender
  • Media
  • Masculinity
  • Socio-economic status
  • Social-demographics