Sex & Dating | April 7, 2021 2:13 pm

Does Porn Normalize Sexual Violence? A New Study Reveals Troubling Signs.

The largest study of online porn to date shows the prevalence of violent content

ipad in bed shows porn
A new study out of the U.K. looked at the prevalence of sexual violence on porn websites.
Unsplash

The largest study of online porn to date is now available, and the results reveal some pretty disturbing, if not entirely surprising, realities about the world of internet porn.

The British study, published in the latest issue of The British Journal of Criminology, found that one in eight porn videos suggested to first-time users included descriptions of violent and/or non-consensual sex acts. The study, in which researchers took hourly screenshots of the homepages of popular porn sites like Pornhub, XVideos and XHamster over a six-month period between 2017 and 2018, revealed that more than 8,000 titles of those surveyed included references to forced and physically aggressive sexual activity. Analysis of video titles and descriptions found significant overlap with keywords matching the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual violence, including words like “forced,” “molest,” “grope” and “ambush.” Words referring to image-based sexual abuse were also common, with nearly 3,000 titles featuring keywords including “hidden cams” and “upskirting.”

The study also showed that keywords suggesting young or underage characters (and potentially underage performers) were common in videos with coercive and exploitative content, with words like “schoolgirl,” “girl” and “teen” among the most frequent. Titles involving sexual activity among family members — “stepmother” being the most common — were also found to be more likely to feature troubling keywords suggesting violence.

The problem this study has brought to light, as Vice put it, is that “videos containing sexual violence are being packaged in a way to pass them off as socially acceptable, leading to a disconnect for the viewers on the boundaries between sex and sexual violence.” Pornhub, however, has defended itself, telling BBC that “consenting adults are entitled to their own sexual preferences, as long as they are legal and consensual, and all kinks that meet these criteria are welcome on Pornhub.”

The survey comes during a particularly troubled time for the porn industry in general, and Pornhub in particular. Last week, Pornhub released its first-ever Transparency Report, revealing the site had removed 653,465 pieces of content that potentially violate their guidelines following last year’s New York Times scandal.

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