Portions of this post were reposted from Collective Shout.

According to a recent study, psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey found that when presented with descriptions of women taken from men’s magazines, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not correctly guess who said what.

Even worse, when men involved with the study were asked which quotes they agreed with, they were actually more likely to agree with the rapist quotes.

Yikes.

The University of Surrey reports on the study (conducted jointly with researchers at Middlesex University), published in the British Journal of Psychology. Researchers gave a group of men and women quotes from the British porn magazines, as well as excerpts from interviews with actual convicted rapists originally published in the book The Rapist Files. The participants couldn’t reliably identify which statements came from magazines and which from rapists—and what’s more, they rated the magazine quotes as slightly more derogatory than the statements made by men serving time for raping women. The researchers also showed both sets of quotes to a separate group of men—the men were more likely to identify with the rapists’ statements than the pornographic magazine excerpts.
The only slightly bright spot in the study: when researchers randomly (and sometimes incorrectly) labeled the quotes as coming from either rapists or magazines, the men were more likely to identify with the ones allegedly drawn from mags. At least they didn’t want to agree with rapists.

Still, the results as a whole are pretty disturbing. Says lead study author Dr. Miranda Horvath, “We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimization strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.”

Her co-author Dr. Peter Hegarty adds:

“There is a fundamental concern that the content of such magazines normalizes the treatment of women as sexual objects. We are not killjoys or prudes who think that there should be no sexual information and media for young people. But are teenage boys and young men best prepared for fulfilling love and sex when they normalize views about women that are disturbingly close to those mirrored in the language of sexual offenders?”

Many of the rapists quoted in the study talked about coercing women or having sex with them even though they were initially unwilling. However, so did the porn magazines.

Horvath says, “Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no, and there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist.”

A lot of these stereotypes—that women say no when they really mean yes, or are “asking for it” by going out with a man or wearing a short skirt—have indeed been normalized, and it’s sad but not surprising that they appear in a lot of these pornographic magazines. Defenders of such statements like to frame them as innocent, or even helpful, observations. But perhaps the news that they sound just like rapists will make people, and magazines, rethink their words.


This is disturbing, but not surprising. This study falls in line with what so many others are saying about porn—it promotes rapist ideals, and it sells anything but healthy consent practices.

A few years ago, researchers did a study of the most popular porn videos at the time. Their findings? Of the 304 scenes examined, 88% contained physical violence and 49% contained verbal aggression. 95% of the victims responded neutrally or with pleasure, and 94% of the victims were women. The message that comes from porn is that women enjoy getting beat up and forced into sexual acts. Many studies have shown that both non-violent and violent porn make users more likely to support violence against women and to believe that women enjoy being raped,[1] and those beliefs have been found across several research studies to be predictive of a person being sexually aggressive in real life.[2]

When it comes to violent and rape porn, the correlations become particularly strong.[3] One study even found that individuals who reported higher previous exposure to violent porn were six times more likely to report having raped someone than those who reported lower previous exposure.[4] Multiple studies have shown that even watching non-violent porn is correlated with the user being more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs, and alcohol to push women into sex.[5]

We can’t effectively solve the problem of sexual assault as a society unless we start educating ourselves on a major catalyst of this violence—porn. Violence and abuse are not sexy. Love between two real people is sexy. Let’s fight for love.

What YOU Can Do

Take a stand and speak out against the porn culture that is being promoted in society. SHARE this article to raise awareness on the harmful effects of porn.

Citations

[1] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Milburn, M., Mather, R., and Conrad, S. (2000). The Effects of Viewing R-Rated Movie Scenes that Objectify Women on Perceptions of Date Rape. Sex Roles 43, 9 and 10: 645–64; Weisz, M. G. and Earls, C. (1995). The Effects of Exposure to Filmed Sexual Violence on Attitudes Toward Rape. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 10, 1: 71–84; Ohbuchi, K. I., et al. (1994). Effects of Violent Pornography Upon Viewers’ Rape Myth Beliefs: A Study of Japanese Males. Psychology, Crime, and Law 7, 1: 71–81; Corne, S., et al. (1992). Women’s Attitudes and Fantasies About Rape as a Function of Early Exposure to Pornography. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 7, 4: 454–61; Check, J. and Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, and Erotica. In D. Zillmann and J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations (pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Check, J. and Malamuth, N. M. (1985). An Empirical Assessment of Some Feminist Hypotheses About Rape. International Journal of Women’s Studies 8, 4: 414–23.
[2] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., and Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography and Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting the Relationship in Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression and Behavior 36, 1: 14–20; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Boeringer, S. B. (1994). Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Associations of Violent and Nonviolent Depictions with Rape and Rape Proclivity. Deviant Behavior 15, 3: 289–304; Check, J. and Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, and Erotica. In D. Zillmann and J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations (pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Marshall, W. L. (1988). The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Non-Offenders. Journal of Sex Research 25, 2: 267–88.
[3] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., and Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography and Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting the Relationship in Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression and Behavior 36, 1: 14–20.
[4] Boeringer, S. B. (1994). Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Associations of Violent and Nonviolent Depictions with Rape and Rape Proclivity. Deviant Behavior 15, 3: 289–304.
[5] Boeringer, S. B. (1994). Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Associations of Violent and Nonviolent Depictions with Rape and Rape Proclivity. Deviant Behavior 15, 3: 289–304; Check, J. and Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, and Erotica. In D. Zillmann and J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations (pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Marshall, W. L. (1988). The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Non-Offenders. Journal of Sex Research 25, 2: 267–88.

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