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Opponents and proponents of erotic representations (referred to hereafter as "pornography") have described the effects of pornography from their perspective. Little, however, has been done in the way of research to investigate these claims from the consumer's point of view. This especially has been so regarding the positive impact of such consumption on a person's sex life. Using a study group of 245 college students, we examined this question in a framework of scripting theory. We wanted to see whether viewing pornography appeared to expand sexual horizons through normalization and facilitate a willingness to explore new sexual behaviors and sexual relationships through empowerment. The data supported this viewpoint and further showed the effects to be mediated by gender and sexual preference identity. They suggested, however, that established scripts were extended rather than abandoned. We conclude with connections between our findings and the widespread viewing of pornography in contemporary society.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
Pornography, Normalization, and Empowerment
Martin S. Weinberg Colin J. Williams
Sibyl Kleiner Yasmiyn Irizarry
Received: 25 November 2008 / Revised: 13 November 2009 / Accepted: 13 November 2009 / Published online: 3 February 2010
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract Opponents and proponents of erotic representa-
tions (referred to hereafter as‘‘pornography’) have described
the effects of pornography from their perspective. Little,how-
ever, has been done in the way of research to investigate these
claims from the consumer’s point of view. This especially has
been so regarding the positive impact of such consumption on
a person’s sex life. Using a study group of 245 college stu-
dents, we examined this question in a framework of script-
ing theory. We wanted to see whether viewing pornography
appeared to expand sexual horizons through normalization
and facilitate a willingness to explore new sexual behaviors
and sexual relationshipsthrough empowerment. The data sup-
ported this viewpoint and further showed the effects to be
mediated by gender and sexual preference identity. They sug-
gested, however, that established scripts were extended rather
than abandoned. We conclude with connections between our
findings and the widespread viewing of pornography in con-
temporary society.
Keywords Pornography Sexual scripts Gender
Sexual preference Normalization Empowerment
Introduction
Pornography is intertwined in the sexualities of many people.
Althoughthe consumption of pornography in theUnited States
is difficult to measure, Rich (2001),has estimated that $10-$14
billion annually is earned from ‘video pornographyporn
networks and pay-per-view movies on cable and satellite,
Internet Web sites, in-room hotel movies, phone sex, sex toys
andmagazines.[P]ornography is a bigger business than
professional football, basketball and baseball put together.’
Rich goes on to point out that: ‘People pay more money for
pornography in America in a year than they do on movie tick-
ets, more than they do on all the performing arts combined’
(p. 462).
Despite pornography’s central place in American enter-
tainment, it still is the focus of great social controversy. On the
one hand, pornographic images have been attacked as a source
of social and moral evil and, on the other, have been defended
as contributing to sexual liberation. Attacks on pornography
come from both religious conservatives, who see pornography
as encouraging impersonal, casual sex, and from feminists
who claim that pornography makes the plight of women worse
by encouraging misogynist, sexist, and patriarchal attitudes.
This is seen as leading to the objectification of women, a loss
of respect for them, and to rape and violence against them
(Dworkin, 1981; Paul, 2005; Porn, Feminism, and the Meese
Report, 1987).
Although the attacks on pornography have centered on the
fear of its supposed negative effects, there has been little empir-
ical investigation of whether and how such effects may occur.
Moreover, when this has been attempted, results that do not sup-
port pornography’s negative image are often ignored or argued
away. For example, the in-depth research of the 1970 Com-
mission on Obscenity and Pornography showed no causal link
between pornography and violence (e.g., Goldstein, Kant, Judd,
M. S. Weinberg (&)S. Kleiner Y. Irizarry
Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 1020 E. Kirkwood
Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
e-mail: weinberm@indiana.edu
C. J. Williams
Department of Sociology, Indiana University-Purdue University
at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA
123
Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
DOI 10.1007/s10508-009-9592-5
Rice, & Green, 1971). Failure to find negative effects in the 1970
research was displeasing to those with an anti-pornography
agenda (Rubin, 1984), and for whom being anti-porn was part of
a wider conservative agenda. This shows how anti-pornography
sentiments do not necessarily rest on empirical evidence.
Rather, a negative effect is often believed to be the case whether
or not supporting evidence exists—especially if this fits a par-
ticular world view.
This can also be the case for those who take a liberal point
of view toward pornography. Defenders of pornography have
been firm in asserting the benign or positive effects of pornog-
raphy without strong empirical evidence to support their claims.
Other arguments that are common by defenders are directed at
the issue of censorship and the fact that the anti-pornography
focus is primarily ‘‘violent porn’’ and ‘‘child porn’’ rather than
what the majority of adults view (Klein, 2006). One interesting
change in the liberal view is the increasing support it receives
from feminists. Earlier (second wave) feminists were charac-
terized by their anti-pornography platform, but a generation
change has give rise to a‘third wave feminism’(Bailey, 1997)
in which female sexuality is re-interpreted as a means of self-
definition and expression (see Alfonso & Triglio, 1997). Thus,
Beggan and Allison (2002) characterize the movement as
‘‘expand(ing) the boundaries in which women are free to
express their sexuality’’ (p. 104)—which includes their con-
sumption of pornography (Chapkis, 1997;McElroy,1995). The
change is seen as ‘a method of empowerment for women’ to
control their own sexuality (Beggan & Allison, 2002, pp. 106–
107). These issues of boundaries and empowerment will be
considered later in this article. At this point, we note the emer-
gence of the claim that pornography is educational, that it allows
individuals to explore in a safe way new forms of sex (Barbour,
1995; Duncan & Donnelly, 1991; Duncan & Nicholson, 1991),
especially for women, whose sexual expression historically
has been discouraged (Palac, 1995; Tanenbaum, 2004; Tiefer,
2004).
It is difficult to discern a‘winner’in these battles. The tech-
nological revolution, particularly the Internet, has increased the
availability of pornographic images to more people than has
existed at any other time. At the same time, anti-pornography
forces have worked hard to pass laws to restrict the viewing of
pornography (especially child pornography). What remains true
is that there is insufficient empirical research on many of these
issues. The work done on mainstream pornography has usually
looked at its possible negative effects (for a review of this lit-
erature, see Davis & Bauserman, 1993). Little work has been
done on the supposed‘educational’’ effect as claimed by some
of the above commentators. Research on this topic would fit
neatly into one of the major schemas in sex research, ‘‘sexual
scripts,offeredbyGagnonandSimon(1973), which centers on
the acquisition of cognitive schemes that connect to sexual
desires and behaviors. Extant research illustrates the plausibility
of such an approach and provides a direction to follow. Some
studies suggest that while pornography use does not directly
increase sexual satisfaction (S
ˇtulhofer, Bus
ˇko, & Landripet,
2008), both men and women attribute positive influences to
pornography (Ciclitira, 2004; Hald & Malamuth, 2008;Loftus,
2002;Shaw,1999). These tend to be effects that represent a
qualitative broadening of sexual horizons, such as learning new
forms of sexual behavior or finding new resources for fantasy
construction (Tiefer, 2004). Several recent studies also replicate
older findings that pornography use is associated with quanti-
tatively greater levels of activities, such as masturbation, as well
as overall numbers of partners (Janghorbani, Lam, & The Youth
Sexuality Study Task Force, 2003; Laumann, Gagnon, Michael,
& Michaels, 1994;Lewin,1997; Traeen, Sorheim-Nielsen, &
Stigum, 2006), suggesting an expansion of sexual horizons.
Given pornography’s potential as a resource for exploring sexu-
ality (Attwood, 2005), greater attention to the correlates of por-
nography use is warranted.
Of course, we do not want to propose a simplistic model. The
effects of viewing pornography can be seen as wholly absent,
wholly negative, wholly positive, or a mixture of positive and
negative. Examples of these different points of view can be
found in Shaw (1999) for the putative effects on women and
Hardy (1998) for the putative effects on men. The movement
from exposure to pornography toward actual sexual experimen-
tation may be complex. For example, people who try out por-
nographic scenarios can end up feeling ridiculous (Morrison &
Tallack, 2005). The unrealistic portrayal of sexuality was also
noted by Paul (2005). In this article, we are concerned only with
examining any positive effects while also recognizing that a
person may feel it has had negative effects or no effects at all (cf.
Parvez, 2006).
Nor do we expect the effects of pornography viewing to be
uniform, but rather to be mediated by other variables (for one list
of such variables, see Hald & Malamuth, 2008). In the present
research, we will consider gender and sexual preference identity
as mediating variables.
Gender has been shown to be a consistent predictor of both
the consumption of pornography (Janghorbani et al., 2003)
and its effects (Hald & Malamuth, 2008). Gender has also
been shown to relate to the appeal of pornographic themes
with men on average preferring more hard-core and women,
more soft-core, themes (Hald, 2006; cf. Janssen, Carpenter,
& Graham, 2003). Compared to women, men have also been
shown to find pornography more sexually exciting and enhanc-
ing (Traeen, Spitznogle, & Beverfjord, 2004).
The second mediating variable, sexual preference iden-
tity, has been neglected in mainstream pornography research
(Morrison & Tallack, 2005). Yet, it is important as it allows for
a consideration of the effects of gender nonconformity on
sexuality. Thus, non-heterosexual people are freer from tra-
ditional gender roles; for example, non-heterosexual women
are less subject than heterosexual women to the expectationsof
‘ideal fem ininity’’ (cf. Gordon, 2002) and any double s tandard
1390 Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
123
attached to it. In this instance, it could mitigate the traditional
expectation that ‘good girls’’ do not show too much interest
in pornography or sexual variety (cf. Tanenbaum, 2004). More-
over, Stein (1997) described how younger lesbians in the 1990s
created a more sexualized lesbian subculture in which they did
not model themselves after the more sexually restricted lesbians
of the past. This led to more sexual experimentation, including
the increased use of pornography, which can help to explain the
adoption of more expansive sexual scripts (heralded in the les-
bian publication, On Our Backs) with a wider variety of sexual
acts and partners seen as appropriate (cf. Califia, 1980,1994).
Theoretical Considerations
As previously mentioned, the influence of pornography on
shaping sexuality can be conceptualized in terms of the devel-
opment of a person’s‘‘sexual scripts’’(Gagnon & Simon, 1973).
From this perspective, persons are engaged in defining situa-
tions as sexual through developing ‘organized cognitive [sex-
ual] schemas’’ (Gagnon, 1990, p. 6), which they have learned
and elaborated. Pornography is an important source through
which individuals can acquire or reinforce sexual scripts (for
one approach using script theory, see S
ˇtulhofer et al., 2008). It
can present appealing views of a variety of sexual behaviors as
well as portraying the pleasure possible from activities like oral
sex, anal sex, a variety of coital positions, etc. Nothing about this
process, however, is automatic. As Simon and Gagnon (1987,
p. 365) point out,‘‘Scenarios have to be tried on for confirmation
and possibly modified where stress or discomfort on either
interpersonal or intrapsychic levels is experienced.’’ In addition,
the scripting schema does not deal with the processes that are
involved in making a script‘work.’
We believe it is unassailable that the central function of
pornography is the creation or enhancement of sexual fantasy
and/or arousal. That is, it presents bodies, behaviors, and sit-
uations ina way that is intended to sexually inspire or excitethe
viewer, regardless of whether such bodies, behaviors, and
situations would be available or even desirable for the viewer
to experience in real life. Thus, the discussion of the social
utility of pornography centers on the acceptability of sexual
arousal and what it leads to. The question becomes: How does
pornography come to have a socializing effect on its viewers
through the development of sexual scripts?
We offer the following theoretical considerations on how
sexually explicit images could have a positive effect on a per-
son’s sexuality. Pornography can promote a ‘‘sensual slide’
from everyday life into an erotic reality through the erotic con-
struction of time, space, persons, and situations in sexual depic-
tions (Davis, 1983). It provides both the presentation of ideal-
ized bodies and the opportunities to visualize them in a variety of
sexual situations performing an abundance of sexual acts—
many of which could be considered to transgress mainstream
culture. Collectively, this expansive set of sexual possibili-
ties presented in pornography has been called a ‘‘pornotopia’
(Marcus, 1966; Peckham, 1969; Williams, 1999). One key to
porn’s popularity is a‘‘validation of the viewer’s vision of erotic
abundance’ (Klein, 2006, p. 138).
We consider two major processes as operative with regard
to the effects of viewing pornography. The first we refer to as
‘normalization.’’ The more frequently a person enters the
world of pornotopia, the more s/he will view a variety of sex-
ual behaviors as being normal. That is, what may have once
been seen as odd becomes viewed as a variation of normal
behavior—in this instance, ‘‘normal’’ sexual behavior (cf.
Rubington & Weinberg, 1996), which has a decreasing
capacity to shock or offend (for a different conceptualization
of this in terms of‘satiation,’’see Zillmann & Bryant, 1984).
The second process that the consumption of pornography
can promote is a sense of erotic empowerment, the ability not
only to create or alter sexual scripts but also a desire to act on
them. Thus, in the words of Palac (1995),‘‘Once I figured out
how to use porn and comemy life was irrevocably chan-
ged. For the first time in my life, I felt sexually autonomous’
(pp. 34–35). According to Klein (2006), the ‘‘paradigm of
pornography’s truths is what sex therapists try to get couplesto
understand[that] the keys to satisfying sexual relationships
are self-acceptance and self-empowerment’’(p. 137). Often
this is done by projecting oneself intothe scene as a participant
(Hardy, 1998; Loftus, 2002); hence, the strong association
between pornography and self-masturbation. Persons become
empowered by the fantasy of‘‘easy sex,’’ free from the real life
concerns such as anxieties over attractiveness, performance
and, especially, entangling relationships (see a description of
the parameters of‘‘easy sex’in Weinberg & Williams, 1975).
A feeling of such erotic empowerment also can transfer to a
person’s actual sex life. What is learned from the sexual scenes
experienced in pornography can give a person both the interest
in, and the confidence to experiment with, sexual behaviors
s/he had previously never tried. While we will examine such
effects in a positive framework,they can also be considered as
negative consequences (e.g., for adolescents and young adults,
see Zillmann, 2000).
We do not, however, see people as cultural dopes (Garfinkel,
1967). We do not believe that people indiscriminately and
automatically take on the behaviors they see in erotic repre-
sentations, but rather select those that fit in most easily with other
aspects of their social and sexual socialization (on the domes-
tication of pornography, see Juffer, 1998). For example, the
social location of our study group may well serve to limit the
degree to which pornography modifies their sexual lives. Thus,
we suggest that they may increase the variety of sexual behav-
iors they engage in by integrating them into their existing sexual
scripts without much damage to core aspects of such scripts.
Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401 1391
123
Research Questions
To summarize the above, we present the following research
questions:
Normalization question. Is the greater frequency of pornog-
raphy consumption associated with expanding the bound-
aries of what is considered acceptable sexual behavior?
Empowerment question. Is the greater frequency of pornog-
raphy consumption associated with engaging in a greater
variety of sexual behaviors and is it also associated with an
expansion of the boundaries of who would be considered an
acceptable sexual partner?
Gender question. Are the answers to the above questions
mediated by the gender of the consumer so that such effects
are more likelyto appear for one gender rather than another?
Sexual preference identity question. Are the answers to the
above questions mediated bythe sexual preference identity
of the consumerso that such effects are more likelyto appear
for one sexual preference identity than another?
Method
Participants
The data used for the research come from a study of students
at a midwestern state university. Although a study group of
college students limits the social class background and the
age range of participants, pornography use is more common
among younger adults and among those with greater education
(Buzzell, 2005). As the purpose of this study was to examine
how the use of sexually explicit materials was related to sexual
attitudes and behaviors, for our purposes it was desirable to
analyze the data from a study group that contained a higher
concentration of pornography users than would be found in the
general population.
Two data collections were conducted: In the first (labeled
‘the qua ntitative research’), we used closed-ended questions in
a self-administered questionnaire to discover whether associ-
ations existed between the frequency of viewing pornography
and the variables reflecting normalization and empowerment.
The study group was comprised of students who were recruited
from sociology courses containing 50 or more students. In the
initial phase of data collection, gathering a student study group
that containedat least as manywomen as men andrepresenteda
variety of sexual identities was of great concern because the
relationship between pornography and women’ssexuality, and
more so gay/lesbian/bisexual pornography use, have been lar-
gely ignored in prior empirical research (Plante, 2006). To aid
in the recruitment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual identified par-
ticipants, we described the research at meetings of such stu-
dents and sent announcements to university gay, lesbian, and
bisexual email distribution lists. All students were offered the
choice of either a $10 phone card or a $10 Starbucks gift cer-
tificate for their participation in the study.
Of the 172 participants in the study group obtained in these
ways, 101 were women and 71 were men. Sixty-nine women
identified themselves as heterosexual and 32 as non-hetero-
sexual (14 identified as lesbian and 18 as bisexual). Among the
men, 52 identified themselves as heterosexual and 19 as non-
heterosexual (16 identified as gay and 3 as bisexual). T he ages of
study participants ranged from 18 to 34 years with a mean of
21.3. Two-thirds of the persons in the study group were between
the ages of 18 and 22. Ethnically, 70% described themselves as
White, 6% Latino/Hispanic, 15% African American, and 10%
in some other way. Finally, using parental education as an indi-
cator of social class background, over half of both mothers and
fathers had a college degree. Although we found a greater pro-
portion of African Americans among the heterosexual women
and a slightly older average age for the non-heterosexual men,
these differences in social characteristics by gender and sexual
preference identity did not prove to be significantly related to the
responses given to the questions.
The second data collection (labeled‘‘the qualitative res earch’’)
was conducted several semesters after the firstone. We believe
that any study of the effects of pornography should include a
strong qualitative aspect in which the research participants
themselvesprovide their own interpretations of the experience
(see argumentsfor this by Attwood, 2005). Thus, we wanted to
see, in the participants own words, how viewing pornography
can relate to normalization and empowerment which, in turn,
can relate to one’s sexual life. We provided an open-endedques-
tionnaire to students in their classes to voluntarily and anony-
mously complete. This additional phase of data collection was
intended to obtain a more in-depth view of the putative effects
of viewing pornography from firsthand accounts of viewers. A
total of 73 students completed and returned these question-
naires. In order to keep the questionnaire short, gender and sex-
ual preference identity were the only demographics requested.
Of the 73 participants, 74% were women and 26% were men
(similar to the gender distribution in the classes). Ninety-three
percent of the women identified as heterosexual, 4% as lesbian,
and 6% as bisexual. Sixty-three percent of the men defined as
heterosexual, 21% as gay, 11% as bisexual, and one as queer.
Procedure
In the quantitative study, participants were interviewed by six
well trained undergraduate interviewers (three women and three
men) in a larger study covering a number of topics in addi-
tion to the topic of this article (Weinberg & Williams, 2005).
Participants were matched to an interviewer by gender, and
were asked whether they would rather be interviewed by a heter-
osexual or non-heterosexual person. Throughout the training,
1392 Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
123
pre-testing, and data collection stages, all interviews were care-
fully reviewed and any problems discussed with the interviewers.
We also talked to study participants after each interview; all rated
their interviewer as competent and the experience as enjoyable.
To gather data for the part of the study on pornography viewing
and its relationship to sexual variables, we used a closed-ended
self-administered questionnaire that was handed to the study par-
ticipant by the interviewer, answered privately by the participant,
put in and sealed in a large envelope we gave to them, and then
handed back to the interviewer. This questionnaire contained
items meant to measure attitudes toward the appeal of a variety
of sexual practices, the number and type of sexual experiences
engaged in during a set time period, and the social relationship
between the study participant and his/her sex partner(s).
In the qualitative study, students who wished to participate in
the study took a questionnaire that was available at the end of
class time, completed it outside of class, and returned it anon-
ymously to a collection box in the main office of the Sociology
Department.
Measures
The Quantitative Study
For the quantitative part of the research, principal components
factor analyses (varimax rotation) were carried out to aid in
the construction of composite measures. One composite was
related to pornography viewing and was comprised of two
items: In the last 12 months, how many times have you viewed
an X-rated movie or video? In the last 12 months, how many
times have you viewed soft or hard-core porn in magazines or
on-line (alpha =.75). There were 11 response categories for
each item ranging from 0 to over 100. Means and SD for the
each of the four gender-sexual preference identity subgroups
are shown in Table 1. The only significant difference in por-
nography viewing was across gender (pB.05)—with men
viewing pornography more frequently than women.
Another set of variables was constructed from a list of items
that were rated in terms of their appeal. The study participants
were informed that these ratings need not necessarily corre-
spond to actualbehaviors or plans to engage in suchbehaviors.
The response c ategories were: 1 =very appealing, 2 =appeal-
ing, 3 =neither appealing nor unappealing, 4 =unappealing,
5=very unappealing. Scores were reversed so that a higher
value indicated greater appeal. These composite measures based
on the factor analyses noted above (factor loadings, Cronbach’s
alpha, and the items contained in the composites are provided in
the Appendix) were as follows: Composite #1: Appeal of Using a
Vibrator/Sex Toy; Composite #2: Appeal of Oral-Genital Activ-
ity; Composite #3: Appeal of Anal Activity; Composite #4:
Interest in Third Parties (e.g., watching others, engaging in group
sex).
In regards to reporting actual behavior, we asked about the
number of times they had engaged in particular acts—with 11
response categories ranging from 0 to over 100. For acts of
partnered sex, in general, we also asked the number of persons
they had engaged in the act within the last 12 months—with 9
response categories ranging from 0 to over 30. For anal sex, we
asked this with regard to their lifetime. Based on principal
components factor analyses, the following composites (which
combined number of partners and frequency) were constructed
for sexual behaviors: Composite #1: Self-Masturbation; Com-
posite #2: Manual Sex; Composite #3: Oral Sex; Composite #4:
Coitus; Composite #5: Anal Sex (see Appendix for factor
loadings, Cronbach’s alpha, and detailed item listings).
The final measures were about the social relationship par-
ticipants had with their sex partner(s). The categories of sex part-
ners presented to study participants included: didn’t know or had
met that day (e.g., Spring Break); knew as a friend or acquain-
tance but hadn’t ‘dated’’; were on a first ‘date’ with; had pre-
viously ‘‘dated’ (not the first date or was an ex-partner or boy-
friend or girlfriend); were significantly involved with at the time
(partner/boyfriend/girlfriend). After questions on the number of
sex partners for various sexual activities (in the last year, except
for anal sex where we used‘‘lifetime’), we then asked how many
Table 1 Means and SD for pornography use (past 12 months) by gender and sexual preference identity
Frequency of viewing pornography Women Men Combined
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD
No. times viewed X-rated film or video
a
2.06 1.85 2.59 1.66 5.38 3.05 6.11 3.03 3.61 2.90
No. times viewed magazines or online
a
2.20 1.41 3.44 2.78 6.15 3.51 7.37 2.75 4.20 3.49
Pornography composite 2.13 1.79 3.02 1.93 5.77 2.74 6.74 2.55 3.90 2.87
N69 32 52 19 172
All means statistically significant across gender at pB.05
a
Individual Items: 0, 1, 2, 3 =(3–5), 4 =(6–10), 5 =(11–15), 6 =(16–20), 7 =(21–30), 8 =(31–50), 9 =(51–100), 10 C100
Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401 1393
123
of these persons fell into each of the above social relationship
categories. Thoits (1995) found that recall error increased the
most after a 12-month period. Thus, we restricted our time
period to ‘the last 12 months’’ with only one exception—the
measure for anal sex. We extended the time period for this event
to ‘‘lifetime’’ because of its relatively low incidence and the
assumption that the young age of the study participants would
make it fairly easy for them to recall the approximate number of
such experiences.
The Qualitative Study
The qualitative study contained the following open-ended
questions:
1. How has pornography affected your attitudes toward specific
sexual acts (e.g., to find them more or less appealing)?
Describe what this change in attitude/appeal has been and
how pornography came to change it.
2. How has viewing pornography affected your actual sexual
behaviors (e.g., the particular sexual acts that you engage
in)? Describe what this change in sexual behavior has been
and how pornography came to change it.
Analysis
For the quantitative part of the research, ordinal logistic regres-
sions were run to explore the associations between frequency of
pornography viewing (composite) and the other variables. Sta-
tistically significant beta coefficients between the frequency of
pornography viewing and any of the other variables do not nec-
essarily indicate causality in a particular direction. Our inter-
pretation of the direction of these relationships is based on
results from the qualitative data collection, which described the
perceived effects from viewing pornography. This does not
mean that in some cases the direction could not be a different or a
more interactive one.
In order to account for the possibility of other variables
entering the relationship between pornography viewing and
the other variables, in the quantitative part of the research, we
controlled in all of our models for demographic factors other
than gender and sexual preference identity that could be con-
founding variables—viz., year in college, age, and religiosity
(and although there was a fairly strong correlation between
year in college and age, no collinearity was found in any of the
models using variance inflation factors). For this study group,
controlling for these variables did not change the results.
For the qualitative research, answers to questions 1 and 2
were read overa number of times and the datacoded in terms of
the themes of normalization and empowerment. We coded
statementsas illustrating‘‘normalization’’when they described
how viewing pornography had made the study participant see
certain behaviors as more ‘‘normal’’ or ‘‘less strange’’ or ‘‘less
perverted’then they had before suchviewing. We coded state-
ments as illustrating ‘‘empowerment’’ when the participant
noted how viewing pornography increased her/his confidence
or courage in trying a particular sexual behavior. There was
almost complete agreement between the two authors who did
the coding; in the few cases where there was not, after dis-
cussion, wedecided thatthese statements were too vague to be
coded as one or the other. The qualitative material was used to
interpretthe casual directionunderlying the associations found
in the quantitative study.
Results
Does Pornography Consumption Increase the Appeal
of a Variety of Sexual Behaviors?
As shown in Table 2, for all four gender-sexual preference
identity groups, we found positive associations between the
greater viewing of pornography and a more expansive sexuality
in terms of what were considered appealing acts. For all four
groups, the frequency of viewing pornography was related to the
appeal of the sexual presence of a third party (i.e., watching
other people engage in sexual activity both in porn videos and
watching them in-person, and in having sex with more than one
person at a time). For two of the four groups (the exception being
non-heterosexual women and men), there was also a positive
relationship between the frequency of viewing pornography and
the appeal of using a vibrator/sex toy (i.e., using one on them-
selves or having a sex partner use a vibrator or other sex toy on
them). For the two groups of men as well as the heterosexual
women, there was also an association between the frequency of
viewing pornography and the appeal of anal sex (i.e., giving and
receiving manual anal stimulation and engaging in anal inter-
course). Finally, for the heterosexual women, the frequency of
viewing pornography was related to the greater appeal of oral
sex (performing and receiving).
The qualitative data provided many comments on how the
exposure to pornography altered study participants’ views of
what had been considered odd, unusual, or deviant. For exam-
ple, one woman described how anal sex became normalized: ‘‘I
think porn has helped to open my eyes.Anal sex no longer
seems mysterious, [it] just seems normal.’ Another woman
reported how seeing many acts of fellatio led her to see it in a
new way:‘‘Blow jobs don’t seem as much of a gross thing as they
used to seem (probably because there is oral sex in just about all
porn).’’ A third woman also noted how seeing sexual acts
visually portrayed made them more real and less unusual:
‘Viewing pornography has made more sex acts (fellatio, cun-
nilingus) more appealing. Before I didn’t know what it [oral sex]
looked likewatching made it real.’
Particularly supportive of our theoretical ideas were many
comments that compared what they had learned from their
1394 Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
123
earlier sexual socialization and their exposure to pornogra-
phy. Thus, a man described how he came to see the sexual
perspective of his parents differently: ‘‘Since I am a very
sexual being, it [pornography] helps me to know that what I
see is not an abnormal act like my parents told me.’’ In the
words of a woman: ‘Coming from a home where talking
about sex was discouraged, I was taught that any sex, let alone
‘kinky’ sex, was bad. Pornography allowed me to see that
these that these variations are ok, more normal, and often very
enjoyable. I have become more open, accepting, and inter-
ested in most sexual acts because of porn.’
Does Pornography Consumption Increase the Types
of Sexual Behaviors Engaged In?
If the frequency of viewing pornography increases the appeal of
various behaviors, does this translate into a similar relationship
in promoting expansiveness in engaging in the sexual behaviors
themselves? We first examined this relationship with solo sex
andthenpartneredsex.
Solo sex, i.e.,self-masturbation, is the most common sexual
act associated with viewing pornography (Polsky, 1998)and
the most direct in itsconnection to pornography’s presentation
of a pornotopia. As shown in Table 3, for three of the four
gender-sexual preference identity groups (the exception being
the non-heterosexual women), there was a significant rela-
tionship between the frequency of viewing pornography and
the frequency of self-masturbation.
We also found a significant relationship between pornog-
raphy viewing and the frequency of heterosexual coitus for
three of the four groups (in this case, the non-heterosexual men
being the exception). The strength of this relationship was
significantly different across the gender-sexual preference
identity groups with the non-heterosexual women having the
Table 2 Ordinal logistic regression beta coefficients and odds ratios: appeal of various activities by frequency of viewing sexually explicit materials
Appeal composites Women Men
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
bOR bOR bOR bOR
Use of a vibrator/sex toy
a
0.40* 1.50 0.36 1.44 0.23* 1.25 0.24 1.27
Oral-genital activity
a
0.36** 1.44 -0.24 0.79 0.15 1.16 0.19 1.20
Anal activity
a
0.28* 1.33 0.27 1.31 0.37** 1.45 0.63** 1.87
Interest in third parties
a
0.53*** 1.70 0.70** 2.02 0.29** 1.34 0.51* 4.00
No statistically significant differences across gender or sexual preference
*pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
a
Composite range: 1 =very unappealing – 5 =very appealing
Table 3 Ordinal logistic regression beta coefficients and odds ratios: sexual behaviors by frequency of viewing sexually explicit materials
Sexual behavior composites Women Men
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
bOR bOR bOR bOR
Self-masturbation
a,b
0.55*** 1.73 0.25 1.28 0.92*** 2.51 0.66* 1.93
Manual sex
a,c
0.21 1.24 0.28 1.33 0.12 1.13 0.28 1.32
Oral sex
a,b
0.26** 1.29 0.17 1.18 0.20* 1.22 -0.01 0.99
Coitus
a,d,e,f,g
0.25* 1.29 0.86** 2.37 0.21* 1.24 -0.22 0.81
Anal sex
b,e,h
0.31* 1.36 0.74** 2.09 0.39** 1.48 0.03 1.03
*pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
a
Time period is past year
b
Composite range: 0–10
c
Composite range: 0–8
d
Beta coefficients statistically significant across gender at pB.05
e
Beta coefficients statistically significant across sexual preference at pB.05
f
Beta coefficients for gender/sexual preference interaction statistically significant at pB.05
g
Composite range: 0–7
h
Time period is lifetime
Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401 1395
123
strongest relationship followed by the heterosexual women.
Significantrelationshipsbetween the frequency of anal sex and
the frequency of viewing pornography were also found for
three of the four groups (the non-heterosexual men againbeing
the exception). In addition, we found that for the heterosexual
women and men, there was a significant association between
the frequency of viewing pornography and the frequency of
oral-genital activity.
A relationship between the frequency of viewing pornog-
raphy and an expansion of one’s sexuality, then, is not confined
to sexual fantasies or interests. In general, both the frequency
of solo and partnered sex were significantly related to the fre-
quency of pornography viewing, viz., more self-masturbation,
oral sex, heterosexual coitus, and anal sex.
We previously showed with the qualitative data that por-
nography can widen a person’s sexual horizon through the nor-
malization of various sexual acts. When it comes to translating
these new perspectives into behavior, however, we argued that
pornography seems to function not only as a learning experi-
ence, but a source of erotic empowerment for the viewer—
building up the confidence to try new things. These theoretical
interpretations also received support from the data of the qual-
itative study.
Many study participants made comments such as the fol-
lowing. From a woman:‘Porn has served as a source of ideas
for me to try.’’ Fromanother woman:‘‘Watching porncaused
me to be more experimental.’’ And from a man:‘‘It helped me
broaden what I do sexually.’
Learning about oral-genital activity was most frequently
cited in this regard, as illustrated in the responseof one woman:
‘Everything I know about oral sex I learned from porn.’Other
new behaviors referred to included learning new sexual posi-
tions. In the words of one man,‘I like to try a lot of positions
that I’veseen on some of thesevideos.’’And, from anotherman,
‘There were things and positions I would never have thought
of that after seeing it I thought I have to trythis out.’’An interest
in trying anal sex was also mentioned by some of the study
participants. In the words of one woman: ‘Anal sex in porn
made me curious so I have tried it several times and I enjoy it.’
We were especially struck by the number of women who
voiced a sense of empowerment that was attributed to their
pornography viewing. One woman said, ‘‘It allowed me to be
more open to trying new things. I am more willing to try
something to see if I like it, instead of being scared of trying and
never doing it.’’ And another woman:‘‘I am now more open to
different sex acts. I like to be adventurous and try new things.’’A
third woman stated it this way:‘‘Watching porn[led me to be]
less afraid to be loud, made me feel less guilty about wanting
sex, wanting pleasure, and directly asking for it.’ Such confi-
dence was not confined to women. One man had this to say:
Because I watch somuch porn, I haveconfidence when I
give oral sex to my female partner. If anything, it’s made
me more confident in my decision making in a sexual
situation.Without porn, I probably never would have
been confident enough to perform cunnilingus on a
female.
Thus, as well as increasing the range of their sexual behaviors,
feelings of empowerment also were associated with the more
frequent viewing of pornography.
Does Pornography Consumption Expand the Boundary
for Acceptable Sex Partners?
As a consequence of increased normalization and empow-
erment, does more frequent viewing of pornography expand
Table 4 Ordinal logistic regression beta coefficients and odds ratios: relationship to the number of partners they performed oral sex on (past 12
months) by frequency of viewing sexually explicit materials
Social relationship Women Men
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
bOR bOR bOR bOR
Didn’t know or met that day
a
0.17 1.19 0.66 1.93 0.15 1.16 0.26 1.30
Knew as a friend or acquaintance but never dated
b
0.26 1.30 0.49 1.63 0.16 1.17 0.09 1.10
Were on a first date with
c,d
0.51 1.66 1.74 5.70 0.05 1.05 0.01 1.01
Had previously dated (was not the first date or was an ex-partner/
boyfriend/girlfriend)
e
0.11 1.11 0.55* 1.73 0.04 1.04 0.51 1.67
Were significantly involved with at the time
d
0.31* 1.37 -0.21 0.81 0.20 1.23 0.18 1.20
*pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
a
Range: 0–15
b
Range: 0–8
c
Beta coefficients statistically significant across gender at pB.05
d
Range: 0–5
e
Range: 0–3
1396 Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
123
the boundaries of with whom a person will engage in sex (e.g.,
to include people who are strangers or acquaintances)? As
presented in Tables 4,5, and 6, we found that the more fre-
quent consumption of pornography was related to a greater
number of partners heterosexual women had oral and coital
sex with. The greater number of partners, however, was
restricted to ‘‘significant others’ and did not reflect experi-
ences with a greater number of ‘‘casual sexual partners.’
We obtained a similar result for the non-heterosexual
women with regard to the number of‘significant others’’ as coi-
tal partners. Additionally, however, we also found relationships
between the extent of pornography viewing and oral and coital
sex with partners with whom they were not in a significant
relationship. This relationship with heterosexual intercourse
reflected the bisexual interests of many of the non-heterosexual
women.
For both groups of men, however, there was no significant
relationship between frequency of pornography viewing and their
number of sex partners or the social relationship with their
sexual partners. Thus, the results on partners illustrate that the
Table 5 Ordinal logistic regression beta coefficients and odds ratios: relationship to the number of partners they received oral sex from (past
12 months) by frequency of viewing sexually explicit materials
Social relationship Women Men
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
bOR bOR bOR bOR
Didn’t know or met that day
a
0.13 1.14 0.35 1.42 0.10 1.11 0.23 1.27
Knew as a friend or acquaintance but never dated
b
0.05 1.05 0.48 1.62 0.20 1.22 0.01 1.01
Were on a first date with
c
0.03 1.03 -0.06 0.94 0.03 1.03
Had previously dated (was not the first date or was an ex-partner/
boyfriend/girlfriend)
d
0.04 1.04 0.55* 1.74 0.01 1.02 0.22 1.25
Were significantly involved with at the time
e
0.41* 1.51 -0.14 0.87 0.21 1.23 0.10 1.11
Note: Models that did not converge are noted with dashes. No statistically significant differences across gender or sexual preference
*pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
a
Range: 0–12
b
Range: 0–8
c
Range: 0–10
d
Range: 0–3
e
Range: 0–5
Table 6 Ordinal logistic regression beta coefficients and odds ratios: relationship to the number of partners they engaged in coitus with (past 12
months) by frequency of viewing sexually explicit materials
Social relationship Women Men
Heterosexual Non-heterosexual Heterosexual Non-heterosexual
bOR bOR bOR bOR
Didn’t know or met that day
a
0.21 1.23 0.64 1.89 0.05 1.05 0.10 1.11
Knew as a friend or acquaintance but never dated
b
-0.09 0.91 0.35 1.42 0.17 1.19
Were on a first date with
c
0.04 1.04 – 0.00 1.00
Had previous dated (was not the first date or was an ex-partner/
boyfriend/girlfriend)
d
-0.07 0.93 0.92* 2.50 -0.05 0.95
Were significantly involved with at the time
a,e,f
0.39** 1.48 0.54* 1.72 0.10 1.10 -6.14 0.00
Note: Models that did not converge are noted with dashes
*pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
a
Range: 0–5
b
Range: 0–8
c
Range: 0–1
d
Range: 0–2
e
Beta coefficients statistically significant across gender at pB.05
f
Beta coefficients statistically significant across sexual preference at pB.05
Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401 1397
123
association with pornography consumption was mediated by
gender and sexual preference identity—having more of an effect
on the women than the men and, among the women, with dif-
ferences between the heterosexuals and the non-heterosexuals.
Discussion
The quantitative data showed a relationship between the viewing
of pornography and the variables of sexual appeal and behavior.
The qualitative data helped support our contention that the
viewing of pornography can broaden the appeal, and practice, of a
variety of sex acts. In other words, pornography’s profusion and
dissemination of sexual scripts seems to have, for some, a liber-
alizing effect. For example, for heterosexual men, there was an
association between the frequency of viewing pornography and
the appeal of using a vibrator, which parallels the common depic-
tion of the use of vibrators in pornography. Generally, these
findings were consistent with our theoretical assumptions that
pornography can shape a person’s sex life through the normali-
zation of sexual behaviors and a feeling of empowerment that
makes certain types of sexual experimentation more probable.
The normalization of pornography did not, however, necessarily
lead to the desire and empowerment to engage in sex with part-
ners outside of a relationship. The relationship between the fre-
quency of viewing pornography and the greater appeal of a
variety of sexual activities did not differ by gender or sexual
preference identity. Women did, however, show more behavioral
associations with the greater viewing of pornography than did the
men. Sexual preference identity also affected the relationship
with sexual behaviors.
The above findings suggest a number of things. First, the
relationship between pornography consumption and number of
coital partners for the heterosexual women was restricted to their
significant relationships. We interpret this as an extension of their
sexual script rather than a leap to a radically differentone; namely,
they still follow a norm of ‘‘relationship sex.’’ The finding of an
association between pornography consumption and the greater
likelihood of performing coitus on a first date or with someone
they previously dated on the part of non-heterosexual women can
be seen as reflecting a less conventional gender script. Finally, the
interaction between gender and sexual preference identity
showed that non-heterosexual women and men differed more in
associations between pornography consumption and frequency
of heterosexual coitus than did heterosexual women and men.
This finding for non-heterosexuals has also been found in other
research (Bell & Weinberg, 1978). It has been interpreted as
involving women’s history of accommodation to the other sex
and their greater conformity to societal expectations (the tradi-
tional script of women servicing men).
Before discussing the wider implications of these results, a
number of caveats should be made about this study. First, our study
was limited by the nature of the study group, college men and
women, who lived in a milieu where erotic images were widely
available and sexual norms relatively permissive (Armstrong,
Hamilton, & Sweeny, 2006). This will affect the generaliz-
ability of the findings. For example, Parvez (2006)hasshown
that social class background differentiates women’s enjoyment
of pornography. Second, the data are open to different inter-
pretations based on one’s sexual values. Individuals with con-
servative values may differ in their perspective from those who
are more liberal (such as our participants) in their interpretation
of the expansion of sexual repertoires as positive. Rather, this
couldbeviewedasreectinganunhealthy focus on the sexual.
So too may greater acceptance of pornography be interpreted
from a conservative point of view as desensitizing and con-
tributing to undesired effects (see Hald & Malamuth, 2008),
whereas those with more liberal sexual values see pornography
as an important part of their sexual learning experiences. A third
caveat is a cross-sectional study such as this one does not allow
us to definitively know the causal direction of relationships. For
example, it could be that some people who have developed their
sexuality and sexual repertoire to a greater degree are also likely
to view pornography more. This could be the interpretation
given to the finding in a Norwegian study by Traeen et al. (2006)
that experience with group sex predicted the amount of exposure
to pornography. Or it could be that some persons with a stronger
interest in sex have both a greater interest in viewing pornog-
raphy as well as finding more appeal in and engaging more
frequently in a variety of sexual activities. Haavio-Mannila and
Kontula (2003) found the viewing of pornography to be frequent
among highly sexually-active individuals in a Finnish study
group. There is no reason, then, to believe that there is a
monolithic casual relationship. Our interpretation, one that
receives support from the qualitative data, is that, for some
people, viewing pornography plays a role in making a variety of
sexual acts more appealing as well as creating a greater desire to
experiment with them.
On a broader level, we can say that the expansion of por-
nography in the U.S. has not abated despite the attemptsof its
opponents to restrict its spread (Klein, 2006). According to
Paul (2005), for large segments of the population, viewing
pornography is so common that ithas become a routine part of
sexual socialization. We agree. It is the rare student, for exam-
ple, who has not seen pornography or does not know how to
access it (e.g., on her/his laptop). As pornography becomes
more a part of mainstream culture (and mainstream culture has
become more pornographic), permissive sexual scripts have
become widely disseminated. Scripts such as‘‘sex is fun,’’‘‘sex
need not be saved for marriage,’and‘sex should be available
and imaginative’’are increasingly dispersed, which can affect,
as suggested by our findings, a greater appeal and more fre-
quent practice of a variety of sex acts. This seems to be espe-
cially the case for women. Research has shown an increase in
the viewing of pornography by women (Ciclitira, 2004)and
the incorporation of pornography into their sex lives with their
1398 Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39:1389–1401
123
partners as well as in solo sex. This is again in line with our
findings and supports Tiefer’s (2004) view that pornography
and self-masturbation can play an important part in women’s
sexual learning.
The growth of free and amateur pornography that is now
available also provides new ways of consumption undreamt of
by those involved in the pornography debates of the 1970s.
Thus, ‘‘pornotopia’ has expanded its boundaries to intersect
more with the outside world. In this way, pornography has
played an important role in the widespread normalization of
sexuality in postmodern societies (referred to by McNair,
1996, as‘‘pornographication’’). Whether this is followed in the
larger society (i.e., beyond college campuses and in older age
groups) by more varied sexual practicesis not easy to estimate.
Certainly this is possible. As noted in the Introduction, though,
we do not see people as cultural dopes (Garfinkel, 1967): they
seem to consume pornography like any other cultural product
in the postmodern marketplace. It may be important and
influential at different times in their lives (e.g., while in col-
lege) and in different situations (e.g., after divorce), and may
induce a person to experimenta few times with unconventional
sexualities (e.g., swinging, SM), but it will always be just one
element, and not necessarily the most important one, in their
sexual socialization. Gagnon (2004) noted that in postmodern
societies there is an increasing ‘disconnection between the
amount of erotica and the absolute conventionality ofpeo-
ple’ (p. 320). Moreover, survey research results in the U.S.
adult population do not show a large number of people expe-
riencing a personal pornotopia, even though their sexual
horizons have been expanded (Laumann et al., 1994). Por-
nography willcontinue to retain its symbolicuses as a signifier
of wider social concerns but, as its mostly benign effects are
increasingly recognized, it will, we expect, cease to be de-
monized. Gagnon and Simon (1970) have referred to written
pornography as a ‘‘paper tiger.’’ Perhaps they could speak
similarly today, this time referring to a‘‘pixel tiger.’
Acknowledgments An early version of this paper was presented at the
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality meetings, Las Vegas,
November 2006. We are indebted to The Kinsey Institute for the Study
of Sex, Gender, and Reproduction for its graduate student grant to Sybil
Kleiner for her work on the study, and to the Editor and the anonymous
reviewers for their helpful suggestions for improving the paper.
Appendix: Composite Measures, Cronbach’s Alpha,
and Factor Scores
Appeal Measures
Composite #1: Appeal of Use of a Vibrator/Sex Toy
(alpha =.67): Two items—the appeal: of using a vibrator/
sex toy on yourself (.86); of having a partner using a
vibrator/sex toy on you (.86).
(Composite #2) Appeal of Oral-Genital Activity (alpha =
.46): Two items—the appeal: of receiving oral-genital
activity (.81); of performing oral-genital activity (.81).
(Composite #3) Appeal of Anal Activity (alpha =.83):
Three items—the appeal: of receiving manual-anal stim-
ulation (.85); of performing manual-anal stimulation (.91);
of performing anal intercourse [if a female, with a dildo]
(.84).
(Composite #4) Third Party Interest (alpha =.72): Three
items—the appeal: of watching others have sex on a video
(.79); of, in person, watching others have sex (.83); of
having sex with more than one person at a time (.81).
Behavior Measures
(Composite #1) Self-Masturbation (alpha =.79): Two
items—number of times masturbated over last 12 months
(.93); number of times masturbated over last 12 months
while viewing sexually explicit material (.93).
(Composite #2) Manual Sex (alpha =.88): Two items—
number of people you masturbated in last 12 months (.97);
number of people who masturbated you in the last
12 months (.97).
(Composite #3) Oral Sex (alpha =.89): Two items—
number of times you performed oral sex in last 12 months
(.95); number of times you received oral sex in the last
12 months (.95).
(Composite #4) Coitus (alpha =.53): Two items—num-
ber of times you performed coitus in the last year (.83);
number of people you engaged in coitus within the last
12 months (.83).
(Composite #5) Anal Sex (alpha =.90): Three items—in
your lifetime, number of people you performed finger anal
stimulation on (.80); in your lifetime, number of people
who performed finger anal stimulation on you (.89); in
your lifetime, number of people you have engaged in anal
intercourse with (.88).
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... Further, prior research suggests that pornography use is related to engagement in certain kinds of sex (even though it is important to note that directionality is often unable to be determined due to study methodologies). For example, Weinberg et al. (2010) found that greater pornography consumption in the past year was associated with more reported experiences with masturbation, oral sex, coitus, and anal sex. In another study, women who consumed pornography were significantly more likely to report experiencing anal sex (Tydén et al., 2001). ...
... Instead of simply mimicking depicted behaviors, couples may be engaging in a wider variety of sexual behaviors, which has been associated with greater likelihood of orgasm . As Weinberg et al. (2010) found, pornography may normalize previously unknown sexual behaviors such as cunnilingus or empower couples to explore other behaviors. From the female partner's perspective, one study found that women who consumed pornography were more easily aroused during partnered sex compared to those who did not view pornography (McNabney et al., 2020). ...
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Using data from a 2014 U.S. nationally representative probability survey and a 2014 content analysis of 2562 male–female videos from two popular pornographic websites, this study aimed to: (1) compare the prevalence of survey respondents’ event-level sexual behaviors with those depicted in mainstream pornography online videos; (2) compare event-level condom use with condom use prevalence in pornographic videos; (3) compare event-level orgasm with prevalence of orgasms in pornographic videos; and (4) assess whether respondents’ partnered use of pornography was associated with the sexual behaviors in which they report engaging. We found that kissing, male orgasm, female orgasm, and condom use were significantly less prevalent in the pornographic videos than in survey respondents’ most recent sexual experiences. Conversely, penile–anal intercourse and fellatio were significantly more prevalent in the pornographic videos than in participants’ reports of their most recent sexual experience. There were no significant differences between the prevalence of cunnilingus or sex toy use represented in the videos as compared to survey respondents’ reports. Finally, we found that individuals who reported partnered pornography use during their most recent sexual experience were more likely to report having engaged in oral sex, penile–anal intercourse, and sex toy use and were also more likely to report female orgasm during their most recent sexual experience.
... Research has found relationships between pornography consumption and more positive attitudes toward group sex (Weinberg et al., 2010) and permissive sexual norms (Brown & L'Engle, 2009). Additionally, although examining the role of pornography in the lives of heterosexual men, Wright and Tokunana (2015) found that pornography was associated with having stronger beliefs in recreational and un-committed sex. ...
... Additionally, although examining the role of pornography in the lives of heterosexual men, Wright and Tokunana (2015) found that pornography was associated with having stronger beliefs in recreational and un-committed sex. Similarly, one study of MSM suggested an association between pornography use and a propensity towards sexual compulsivity (Parsons et al., 2007;Weinberg et al., 2010). Notably, research does not suggest that MSM consumption of pornography leads to decreases in sexual self-esteem (Kvalem et al., 2016;Morrison et al., 2007). ...
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Previous studies have suggested a substantial number of men who have sex with men (MSM) have consumed and used pornography to learn about same-sex sexual behaviors. Yet, past research has focused almost exclusively on condom-use in the category of Gay pornography and ignored the types of sexual behaviors and aggression depicted within the content. This study examined aggression and sexual behaviors depicted in Gay online pornography (N = 415). We found fellatio and anal sex were the most common behaviors, occurring in roughly two-thirds of scenes, while kissing occurred in less than a third of scenes. Additionally, sexual aggression occurred in 31% of scenes, with spanking being the most common, occurring in 20% of scenes. Anal sex and forced fellatio were found to be predictors of physical aggression. These findings point to normalization of aggression and narrow sexual behaviors in Gay pornography, which may have implications for MSM's norm perceptions related to sexuality.
... how to perform cunnilingus (for heterosexual men or lesbians) or fellatio (for heterosexual women or gay men); Peter & Valkenburg, 2016]. It was demonstrated that frequent porn use could actually broaden one's sexual horizons (Häggström-Nordin, Tydén, Hanson, & Larsson, 2009;Weinberg, Williams, Kleiner, & Irizarry, 2010) and foster sexual self-competence (Morrison, Harriman, Morrison, Bearden, & Ellis, 2004). Accordingly, some scholars have reported that the alleged negative effects of porn use on sexual quality or functioning lack robustness (Grubbs & Gola, 2019;Landripet & Štulhofer, 2015) and that these effects could sometimes be positive (Bőthe et al., 2021). ...
... These two sets of findings could be interpreted in light of the extant literature. On the one hand, existing research reveals that porn can be a source of sexual inspiration that reinforces sexual permissiveness norms and widens the range of sexual practices and behaviors (Häggström-Nordin et al., 2009;Weinberg et al., 2010;Wright, Bae, & Funk, 2013). On the other hand, the existing research reveals that porn can also be a source of threatening upward sexual comparisons, particularly for men (Wright et al., 2021). ...
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... Despite these harmful effects, other studies have suggested some potential positive gains of IPU in that it enhances sexual knowledge [31,32], openness [33], and yields more significant positive effects in men's lives [34]. The act of watching porn is also categorised as an emotional coping mechanism (e.g., stress relief and relaxation) [35]. ...
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... Therefore, with 'unreality in porn' existing 'on a spectrum' (Ashley 2016, 189), it does not matter whether we distinguish if orgasms in pornography are 'real' or not. From the sexual scripts and media effects perspective, which are commonly employed in studies of pornography effects (for example, Weinberg et al. 2010;Sun et al. 2016;Hesse and Pedersen 2017), the viewers internalize what they see in media, and these representations shape their sexual beliefs, behaviours, and interactions (Simon andGagnon 1984, 2003). The depiction of orgasm in pornography relies on the orgasmic performance, and the widespread practice of faking orgasms makes these performances inauthentic (Frith 2015), but this inauthenticity does not have to affect the impact pornography has on its viewers. ...
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... Detrimental outcomes include being more critical of one's own or a partner's body (Albright, 2008;Tylka, 2015), participating in more unsafe sexual and non-sexual behaviours (Carroll et al., 2008;Harkness et al., 2015;Svedin et al., 2011;Wright & Arroyo, 2013;Wright & Randall, 2012), and lower relationship or sexual satisfaction (Maddox et al., 2011;Manning, 2006;Stewart & Szymanski, 2012). However, some studies suggest IP viewing can enhance self-perceived sexual competence and education (Hald & Malamuth, 2008) and encourage more open-mindedness and comfort with one's sexuality (Innala, 2007;Watson & Smith, 2012;Weinberg et al., 2010). This divergence in conclusions is less contradictory than it may seem, as there appear to be substantial differences in individual susceptibility to media effects , and thus, there may be inherent individual characteristics that may make individuals more or less prone to PIP viewing. ...
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Older adult use of sexually explicit material (SEM) is under-researched. The current exploratory, cross-sectional study explored SEM use among adults 65 years and older. Eighty-eight participants from Canada and the United States completed a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk to address questions on SEM use, access and barriers to use, and preferences in SEM. Results indicated that participants were accessing SEM 10.73 ( SD = 10.13) times per month and spending about 27.20 ( SD = 23.09) minutes per session. Users, on average, were more likely to be men. Results also indicated participants preferred mature, amateur, and MILF genres, and primarily accessed SEM online. Top barriers to SEM use were related to disapproval and shame, indicating that stigma around older adult sexuality may be present. Study findings expand upon knowledge in the field and help provide further understanding of older adults’ sexuality and SEM use.
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In the first book to analyze shifts in lesbian identity, consciousness, and culture from the 1970s to the 1990s, Arlene Stein contributes an important chapter to the study of the women's movement and offers a revealing portrait of the exchange between a radical generation of feminists and its successors. Tracing the evolution of the lesbian movement from the bar scene to the growth of alternative families, Stein illustrates how a generation of women transformed the woman-centered ideals of feminism into a culture and a lifestyle. "Sex and Sensibility" relates the development of a 'queer' sensibility in the 1990s to the foundation laid by the gay rights and feminist movements a generation earlier. Beginning with the stories of thirty women who came of age at the climax of the 70s women's movement - many of whom defined lesbianism as a form of resistance to dominant gender and sexual norms - Stein explores the complex issues of identity that these women confronted as they discovered who they were and defined themselves in relation to their communities and to society at large. "Sex and Sensibility" ends with interviews of ten younger women, members of the post-feminist generation who have made it a fashion to dismiss lesbian feminism as overly idealistic and reductive. Enmeshed in Stein's compelling and personal narrative are coming-out experiences, questions of separatism, work, desire, children, and family. Stein considers the multiple identities of women of color and the experiences of intermittent and 'ex' lesbians. Was the lesbian feminist experiment a success? What has become of these ideas and the women who held them? In answering these questions, Stein illustrates the lasting and profound effect that the lesbian feminist movement had, and continues to have, on contemporary women's definitions of sexual identity.
Chapter
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.