Adolescent females' idolization of male media stars as a transition into sexuality

Rachel Karniol*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to test the contention that feminine media stars who are idolized by adolescent girls provide a "safe" target of romantic love in the period of time before girls start dating and become sexually active. Girls in heterogeneous 7th and 9th grade classes in an Israeli urban center responded to a questionnaire about media stars, attributed feminine characteristics to feminine, masculine, and neutral media stars, and answered questions about having and desiring a boyfriend. There were more consensual choices of feminine idols than of nonfeminine idols. Girls who have or want a boyfriend chose nonfeminine idols whereas girls who do not currently want a boyfriend chose feminine idols. Girls with a nonfeminine idol who want a boyfriend and girls with a feminine idol who do not want a boyfriend attributed greater femininity to masculine and neutral stars. Finally, girls who did not want a boyfriend and attributed feminine characteristics to movie stars evidenced more negative attitudes toward sex. Although the number of posters of both feminine and nonfeminine idols correlated with the amount of time spent talking about the idol, the less consensual the idol, the more time was spent talking about him. Girls with a nonfeminine idol who hang posters of their idol indicated greater excitement when thinking about the idol and more jealousy of their idol's real and on screen relations. The findings were interpreted in the context of "feeling norms" and the need to practice these norms on safe love-objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalSex Roles
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2001


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