Men obsessed with muscle building are more likely to objectify women and have sexist attitude
towards them, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has claimed.
This sexism and objectification by men can lead to a more negative body image for women and can hinder them at workplace affecting their performance, said Dr Viren Swami, who led the study at the University of Westminster in the UK.
"We have previously found that men who hold stronger oppressive beliefs are more likely to think that thinner women are attractive," Prof Swami told LiveScience.
Not only does this perception impact women, "but we're also arguing that those oppressive beliefs directed at women also have an impact on men's own body images, specifically their drive for muscularity," Swami said.
For their study, Swami and his team asked a group of 327 heterosexual men to fill out questionnaires aimed at gauging their desire for a more muscular body and their attitudes toward women.
The men who showed more interest in being muscular were also more likely than others to score higher on sexist beliefs, hostility toward and objectification of women.
"We think men who hold oppressive beliefs about women and gender equality are also more likely to endorse traditional stereotypes of masculinity, which includes the muscular physique," Swami said.
"In addition, in societies where patriarchal structures are being challenged, some men may seek to reassert their masculinity by enhancing their physiques," he said.
For example, they might react to having a female boss by beefing up at the gym, Swami noted.
Though the researchers didn't study this directly, they said it's possible that sexism and concentration on attaining muscle mass are both linked to increased consumption of mass media. "It's likely being driven by changes in the way the ideal male physique is portrayed in the media," Swami said.
But that's probably not the only reason for the correlation. "It seems likely that the mass media play a role
in increasing levels of drive for muscularity we see in many contemporary societies, but we were interested in broader social influences," Swami said.
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