Secret connections: Male collegial and professional contact sports, pornography, and violence against women

By January 24, 2023News
Secret connections: Male collegial and professional contact sports, pornography, and violence against women

A small but growing social scientific literature shows that misogyny and rape culture narratives are endemic to high revenue, contact male sports, such as ice hockey, football, and basketball (Sutton, 2022). These accounts not only influence players to engage in harmful patriarchal practices, but they also encourage rape myth acceptance in the general population, especially among frequent viewers of televised games. On-air sports are not solely responsible for creating disrespectful environments for women, but they are, nonetheless, highly influential. People who regularly watch National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) games are familiar with close-ups of scantily dressed cheerleaders, and such sexism and sexual objectification leads to problems uncovered by communications studies scholars Kathleen Custers and Jenna McNallie. They conducted an online survey of 465 undergraduate students enrolled at a large, midwestern U.S. university and found that increased television sports viewership is strongly related to hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, and sexual objectification. These factors, in turn, are intricately connected to rape myth acceptance (Custers & McNallie, 2017). Other researchers uncovered data showing that these four elements are major components of a rape-supportive culture that also consists of masculine gender roles, feminine gender roles, and adversarial sexual beliefs (Johnson & Johnson, 2021).

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