Of rapists and Lad’s Mags

So, this is interesting & has been doing the rounds on Facebook: Can You Tell The Difference Between A Men’s Magazine And A Rapist?

I think ‘Lad’s Mags’ are awful tripe which perpetuate objectification & emotional stuntedness, but I am dubious about the headline claim that the two are indistinguishable. As Ben Goldacre teaches us, it’s always important to be sceptical of a news story based on a press release, rather than the study itself – in this case the actual number crunching and stats are opaque, we’re only told that the subjects could differentiate little better than chance. It’s also quite a leap from two or three sentence quotes (again the selection of quotes is opaque, but presumably they were chosen for similarity rather than representativeness) to suggesting identical attitudes. A study where people observed an interview with a rapist and LM reader/writer would be very interesting, and I would guess that the average person could actually tell the difference.

Personally I was 100% right in telling the difference between the two. Not entirely sure what that says about me, but there are differences. The LM ones are appalling and crap, but also self-consciously over the top, whereas the rapist ones are much more sinister in their way and colder. It’s a provocative study, but I don’t think it justifies the interpretation being put on it.The more troubling finding is that men were more likely to identify with the rapist quotes than the LM ones. I guess that could partly be to do with the LM quotes being OTT, and it says some pretty dreadful things about LM, but it also suggests wider social attitudes and beliefs which align with the way rapists self-justify. That isn’t very surprising either, but it is a problem much wider and deeper than than ugly quotes in trashy magazines.

Update: More from Fantastic Nat – sample quote:

this is a bloody useful tool to make people remember that the public’s attitude to victims of rape totally fucking sucks, and that ‘othering’ rapists is pointless and futile. But it does not “show us that lad’s mags cause rape”. So please don’t say it does.

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