Radical feminism conceives of pornography as fundamentally harmful to women; it is, in the words of anti-pornography activist Gail Dines, “the most succinct and crisp deliverer of a woman-hating ideology.” But past research on how porn influences how we think about equality for women has been inconsistent and often reliant on underpowered studies. Now, a US survey published in The Journal of Sex Research and involving 24,000 men and women who were quizzed between 1975 and 2010 has shown no link between pornography use and nonegalitarianism. In fact, male and female users of pornography were significantly more willing to endorse women in positions of power, working outside the home, and as having the right to make their own decisions over abortion.
These correlational effects run contrary to the claims about pornography’s power to condition attitudes against women. Taking the balance of findings, lead author Taylor Kohut concludes that they appear to indicate “that pornography use may not be associated with nonegalitarian attitudes toward women in the manner implied by radical feminist theory. In light of this evidence, continued anti-pornography rhetoric proclaiming that ‘pornography is what the end of the world looks like’ appears unjustified.”
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