A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography


Fritz, Niki; Malic, Vinny; Paul, Bryant; and Zhou, Yanyan


2020 in Archives of Sexual Behavior

  • In this study, researchers analyzed 4,009 pornographic scenes from Pornhub and Xvideos, finding that 45% of the Pornhub scenes and 35% of the Xvideos scenes contained physical aggression. Women were the targets of aggression 97% of the time, yet the performers were shown to respond with pleasure or neutrally 97.4% of the time on Pornhub and 92.7% of the time on Xvideos.
For decades, scholars and public health officials have been concerned with the depictions of sexual aggression in pornography, especially when acts of aggression are depicted with no consequences. Social cognitive theory suggests behaviors that are rewarded are more likely to be learned by consumers while those punished are less likely to be learned. To date, however, there has not been a large-scale content analysis to provide researchers with the baseline knowledge of the amount of sexual aggression in online pornography... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "In line with results from previous studies, women were overwhelmingly found to be the target of both physical and verbal aggression (Bridges et al., 2010; Klaassen & Peter, 2015). Specifically, women were the target of nearly 97% of all physically aggressive acts in the samples from both sites. This is an important finding. Although some have argued spanking could be considered a non-aggressive sexual act if the intent is not to harm (McKee, 2005), the data suggest women are the target of spanking in almost all scenes. Our data clearly suggest that a sexual script of spanking women but not spanking men is being normalized within online pornography. Indeed, all examined aggressive acts appear normalized to be perpetrated toward women and not men, such that it is implausible to imagine a woman spanking a man, choking him, or pulling his hair outside the context of a consensual BDSM depiction. As such, most physical aggression has not just been normalized in the sexual script, and it has been normalized to be against women."
  • "This study suggests that a significant portion of pornography contains depictions of aggression against women with no negative responses from targets; this may lead to the development among consumers of a sexual script that encourages the learning of aggression against women. Although consumers may not go to mass media, including pornography, with the specific motivation to learn sexual behaviors, they still might absorb the provided scripts."
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