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December 10, 2011 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Are sex offenders and lads’ mags using the same language?

The quotes used in the study at Jezebel.
posted by cmoj (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It worth reading the Jezebel link, although perhaps it should come with a trigger warning. I was able to differentiate quite a few -- and it should be said that some of the la mag quotes are about consensual, rough sex, so a lot of what is being proven here is that the general public cannot distinguish between rape and rough sex. But I'm also a writer and editor, and the lad mag stuff tends to sound written, whereas the words of the rapists tend to sound choppy and spoken, and that may have been a tipoff.

That being said, a few of the lad mag quotes are quite disturbing (and, weirdly, a few of the rapists quotes sound like they're discussing consent), and I think a case can still be made that there is an awful lot of misogyny in the pages of these magazines.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:18 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The research due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology also revealed that most men who took part in the study identified themselves more with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.

Well then, we don't need to worry about the pernicious effects of lad magazines, do we?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:19 PM on December 10, 2011


I found it pretty easy to distinguish these. The lad mags aren't using language of pure objectification, at least not from the Jezebel link: they're using language that suggests that, as subjects, sometimes women may enjoy to fantasize about being objectified. That certainly doesn't justify the language in the lad mags, but I'm not sure that ought to be our main objection.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:19 PM on December 10, 2011


I would expect that this is a valid conclusion but it seems like they should have included quotes from non-rapist men and from women as controls.
posted by XMLicious at 3:26 PM on December 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


There is indubitably all kinds of nasty stuff being written in these magazines, but these kinds of studies are pretty hard to take seriously. There is such an obvious potential selection bias at work here. It would be pretty easy to select quotes from sex offenders in order to arrive at whichever conclusions you wished. This is an important issue; I wish it weren't dealt with so poorly.
posted by ssg at 3:44 PM on December 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


After reading the questions, I did not find it hard (in my mind) to distinguish between what I thought were "rapist" comments and what I thought were "lad-mags" - the very obvious distinction seemed to be that the latter may have displayed rather bad sexist generalisations but seemed pretty clear about making "grey area" statements about consent - which is the difference between "obviously sexist" and "rapist" (It should be no big surprise that "lads-mags" are obviously sexist, even if that does not make them right).

However, in the interests an interesting post, I should say that at this point in I have not yet scrolled down to the answers, so I (a stereotypical white male straight cisgendered atheist man) will now do that and post my answers below...
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:46 PM on December 10, 2011


Apparently the quotes from rapists were taken from interviews done with them after they'd been convicted.

In that context they wouldn't gain much from trying to hide their rapist-ness, but even so, I'd expect them to downplay it. So if the resultant quotes are indistinguishable from magazine filler text--well, maybe the rapists did a good job.

If I'm concerned about the effects of legitimized sexist language, establishing that it's what rapists use and you don't want to sound like a rapist, do you? What the fuck, you DO? isn't my first choice for how to go about it. Rather, men who learn to talk this way are going to derail conversations from the get-go. That will make it very difficult for them to get around to the point of discussing consent, for instance.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


For a minute I read it as "Ladies Magazines" and thought this was some sort of anti-feminist diatribe or something. (Not that I particularly find Ladies Magazines particularly feminist)
posted by symbioid at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2011


> I have not yet scrolled down to the answers

Did you get #12 right? That's not even close to consensual rough sex.
posted by morganw at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2011


To be fair, the quotes from the lads magazines were taken from articles interviewing rapists.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:55 PM on December 10, 2011


Hmm. I find it a weird assumption that rapists would have a blanket, shared lexical set and phraseology that ought to make them easy to identify. It's the kind of belief that makes people disbelief a rape survivor just because his/her attacker doesn't have a history of slavering over young women while rubbing his greasy palms and opining that 'girls in mini skirts are asking for it'. I think the points the study makes about rape culture are correct and important, but the actual methodology is flawed, to say the least.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:03 PM on December 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Gnngh. *disbelieve
posted by RokkitNite at 4:03 PM on December 10, 2011


"I would expect that this is a valid conclusion but it seems like they should have included quotes from non-rapist men and from women as controls."

Try this one!

"Q: You like sex? You are a person who likes the sex acts that we are currently engaged in?
A: Yes! I am! I like sex!
Q: You like sex! In fact, you are a person who likes sex as much as a prostitute likes sex!
A: YES I LIKE SEXY SEX AS IF IT WERE MY PROFESSION!! TELL ME MORE ABOUT IT
Q: YOU ENJOY THIS ACT YOU SEXY SEX PERSON etc." (via)
posted by Blasdelb at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did you get #12 right? That's not even close to consensual rough sex.

"Smash" is English slang (remember, these quotes are all from the UK) for having sex; I kind of like the slightly more elaborate variation "to smash her patsy." So the sentence actually says "You do not want to be caught red-handed . . . go and have sex with her on a park bench. That used to be my trick." (I believe this particular gentleman is giving tips on cheating).
posted by alexoscar at 4:11 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"There is such an obvious potential selection bias at work here. It would be pretty easy to select quotes from sex offenders in order to arrive at whichever conclusions you wished."

Of course there is. These are hand-picked examples. The study isn't about 'how rapists sound like rapists, and hey, lads mags sound like rapists, too'. It's a perception study, showing how selected quotes from these two sources can be indistinguishable from each other in that they both promote rape culture. That is a huge problem.

"I find it a weird assumption that rapists would have a blanket, shared lexical set and phraseology that ought to make them easy to identify."

They don't and I don't think the article is saying that they do, or even making that assumption at all.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:14 PM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Typo alert: should "pasty."
posted by alexoscar at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2011


Aaandd now: my results. (switch tabs if you want to take the test yourself)
1. ladmag (actual:rapist)- ho hum, not a good start
2. rapist (actual: rapist)
3. ladmag (actual: ladmag)
4:ladmag - unless its a rapist with a big thing for literature - (actual: ladmag)
5. ladmag (actual:rapist)
6. ladmag (actual: ladmag)
7. rapist (actual: rapist)
8. rapist (actual: rapist)
9. couldn't decide - seemed fairly dodgy in terms of the first part, but at the same time there is little implication of no consent in his "real scenario" (actual:rapist)
10. rapist (actual: ladmag) - ok well that is just a dispicable comment, though in retrospect I was just resisting stereotypes by assuming rapists might use "frisson" in a sentence
11.rapist, though not exactly an uncommon sentiment among sexists... I can't believe such a stereotype would get into print (actual: rapist) -
12. rapist - seems very obvious, which as a hardened Internet guy makes me dubious (actual: ladmag) - right, ok - to be scrupulously fair I want to know what is in the [...] here, is it possible that there is a context that has consent edited out? - but, ugh.
13. rapist (actual: rapist)
14. rapist - but see comments on 11 (actual: rapist)
15. ladmag (actual: ladmag)
16. ladmag (actual: ladmag)

So, I got 12/16 by my count, most were clear, of those I did not get "right" and picked "ladmag" over "rapist" were sexist (though all of the comments made such dodgy generalisations that they were offensively sexist) but did not particularly address issues of consent. Those where I picked "rapist" when the answer was "ladmag" - well, yeah those comments were disgusting. (though, to be scrupulously fair neither explicitly condones rape.)

On preview - I agree with alexo that 12 is probably about cheating, but the problem is obviously that there is not enough context in the quote to establish clarity. I would be interested to see how the original article was presented.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2011


The study isn't about 'how rapists sound like rapists, and hey, lads mags sound like rapists, too'.

The lead researcher said: "there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist.”

That seems like a pretty unambiguous claim that "lad mags sound like rapists".
posted by ssg at 4:26 PM on December 10, 2011


"...there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist.”

That's a logically valid interpretation of that sentence clause when isolated from the rest of the quote that precedes it. When looked at in its full context, I think it's clear that that "unambiguous claim" is not the authors' point of the study or the article about it. Here is the full quote:

"These magazines support the legitimisation of sexist attitudes and behaviours and need to be more responsible about their portrayal of women, both in words and images. They give the appearance that sexism is acceptable and normal - when really it should be rejected and challenged. Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no, and there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist.”

I think this quote below is also important to highlight, as I think the study does a really good job of targeting the hypothesis through statistical analysis of the perception of quote source through reader judgments.

"Dr Miranda Horvath and Dr Peter Hegarty argue that the findings are consistent with the possibility that lads’ mags normalise hostile sexism, by making it seem more acceptable when its source is a popular magazine."
posted by iamkimiam at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wrote down my responses to these questions and was able to identify every quote from a rapist, though there was one quote I was on the fence about (no. 12) that turned out to be from a magazine.

Some of the magazine quotes were very much over the line, but I do wonder how they were chosen. If you go through a hundred issues of Flesh World and take out the top ten most sexist sentences, you're bound to find some really outrageous stuff that sounds rapey.

I'd like to know a lot more about the methodology.
posted by brina at 4:55 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that you, Dr. Wertham? Is this me?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:56 PM on December 10, 2011


Metafilter: YOU ENJOY THIS ACT YOU SEXY SEX PERSON.
posted by jquinby at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2011


Several of these 'lad mag' quotes (though not all) sound like they are from articles discussing power exchange in consensual settings, and well of course you can pull some really skeevy-sounding quotes from that kind of content. But the angle here is that women may enjoy being objectified, because they probably have forbidden fantasies about it -- not that they actually are objects. See: A girl may like anal sex because it makes her feel incredibly naughty and she likes feeling like a dirty slut. -- it's talking about her pleasure. Is it problematic to talk about domination and rape fantasies and how to derive enjoyment from them, if such fantasies are real, even common? Does this really 'normalize hostile sexism'? To me it feels like stripping these quotes from their context is unfair.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:44 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Never lose hope, be persistent and stubborn and never give up. There are many instances in history where apparent losers suddenly turn out to be winners unexpectedly, so you should never conclude all hope is lost."

"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
"
Above are two real quotes from two different real people. Can you tell which quote came from a capitalist and which came from a terrorist? Does this show that capitalist and terrorist use the same language? Does this support the possibility that capitalism supports the kind of persistence that terrorism relies upon? Is capitalism part of terror culture?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here are some more quotes;

"[He]... was devoted to such practices and even took to sleeping in the same bed with young, nubile women to test his "willpower"."

"His health went into a sudden and inexplicable decline about three years later, however, and along with it his sexual vitality."

"I want to tie you up"

"you know that's wrong because your body is his property, not yours"
Three come from a site we all love, one comes from the first Rape Erotica I could find online, can you tell the difference? Did I prove anything? If you're a young adult male, did you identify with any one them?

What if I provide your response in the setting of a moderately sized trial involving multiple people based to meet certain demographically characteristics. I don't, however, include a control, any sort of systematization or randomize anything other then the order the quotes are presented in. Does this qualify as a research study of Ask MetaFilter?

As much as I am not a fan of Maxim and their ilk, trying to draw conclusions about a politically unpopular group from out of context quotes creeps me out more than most of those quotes do, what if people accept this as sound analysis of lads mags and apply similar methods to analyze. . . I dunno. . . BDSM culture? homesexuality? protest movement leaders?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One final question that is not rhetorical, is this really what typically counts as scientific research in the field of psychology?
posted by midmarch snowman at 7:15 PM on December 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Three come from a site we all love, one comes from the first Rape Erotica I could find online, can you tell the difference? Did I prove anything? If you're a young adult male, did you identify with any one them?

Actually metafilter posters creep me out (the guy who posted on the green about how a woman would shoot pingpong balls out of her vagina comes to mind) on a fairly regular basis, and some actually make me feel unsafe as a female. So that's a crappy comparison.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:27 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I managed to get all of them right. And I think this comparison is bullshit.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:50 PM on December 10, 2011


When do we get to play the same game with "Religious tract or crazy murderer"?
posted by zog at 12:57 AM on December 11, 2011


midmarch snowman: Above are two real quotes from two different real people. Can you tell which quote came from a capitalist and which came from a terrorist?

Eh? That's not even close to being analogous to what was done in this study. I could get two quotes, one by Hitler, and one by Martin Luther King Jr., both talking about how they like breakfast and say LOOK, YOU CAN'T DISTINGUISH THEM. But if they were talking about the central thing they're known for - their respective views on the rights of minorities - you'd certainly be able to tell them about. "Perseverance" is not the central thing that terrorists and capitalists are known for, so you've concocted a bad example.

Rapists and lad mags are both known for how they treat sex. That's why the study is interesting. I won't say I agree with it; I haven't read it yet. But your example doesn't work.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:57 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got 16/16 but a couple were guesses. Basically the rapist-sounding ones are the rapists, and the sexist but not rapist-sounding, or else extremely over the top to get a rise out of people rapist-sounding ones are the lad mags. The study doesn't really prove anything IMO. It kind of reminds me of those Obama (or other leftist) or Hitler name-the-quote gotcha quizzes, it all comes down to selecting the right quotes.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 3:51 AM on December 11, 2011


Oops, should have read the whole thread before posting.

"Perseverance" is not the central thing that terrorists and capitalists are known for, so you've concocted a bad example.

Rapists and lad mags are both known for how they treat sex.


There's still plenty of reasons why the lad mag quotes could be misleading. For example, are the quotes taken from editorials? Is it plain from context that the magazine endorses the sentiments? Are they the words of the magazine staff or interviewees? Are they the words of real or fictional characters? And so on.

Likewise what was the basis for choosing rapist quotes? Were more extreme quotes left out to make it harder to tell them apart from the lad mags?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:03 AM on December 11, 2011


The only slightly bright spot in the study: when researchers randomly (and sometimes incorrectly) labelled the quotes as coming from either rapists or magazines, the men were more likely to identify with the ones allegedly drawn from mags. At least they didn't want to agree with rapists.

This is a hell of a spin to put on the fact that the lad's mags apparently have the power to make previously unacceptable statements acceptable. 'Oh, that was in a lad's mag and not said by a rapist? That's fine, yeah, I agree with that then!' Deeply disturbing...
posted by Dysk at 4:09 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


People fantasize about things they do not really want to actually do, including both raping and being raped. This is extremely common and has been documented for decades. Thus, any self-respecting "lad mag" that is trying to get it up will drift into some awful sounding territory.

Rapists do not want to be caught out. Thus, they will tend to moderate what they really feel when expressing it to outsiders.

Comparison is apples to mangoes. Useless.
posted by localroger at 7:33 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always asserted that, if published material is harmful to women, then lad mags are way more harmful than straight-up porn.

The just-kidding tone and implicit agreement to some fixed gender-split always struck me as way more hateful than a girl pretending to orgasm on camera.

Lad mags all seem to share what I call the "bad dog" syndrome: boys behaving badly and being congratulated for it. Their mothers thing they are great, their friend reinforce their bollocks psuedo-politics, and their girlfriends make excuses and give them blow-jobs. They do everything wrong and still get what they want; bad dogs.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:58 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I had no problem distinguishing the two, and frankly, I'm really concerned that so many of the respondents were unable to do so.

I'm torn on the quotes from the ladmags. On the one hand, I really hate the sexist generalizations and the "bitches love ..." vibe. And yes, there's a lot of wishful thinking there.

But on the other hand, I think it's great that, as Percussive Paul pointed out, many of these quotes actually are focused on maximizing the woman's pleasure. And there seems to be an implicit understanding of the ways sex-negativity and the Madonna-Whore complex act on our sexual psyches. Which is actually pretty great.

This is why i'm bothered that people couldn't tell the difference, because it shows a real lack of awareness of the many diverse ways that sexuality can be healthily expressed. For instance, this:
A girl may like anal sex because it makes her feel incredibly naughty and she likes feeling like a dirty slut. If this is the case, you can try all sorts of humiliating acts to help live out her filthy fantasy.
might seem distasteful to someone who is not familiar with the phenomenon of erotic humiliation. But for me it sounds like a really awesome Saturday night with a guy who is determined to make sure we both have a fantastic time.

On the other hand, this:
Some women are domineering, but I think it's more or less the man who should put his foot down. The man is supposed to be the man. If he acts the man, the woman won't be domineering.
is for-real objectifying in that it has nothing to do with what the woman actually wants and speaks to the fact that rape is often an aggressive, punitive act.

To me, these seem really obviously different.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 11:47 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Taking quotes out of context is what passes as publishable research these days? I think the word "social" in front of social sciences shares the same function as "special" in the special olympics...scratch that I actually respect people who participate in the latter.
posted by karmiolz at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2011


karmiolz, there's really no need to deride the social sciences as a whole because you find the methodology of this one study to be lacking. Unsurprisingly, it's not always the most rigorously-done studies that get the most attention in the mainstream media, it's the ones with a splashy title or surprising conclusion.
posted by rebel_rebel at 3:27 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Eh? That's not even close to being analogous to what was done in this study. I could get two quotes, one by Hitler..."

You're absolutely right, I was being absurd more so than logical. I guess if I had a logical point it would be, to me and my robot brain, no language really denotes a rapist unless it directly expresses a sentiment like "Hey, you know what I hate? Obtaining consent." I found the quotes by the rapists to exhibit hostile sexism, and I found most of the quotes by the lad mag to be offensively sexist in the context it was presented. But I came to that judgment based on their content not on their similarity. I think they demonstrated some similarities based on how people responded to the two sets of quotes but I think when you try to look for deeper significance based on that result your going to be buried in a murk of selection bias and unproven assumptions that you'd probably be better off just analyzing the lads mags' language by itself.

Also, wow thelastcamel, I searched the thread you've referenced. Don't drink and post people. Also don't piss off this guy.

PS. Is there something about speech patterns that makes 'lads mags' flow better in British speech, cause every time I read over a sentence it looks so awkward with the pluralizations.
posted by midmarch snowman at 8:45 PM on December 12, 2011


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