The Unexpected Consequence of Viewing Porn

Does viewing porn make you more feminist?
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Does viewing porn make you more feminist?
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We all know that the Internet is awash with some pretty pernicious smut, and we have all read headlines claiming porn warps respectable young men into menacing, sex-crazed predators. But hey, there’s a big world of porn out there, and some of it is bound to have an upside.

In fact, researchers at the University of Western Ontario recently debunked one of the most recurrent claims made about pornography--that it is anti-feminist and conditions viewers to see women as sex objects. To the contrary, they found that people who watched porn were actually more feminist than people who didn’t at all. To be more precise, those surveyed who had watched at least one adult film in the past year were more likely to hold egalitarian views of “women working outside the home” and “women in positions of power.” Or, maybe they were just thinking of femme doms?

Researchers looked at data collected by the U.S. General Social Survey from 1975 to 2010, which included input from over 25,000 Americans. The participants were 56.3 percent female and 43.7 percent male.

While the findings are merely correlational, they do help counter the belief that pornography will transmogrify its viewers into misogynists. In the abstract of the study, researchers write, “Taken together, the results of this study fail to support the view that pornography is an efficient deliverer of 'women-hating ideology.’”

There’s a major caveat, however: the findings still don’t rule out that certain kinds of porn can be dangerous to certain kinds of viewers. A 2013 study on Danish men found that men who exhibited more antisocial behavior were more likely to express sexist opinions after being shown hardcore pornography. And it's hard to imagine that subcategories like abuse porn actually promote respectful attitudes toward women. But as any visitor to an online porn site knows, there is a multiplicity of genres available. Choose wisely.

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