Additionally, the women who are exposed to these articles are more supportive of sexual behaviour that both empowers women and prioritizes their own sexual pleasure.
“When exposed to explicit textual messages about female sexual assertiveness in women’s magazines, readers regarded women’s capacity to experience and act on feelings of sexual desire more favourably,” study authors Janna L. Kim and L. Monique Ward wrote.
For the study, 150 women college students were randomly assigned to read articles from two popular magazines - one set of articles about women’s roles in sexual relationships and the other set about general entertainment unrelated to sexual relationships.
In addition to finding that the group of women exposed to the sex-related articles endorsed more risky sexual behaviour, the researchers found that white women in particular viewed premarital sex as less risky and endorsed taking on a more assertive sexual role than women of colour.
“Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women’s developing sexual identities,” the researchers added.
The study has been published in Psychology of Women Quarterly.