The Empowering (Super) Heroine? The Effects of Sexualized Female Characters in Superhero Films on Women

The Empowering (Super) Heroine? The Effects of Sexualized Female Characters in Superhero Films on... The present study was conducted with female undergraduates in the Midwestern region of U.S. to examine the potential positive and negative influences of the gendered depictions of women in superhero films. This study utilized social cognitive and objectification theory frameworks to experimentally examine the short-term effects of exposure to sexualized female characters in superhero films on 83 female viewers’ gender role beliefs, body esteem, and self-objectification. Results show that exposure to the sexualized-victim images of women in superhero films decreased egalitarian gender role beliefs. Exposure to the sexualized-heroine images resulted in lower body esteem. Additionally, a positive effect emerged with a greater belief in the importance of body competence to the self-concept for women who were exposed to the superheroine characters. This study demonstrates short-term effects from viewing sexualized images of women in superhero films and provides a significant understanding of how sexualized female representations may impact gender related beliefs as well as perceptions of one’s self-esteem and body objectification. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

The Empowering (Super) Heroine? The Effects of Sexualized Female Characters in Superhero Films on Women

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-015-0455-3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The present study was conducted with female undergraduates in the Midwestern region of U.S. to examine the potential positive and negative influences of the gendered depictions of women in superhero films. This study utilized social cognitive and objectification theory frameworks to experimentally examine the short-term effects of exposure to sexualized female characters in superhero films on 83 female viewers’ gender role beliefs, body esteem, and self-objectification. Results show that exposure to the sexualized-victim images of women in superhero films decreased egalitarian gender role beliefs. Exposure to the sexualized-heroine images resulted in lower body esteem. Additionally, a positive effect emerged with a greater belief in the importance of body competence to the self-concept for women who were exposed to the superheroine characters. This study demonstrates short-term effects from viewing sexualized images of women in superhero films and provides a significant understanding of how sexualized female representations may impact gender related beliefs as well as perceptions of one’s self-esteem and body objectification.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 11, 2015

References

  • The effects of the sexualization of female video game characters on gender stereotyping and female self-concept
    Behm-Morawitz, E; Mastro, D

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