No Porn

Does Watching Porn Make You Feminist?

In the news lately, there have been many reports on a study that states that those who watch porn hold feminist views. This is rather controversial, as many feminist studies in the past have stated that watching porn makes you misogynist. The prevailing feminist narrative is that if you watch porn, you hate women and can only see them as things to own and objectify, having no respect for them in any way.

First hearing about this study, I was quite skeptical. When it comes to Feminist studies, they tend to be heavily biased, forming an opinion first and then trying to find evidence to support their conclusion. They are also known to use small sample size, faulty testing methods, and even stating conclusions not supported by their own results.

Studies done on porn by Feminists have tried to link oppressive behavior in humans, specifically males, to the viewing of porn. These studies actually failed in their approach of proving a link, and yet, feminists use these studies as proof of their position.

How can anyone use a study that failed to prove their conclusion as proof of their position?

The answer is rather simple, people don’t look through studies. Often times, people only know about a study because someone else mentions it to them, and they use it as ammunition to prove their narrative.

This is like someone handing a feminist a bullet for their gun, but the feminist doesn’t analyze the bullet before shooting the gun. Had they done so, they might have realized it was a blank. Interesting enough, feminists using this ammo believe that it had the desired effect. They shoot, turn away quickly, and tell everyone they won.

When looking at various articles in relation to this new study, each of them say rather the same thing, that those who view porn have feminist ideals. Those who view porn feel that women should work, that women should be in positions of power, and have access to abortion.

When seeing the issues tested, my first thought was that these are not specifically feminist views. Whether we are talking about those in the MRM, MGTOW, MHRM, Humanism, or even Egalitarian, I think all can agree that women being allowed to work and hold a deserved position of power is a good thing. The issue of abortion is always an individual opinion, as even some feminists are against women having access to abortion.

So it would seem rather biased to call these Feminist only beliefs, as many people in other movements believe the same thing. Contrary to oft-stated feminist claims, these are Egalitarian or Humanism beliefs, not Feminist specific.

So, I looked at the study further. To my surprise, Feminist misinterpreted the conclusion of the study.

The study: Is Pornography Really about ‘‘Making Hate to Women’’? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample. That’s the title of it. You’d think a Feminist study would use the word Feminism rather than Egalitarian. There’s a logical answer for that… this isn’t a Feminist study. It’s so much more than that. Now I’ll save you the trouble to read through it, though I suggest you do anyways, but I will try to highlight what the study is, and let’s face it, it is often difficult to read through these things.

First I want to give a shout-out to Taylor Kohut, Jodie L. Baer, and Brendan Watts for doing this study. While Feminists have misinterpreted it, it is rather brilliant what they have actually done.

Their introduction to their paper starts out discussing a problem, which they identify as:

Despite four decades of social scientific research on the topic of pornography, many of the effects of the consumption of sexually explicit material remain poorly understood. During this time, debate concerning the effects of exposure to pornography has been divisive.

While some have noted the positive benefits of pornography, others have reported it’s negative effects:

In contrast, others have cautioned that the use of such materials can be associated with risky sexual behavior, poor mental health and well-being, degraded relationship functioning, and, of course, sexual aggression (Bechara et al., 2003; Kingston, Malamuth, Fedoroff, & Marshall, 2009; Weaver et al., 2011).

As they explain, they feel that historically, the concerns of pornography being harmful has been rooted in radical feminism. The report actually uses the words ‘radical feminism’. So far, the paper has my support. While they may still be feminist themselves, they are at least addressing that there are more radicals/extremists within the feminist movement.

In reading their paper, they identify the problem of radical feminist thinking, in relation to pornography, is the belief that sexually explicit material distorts a persons view of reality, believing women to be sexual play toys to be dehumanize objects that can be used, abused, broken, and discarded. This belief is not just for the most explicit material, but also depictions of nude women, as it strips women of their agency.

‘‘as the feminist critique of pornography asserts, at the core of contemporary pornography is contempt for women. One need not look at the most violent or sadomasochistic pornography to reach this conclusion’’ (Dines, Jensen, & Russo, 1997, p. 99).

It would appear that adopting the radical feminist viewpoint comes with regarding porn as the worst thing in the world, as it subjugates women for the pleasure of men. In my own dealings of radical Feminists, having brief encounters with Gail Dines, they tend to believe that porn is bad because men enjoy it. If porn was not enjoyed by men, then there would be nothing wrong with porn. So long as they do, then women in porn are being exploited.

Furthermore, porn is believed to be a tool used to help people maintain rigid gender roles. Men learn that women are basically tits and a pussy and nothing more, while women learn that they are only for men’s pleasure. This commonly held radical feminist belief has had a rather unfortunate impact on our society:

Such conceptualizations of pornography, both as a form of sexual discrimination in and of itself and as a source of discriminatory and subordinating attitudes and behaviors, have contributed to attempts to promote gender equality by censoring pornography in the United States (e.g., Dworkin & McKinnon, 1988) and the European Union (QMI Agency, 2013) and have successfully influenced the legal definition of obscenity in Canada (e.g., R. v. Butler, 1992; see also McCormack, 1993).

Because of this line of thinking, all studies on the effect of pornography on the male mind have started with the supposition that PORN = BAD. These studies started out flawed as they began with a conclusion and worked backwards, trying to prove that anti-woman viewpoints are adopted from the viewing of porn itself, from sexual objectification to sexual assault, and even rape.

As this study mentions, while these studies are rather aggressive in their research of a link, they tend to produce poor results, generally finding no correlation, or a correlation for a limited number of porn viewers. More than that, these researches don’t address whether or not the viewing of porn has an effect on the issue of gender equality. Research is more directed at porn being linked to sexual assault, but little has been done to show a link to actual views of gender equality.

The study does address a few studies that have tried to show that viewing pornography leads to non-egalitarian viewpoints. A recent study out of Denmark found that men between 18 – 30 held non-egalitarian viewpoints and hostile sexism when exposed non-violent pornography. However, they used a rather young sample size of 200 adults, and no other study has been able to recreate this result.

When you look at radical feminist studies as a whole, they fail at being able to find a correlation. Part of the problem faced by these studies is the lack of proper test subjects. Most employ students at universities, that generally already have egalitarian viewpoints. If there was an actual correlation between pornography and anti-woman sentiment, they would need to expand outside the college environment.

To be fair, some studies have tried to expand their sample population, but only to those who view porn to begin with. This approach is intellectually dishonest, because they are not sampling those who do not view porn. Why is this important? As the study states:

If radical feminist claims hold true, nonconsumers of pornography should hold more egalitarian attitudes than consumers of pornography, as they are not regularly inundated with the messages of inequality found in pornographic materials.

By not testing nonconsumers of porn as a means of control, this weakens the association of any correlation between porn and non-egalitarian viewpoints. Rather, this assumes that those who don’t view porn are more egalitarian without testing for it.

In short, the failure to find evidence that pornography use is associated with attitudes toward gender inequality among many studies may simply reflect the methodological shortcomings of research in this area, which has been typically underpowered and has employed sampling strategies that may have reduced the magnitude of the associations that investigators were trying to find. A more rigorous test of the relationship between pornography use and attitudes toward gender inequality requires a larger representative sample that is not chosen in such a way as to reduce the range of responses on the variables of interest.

Even though no radical feminist research paper has been able to find a conclusive link, radical feminists still hold this viewpoint:

According to Gail Dines, ‘‘Porn is the most succinct and crisp deliverer of a woman-hating ideology. While we have other places that encode such an ideology, nowhere does it quite as well as porn, as this delivers messages to men’s brain via the penis—a very powerful method’’ (‘‘So You Think You Know,’’ 2009, para. 25).

Thank you Gail Dines for your viewpoint. I will remember that you said that porn is the most powerful delivery system of teaching men the woman-hating ideology. Because here’s the kicker, if viewing porn teaches men the woman-hating ideology, as is popular in radical feminist movement, then, non-users of pornography should report more egalitarian viewpoints than those who do view porn.

Moreover, it is said that pornography teaches men to be the aggressors while teach women to be the victims, and if this is true, we should be able to find clear evidence that the use of pornography is associated with non-egalitarian viewpoints. Now if only there was a way to test this… oh wait, there is. The General Social Survey.

I’m sure you’re asking… What!?

The General Social Survey (GSS) is a survey system that started in 1972 that took sample households and did face-to-face interview (generally lasting 90 minutes) to collect information on a wide range of topics. Between 1972 – 1994, this was done every year (excluding 1979, 1981, and 1992). Since 1994, this has been done every other year, and has continued up to 2014. In that time, it has 30 national samples from nearly 60,000 people with over 5,900 variables, all available for public viewing. The pdf file is rather large, over 3500 pages.

While you can view the raw data file, or look through the 40mb pdf file, to properly use the data, you need to be able to parse the data. Even then, being able to parse the data, you still need study the result of that data, which is why this study used the data from 2011. Looking at the GSS for 2011, this is how the study’s demographics break down:

gss table 1
Remember that this is from 1972 – 2011

Now this is where we come into the meat of the study. One aspect of the GSS is use of pornography. With parsing, they are able to determine the usage of pornography by gender, in relation to any other variable. So, the researchers of this study took the data of those who do and do not view porn by gender, and related it to 4 commonly held feminist beliefs.

For the methodolgy, 10,946 males and 14,101 females have answered the question of whether not they have viewed X-Rated material in the previous year. Of that sampling size, only 23% have stated they viewed porn in the previous year, or 5,715 men and women.

The four feminist views that were tested in addition to the view of pornography were:

  • Attitudes towards women in power
  • Attitudes towards women working outside the home
  • Attitudes towards abortion
  • Attitudes towards traditional family

While these views are not feminist specific, you must remember that this survey is not trying to find whether or not people are feminist, but rather if a feminist views are more prevalent among non-porn users. If radical feminists are correct, these four viewpoints that radical feminists feel are important to the feminist movement, then non-porn users should have a much higher response rate than porn users.

So, using 6 variables in 3 intersecting points, they were able to derive a conclusion about feminist viewpoints between Porn Users and Non-Porn Users.

gss table 2

You will see 5 points up there. It should be noted that the first one was only measured for 1996… for some reason. So when looking at that result, it is only for the year 1996. Also, only 46 people who answered the question about porn answered the question about feminism. There is not enough information, so it was dropped for the final conclusion.

Women Holding Position of Power

You will notice the value is greater than 1 but less than 2. This was based on a 3 point scale, which represented 3 possible answers: Yes/Don’t Know/No or Agree/Not Sure/Disagree. So, the closer each column is to 1, indicates a more egalitarian viewpoint. The lower the number, the better.

The study looked at 3 questions and then applied (and reversed ordered where appropriate) which were the most egalitarian responses and which were the least egalitarian. The following questions were:

  • Women should take care of running their homes and leave running the country up to men
  • If your party nominated a woman for president, would you vote for her if she were qualified for the job?
  • Most men are better suited emotionally for politics than are most women.

What we see for men, is that those who view porn believe that women should hold a position of power more than those who don’t view porn. Male Porn Viewers are more egalitarian than Non-Porn Users by 7%.

When we look at women, Porn Users were more in favor of Women Holding Power, and thus more egalitarian, than Non-Porn Users by 13%.

These results were restricted to the years: 1975, 1978, 1983, 1986, and 1988 through 1998

Women Working Outside the Home

Unlike the previous one, this was a scale from 1 to 5, from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, respectively. Lower the number, the better.

The study looked at 7 questions and then applied (and reversed ordered where appropriate) which were the most egalitarian responses and which were the least egalitarian. These are 3 examples (other 4 questions was not provided):

  • All in all, family life suffers when the woman has a full-time job
  • A woman and her family will all be happier if she goes out to work
  • Both the husband and the wife should contribute to the household income

Male Porn Users again were more egalitarian than Male Non-Porn Users by a rate of 3%

Female Porn Users again were more egalitarian than Female Non-Porn users by a rate of 7%.

These results were restricted to the years: 1988, 1994, and 2002.

Abortion

This was based on a 3 point scale, which represented 3 possible answers: Yes/Don’t Know/No or Agree/Not Sure/Disagree. Lower the number, the better.

Feminist viewpoint is that all women should have access to abortion, no matter the circumstances, including:

  • pregnancy as a result of rape
  • pregnancy when the woman is unmarried
  • for any other reason

Male Porn Users appeared more in favor of women having access to abortion, thus more egalitarian, than Non-Porn Users by a result of 8%.

Female Porn Users appeared more Egalitarian than Non-Porn users by a result of 9%.

These results were restricted to the years:1978, 1980, 1983, 1984, and 1987 through 2010

Traditional Family

The study looked at 10 questions and then applied (and reversed ordered where appropriate) which were the most egalitarian responses and which were the least egalitarian, on the basis that Traditional Families either benefited or hindered its members. Traditional families were defined by the survey as:

‘‘In many married couples, women take the main responsibility for the care of the home and children, while men take the main responsibility for supporting the family financially.’’

This was based on a 3 point scale, which represented 3 possible answers: Yes/Don’t Know/No. 1 would indicate a negative attitude towards a Traditional Family, where 3 represents a positive attitude. As before, lower the number, the better.

Male Porn Users were more egalitarian in being less in favor of a traditional family than Male Non-Porn Users by a result of 3%.

Female Non-Porn Users were more egalitarian than Female Porn Users by a result of 1%.

Conclusions

What do these results tell us? First off, the difference between Porn Users and Non-Porn Users on average was about 6%, with heavy favoritism toward Porn Users. That result seems quite negligible, but that is actually the point. Feminists state that porn-users are likely to be more hateful towards women than anyone else. Even Gail Dines state that porn is the best delivery method for men to learn to hate women.

The difference between the two ranged between 1% – 13%. Rather small, but was rather consistent that Porn Users were consistently more egalitarian than their Non-Porn User counterparts. So, not only is there a lack of correlation between Porn Use and Non-Egalitarian Viewpoint, but rather, the opposite appears to be the truth, that Porn-Users are likely to have more of an Egalitarian Viewpoint.

However, as the study itself states, this is by no means any grounds for a conclusion. The information is limited, and may in fact be coincidence that this result occurred. As we can see, each question that can be asked is not asked every year, and each question had a different amount of participants.

This study doesn’t prove whether or not the viewing of porn makes one more or less egalitarian, but only challenges the bias that radical feminists hold, in that non-porn users are more egalitarian than porn users. Because the results appeared very close to each other, it demonstrates that the radical feminist viewpoint is wrong, as the results should have shown a greater egalitarianism for Non-Porn Users.

At best, this survey demonstrates that the radical feminists bias is incorrect, and should not be applied to any survey, and that more study should be done on the effects of porn use and gender equality attitudes, and use non-porn users as a control to measure porn users.

However, this study does open the possibility that Porn Users are likely have a greater appreciation of women than previously thought. Perhaps, watching porn doesn’t teach men to hate women and women to be a victim to men, but rather teach both men and women to appreciate each other more. I think more studies should be done to find out whether or not this is true, and less studies be conducted by radical feminists.

Of course, leave it to Feminists to misinterpret a study that is done on the basis of radical feminist having biased research with no conclusive results that is then misinterpreted by other feminists.

Join me for part 2 where I attempt to recreate the results, where I measure all stats leading up to 2014, testing a wider variety of variables.

mad_cat

mad_cat

Author at Concrete Desk
Once a member of the Honey Badgers, he left due to real life issues going on that required more of his focus. He is doing all that he can to make a career out of writing, but still is in the movement to give voice to men that so rarely get their voice heard. On YouTube, he is known as the Angry Egalitarian.

He's an easy going guy who loves deep analytical thought, enjoys gaming, and being goofy.
mad_cat

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mad_cat

Once a member of the Honey Badgers, he left due to real life issues going on that required more of his focus. He is doing all that he can to make a career out of writing, but still is in the movement to give voice to men that so rarely get their voice heard. On YouTube, he is known as the Angry Egalitarian. He's an easy going guy who loves deep analytical thought, enjoys gaming, and being goofy.