Does Pornography Make Boys Misogynistic When They Grow Up?
A growing body of research shows an unhealthy correlation between pornography and negative attitudes toward women.
The earlier boys are exposed to pornography, the more likely they are to develop the misogynistic belief that women should be controlled by men, according to a new study presented at the American Psychological Association. The study authors also found a correlation between watching pornography and acceptance of a “playboy” lifestyle — one that encourages promiscuous sexual activity with multiple female partners, according to Fatherly.
“We had expected that the lower age of first exposure would show stronger endorsement of these masculine norms based on basic learning theory,” Christina Richardson, a coauthor on the study from the University of Nebraska, told Fatherly. “What we found instead is that it didn’t work that way for both masculine norms.”
The researchers polled 330 mostly white undergraduate men in the Midwest about the way they were first exposed to pornography — accidentally, forced, or voluntary — as well as their current attitudes toward women and sex. The researchers found that the type of exposure was irrelevant, but the correlation between age and attitude wasn’t. While the younger boys grew to adhere to the “power over women” belief, those exposed later in life were more likely to develop the “playboy” lifestyle.
“That was one of the big surprises that we did not expect,” Richardson said.
This research is not conclusive and does not cite pornography as the causation of these negative attitudes, but the study adds to a growing body of scientific research that shows long-term exposure to pornography can alter the way men negatively behave toward women. Richardson told Fatherly that men shouldn’t stop consuming pornography, but suggested they evaluate the genre they watch, and think critically about the messages they receive through the medium.
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