The often contentious subject of pornography is explored in a new book, which seeks to contribute to the ever developing academic debate on this topic.
The book, Pornographies: Critical Positions is published by the University of Chester Press.
The book is also a milestone in academic writings on this topic, as it marks the shift towards studying pornography beyond the idea that it is simply a manifestation of dangerous patriarchal oppression and provides valuable insights into
contemporary culture and politics, and our ideas about gender, sexuality and bodies.
The volume has been edited by Dr Katherine Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Media at Leeds Beckett University; and Dr Cassandra Ogden, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University.
Dr Katherine Harrison said:
Pornography is no longer considered to be a single, homogenous 'thing'. Nor are debates about pornography limited to the reductive anti-porn versus anti-censorship controversies of the mid-20th century. Whether we like it or not, porn is a major
part of global culture, economy and society and -- if only by that virtue alone -- deserves to be studied seriously. The Internet is ubiquitous in our everyday lives and its significances and effects are widely studied on Social Sciences
degrees. However, one of the major uses of the Internet is the production, dissemination and consumption of pornography and this is rarely studied directly at undergraduate level. The book aims to address this omission by making the academic
study of pornography accessible to readers at all levels. It is worth noting that one of the contributors, Professor Feona Attwood, is Founding Editor of Routledge's international journal Porn Studies , the pre-eminent publication for porn
research and scholarship in the world.
By Eran Shor and Kimberly Seida of Montreal's McGill University
It is a common notion among many scholars and pundits that the pornography industry becomes harder and harder with every passing year. Some have suggested that porn viewers, who are mostly men, become desensitized to soft pornography, and
producers are happy to generate videos that are more hard core, resulting in a growing demand for and supply of violent and degrading acts against women in mainstream pornographic videos.
We examined this accepted wisdom by utilizing a sample of 269 popular videos uploaded to PornHub over the past decade. More specifically, we tested two related claims, reflected in both the number of views and the rankings for videos containing
(1) aggressive content in videos is on the rise and
(2) viewers prefer such content,
Our results offer no support for these contentions. First, we did not find any consistent uptick in aggressive content over the past decade; in fact, the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression. Second, videos containing
aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure.
Unlike many previous studies claiming to quantify aggressive behavior in porn, the McGill researchers defined several different categories of aggressive behavior in porn scenes. The researchers counted acts which simply appear intended to cause
harm, pain or discomfort, and created a separate category for video which depicted those acts as clearly non-consensual, as determined by verbal or visual cues.
Conversely, anti-porn groups that claim excessive violence in porn usually count such acts as playful slaps on the ass, a hand on the throat, and the use of such terms as bitch or slut, no matter in what context, as violent acts.
While they found that depictions of visible aggression fluctuate but show no steady upward or downward trend, with between 30 and 50 percent all videos uploaded each year depicting some visible aggression, the duration of aggressive scenes has
shown a sharp drop over the past decade.
In 2008, nearly 13% of the average video portrayed visible aggression, the researchers write. But in 2016, the average video contained aggressive content lasting only three percent of the total video running time.
When it comes to figuring out the sexual habits and preferences of American adults, researcher Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has found, a deep dive into Google search data reveals some surprises -- showing that the type of porn Americans search
out online often bears little resemblance to how they behave, or anything they would admit to, in public, even in anonymous sex surveys.
Stephens-Davidowitz, author of the 2017 book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are , discussed his discoveries about America's surprising sexual tastes in an interview with the online
news site Vox;
Porn which portrays violence against women is surprisingly popular -- among women.
Huge numbers of men are more attracted to overweight women than skinny women.
Married women are obsessed with finding out if their husbands are gay.
Married men should be asking whether their wives are gay.
The one common theme running through all of the author's research is that, judging by Google searches for porn, people's sexual tastes and fantasies are far more unusual than they ever admit -- except to the Google search engine.
It is really amazing how much tastes can vary. There are women who just watch porn featuring short, fat men with small penises. There are men who just watch porn featuring women with enormous nipples, Stephens-Davidowitz said. The data from porn
tells us that everybody is weird. Thus, nobody is weird.