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Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to Women”? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample


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According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than sex objects over whom men should have complete control. Composite variables from the General Social Survey were used to test the hypothesis that pornography users would hold attitudes that were more supportive of gender nonegalitarianism than nonusers of pornography. Results did not support hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory. Pornography users held more egalitarian attitudes-toward women in positions of power, toward women working outside the home, and toward abortion-than nonusers of pornography. Further, pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory.
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Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to Women”?
Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian
Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American
Taylor Kohuta, Jodie L. Baera & Brendan Wattsb
a Department of Psychology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
b Department of Sociology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Published online: 25 Aug 2015.
To cite this article: Taylor Kohut, Jodie L. Baer & Brendan Watts (2015): Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to
Women”? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample, The
Journal of Sex Research, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1023427
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Is Pornography Really about ‘‘Making Hate to Women’’?
Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes
Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample
Taylor Kohut and Jodie L. Baer
Department of Psychology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Brendan Watts
Department of Sociology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of
women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than
sex objects over whom men should have complete control. Composite variables from the
General Social Survey were used to test the hypothesis that pornography users would hold
attitudes that were more supportive of gender nonegalitarianism than nonusers of pornogra-
phy. Results did not support hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory. Pornography
users held more egalitarian attitudestoward women in positions of power, toward women
working outside the home, and toward abortionthan nonusers of pornography. Further,
pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes
toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this
study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian
attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory.
Despite four decades of social scientific research on the
topic of pornography, many of the effects of the con-
sumption of sexually explicit material remain poorly
understood. During this time, debate concerning the
effects of exposure to pornography has been divisive.
Some clinicians, researchers, and social commentators
have adopted the view that pornography can improve
sexual functioning by providing frank sexual infor-
mation, reducing shame and anxiety associated with
sex, and invigorating libido (Kaplan, 1984; Robinson,
Manthei, Scheltema, Rich, & Koznar, 1999; Striar &
Bartlik, 1999; Wilson, 1978). In contrast, others have
cautioned that the use of such materials can be asso-
ciated with risky sexual behavior, poor mental health
and well-being, degraded relationship functioning,
and, of course, sexual aggression (Bechara et al., 2003;
Kingston, Malamuth, Fedoroff, & Marshall, 2009;
Weaver et al., 2011).
Much of the contemporary debate concerning the
potential harms of pornography use has historical
roots in the writing and theorizing of radical feminists.
According to this view, all (e.g., Brownmiller, 1975)or
almost all (e.g., Diamond, 1985; Longino, 1980) sexually
explicit materials present a distorted view of sexuality,
one in which women are depicted as ‘‘anonymous,
panting playthings, adult toys, dehumanized objects
to be used, abused, broken and discarded’’ (Brownmil-
ler, 1975, p. 394). Such characterizations of pornogra-
phy are not limited to the most extreme sexual fare,
as depictions of female nudes are still reductionist and
deny female sexual agency (Brownmiller, 1975); ‘‘as
the feminist critique of pornography asserts, at the core
of contemporary pornography is contempt for women.
One need not look at the most violent or sadomasochis-
tic pornography to reach this conclusion’’ (Dines,
Jensen, & Russo, 1997, p. 99). Those who adopt a radical
feminist perspective assume that exposure to pornogra-
phy denigrates women and increases acceptance of the
view that women are inferior to men, and that it is
appropriate for women to be subjugated, sexually and
otherwise, by their male partner(s) (Reiss, 1986; see,
for example, Brownmiller, 1975;Dworkin,1985; Longino,
1980; MacKinnon, 1986). It is clear from this line
of reasoning that pornography’s effects should be not
limited to the sexual subjugation of women alone, as
such theorists frequently state that ‘‘pornography’s
subordinating practices [contribute to] structures and
practices of inequality evident throughout society’’
We would like to specially thank Sara Handrigan for donating her
time to help with data preparation in the preliminary stages of this
Correspondence should be addressed to Taylor Kohut, Western
University, 7430 Social Science Centre, London, ON N6A 3K7,
Canada. E-mail:
JOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH, 0(0), 1–11, 2015
Copyright #The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
ISSN: 0022-4499 print=1559-8519 online
DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1023427
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(Russo, 1998, p. 149). Such conceptualizations of
pornography, both as a form of sexual discrimination
in and of itself and as a source of discriminatory and
subordinating attitudes and behaviors, have contributed
to attempts to promote gender equality by censoring
pornography in the United States (e.g., Dworkin &
McKinnon, 1988) and the European Union (QMI
Agency, 2013) and have successfully influenced the legal
definition of obscenity in Canada (e.g., R. v. Butler,
1992; see also McCormack, 1993).
More germane to the current discussion, tenets of
radical feminist theory have also informed a great deal
of empirical research concerning the connection between
pornography use and sexual objectification (Barak &
Fisher, 1997; Jansma, Linz, Mulac, & Imrich, 1997;
Kelley & Musialowski, 1986, as cited in Kelley, Dawson,
& Musialowski, 1989; Linz, Donnerstein, & Penrod,
1988; McKenzie-Mohr & Zanna, 1990; Peter &
Valkenburg, 2007,2009; Wright & Tokunaga, 2013),
and even more research concerning the impact of
pornography use on sexual assault (Allen, D’Alessio,
& Brezgel, 1995; Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, & Giery,
1995; Hald, Malamuth, & Yuen, 2010; Malamuth, Hald,
& Koss, 2012; Mundorf, D’Alessio, Allen, & Emmers-
Sommer, 2007). These research literatures are related
to the issue at focus, in that attitudes concerning gender
inequality are assumed to be the product of the
sexual objectification depicted in these materials (e.g.,
Brownmiller, 1975), and attitudes toward female subju-
gation are frequently theorized to both mediate and
moderate the link between pornography use and sexual
aggression (e.g., Malamuth et al., 2012). Unfortunately,
studies concerning the connections between porno-
graphy use, sexual objectification, and sexual assault
rarely assess attitudes toward gender equality specifi-
cally. Moreover, recent reviews of the literature concern-
ing pornography use and sexual assault have identified
important conceptual and methodological shortcomings
of research conducted in this area and have concluded
variously that pornography use either does not contri-
bute to sexual violence (Ferguson & Hartley, 2009)or
that it can but only within a limited portion of
pornography users who are predisposed toward sexual
aggression (Fisher, Kohut, Di Gioacchino, & Fedoroff,
2013; Kingston et al., 2009). With respect to such
research, it remains unclear if pornography use affects
attitudes toward gender inequality.
At present, comparatively little research has exam-
ined the impact of pornography use on the endorsement
of gender inequality directly. Of the available research,
a small number of studies have produced results that
are consistent with radical feminist theory. For instance,
laboratory research has shown that experimental
exposure to pornography can decrease support for the
women’s liberation movement (Zillmann & Bryant,
1982,1984). Furthermore, early survey research examin-
ing self-selected exposure to pornography has found
that men who consume more violent and degrading
pornography hold more traditional nonegalitarian atti-
tudes toward women (Garcia, 1986). More recently,
research with adolescents has suggested that pornogra-
phy use is associated with acceptance of less progressive
gender roles (i.e., greater endorsement of rigid gender
stereotypes) among women but not among men (Brown
& L’Engle, 2009). Finally, a recent experiment conduc-
ted with a stratified random sample of 18- to 30-year-
olds living in the second largest city of Denmark is also
relevant. Before random assignment to an experimental
task, which included exposure to nonviolent pornogra-
phy, an assessment of baseline characteristics found that
pornography use was associated with nonegalitarian
attitudes as well as hostile sexism among male users
of pornography but not among female users of porno-
graphy (Hald, Malamuth, & Lange, 2013).
In some respects, the baseline results presented by
Hald and colleagues (2013) appear to be relatively con-
clusive: They employed a representative sample; they
clearly assessed nonegalitarian attitudes; and the results
were not limited to the use of a subset of explicitly
violent or degrading material. At the same time, their
sampling strategy was limited to relatively young adults
and their sample size was relatively small (n¼200). And
even if we put those issues aside, their results stand
alone: No other comparable studies demonstrate
associations between more general (i.e., not specifically
violent or degrading) pornography use and nonegalitar-
ian attitudes; and most smaller-scale experimental and
nonexperimental studies have not found such connec-
tions (Malamuth, Addison, & Koss, 2000). Specifically,
experimental studies that have randomly assigned
participants to view either pornography or nonsexual
control stimuli have failed to find any impact of
pornography exposure on participants’ attitudes toward
gender inequality (Barak & Fisher, 1997; Barak, Fisher,
Belfry, & Lashambe, 1999; Fisher & Grenier, 1994; Linz
et al., 1988; Padgett, Brislin-Slu
¨tz, & Neal, 1989). In one
particularly telling study, researchers attempted to
manipulate sexual objectification in an experimental
setting by allowing participants to exert different
degrees of control over the presentation of pornographic
imagery (e.g., the option to zoom in on elements of the
picture to encourage reductionism; Barak & Fisher,
1997). This study found no impact of sexual objectifi-
cation on gender nonegalitarian attitudes. Similarly,
studies that have involved survey research among both
undergraduate students and nonstudent pornography
users have also failed to establish reliable correlations
between pornography use and nonegalitarian attitudes
toward women or support for equal rights (Davies, 1997;
´, Briere, & Lips, 1988; Garos, Beggan, Kluck, &
Easton, 2004; McKee, 2007; Padgett et al., 1989).
Taken together, it appears evidence that would
substantiate radical feminist theory concerning porno-
graphy’s role in maintaining structured inequality
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between men and women remains inconsistent. How-
ever, some of the research that refutes this position
has been conducted with relatively small samples
of self-selected undergraduate students or nonstudent
pornography users. For example, Padgett and collea-
gues (1989) employed a mere 66 participants in their
experimental study of the effects of pornography
exposure, which, while reasonably powered for large
effect sizes, is grossly underpowered for the small effect
sizes that are typically found in other studies involving
pornography exposure (see Allen, D’Alessio, & Brezgel,
1995; Allen, Emmers, et al., 1995; Hald et al., 2010;
Mundorf et al., 2007). As a point of comparison, in their
meta-analysis of the experimental effects of pornogra-
phy exposure on attitudes supportive of rape, Mundorf
and colleagues (2007) reported an average effect size of
r¼.15 (Cohen’s d¼.30) across 17 studies (N¼2,248).
Assuming a similar effect size for the experimental
impact of pornography exposure on nonegalitarian atti-
tudes, the power of the experimental study conducted by
Padgett and colleagues (1989) was only 33% (using
a one-tailed test at a¼.05). While the experimental
study found in Padgett and colleagues (1989) presents
a particularly egregious example, several other studies
with larger sample sizes are still arguably underpowered
for research conducted in this domain. As the conse-
quences of failing to detect anti-women effects of
pornography may have serious social ramifications, even
studies with 80% power—which is considered appro-
priate in other fields—are arguably underpowered
for this work, as they still have a 20% chance of failing
to detect the effects for which they are looking.
In addition, virtually all of the studies that have failed
to find associations between pornography use and none-
galitarian attitudes have purposefully sampled from
populations with restricted variability in the factors of
interest. Undergraduate university students are known
to have more egalitarian attitudes toward women than
those who have not attended university (Thornton,
Alwin, & Camburn, 1983), and the restricted range of
available responses provided by undergraduate research
participants may have attenuated associations between
attitudes toward women and pornography use among
such samples, potentially contributing to the null effects
previously reported in the literature (e.g., Barak et al.,
1999; Fisher & Grenier, 1994; Padgett et al., 1989).
Similarly, studies that have tried to increase their
generalizability by sampling consumers of pornography
have made comparable mistakes by excluding nonusers
from their samples (e.g., Davies, 1997; McKee, 2007;
Padgett et al., 1989). Examining the relationship bet-
ween increasing pornography use and gender nonegali-
tarian attitudes in this fashion reveals nothing about
the most relevant contrast: those who do not consume
pornography relative to those who do. If radical femin-
ist claims hold true, nonconsumers of pornography
should hold more egalitarian attitudes than consumers
of pornography, as they are not regularly inundated
with the messages of inequality found in pornographic
materials. As such, exclusion of nonpornography users
from such research may weaken the association between
pornography use and gender nonegalitarianism.
In short, the failure to find evidence that porno-
graphy use is associated with attitudes toward gender
inequality among many studies may simply reflect the
methodological shortcomings of research in this area,
which has been typically underpowered and has
employed sampling strategies that may have reduced
the magnitude of the associations that investigators were
trying to find. A more rigorous test of the relationship
between pornography use and attitudes toward gender
inequality requires a larger representative sample that
is not chosen in such a way as to reduce the range of
responses on the variables of interest.
In the face of inconsistent empirical evidence for their
position, several contemporary feminist voices continue
to assert the view that pornography trains men to deva-
lue women. According to Gail Dines, ‘‘Porn is the most
succinct and crisp deliverer of a woman-hating ideology.
While we have other places that encode such an
ideology, nowhere does it quite as well as porn, as this
delivers messages to men’s brain via the penis—a very
powerful method’’ (‘‘So You Think You Know,’’
2009, para. 25). If such claims have merit, we should
expect to find clear evidence that pornography users
report more gender nonegalitarian attitudes toward
women than nonusers (Reiss, 1986). Further, because
pornography is said to train men to be aggressors while
simultaneously training women to accept their fate as
victims (Dines et al., 1997; Leidholdt & Raymond,
1990), we should also expect to find evidence that
pornography use is associated with nonegalitarian
attitudes in both men and women.
The current study tested the view that pornography
use should be associated with nonegalitarian attitudes
within a large American sample by using the data
collected for the General Social Survey (GSS; Smith,
Marsden, Hout, & Kim, 2011), a long-running socio-
logical survey of the American public funded by the
Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation.
The General Social Survey has employed random
probability sampling to collect data every one to two
years since its inception in 1973, capturing responses
on a broad range of social issues and including
variables that assess personal pornography use as well
as attitudes that are relevant to gender equality. The
use of this data set avoids the limitations of previous
research by conducting high-powered tests on an appro-
priate sample, which consists of both pornography users
and nonusers of pornography.
To this end, all variables present in the GSS data
set that appeared to assess aspects of gender nonegali-
tarianism were reviewed for analysis. The first variable
that we considered was feminist identification. If
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pornography depicts women-hating ideology and contri-
butes to structured gender inequality throughout
society, then pornography users should be more likely
to adopt such views and should be less likely to identify
as feminists than nonusers, because feminists, regardless
of their theoretical orientation, reject gender inequality.
The GSS also contains questions that assess beliefs and
attitudes that are relevant to the endorsement or rejec-
tion of various campaigns that feminist movements have
waged against gender inequality—in particular, the right
to political representation and economic independence,
the promotion of reproductive autonomy, and the rejec-
tion of the ‘‘traditional’’ gendered division of work and
care (for a historical overview that includes a detailed
consideration of conflicts within feminist ideology, see
Evans, 1997). For the purposes of this study, evidence
of nonegalitarianism was operationalized as holding
negative attitudes toward women in positions of power,
women working outside the home, and women’s access
to abortion, as well as holding more positive attitudes
toward the traditional family, which were defined in
the GSS as family arrangements in which men work
and women raise children.
Data Source
The data for this study were drawn from the GSS
(Smith et al., 2011), a large-scale, random-probability,
personal interview survey that has been conducted in
the United States every one to two years since 1973.
Since 1975, each residence in the United States has
had an equal probability of being sampled, with adults
within each household also having an equal probability
of being interviewed. The interviews were typically
conducted face-to-face, though phone interviews were
employed when participants were unable to meet in
person. In an effort to reduce participant fatigue while
still including a large number of questions, the GSS
has contained a set of core questions that were asked
of everyone surveyed, but has also contained other
questions that were asked of only a portion of parti-
cipants or were asked only in certain years. Since
1973, the GSS has had a reasonable response rate,
ranging from 82% in 1993 to 70% in 2000. The data used
in this study were collected between 1975 and 2010.
Across all of the survey years used in the current
study, 10,946 American males and 14,101 American
females responded to questions concerning pornography
use in addition to questions concerning at least one of
the following sets of measures: feminist identification;
attitudes toward women in positions of power; attitudes
toward women working outside the home; attitudes
toward abortion; and attitudes toward the traditional
family. Of the total available participants, most were
married (53.94%; n¼13,511), White (82.58%; n¼
20,683), female (56.30%; n¼14,101), politically moder-
ate (38.90%; n¼9,001), Protestant (60.58%; n¼15,124),
and had a mean age of 45.37 (SD ¼17.59) years. Further
demographic information can be found in Table 1. The
actual number of participants used in each analysis
differed for each dependent variable that was examined,
as noted in the following section.
Pornography use. Pornography use was assessed by
asking participants if they had viewed an X-rated film in
the preceding year. Response categories were dichot-
omous (Yes=No). Across the entire sample of available
participants, 22.82% (n¼5,715) of participants indi-
cated that they had viewed a pornographic movie within
the past year. Recently published research using these
data suggests that the prevalence of pornography use
Table 1. Demographic Characteristics of the Sample
Category Proportion (%)
Female 56.30
Male 43.70
Caucasian 82.58
African American 13.29
Other 4.14
Marital status
Married 53.94
Never married 19.97
Divorced 12.48
Widowed 10.13
Separated 3.45
Political view
Moderate 35.94
Conservative 31.89
Liberal 24.56
Protestant 60.58
Catholic 24.54
None 9.70
Other 5.18
A rarely cited book by Ira Reiss (1986) presents similar analyses
using some of the same data from the GSS. In this work, he presents
five analyses that examine the associations between pornography use
and attitudes toward women holding positions of power (three items),
women working outside the home (one item), and women’s access to
abortion (one item) using single-item criterion variables between the
years 1973 and 1983 (p. 183). Our rationale and analyses were derived
independently from this work, and while our conclusions are very simi-
lar our study extends his work by examining a broader range of con-
structs, with multi-item criterion variables where possible, over a
larger span of time, using analyses that consider gender.
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has increased slightly since in the 1970s, and individual-
level analyses have indicated that pornography use
within this data set is correlated with being younger, less
religious, non-White, and holding more liberal attitudes
toward sexuality within both men and women (Wright,
2013; Wright, Bae, & Funk, 2013).
In recent years, the GSS has included a frequency
measure of online pornography use over the past 30
days. Unfortunately, this item has not been asked of
participants who responded to items about nonegalitar-
ian beliefs and attitudes, precluding its use in the current
study. Surveys conducted in 2000 and 2002 asked
a subset of participants to respond to both metrics of
pornography use. Of the participants who indicated that
they had not viewed an X-rated film in the previous year,
only 6.89% (n¼21) in 2000, and 7.14% (n¼10) in 2002,
indicated that they had accessed a pornographic Web
site in the previous 30 days.
Feminist identification. Feminist identification was
assessed with a single item that asked participants,
‘‘Do you think of yourself as a feminist or not?’’
Response options included Yes, a feminist; Don’t know;
and No, not a feminist. To clarify the interpretation,
Don’t know responses were dropped from the analysis
presented in this section, as only 46 participants selected
this option.
Data were available only for survey year
1996 (n¼923).
Women holding positions of power. Attitudes
toward women holding positions of political power were
assessed with three items: ‘‘Do you agree or disagree
with this statement: Women should take care of running
their homes and leave running the country up to men’’;
‘‘If your party nominated a woman for president, would
you vote for her if she were qualified for the job?’’; and
‘‘Tell me if you agree or disagree with this statement:
Most men are better suited emotionally for politics than
are most women.’’ All items had three response options,
either Agree=Not sure=Disagree or Yes=Don’t know=No.
Responses to these scales were averaged, with reverse-
coding where appropriate, to form an aggregate variable
that could range from 1 (indicating a positive view
toward women in politics) to 3 (indicating a negative
view toward women in politics) (M¼1.49; SD ¼0.65;
Cronbach’s a¼.70). Analyses concerning attitudes
toward women holding positions of power were
restricted to the survey years 1975, 1978, 1983, 1986,
and 1988 through 1998 (n¼11,151).
Working outside the home. Attitudes toward
women working outside the home were assessed with
seven items using 5-point Likert scales that ranged from
1(Strongly agree)to5(Strongly disagree). Example
items included: ‘‘All in all, family life suffers when the
woman has a full-time job’’; ‘‘A woman and her family
will all be happier if she goes out to work’’; and ‘‘Both
the husband and the wife should contribute to the
household income.’’ Responses to these seven items
were reverse-coded where appropriate, and averaged
to create an aggregate variable that could range
from 1 (indicating a positive attitude toward women
working outside the home) to 5 (indicating a negative
attitude toward women working outside the home)
(M¼2.85; SD ¼0.70; Cronbach’s a¼.70). Analyses
concerning attitudes toward women working outside
1994, and 2002 (n¼1,279).
Abortion. Attitudes toward abortion were assessed
with three items. These items asked participants if they
thought that it should be possible for a woman to obtain
a legal abortion under different circumstances, including
pregnancy as a result of rape, pregnancy when the
woman is unmarried and does not want to marry, and
abortion if the woman wants one for any reason.
Response options included Yes, I don’t know, and No.
Responses to these scales were averaged to create an
aggregate variable that could range from 1 (indicating
strong support for abortion) to 3 (indicating no support
for abortion) (M¼1.90; SD ¼0.76; Cronbach’s a¼.78).
Analyses concerning attitudes toward abortion were
restricted to the survey years 1978, 1980, 1983, 1984,
and 1987 through 2010 (n¼16,936).
Traditional family. Attitudes toward the traditional
family were investigated with 10 items that assessed the
extent to which participants believed the institution of
the traditional family either benefited or hindered its
members. To this end, participants were first provided
with the following definition of the traditional family:
‘‘In many married couples, women take the main
responsibility for the care of the home and children,
while men take the main responsibility for supporting
the family financially.’’ Participants were first asked
whether men, women, children, everyone, or no one
benefited from this arrangement. They were then subse-
quently asked if the same five groups were hurt by this
arrangement. Response options to these 10 items
included Yes, I don’t know,andNo. Responses to these
10 items were averaged, using reverse-coding where
appropriate, to create an aggregate variable that could
range from 1 (indicating a negative attitude toward the
traditional family) to 3 (indicating a positive attitude
toward the traditional family) (M¼2.3; SD ¼0.45;
Cronbach’s a¼.71). Analyses concerning attitudes toward
For a comprehensive defense of the use of this measure in the
Internet era, see Wright (2013).
Supplementary analyses were also conducted using multiple linear
regression, multinomial regression, and binary logistic regression (fol-
lowing arbitrary dichotomization of the variable) to determine whether
omitting these cases altered the conclusions of the test. None of the
results differed substantially from the analysis presented here.
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the traditional family were restricted to the survey year
1996 (n¼630).
Data Analysis
Because of the design of the GSS, not all participants
were asked all of the variables that make up the out-
comes of interest in this study. Consequently, it was
not possible in this case to conduct a multivariate analy-
sis of variance (MANOVA) to control for the inflated
Type 1 error that occurs when multiple statistical tests
are conducted. Instead, the current study employed
the use of five separate analyses, with appropriate
Bonferroni corrections.
First, the association between pornography use and
feminist identification was assessed using a 2 (porno-
graphy use versus no pornography use) 2 (male versus
female) binary logistic regression that regressed
pornography use, gender, and their interaction on
self-identification as feminist. In addition to feminist
identification, attitude toward the traditional family
was also assessed in one survey year only. Consequently,
this end point was examined with a 2 (pornography use
versus no pornography use) 2 (male versus female)
analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Finally, the three remaining end points (e.g., attitudes
toward women in positions of power, women working
outside the home, and abortion) were made up of
questions that were asked in more than one survey year.
As traditional nonegalitarian attitudes have decreased in
recent decades (Spence & Hahn, 1997; Thornton et al.,
1983), end points with data gathered over multiple years
of the survey were analyzed using separate 2 (pornogra-
phy use versus no pornography use) 2 (male versus
female) analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) that con-
trolled for the year of the survey.
To correct for inflated Type 1 error we employed
Bonferroni corrections (k¼5, a¼.05) to all of our
analyses, which conservatively adjusted the significance
threshold to p<.01. Each of the analyses described here
was also conducted with both weighted (adjusting for
the undersampling of adults living in multiple-adult
residences) and unweighted samples. The conclusions
reached from both sets of analyses were identical,
so the unweighted results are presented for the sake
of simplicity.
The binary regression of feminist identification on
pornography use, gender, and their interaction revealed
a significant effect for gender, b¼0.89, p<.05, but not
for pornography use, b¼0.30, n.s., and no significant
interaction between gender and pornography use,
b¼0.13, n.s. In this sample, men were 2.43 times more
likely to indicate that they were not feminists than
women were. In contrast, pornography use was not
related to identification as feminist (see Table 2).
The ANCOVA conducted on participants’ attitudes
toward women holding positions of power revealed
a significant main effect for pornography use, F(1,
11146) ¼110.31, p<.05, partial g
¼.01, and for year
of the survey, F(1, 11146) ¼468.80, p<.05, partial
¼.04, but not for gender, F(1, 11146) ¼6.64, n.s.
However, the pornography main effects were qualified
by a significant interaction between pornography use
and gender, F(1, 11146) ¼8.49, p<.05, partial g
Tests of simple main effects within gender adjusting
for survey year indicated that attitudes toward women
holding positions of power were actually more positive,
p<.001, Cohen’s d¼0.18, among men who reported
previous pornography use (M
¼1.40, SE ¼0.02)
than among men who did not (M
¼1.51, SE ¼0.01).
The effect of pornography use was even more pro-
nounced among women, p<.001, Cohen’s d¼0.31,
where those who reported previous pornography use
also reported more positive attitudes toward women in
power (M
¼1.32, SE ¼0.02) than those who did not
¼1.52, SE ¼0.01).
Attitudes toward women working outside the
home were analyzed with an ANCOVA, which found
significant main effects for gender, F(1, 1274) ¼32.16,
p<.05, partial g
¼.01, and for pornography use F(1,
1274) ¼16.92, p<.05, partial g
¼.03, but no significant
effect for year of the survey, F(1, 1274) ¼0.24, n.s., and
no significant interaction between gender and pornogra-
phy use, F(1, 1274) ¼2.10, n.s. In this sample, female
participants (M
¼2.69, SE ¼0.03) held less negative
attitudes toward women in the workplace than male
participants (M
¼2.94, SE ¼0.03). In contrast to rad-
ical feminist theory, those who had viewed pornography
within the past year also held less negative attitudes
Table 2. Measures of Gender Nonegalitarianism by Previous
Experience with Pornography and Gender
Pornography Users Nonusers
Men Women Men Women
Feminist identification
87.68 76.92 85.66 71.09
Women holding positions of
1.40 1.32 1.51 1.52
Women working outside the
2.90 2.60 2.99 2.80
1.74 1.77 1.90 1.95
Traditional family
2.27 2.33 2.33 2.30
Percentage of No, not a feminist responses.
Means: scales ranged from 1 (Egalitarian responses)to3(Nonegalitar-
ian responses).
Means: scales ranged from 1 (Egalitarian responses)to5(Nonegalitar-
ian responses).
Significant gender difference, p<.05;
Significant difference between
pornography experience groups, p<.05;
Significant interaction
between pornography and gender, p<.05.
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toward women in the workplace (M
¼2.72, SE ¼
0.04) than those who had not viewed pornography
¼2.91, SE ¼0.02).
When attitudes toward abortion were subjected to
ANCOVA, a significant main effect for pornography
use was revealed, F(1, 16931) ¼240.79, p<.05, partial
¼.01, but no significant effects for gender, F(1, 923) ¼
4.07, n.s., for survey year, F(1, 923) ¼0.17, n.s., or for
the interaction between pornography use and gender,
F(1, 923) ¼1.71, n.s, were found. Once again, those who
had viewed a pornographic movie within the past year
actually held less negative attitudes toward abortion
¼1.73, SE ¼0.01) than those who had not viewed
a pornographic movie (M
¼1.95, SE ¼0.01).
When it came to the attitudes toward the traditional
family, the ANOVA failed to produce a significant main
effect for pornography use, F(1, 626) ¼0.04, n.s., or for
gender, F(1, 626) ¼0.14, n.s., and there was no signifi-
cant interaction between pornography use and gender,
F(1, 626) 1.18, n.s. Within both men and women, attitudes
toward the traditional family were generally positive and
were similar across those who had viewed pornography
within the previous year (men: M¼2.27, SE ¼0.05;
women: M¼2.33, SE ¼0.05), and those who had not
(men: M¼2.33, SE ¼0.03; women: M¼2.30, SE ¼0.03).
In contrast to radical feminist theory concerning the
impact of pornography on gender inequality, the current
study, using data collected by the General Social Survey,
found no support for the proposition that pornography
use is associated with holding attitudes supportive
of gender nonegalitarianism. Of the five high-powered
statistical tests conducted in this study, a total of three
tests indicated that individuals who had viewed a porno-
graphic film in the past year held more egalitarian
attitudes than those who had not—a pattern of results
that directly contradicts the predictions generated from
radical feminist theory. Of the remaining two tests,
neither was statistically significant. Taken together, the
results of this study fail to support the view that
pornography is an efficient deliverer of ‘‘women-hating
ideology’’ (‘‘So You Think You Know,’’ 2009).
Instead of demonstrating strong associations between
pornography use and support of nonegalitarianism,
if anything the current findings actually suggest weak
associations in the opposite direction. Compared to
nonusers, participants who reported viewing a porno-
graphic film in the previous year also reported more
positive attitudes toward women in positions of power,
less negative attitudes toward women in the workforce,
and less negative attitudes toward abortion—attitudinal
differences that suggest many pornography users may
be useful allies in the struggles that women face in
obtaining public office, economic independence (and
perhaps equal pay), and reproductive autonomy and
bodily integrity.
While unexpected from the perspective of radical
feminist theory, these results are consistent with a small
number of empirical studies that have also reported
positive associations between pornography use and egali-
tarian attitudes. For example, the current results are
similar to those reported by Baron (1990), who found that
state-by-state circulation rates of soft-core pornography
magazines in the United States were moderately
correlated (r¼.56) with state measures of gender equality.
One limitation of this work, pointed out by Baron himself,
is that the state-level association between pornography
accessibility and an index of gender equality cannot
directly inform our understanding of the individual-level
association between pornography consumption and
personally held attitudes toward women. However, unlike
Baron’s work, the current study demonstrated similar
associations on an individual level; individuals who had
consumed pornography within the past year held attitudes
that were more supportive of egalitarianism than those
who had not consumed pornography.
Similar results have also been reported by Padgett
and colleagues (1989), who found that a small sample
of male patrons of an adult movie theater held more
positive attitudes toward women on an aggregate mea-
sure, which included items assessing gender egalitarian
attitudes, than a sample of male university students,
who as a whole were assumed to have less experience
with pornography. The current study replicates and
extends this finding, by using cleaner operationalizations
of attitudes toward egalitarianism and employing a much
larger and more generalizable sample that does not
confound pornography nonuse with degree of education.
Consistent with the results concerning attitudes
toward abortion specifically, Tokunaga, Wright, and
McKinley (2014) recently reported that pornography
use predicted later attitudes toward abortion in a
nationally representative three-wave longitudinal data
set. While this pattern of results is not easily explained
by radical feminist theory, Tokunaga and colleagues
(2014) suggest that pornography may promote attitudes
toward abortion by activating scripts for sexual liberal-
ism (e.g., acceptance of premarital and extramarital sex).
Extending this argument, one reviewer of this article
suggested pornography users may support abortion so
that they can enjoy more recreational sex, free from
the consequences imposed by child rearing. The authors
caution against the wholesale endorsement of this view
as the effects we found are small, and neither this study
nor that of Tokunaga and colleagues (2014) found clear
evidence for generally positive attitudes toward abortion
among pornography users. Instead, the current study,
for example, found that attitudes toward abortion were
less negative among pornography users than nonusers,
but the mean for this group remained on the negative
side of ‘‘unsure.’’ Consequently, it does not appear
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to be reasonable to argue that pornography promotes
wide-scale support for abortion as an alternative
method of birth control on such evidence alone.
Importantly, however, the current results are also at
odds with those presented by Hald and colleagues
(2013), who recently found that gender nonegalitarian
attitudes as measured by the Attitudes Toward
Women Scale (Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1973) were
correlated with frequency of pornography use among
men but not among women. Before discussing the
discrepancy in the results found with male participants,
it is perhaps noteworthy to point out that neither study
found evidence consistent with the view that female
pornography users have more nonegalitarian attitudes
than nonusers. At the very least, the view that
pornography trains women to accept their subjugation
is not supported by either study.
Explaining why Hald et al. (2013) found that men
who used more pornography were less gender egali-
tarian while the results of the current study suggest the
opposite is no easy task. One simple possibility is that
differences between studies reflect cultural differences
between Denmark and the United States. Although
a systematic comparison of cultural differences between
these countries may be enlightening, this explanation is
not particularly satisfying, as no compelling rationale
is immediately apparent to us. Another possible
explanation lies in the different metrics of pornography
use and attitudes toward women used by both studies.
Arguably, the measures used by Hald et al. (2013)
(i.e., Pornography Consumption Questionnaire and
Attitudes Toward Women Scale) are more reliable
measures of the relevant constructs than the measures
used in the current study. However, this explanation
offers few reasons to expect that pornography use,
as measured in this study, should be associated with
more positive attitudes toward women in positions
of power, toward women in the workforce, and toward
abortion, all of which would presumably be attenuated
if the reliability was too low.
Perhaps a more compelling reason for the differences
in the results lies in sampling differences between the two
studies. While both studies solicited random samples
from a larger population, and both had similar response
rates, the GSS is a general sociological survey that
covers a broad range of social issues, while the study
by Hald and colleagues (2013) covered the more limited
domain of pornography use. While specific details about
the recruitment advertisements for Hald and colleagues’
(2013) study were not published, for ethical reasons
the researchers must have disclosed the nature of the
study—which included experimental exposure to porno-
graphic materials—before interested persons were asked
to give consent to participate. It has long been known
that individuals who volunteer for research involving
exposure to sexual materials differ from those who do
not on a number of dimensions (Saunders, Fisher,
Hewitt, & Clayton, 1985). Self-selection pressures were
likely much stronger in Hald et al.’s (2013) study than
the GSS study, which may have contributed to the dif-
ferential recruitment of individuals who seek to avoid
exposure to pornography (e.g., social conservatives,
religious conservatives, radical feminists). Arguably,
the samples obtained by the GSS are more likely to con-
tain individuals who were both less likely to consume
pornography as well as more likely to hold nonegalitar-
ian attitudes (e.g., Southern Baptists) than the sample
obtained by Hald and colleagues. Other things being
equal, the inclusion of such individuals would influence
the correlations between pornography use and gender
egalitarianism in the current study in a positive, rather
than negative, direction. Consequently, it appears
possible that discrepancies in the types of people who
volunteered for both studies may underlie some of the
difference between the results.
A related sampling issue is that both studies differed
considerably in the average age of participants; in Hald
et al. (2013), the mean age of participants was M¼24.52
(SD ¼3.74), while the mean age of the sample in the
current study was 45.37 (SD ¼17.59). As age is known
to be related to pornography use (Wright, 2013; Wright
et al., 2013), and there are known cohort differences in
attitudes toward gender equality (Spence & Hahn,
1997; Thornton et al., 1983), it is reasonable to ask if
the difference in the mean age of the samples may
explain different results between studies. Supplementary
post hoc analyses were done to explore this possibility
by including age as a moderator in our previous
analyses. The results clearly implicated age as a relevant
factor in these analyses, but the effects were not consist-
ent across tests. While it is difficult to summarize the
difference that age may have made between the studies,
two things were made apparent by this diversion.
First, where the associations existed, the strength of
relationships between age and gender nonegalitarian
attitudes (partial g
values for main effects ranged
from 0.02 to 0.04) were similar in magnitude to the
relationships between pornography use and gender
nonegalitarian attitudes (partial g
¼0.01 to 0.03).
Second, while we are not aware of any theoretical
arguments that incorporate a consideration of age into
radical feminist theorizing about pornography, we
would intuit that age should serve to reinforce nonegali-
tarian attitudes, as older persons will have a longer
history of exposure to the objectifying and woman-
hating ideology found in pornography than younger
persons. In no case was this apparent in our supplemen-
tary analyses; the inclusion of age either eliminated
significant main effects for pornography or moderated
them such that older pornography users were more
egalitarian than would be expected from main effects
for pornography use and age alone.
Putting discrepancies between studies aside for a
moment, it is also important to interpret the current
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findings in their proper context. First, it should be noted
that these effects are relatively small, suggesting that,
when other factors are controlled for (e.g., gender,
survey year), pornography use is only weakly associated
with less negative attitudes toward egalitarianism. Con-
sidering the large sample sizes involved in the analyses
reported in this study, these small effects, while statisti-
cally reliable, may have little real-world meaning. It is
also important to keep in mind that the design of this
study was correlational and not experimental in nature,
and consequently no cause-and-effect statements are
warranted or implied. Indeed, it seems more likely that
a common third variable may account for the associ-
ation between pornography use and egalitarian attitudes
toward women. For example, Baron (1990) previously
suggested that cultural differences in the endorsement
of free speech may explain the state-level association
between pornography use and egalitarian attitudes.
Although we could not determine if free-speech endorse-
ment explained our effects with the current data set,
we did run some additional supplementary post hoc
analyses to determine whether participants’ liberal
versus conservative political dispositions offered a suit-
able explanation. These supplementary analyses found
that while controlling for political disposition did reduce
the magnitude of the associations between pornography
use and egalitarian attitudes (partial g
ranged from
.007 to .009), it did not eliminate them altogether,
as the main effects remained statistically significant at
ap<.05 level. These results are consistent with the view
that recruitment characteristics partially account for our
findings but by no means explain them entirely.
Additional third variables (e.g., religious conservatism)
remain to be thoroughly investigated.
It may not be a coincidence that the analyses
concerning feminist identification and attitudes toward
the traditional family were not statistically significant.
Note that both analyses relied on data that were
collected in a single year from comparatively few parti-
cipants (n¼923 and n¼630, respectively). As a conse-
quence, these analyses may have been somewhat
underpowered. To further complicate matters, neither
analysis was a strong test of the association between
pornography use and nonegalitarianism. For example,
there are at least three feminist positions concerning
pornography’s appropriate role in society (McElroy,
1995): ‘‘pro-sex’’ feminism, which asserts that pornogra-
phy can be beneficial to women; liberal feminism, which
argues that free speech and women’s rights to bodily
autonomy need to be weighed against the possibility
that pornography may promote gender-subordinating
practices; and radical feminism, which adopts extreme
arguments about pornography’s effects on gender inequa-
lity. While we believe that the hypothesis concerning
feminist identification is still defensible—in that it tests
hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory—the
association is somewhat muddled, and potentially
reduced, by what it means to identify as feminist.
The analysis involving attitudes toward the tradi-
tional family is also somewhat problematic, in that the
term traditional family is semantically at odds with sexu-
ally liberal attitudes. While instructions in the General
Social Survey clearly defined the traditional family
as a specific work–care arrangement in heterosexual
relationships, the expression may have nonetheless
primed or activated liberal sexual attitudes among
pornography users (Wright, 2013; Wright et al., 2013),
reducing their support for traditional family—an effect
that would be in conflict with their general support for
gender inequality, if radical feminism was correct.
The results of the current study can also be reason-
ably criticized on methodological grounds, because the
survey items used in these analyses were not originally
designed to test this hypothesis. For example, the
wording of the pornography use item, which asked
participants if they had viewed an X-rated film in the
past year, employed somewhat antiquated language that
may not appropriately capture contemporary patterns
of pornography use. We tried to prevent a similar charge
from being leveled against the other variables used in
this study by limiting our analyses to items that had
a reasonably high degree of face validity and which
could be, where possible, combined with other related
items to create reliable multivariate indicators of the
constructs of interest.
Unfortunately, at the time that these analyses were
performed, only one item was available in the GSS that
assessed pornography use that could be used to test this
hypothesis. At the very least, this measure of pornography
use accorded reasonably well with a frequency measure
of online pornography use assessed in two samples in the
early 2000s. While one-item dichotomous assessments
of pornography use are far from ideal for reasons of
reliability, again it is not clear to us why such an assess-
ment would result in effects that are contrary to radical
feminist theory. If there is a compelling reason to expect
that people with an egalitarian disposition are more likely
to report consuming X-rated films than other porno-
graphic fare, or that X-rated films are more likely to
disseminate pro-egalitarian messages than other porno-
graphic media, then the generalizability of the current
results should be circumscribed appropriately. While these
possibilities seem unlikely to us, they remain empirical
questions that cannot be answered without further study.
In our view, the fact that the GSS was not designed to
test the hypothesis that pornography use is associated
with anti-woman attitudes is as much a boon as it is
a burden. Using the GSS data in this way undoubtedly
reduced the effects of self-selection bias that are
commonly found among other sexological surveys (see
Saunders et al., 1985) and likely occurred in Hald and
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colleagues’ (2013) experiment. Further, because we had
no involvement with the crafting of the survey items
or the implementation of the interviews, our own
research biases did not unduly influence the results.
Taken together with the past inconsistencies in the
research literature, and the differences in sample charac-
teristics between the current study and that conducted
by Hald et al. (2013), the current evidence, on balance,
appears to indicate that pornography use may not
be associated with nonegalitarian attitudes toward
women in the manner implied by radical feminist theory.
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... Studies have found that frequent and routine viewing of IP may reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, contribute to the formation of unhealthy and sexist views of women and sex, and augment sexually aggressive attitudes and behaviors [40,49,[87][88][89][90][91][92][93][94]. These views, however, are not unanimous [95,96], and some authors contest any direct connection between IP consumption and actual sexual violence [74,97] with the debate ongoing [98,99]. ...
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This theoretical review explores the possibility that the consumption of internet pornography (IP) represents a credible risk factor in the perpetration of aggression and violence against women. Sexual violence, abuse, and degradation of women is commonly depicted in mainstream heterosexual IP. Despite the violent tenor, the effect this material may have on beliefs, attitudes and behaviors is understudied, as are the reasons why violent and degrading IP is so widely viewed, enjoyed, and accepted. Both theory and empirical findings support the contention that depictions of violence in IP may contribute to real world aggression and violence against women, with two relevant spheres of inquiry proposed in this theoretical review. The first considers IP as a ‘zone of cultural exception’, in which the perpetration of violent and degrading acts against women are eroticized and celebrated, despite such behaviors being considered antisocial in wider society. It is suggested that this excepted status is enabled by the operation of the third person effect to negate the detrimental effects of IP. The second explores the objectification and dehumanization of women in IP and the use of moral disengagement by viewers to enable their disavowal of any harm in the depicted violence.
Pornography use is multidimensional, yet most studies of the topic use variable-oriented methods (e.g., frequency of use) that reduce the experience to a single dimension. In this study, we sought to identify different multidimensional patterns of pornography genre preferences among a sample of women (n = 206) and examine how those patterns are differentially associated with sexual experiences and beliefs examined in previous literature. Latent Class Analysis uncovered four patterns (or classes): Heterogeneous (39%), Traditionally Feminine (27%), Female Pleasure (23%) and Rough/violent (11%). Class membership was differentially predicted by prior sexual victimization, sexual esteem, and diverse sexual experiences while controlling for frequency of use. These findings suggest that genre preference could account for much of the mixed findings of prior work that measured pornography use with unidimensional approaches.
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The nineties saw the lifting of sanctions in South Africa which implied an influx of brands that needed appropriate spaces to advertise their wares. For this reason, and the virtual end of censorship, this was the ideal context for international men’s magazines to enter the South African market. Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy all started South African editions as the country transitioned into democracy, manifestly contributing to a globalising of the local, sexual imaginary. The origin story of each publication is told here as a documentation of the “Americanisation” of sex in nineties South Africa, meaning, the way sexual representation was standardised via print capitalism and a postfeminist ethos. The article investigates the ways in which these publications engaged with psycho-affective discourses of progress in order to further and normalise a nationalism caught between the dream of decolonisation and the reality of globalisation.
As middle and high school students consume and create their own pornography or use it as a form of violence perpetration known as image-based sexual abuse, school staff struggle to find appropriate responses to these issues. As pornography use becomes more prevalent, and discourse on sexual violence more public, pornography education could become a tool for preventing sexual violence and promoting sexual health. In response, we explored the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of PopPorn, a 4-module pornography and IBSA professional development training program in a sample of staff who work for Midwestern public schools (i.e., schools providing free public education funded by tax dollars and maintained by local government). Results indicate that the majority of staff perceive student pornography use and IBSA perpetration to be critical problems that negatively impact school climate. Results also indicate that the PopPorn brief intervention increases staff knowledge of and efficacy in addressing pornography and IBSA-related problems and reduces harmful sexual double standard attitudes that have been linked to victim blaming in instances of sexual violence. This promising pro- gram adds to a growing number of media and pornography literacy interventions aimed at improving sexual violence prevention and response.
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Youth encounters with Internet pornography (IP) have led to global concern regarding the healthy sexual socialisation of youth. A growing body of critical research recognises young people as agentic political actors in their sexual socialisation with legitimate knowledge of their own experiences, and seeks to understand their perspectives alongside those of influential adults in their lives. Grounded in social constructionist thinking, my research extends this emerging body of knowledge. I investigate how key stakeholders (16-18-year-olds, caregivers, and educators) account for and discursively construct youth engagement with IP, and explore their perspectives on porn literacy education. The central premise of this scholarship is to determine how such knowledge might translate positively for young people through sexuality education that recognises their lived realities. Key stakeholders were recruited from nine schools across the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. A mixed-methods design was employed over sequential phases, comprising an online survey (N = 484), a Q-sort (N = 30), and semi-structured interviews (N = 24). Descriptive statistical analyses of the survey data provided a preliminary understanding of youth engagement with IP; a specialised software programme assisted with factor analysis for the Q-methodological study investigating perspectives towards porn literacy education; and interview data were analysed by means of a critical thematic analysis, drawing on a feminist discursive approach to sexual scripting theory. Key research findings are presented across four research articles and indicate that; (i) (gendered) youth engagement with IP is commonplace, and there are varied understandings between stakeholder groups and across genders as to why and how these encounters occur, (ii) youth take up agentic positions that suggest they are active, legitimate sexual citizens, and adults generally harbour concerns about recognising youth in this way, and (iii) the construction of childhood innocence dubiously positions youth as uncritical, ‘at risk’ viewers of IP. Accordingly, protectionist adult intervention is justified and conceptualised in accordance with this construction of youth. My research highlights dominant and alternative constructions about youth sexuality, and describes the synergies and discrepancies across key stakeholder perspectives about youth engagement with IP. Importantly, my findings suggest some youth engage with IP in a more nuanced manner than typically assumed. Through gaining a comprehensive understanding of stakeholders' perspectives, the findings of my research expand scholarly knowledge by providing practical inquiry into the potential of porn literacy as pedagogy.
This article describes theory and research on the effects of pornography and on gender differences in the consumption of such sexually explicit materials. The three major ideological/theoretical perspectives (Conservative/Moralist, Liberal, and Radical Feminist) that have particularly influenced the scientific research in this area are described and related research are summarized. An evolutionary-psychological theoretical perspective is also discussed and applied to understanding gender differences in attraction to and consumption of pornography.
Most pornography research has examined negative consequences of use among heterosexual men. Scant research has explored the benefits of using pornography among women, though research does indicate several potential benefits, including increased sexual self-esteem, sexual knowledge, and sexual communication. Research suggests that women may maximize these benefits when they perceive pornography to be authentic. To more fully understand the importance and perceptions of authenticity in pornography, we analyzed qualitative interviews with 24 women in the U.S. who reported recent pornography use. Ages ranged from 22 to 53 (M = 30.33, SD = 6.91), 62.5% were white, and most (79.2%) reported a sexual identity other than heterosexual. Thematic analyses indicated that authenticity was important for most women’s enjoyment of pornography, partially via its utility in reducing guilt and emotional labor (i.e., the work needed to enjoy or believe the content). Furthermore, women’s intersectional identities, such as race and sexual orientation, influenced their experiences of guilt and emotional labor. Finally, women determined authenticity within pornography in three primary ways: analyzing appearance, performance, and intimacy. Results suggest research, clinical, and educational opportunities to support women’s sexual exploration and pleasure via engagement with pornography.
The present study addresses a neglected research question: does female masturbation moderate the association between pornography consumption during adolescence and sexual attitudes and behavior in later life? We adopt a theoretical perspective derived from the sexual script approach: since masturbation triggers the activation of sexual scripts acquired through porn exposure, we expect the former to increase the latter's association with the adoption of permissive and recreational sexual scripts. In order to answer our research question, several regression models were applied to a sample of Italian women. The random survey sample used here ensures that findings have greater generalizability than many previous studies on pornography. The empirical evidence is in line with expectations, indicating that masturbation plays an activating role in the association between underage porn consumption and the adoption of permissive and recreational sexual scripts in later life: this association is stronger among women who masturbated than among those who did not. The paper ends with a discussion of whether the shift towards these kinds of scripts can be seen as an improvement for female sexual agency and pleasure.
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This experimental study tested whether exposure to female centerfold images causes young adult males to believe more strongly in a set of beliefs clinical psychologist Gary Brooks terms “the centerfold syndrome.” The centerfold syndrome consists of five beliefs: voyeurism, sexual reductionism, masculinity validation, trophyism, and nonrelational sex. Past exposure to objectifying media was positively correlated with all five centerfold syndrome beliefs. Recent exposure to centerfolds interacted with past exposure to predict three of the five centerfold syndrome beliefs. Recent exposure to centerfolds had immediate strengthening effects on the sexual reductionism, masculinity validation, and nonrelational sex beliefs of males who view objectifying media less frequently. These effects persisted for approximately 48 hours.
Consider for a moment the precept regarding sex that has in the past dominated in our society and still prevails today. In childhood and adolescence an individual should know nothing about sex, should have no interest in sex, and certainly should have no experience with sex. When the individual becomes an adult and marries (typically sometime during the decade between ages 18 and 27), an official representative of the society will issue a permit and utter an incantation at a ritual, the individual will go with a partner to a private chamber, and, without even a perfunctory education in the mysteries, will become a fully and adequately functioning sexual being from that point on.
The findings of research on the effects of massive exposure to sexually explicit films are discussed in this chapter. First, a two-component model of erotica effects on motivated aggressive behavior is presented and applied to available research data. Second, the model is expanded to incorporate changes in the response to erotica that result from repeated exposure. In particular, excitatory habituation and changes in the hedonic reaction are traced. Third, the methodology employed in the massive-exposure work is summarized, and the research findings are reported. Effects on habituation and valence are detailed. The modification of aggressive behavior that is mediated by these effects is explored and related to the two-component model. Finally, numerous nontransitory effects of massive exposure to pornography on the perception of sexuality and on sex-related dispositions are reported. Among them are those concerning uncommon sexual practices, sexual callousness toward women, and the punitive treatment of rape.
The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that exposure to nonviolent pornography would prime a heterosexuality subschema in gender schematic males and thus lead these males to view and treat a woman as a sexual object. In a 2 × 2 design, 60 male subjects, half gender schematic and half gender aschematic, watched either a pornographic or a control video prior to being interviewed by a female research assistant. Although she was blind to condition, the female experimenter found the gender schematic males who had viewed the pornographic video to be significantly more sexually motivated than subjects in the three other conditions. Further, in the first minute of a free recall task given after the interview, 72% of the information recalled by this group of males concerned the physical features of the female experimenter, as compared with 49% for the males in the other conditions. The implications of these findings for real-world settings are discussed.
There are limited hemodynamic data in women with arousal or orgasmic disorders and even fewer normative control hemodynamic data in women without sexual dysfunction. In addition, there is limited experience with topical vasoactive agents (used to maximize genital smooth muscle relaxation) applied to the external genitalia during hemodynamic evaluations. The aim of this study was to report duplex Doppler ultrasound clitoral cavernosal arterial changes before and after topical PGE-1 (Alprostadil) administration in control women and in patients with arousal and orgasmic sexual disorders. We found that women with sexual arousal and orgasmic disorders had significantly (p