The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested.
Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be useful allies in women's struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office.
Taylor Kohut, the study leader and a post-doctoral fellow in psychology, analysed data from 35 years of the General Social Survey, a US government-funded project that interviews around 24,000 men and women a year about a variety of issues.
They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23% of people who said they had watched an X-rated film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
They also found that, on average, porn-watchers expressed more positive attitudes towards women in positions of power, as well as less negative attitudes towards abortion and women in the workforce.
Kohut said: I'd rather not live in a culture where our government decide to regulate [or] outlaw behaviour or material because they assume it's harmful. I'd rather they demonstrate it is, first.
Supporting the study Christopher Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M International University, said that gauges of male aggression such as rape and domestic violence have actually been decreasing throughout the Internet era, the
National Post reported. Dr Ferguson said:
I think if porn were going to ruin society, it's already had 20 years to do it ... And it's not happened.
Kohut said that the results may partly be explained by the fact that porn users are more likely to be liberal people, where as non-users are more likely to be conservative or religious.
Men aren't the only ones with a porn habit - as one in three women admit to watching X-rated videos at least once a week - and many say that they are using their cell phones to view it.
British photographer Amanda de Cadenet teamed up with Marie Claire magazine to create a comprehensive survey exploring modern women's relationships with porn - and the results indicate that the majority of female porn fans are viewing the erotic
videos alone, for their own pleasure, rather than with a partner.
Out of the more than 3,000 women surveyed, 91% of the survey's respondents identify as female, 8% identify as men and 1% is transgender.
And while 31% of them say they watch porn every week or so, 30% report viewing X-rated film at least a few times a month.
However, despite popular misconception, women aren't watching porn to appease their significant others. While 31% of people say they occasionally watch porn with their partners, only 3% say they do it regularly.
As for what women are watching, 63% say they enjoy heterosexual porn. And while 83% of respondents are straight, 44% say they gravitate towards lesbian porn and 31% say it's a mixed bag .
University professor notes: 'There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations'
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Brian McNair is one of the world's foremost academic experts on pornography.
The subject matter of his work is often seen as peculiar or taboo, yet he believes pornography should be studied in the same way as Hollywood movies and the pop industry. Professor McNair told ABC Brisbane's Spencer Howson that the growing
acceptance of pornography had made it a fascinating subject of academia:
Since the 1990s many scholars have taken the topic of pornography seriously and tried to apply to it the same methods that we use for mainstream cinema, advertising and so on, he said. There is a growing acceptance and tolerance of pornography
as something ordinary people do or use.
There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs. Professor Brian Mc Nair. He said the ease and degree of access had led to more people viewing
Children as young as 8, 9 or 10 have access to pornography, hard-core explicit images of a type that could not be purchased legally, or even in sex shops in Sydney, he said.
That is a qualitatively different environment than existed pre-internet, so it creates justified anxieties amongst parents about what their children are watching in their bedrooms at night.
That said, there is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations.
The statistics in all of these elements are improving.
He believes parents must take responsibility for policing the media consumption of their children. He said:
Apart from the very clear and unambiguously bad forms of pornography, I do not think it is helpful for the state to intervene and try to censor the internet for everyone
Whether or not you attribute broader social harms to pornography, there is no evidence that increasing access to pornography is somehow generating more sexual abuse or violence ... or the other things that sometimes pornography is accused of.
There is evidence of greater tolerance of gay marriage, reduced tolerance of domestic violence and sexism. All of this has happened despite the face that we have this hugely sexualised culture.
The question isn't if female ejaculation is real. It's why you don't trust women to tell you. The debate about squirting is actually about whether or not women can be trusted to accurately report their own sexual experiences.