Menus Subscribe Search
porn-digital-keyboard

(PHOTO: DENCG/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Porn Viewing Impacts Attitudes on Women in Workplace

• September 16, 2013 • 4:00 AM

(PHOTO: DENCG/SHUTTERSTOCK)

New research finds people who watch pornography are less likely to support affirmative action for women.

Should women receive preferential treatment in the workplace? Newly published research suggests your attitude toward that complicated issue may be shaped, in part, by whether you indulge in a specific leisure-time activity: Watching porn.

Writing in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, Indiana University researchers Paul Wright and Michelle Funk report people who admitted to watching pornography were less likely to support affirmative action for women in a subsequent interview.

“Prior studies have found that pornography viewers are more likely to hold a variety of antisocial attitudes towards women.”

That equation held true once a variety of factors that could shape one’s view of the issue (including political ideology and religiosity) were removed from the equation. Furthermore, it applied to women as well as men.

“Practically,” the researchers write, “these results suggest that pornography may be a social influence that undermines support for affirmative action programs for women.”

Wright and Funk used data from the General Social Survey, an ongoing look at behaviors, attitudes, and trends. Specifically, they looked at answers given by the 200 members of a GSS panel, who answered series of questions in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

At the 2008 sessions, nearly 24 percent of the men and 13 percent of the women said they had watched a pornographic film during the previous year. Two years later, as part of a follow-up session, the same people were asked, “Are you for or against preferential hiring and promotion of women?”

The results: “Prior pornographic viewing predicted subsequent opposition to affirmative action for women.” While women in the study (like those in previous research) were more supportive of such programs than men, they, too, were less likely to express approval if they had watched porn.

According to the researchers, this suggests “sexual media activate abstract social scripts, which may then be used to inform opinions about social issues”—particularly issues dealing with gender equality.

But why would watching Debbie Does Dallas dampen support for hiring Heidi, or promoting Paula?

“Pornography often presents women as sexual objects deserving of degradation, and even aggression,” the researchers write. “In alignment with these depictions, prior studies have found that pornography viewers are more likely to hold a variety of antisocial attitudes towards women.”

Obviously, someone who thinks of women in broadly negative terms—or sees them primarily as sex objects—is unlikely to support policies designed to facilitate their success in the work world.

Wright and Funk note that there are pornography producers who create egalitarian fare. They add that they don’t support censorship of pornographic material. Rather, they write, the public needs to be educated about how women are depicted in most pornography, and the possible real-world effects of these depictions.

Their hope is that “increased public awareness of the misogyny in pornography and its antisocial effects will lead to social condemnation, stigmatization, and ultimately reduced production and consumption of such fare.”

Tom Jacobs
Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

More From Tom Jacobs

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

July 25 • 4:00 PM

Flying Blind: The View From 30,000 Feet Puts Everything in Perspective

Next time you find yourself in an airplane, consider keeping your phone turned off and the window open.


July 25 • 2:00 PM

Trophy Scarves: Race, Gender, and the Woman-as-Prop Trope

Social inequality unapologetically laid bare.


July 25 • 1:51 PM

Confusing Population Change With Migration

A lot of population change is baked into a region from migration that happened decades ago.


July 25 • 1:37 PM

Do Not Tell Your Kids That Eating Vegetables Will Make Them Stronger

Instead, hand them over in silence. Or, market them as the most delicious snack known to mankind.



July 25 • 11:07 AM

The West’s Groundwater Is Being Sucked Dry

Scientists were stunned to discover just how much groundwater has been lost from beneath the Colorado River over the past 10 years.


July 25 • 10:00 AM

Shelf Help: New Book Reviews in 100 Words or Less

What you need to know about Bad Feminist, XL Love, and The Birth of Korean Cool.



July 25 • 8:00 AM

The Consequences of Curing Childhood Cancer

The majority of American children with cancer will be cured, but it may leave them unable to have children of their own. Should preserving fertility in cancer survivors be a research priority?


July 25 • 6:00 AM

Men Find Caring, Understanding Responses Sexy. Women, Not So Much

For women looking to attract a man, there are advantages to being a caring conversationalist. But new research finds it doesn’t work the other way around.


July 25 • 4:00 AM

Arizona’s Double-Talk on Execution and Torture

The state is certain that Joseph Wood’s death was totally constitutional. But they’re looking into it.


July 24 • 4:00 PM

Overweight Americans Have the Lowest Risk of Premature Death

Why do we use the term “normal weight” when talking about BMI? What’s presented as normal certainly isn’t the norm, and it may not even be what’s most healthy.


July 24 • 2:00 PM

California’s Lax Policing of the Fracking Industry Has Put the Drought-Stricken State in a Terrible Situation

The state’s drought has forced farmers to rely on groundwater, even as aquifers have been intentionally polluted due to exemptions for the oil industry.


July 24 • 12:00 PM

What’s in a Name? The Problem With Washington’s Football Team

A senior advisor to the National Congress of American Indians once threw an embarrassing themed party that involved headdresses. He regrets that costume now, but knows his experience is one many others can relate to.


July 24 • 11:00 AM

How Wildlife Declines Are Leading to Slavery and Terrorism

As wildlife numbers dwindle, wildlife crimes are rising—and that’s fueling a raft of heinous crimes committed against humans.


July 24 • 10:58 AM

How the Supremes Pick Their Cases—and Why Obamacare Is Safe for Now

The opponents of Obamacare who went one for two in circuit court rulings earlier this week are unlikely to see their cases reach the Supreme Court.



July 24 • 9:48 AM

The People Who Are Scared of Dogs

While more people fear snakes or spiders, with dogs everywhere, cynophobia makes everyday public life a constant challenge.


July 24 • 8:00 AM

Newton’s Needle: On Scientific Self-Experimentation

It is all too easy to treat science as a platform that allows the observer to hover over the messiness of life, unobserved and untouched. But by remembering the role of the body in science, perhaps we humanize it as well.


July 24 • 6:00 AM

Commercializing the Counterculture: How the Summer Music Festival Went Mainstream

With painted Volkswagen buses, talk of “free love,” and other reminders of the Woodstock era replaced by advertising and corporate sponsorships, hippie culture may be dying, but a new subculture—a sort of purgatory between hipster and hippie—is on the rise.


July 24 • 5:00 AM

In Praise of Our Short Attention Spans

Maybe there’s a good reason why it seems like there’s been a decline in our our ability to concentrate for a prolonged period of time.


July 24 • 4:00 AM

How Stereotypes Take Shape

New research from Scotland finds they’re an unfortunate product of the way we process and share information.


July 23 • 4:00 PM

Who Doesn’t Like Atheists?

The Pew Research Center asked Americans of varying religious affiliations how they felt about each other.


July 23 • 2:00 PM

We Need to Start Tracking Patient Harm and Medical Mistakes Now

Top patient-safety experts call on Congress to step in and, among other steps, give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wider responsibility for measuring medical mistakes.


July 23 • 12:19 PM

How a CEO’s Fiery Battle Speeches Can Shape Ethical Behavior

CEO war speech might inspire ethical decisions internally and unethical ones among competing companies.


Follow us


Subscribe Now

Do Not Tell Your Kids That Eating Vegetables Will Make Them Stronger

Instead, hand them over in silence. Or, market them as the most delicious snack known to mankind.

The West’s Groundwater Is Being Sucked Dry

Scientists were stunned to discover just how much groundwater has been lost from beneath the Colorado River over the past 10 years.

How Wildlife Declines Are Leading to Slavery and Terrorism

As wildlife numbers dwindle, wildlife crimes are rising—and that's fueling a raft of heinous crimes committed against humans.

How a CEO’s Fiery Battle Speeches Can Shape Ethical Behavior

CEO war speech might inspire ethical decisions internally and unethical ones among competing companies.

Modern Technology Still Doesn’t Protect Americans From Deadly Landslides

No landslide monitoring or warning systems are being used to protect vulnerable communities.

The Big One

Today, the United States produces less than two percent of the clothing purchased by Americans. In 1990, it produced nearly 50 percent. July/August 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.