Of Lust and Love: A Cross-Cultural Study of Sex and Relationship Advice Articles in Women’s Magazines

Abstract

This study offers a cross-cultural comparison of sex and relationship advice columns in contemporary women’s magazines. This study aims to investigate the prevailing messages and values women’s magazines promote to their readers and the way they present such values in relation to the norms and values of each society. Sixty advice articles on sex and relationships (ten from each magazine) were obtained online from six home-grown English language women’s magazines from three different contexts, which are, Malaysia, the US, and two Middle Eastern countries (Egypt and the UAE). In addition to analyzing the data for themes which are foregrounded, messages that are either backgrounded or omitted were also analyzed as scholars such as Huckin state that information that is backgrounded or even omitted say as much about a text and its values as messages which are explicitly foregrounded. The findings from the study reveal that there is a clear connection between the production of texts and the society the texts are set in. The writers of these texts are aware of the social norms and values of their society as they try to reflect that in the texts. Finally, the study finds that in all three contexts, women appear as empowered but this empowerment is situated within a traditional framework of male–female roles and heterosexist relationships.

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Correspondence to Sharifah Nurul Huda Alkaff.

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Lulu, R.A., Alkaff, S.N.H. Of Lust and Love: A Cross-Cultural Study of Sex and Relationship Advice Articles in Women’s Magazines. Sexuality & Culture 22, 479–496 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-017-9479-x

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Keywords

  • Sexuality
  • Relationships
  • Culture
  • Media
  • Women’s magazines
  • Cross-culture