Media addicted to self-fulfilling porn survey shock

Dr Petra has an excellent breakdown of a recent UK survey that ran with the finding that a quarter of men are worried about their online porn use.

Although the piece looks at the details of this particular headline grabbing story, it really serves as a good critique of almost any media survey about sex, as it examines the process of how such surveys are conducted and subsequently reported by the media.

Porn is a topic that is of increasing interest to the media because it fills a particular niche in the way sex is reported: it allows a sexy headline grabbing topic to presented while framing it with acceptable matronly concern.

If you look at the press coverage of this survey (alongside reflecting on the discussions I had with journalists today) some very definite patterns of how journalists/the media see sex/relationships and porn.

The view from medialand is as follows:

Who looks at porn? Well, it’s men. They are all straight and the porn they are seeking out is also heterosexual. Women are constructed as having problems/concerns about pornography – but only in relation to their (male) partner’s use of it. ‘Pornography’ as a term is used to mean one genre from one format (the internet). Looking at mainstream porn in moderation is okay, but if you do it often then it becomes a problem. Quite often described in the medicalised language of addiction.

Men are naturally sexual and so can’t help liking porn, but if they do look at it they’ll become abusers or change their neurological makeup or sexual behaviour. Women don’t like porn, those who do are presented as being in a minority, probably deluded, or liking romantic/couples-based/equality-based/feminist porn. Porn within relationships is only permissible if it’s to spice things up (or encourage reluctant wives to get in the mood). LGBT folk aren’t even thought about…

If you’re starting from this as your standard position it makes thinking critically about pornography difficult. It means journalists will be tasked (or choose) to find evidence to stack up this world view. It also means it’s risky to find other ways to think about/explore porn for fear of being seen to endorse it.

By the way, the image on the right is a French cartoon from the 1800s satirising concern about the ‘pornography epidemic’.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
 

Link to excellent Dr Petra piece on media porn surveys.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, ‘porn’ is the new catch phrase, e.g. food porn, fashion porn, etc. Like how the word addiction got appropriated e.g. ‘I have a scrap booking addiction.’ Pornography addiction, however, is very real and serious: a Neuroscience Perspective

    http://bit.ly/kIeMZa


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