New study suggests bodybuilders more likely to be sexist

A new study by researchers at the University of Westminster suggests that muscly men may be significantly more likely to objectify, be hostile toward, and have sexist attitudes about women.

According to Viren Swarmi, the lead author on the study, “men who hold oppressive beliefs about women and gender equality are more likely to endorse traditional stereotypes of masculinity…  those oppressive beliefs directed at women also have an impact on men’s own body images, specifically their drive for muscularity.”

Here’s the scoop from LiveScience:

A group of 327 heterosexual British men filled out questionnaires for the study. Most were white, and 38.5 percent were single, 31.2 percent were in a dating relationship and 23.9 percent were married. (The rest fit into an “other” category.)

The surveys gauged participants’ desire for a more muscular body — for example, asking how often they think “I wish that I were more muscular” — and their attitudes toward women. Examples of items in the sexist beliefs portion of the survey included: “I feel that many times women flirt with men just to tease them or hurt them,” and “Intoxication among women is worse than intoxication among men.”

Those 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.

Though they didn’t study this directly, it is possible that the sexism and concentration on attaining muscle mass are both linked to increased consumption of mass media, Swarmi said: “It’s likely being driven by changes in the way the ideal male physique is portrayed in the mass media.”

It’s important to recognize here that correlation doesn’t imply causation. Are men with sexist attitudes simply more likely to have a desire for muscularity? Or is it the other way around, is there something about the culture of bodybuilding that instigates sexist attitudes?

Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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