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Why (Some) Women (Dis)like Porn

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Hyperfeminine women seem to appreciate pornography more than other women.

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Pornography is considered a male thing. It is produced by men, for men. As a result, women are often expected to dislike it. And many women do. There is a large body of research that shows that women respond with less sexual arousal and more negative affect towards pornography than men. This is said to be the result of the frequent portrayals of male dominance and female objectification and submission in pornography, which are a turn-off for most women.

I repeat, MOST women. Because not all women are the same. In my own research I tend to focus on how one woman can differ from another when it comes to sexual beliefs, and how this can determine her responses to pornography. More specifically, I have been investigating individual differences in hyperfemininity. Basically, hyperfeminine women adhere to the idea that having a relationship with a man is one of the most important goals a woman should strive for, that women should be sexually attractive in order to attract men, and that it is ok for men to be sexually dominant and for women to be sexually submissive.

Sounds familiar, right? Indeed, the sexual beliefs of hyperfeminine women are quite similar to the frequent themes in pornography. This made me wonder: If the content of pornography is so similar to the sexual beliefs of hyperfeminine women, why would it then be a turn-off for these women? Well, as it turns out, it isn’t.

What I found in my research is that when hyperfeminine women are instructed to pay attention to the characters in pornography and how they interact with each other, they evaluate the pornographic content quite positively. They even seemed to like pornographic content a little better than erotic content (which is more female centered in that the sexual needs of women are attended to, and emphasizes equal roles for both partners). This in contrast to women that are less hyperfeminine, who evaluated pornographic content more negatively than they did the erotic content.

So there you go, not all women dislike porn. And now we (are beginning to) know why. The funny thing is that, in contrast to what the name would make us believe, hyperfeminine women are actually quite masculine in their reactions to porn. Makes you wonder whether we should really think in terms of gender differences, right? More on that later.

References:

Photo: Flickr, ceslava.com

van Oosten JM, Peter J, & Boot I (2014). Women’s Critical Responses to Sexually Explicit Material: The Role of Hyperfemininity and Processing Style. Journal of sex research PMID: 24511896

pornography, women, hyperfemininity, gender, men

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