Porn viewers more likely to see women as equals than non-viewers

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People who watch pornography hold views of women as more equal to men than people who do not watch pornography, and are no less likely to describe themselves as feminists, according the results of a study published in the Journal of Sex Research.

The role of pornography in shaping societal attitudes towards women has been a topic of longstanding debate. Some commentators argue that pornography is inherently demeaning to women, and that viewing it causes men to develop more hostile gender attitudes and causes women to internalize negative gender stereotypes. Others contend that pornography empowers women, and that viewing it promotes more equal gender attitudes among both men and women.

A study led by Taylor Kohut, of Western University, addressed this controversy using data from more than 28,000 people who participated in the General Social Survey, an annual study of attitudes in the US population, between 1975 and 2011. The survey asked participants if they had watched an X-rated movie in the last year. It also included several questions regarding their attitudes towards women.

These included attitudes towards women working outside the home, women holding positions of political power, traditional familial gender roles, and the legality of abortion. Respondents also indicated whether or not they thought of themselves as feminists.

In total, 23% of Americans told researchers that they had viewed pornography in the last year. Both male and female pornography viewers had better attitudes towards women working outside the home, and were more supportive of abortion rights, in comparison with those who had not watched pornography.

In addition, male pornography viewers had more positive attitudes about women holding positions of political power in comparison with male non-viewers. There were no differences between pornography viewers and non-viewers in terms of either feminist identification or attitudes towards traditional family gender roles.

The authors of the study conclude that their data contradict claims based on radical feminist theory that pornography use contributes to negative views of women. Rather than being prone to viewing women as subordinate or inferior to men, people who had viewed pornography saw them as more empowered in both politics and the workplace.

However, they also noted that the data did not support the claim made by some “pro-sex” feminists that pornography is a conduit for promoting feminism, especially among women. Instead, both pornography viewers and non-viewers had similar rates of feminist identification.

While debate about the relative merits of pornography use will undoubtedly continue, these findings will give some support to those who argue that at least some of the dangers attributed to it have been exaggerated.



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42 Comments

    • Porn is like chocolate, the right amount (subjectively speaking) sweetens life. But too much (subjectively speaking) can make you sick. What is the right amount and too much depends on motivations and consequences, e.g., relief or a smile vs obsession or objectification.

  1. I think the study is flawed because, IMHO, there is a difference in a people’s characteristics when they are differentiated by viewing pornography once a year, once a month, once a day, once every hour, etc. The authors, however, lumped every one into the same category: according to viewing pornography in the last 12 months: yes or no. Why the authors didn’t do this stratification, (what I think is an elementary consideration), is beyond my comprehension.

    • Aidan O'Toole on

      I agree also the people who admitted to watching porn shouldn’t be the only ones counted as such since everybody and yes I mean everybody watches porn.

  2. Porn and prostitution is not going anywhere so why bother trying to analyze it? It will never change.

    • Because it’s interesting. I don’t think anyone involved in the study was under any allusions that porn and prostitution were going to end any time in the near future.

      • blowing your load is interesting but what I was saying is that its will not change. Waste of time studying how why and where people blow their load. mmmmkkk

        • No, studying people and what they do is interesting.

          If everyone thought like you we wouldn’t have achieved living in caves yet.

    • Outer space is not going anywhere so why bother trying to analyze it? It will never change.

    • Joseph Gardner on

      So you basically just hate porn then? Because hearing that a larger number of people over all view equality as good is bad because they associated it with porn?

  3. Some Kurdish soldiers in Iraq that were attached to my unit never saw porn. When they saw it, they were blown away. I firmly believe if you want to settle the middle east, air drop as many porn magazines as you can over there.

  4. So true, after seeing a woman put a whole turkey in her ass I had that “Aha!” moment.

  5. So many problems with this study:

    1.
    There doesn’t seem to be an attempt to look at behavior, just how people *see* themselves. The survey “asked several questions” and the people who use porn replied: “Trust me I’m a nice guy!” This perpetrates a huge rape culture myth: the takeaway is the belief that if a man is a liberal he isn’t a threat. But as Louis CK noted, men are THE threat to women. (Interestingly he also has an aggressive fantasy of ejaculating on people in elevators, see next point).

    2.
    Aggressive and hyper-demeaning porn is the preferred and often only type of porn used by rapists. “While depictions that emphasized the pain and suffering of the victim only affected male subjects who were predisposed toward aggression, the more common story line in aggressive pornography of a willing and positive-reacting victim influenced all subjects. Even with subjects who were not mistreated by the female accomplice, we found an increase in aggressive behavior. If a viewer finds via vicarious means that aggression is in some way beneficial to a victim, this can influence their own aggressive behavior.” (Malamuth 1982 cited in “Pornography and Sexual Aggression)

    3.
    The assumption that having a nice kind of porn or porn viewer means porn in general is good. That’s like saying because your friend sells Nike shoes and he likes Al Gore that sweatshops aren’t harmful. There is literally a website called “Exploited Black Teens.” Supporting porn means supporting the worst of it. Horny men simply will not care about nuances between erotica and pornography (men only make up 9% of erotic literature readers).

    • I do agree with some of your points. The study really lacks in many subjects of this matter, but I don’t think that demonising pornography is a good way to balancing this data. Although I also think that porn may increase aggressive behavior, I don’t think it’s the mains source of it.

  6. Oh my… but Feminism says the opposite is true… and Feminism is always right… or else you are a misogynist.

  7. Men do not develop nurturing feelings towards so-called sluts. They watch porn and what they are thinking is she is on her own. Of course it makes them more pro-abortion, he does not want that woman that he just shared with 10 men to carry his child. Of course it makes him pro woman’s career, he sure doesn’t want to look out for her. The truth is that feminism is pro high IQ women. Feminism has turned 80% of all other women into worthless whores, men can use her and they don’t have to look out for her.

  8. You know..in the end..women just need a big ole dlck..thats really just alls they need..take it from me..a guy..i know these things!

  9. “23% of Americans told researchers that they had viewed pornography in the last year”
    >> 23%, really? or 23% of the people were willing to *admit* that they did? hum. would that mean that people willing to admit a still non-normative behavior actually hold more liberal positions? à bon entendeur…

    • Lee Elliott on

      Entirely 23% admitting it. though i remember one comedian talking about a study that said X% of people in a certain area were masturbating and he goes, what, did it show up on the richter scale? Anytime i ever heard anyone get asked its always like ‘wha? fuck no!’

      but we all do it. we should, its a good stress reliever, you don’t have that ongoing sexual frustration, and no one wants the 2 week, haven’t cum face. its horrible. and creepy.

      IMO, its completely normal, just not being open about it. sexuality is still some arts and crafts hobby that you can’t talk about among others for fear of creeping them out.