A recent article in Men’s Fitness magazine called “How to Turn a ‘No’ Into a ‘Yes’,” has attracted angry messages on Twitter from readers who argue this approach promotes men being sexually coercive. Research at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and the Department of Human Development at Washington State University shows why that’s true and why stories like this can promote sexual aggression.

In a study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence by researcher Stacey J.T. Hust, associate professor in WSU’s Murrow College, and her colleagues found exposure to men’s magazines, in addition to their acceptance of rape myths, was associated with college students’ intentions to be sexually coercive.

Kathleen Boyce Rodgers, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and co-author of the study, said, “Our results suggest that exposure to such content in men’s magazines may reinforce beliefs that sexual coercion is normative and acceptable.”

In another study published in the Journal of Sex Research, Hust and her team found exposure to men’s magazines was associated with participants’ lower intentions to ask their partners for sexual consent and lower intentions to adhere to their partners’ sexual consent decisions.

Taken together, these two studies may explain why avid readers of men’s magazines don’t find a problem with articles like “How to Turn a ‘No’ Into a ‘Yes,” Hust said.  “Media literacy interventions are needed to help men and women critique and resist magazine messages like this.”

Read the Journal of Sex research study (pdf)

Journal of Interpersonal Violence article (pdf)