Hey, How About We Reinforce the Same Old Stereotypes About Relationships and Porn?

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20-something women who date guys who frequently watch porn are less happy than young women whose partners "more often abstain," according to LiveScience, which analyzed a new porn-centric study and concluded that men's porn use is correlated with unhappy relationships. Because, as we all know, 99 percent of ladies are delicate flowers who wouldn't even know pornography if they saw it because only sluts watch and enjoy porn. (We gleaned that statistic from a totally academic survey of researchers who won't stop authoring narrow-minded studies on erotica.)


Except...that's not really what the research found, not that the findings were that revelatory to begin with. Study researcher Destin Stewart asked 308 heterosexual, mostly white women in their 20s to fill out online questionnaires about their current partner's porn use, how happy they were emotionally and sexually in their relationship, and how good they felt about themselves. Women who reported that their partner was a "porn addict" or used porn more than a "normal" amount were more likely to have low self-esteem and be less satisfied with their relationship and their sex life.

"The study bolsters some anecdotal evidence that men's porn use can shake the self-esteem of their girlfriends or wives," LiveScience says. But doesn't it seem obvious that anyone who thinks their partner is "addicted" to something, or uses it more than a "normal" amount, would be less content? The study implies that porn is evil because guys who "often abstain" make better boyfriends. But is it that simple?

According to the article, "the statistical link between frequency of porn use and relationship dissatisfaction was partially explained by low self-esteem among the women in these relationships." But Stewart herself said that her findings don't prove that porn necessarily caused the women's self-esteem to drop. And, uh, what about all of the women who watch porn out there? It's hard to find good statistics regarding women and porn — scientists only seem to care about pornography's effects on dudes and how upsetting it all is for us ladies — but one widely cited study found that 76 percent of women enjoy x-rated entertainment. That's not a negligible number! So why weren't women asked about their own porn-watching preferences?

Another problem is that most of the women Stewart interviewed were in short term relationships, meaning they "might not know how much porn their partners actually watched." Uhhh....yeah, perhaps, but that means they also might not be comfortable enough talking to their partners about porn and other sexual fantasies. Can't we see some research on how many men and women watch porn together? What about a study on how much porn is an "abnormal" amount of porn? Sure, pornography can negatively affect a relationship, but it doesn't seem like we're moving forward when almost every study on the matter reinforces the notion that porn is a dangerous temptation for the impulsive, sexual beasts masquerading among us as "men."

Men's Porn Use Linked to Unhappy Relationships [LiveScience]
Image via Mihail Zhelezniak/Shutterstock.



and it didn't occur to them at any point to try and control for the possibility that women who are more freaked out / upset by their partners watching porn might also be more likely to inflate or overestimate the amount they watched? i mean that's just the most glaring and immediately obvious problem with the methodology. self-reporting is unreliable enough with these sorts of stigmatized behaviors, but no, you're going to rely on second-hand self-reporting? are any actual scientists doing science out there, somewhere, and if so, why do i never hear about it.

on a (mostly un) related note, i would enjoy watching those dudes in the header image plow each other. just sayin'.