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Can watching porn really be linked to feminism?

Posted by
Harriet Hall
Published

Pornography has a terrible reputation among many feminists.

Despite the recent wave of support for feminist porn, pornography has traditionally been seen by many to place women in subordinate positions, where they become the object of the male gaze and male control, appreciated only for the role they play in sexual intercourse.

However, new research revealed in The Journal of Sex Research, seems to suggest that in fact, pornography users are more likely to hold egalitarian views, than those who do not watch the material.

The scientists from the University of Western Ontario, set out to investigate if pornography users were more likely to view women as unequal, but in fact found the opposite.

Looking at a sample of over 25,000 Americans who took the from the General Social Survey from 1975-2010, the study correlated their answers to certain attitudes, with their likelihood to watch pornography.

The results state that:

“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.”

man computer

The experiment also showed that people’s self-identification as feminist was not hugely different between users and non-users - contrary to the common view that those who abstain from watching pornography might be more likely to self-identify as feminist.

The authors wrote that:

“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.”

Although this data seems to suggest that those who regularly watch porn hold more egalitarian views, many people continue to see a correlation between pornography watching and misogynistic views.

Some studies have shown that amongst people with ‘disagreeable’ personalities, pornography exacerbates sexist attitudes.

Research conducted by the University of Copenhagen and the University of California in 2013, found that:

“Increased past pornography consumption was initially found to be associated with more negative attitudes toward women including more hostility, negative prejudices, and stereotypes.”

And after further investigation, the same trial found that:

“It was only among participants low in agreeableness that pornography was found to increase sexist attitudes.”

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