A new study explores the relationship between television roles and gender/sexual discrimination against women.

As discussed in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, researchers assessed whether objectifying women in television can lead to harassment.

For the study, researchers conducted two experimental studies that used video materials of actual TV shows to investigate if TV exposure leads to harassing conduct.

The investigators, graduate student Silvia Galdi and psychologists Drs. Anne Maass and Mara Cadinu, discovered degrading TV portrayals of women can lead to both gender harassment and sexual-coercion intentions.

They also believe gender harassment is at least in part attributable to a shift in masculinity norms.

As such, the TV productions (and mass media) seem to create a normative context conducive to gender harassment.

“These conceptions go beyond harassment by men but involve society at large, including responsibilities of women and men to promote a different set of values,” the researchers stated.

However, while media may have influenced the development of an unequal or sexist environment, media can also use its power to remedy the situation.

“On a positive note then, the same TV programs can also promote a change in social and cultural norms, including those related to masculinity, which suggests that they can be used as means to reduce sexual harassment behavior and more generally to promote respect for women and men,” the researchers said.

Source: SAGE Publications