Monday, January 2, 2017
Is Pornography Consumption Directly Linked to Violence Against Women? by Michael Lovan
Is pornography consumption directly linked to violence against women?
Yes. The consumption of pornography has been demonstrably linked to violence against women. Firstly, pornography constructs and reinforces males as masculine (dominant) and females as feminine (submissive), an ideology that maintains male entitlement to sex, normalizes male violence, and coerces women to be subservient to men and both deserving and desiring of violence perpetrated against them; secondly, pornography consumption lowers inhibitions towards violence against women and increases sympathy for perpetrators of sexualized violence; thirdly, pornography serves as a how-to guide that directly trains men how to perpetrate violence against women for and during sex.
It is important to verify that pornography itself is violent. In a content analysis of the 50 best-selling and best-renting pornographic videos, Psychologist Ana J. Bridges, Robert Wosnitzer, Erica Scharrer, Chyng Sun, and Rachel Liberman found that each scene had, on average, 11.52 aggressive acts, including both verbal and physical abuse. Of the 304 scenes observed in this study, 3,376 instances of violence were reported, of which 88% were physical and 48% were verbal. 72% of the aggressive acts were perpetrated by men, with over 94% of the abuse targeted against the women in the scenes. In other words, pornography is very violent; the vast majority of it containing depictions of violence, particularly against women.
In a study conducted by Dr. Dolf Zillman and Dr. Jennings Bryant on the effects of continuous exposure to pornography, their findings proved that increased exposure to pornography made subjects more tolerant of sexual violence, less supportive of the rights of women, and more lenient towards the punishment of rapists.
Psychologist Edward Donnerstein found in his study of sexual aggressions perpetrated against college women, 39% of the sex offenders had been influenced by pornography. In Diana E.H. Russell’s studies, she found that perpetrators of sexual violence against children frequently used pornography as a grooming method to provoke sexual curiosity, legitimize, normalize, and desensitize them to sexual violence, and silence them by making them feel guilty and thus complicit in their own abuse. In Professor Janet Hinson Shope’s studies, she found that among women who were in sexually abusive relationships, pornography had played a direct role in the abuse 58% of the time. A comparable study found that 25% of abusive men forced their partners to either watch or reenact scenes from pornography; this study also found that the most abusive abusers were those who watched pornography.
In each of these studies, and many more conducted over the course of the last several decades, the through line is that pornography has not only shaped attitudes towards violence against women but has played a direct role in conditioning men to be perpetrators of sexual violence and conditioning women and children to accept sexualized violence.
Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray. Big Porn Inc. Spinifex Press, 2011.
Bridges, A.J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., & Liberman, R. (in press). Aggression and sexualbehavior in best-selling pornography videos: A content analysis update. Violence Against Women.
Donnerstein, Edward. “Pornography and Violence Against Women: Experimental Studies.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 347.1 (1980): 277-288. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
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J. Bryant and D. Zillman, “Pornography: Models of Effects on Sexual Deviancy,” in Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior, ed. C. D. Bryant (Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge, 2001), pp. 241-44.
Jensen, R. (2004, July). Pornography and Sexual Violence. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved January 2, 2017 from: http://www.vawnet.org
Shope, Janet Hinson. “When Words Are Not Enough.” Violence Against Women 10.1 (2004): 56-72. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.