"Pornography Hasn't Changed Their Perception Of Women": A Porn Study's (Very) Limited Findings

Illustration for article titled "Pornography Hasn't Changed Their Perception Of Women": A Porn Study's (Very) Limited Findings

A University of Montreal researcher couldn't find any dudes who hadn't seen porn — but this lack of a control group didn't stop him from announcing that porn has no effect on young men. We don't buy it.


Researcher Simon Louis Lajeunesse studied twenty male college students, and found that "not one subject had a pathological sexuality. In fact, all of their sexual practices were quite conventional." Furthermore, as we mentioned yesterday, he says,

Pornography hasn't changed their perception of women or their relationship which they all want as harmonious and fulfilling as possible. Those who could not live out their fantasy in real life with their partner simply set aside the fantasy. The fantasy is broken in the real world and men don't want their partner to look like a porn star.

And finally:

Aggressors don't need pornography to be violent [...] If pornography had the impact that many claim it has, you would just have to show heterosexual films to a homosexual to change his sexual orientation.

All of Lajeunesse's subjects said they supported gender equality — which must mean they totally do! In all seriousness, it's hard to tell exactly what Lajeunesse's methodology was. But since it's unlikely that he either read the students' minds or watched them have sex, it seems like he probably just asked them how they thought about sex, relationships, and women. Their responses, while not entirely worthless, were almost certainly colored by what they thought they were supposed to say — which is that they respect women and don't expect them to look or fuck like porn stars. The students even said they "felt victimized by rhetoric demonizing pornography," which would make them extra likely to claim that porn was harmless.

Which maybe it is. But I have a hard time believing that representations of sex that boys start seeing when they're about 10 and continue watching for somewhere between 20 minutes and several hours a week (according to the study) have absolutely no effect on their sexuality or their thoughts about their partners. Lajeunesse also seems to misunderstand feminist concerns about (mainstream, heterosexual) porn. I'm not worried that pornography will cause men to have "unconventional" sex (horrors!) or that it turns all men into violent "aggressors." I just think that it may affect how men see women's bodies and women's sexuality in ways that the men may not be willing to admit, and that these effects are worthy of study. And just talking to twenty guys isn't quite enough.


Are The Effects Of Pornography Negligible? [EurekAlert]
Study Stymied By Lack Of Porn Newbies [UPI.com]

Earlier: Researcher Refutes Demonization Of Pornography


I really do think that porn CAN colour mens' perception of sex.

A guy who starts having sex early or at a normal age will probably learn what normal sex is, and use porn as a valve.

But many young men find it very hard to get laid during their teenage years, and porn can be their only sexual experience for 6 years to a decade or more. That would surely have an influence on people.

I'm a virgin in my late-twenties (not through lack of trying for 15 years, believe). My only knowledge or experience of sex has come through porn. How can I say that that hasn't affected me? I don't know what normal sex between two people is like. Is it not like porn? I'm told not, but otherwise I wouldn't know, not at all.

While I'm an extreme case, a 17 year old who's watched porn for 4 or 5 years would be in the same position. He's coming into his first sexual experience with a set of expectations (woman's body, shaved vulva, being able to do whatever you fucking want) and fears (penis size, if she isn't screaming she's not enjoying it etc) that just wouldn't exist without our culture's saturation in porn.

I also believe that porn that's degrading to women does affect men's perception of at least some women. Porn isn't acting. If a woman is getting abused and slapped on screen for money, that's actually the situation in real life. When men see tens of thousands of women online who are willing to be abused for money, it's hard for them not to start believing that a fair amount of women have no self-respect, love money above all else and all sorts of other negative reactions.

This is just one guy's opinion, obviously, but I think the porn issue is a hidden one that influences our society and relationships hugely, and I think the negatives outweigh the positives. (Though I totally accept there are positives.)