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Pornography and Pornification

The rise of pornography, and its negative effects on broader culture, are well-documented. Far from being a form of sexual expression that individuals experience in the privacy of their bedrooms, pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry that relies on the exploitation of girls and women worldwide. According to recent findings, the global porn industry is worth an estimated 97 billion dollars[1];a figure that continues to rise with the expansion of new technologies. In an effort to compete with so-called ‘amateur pornography’, porn companies are now increasingly making content that is more extreme and degrading to women, such as ‘artificial snuff’, an popular and emerging form of pornography where men engage in sex acts with women presented as corpses.[2]

Despite claims that pornography is now ‘feminist’ and inclusive of women’s sexual desires, pornography regularly features women in subordinated positions, where they are verbally, psychologically, physically, and sexually victimised,often by men.  This culture of female subordination and male dominance is further promoted by the medical profession, sexology, advertising, fashion, music videos, and even popular texts such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Unsurprisingly, the mainstreaming of pornography has had negative effects on girls and women. Women, for example, are more likely to be pressured by their male partners to perform  sex acts that are potentially harmful, such as rough anal sex. They are also more likely to experience pressure to conform to unrealistic standards of beauty set by the porn industry, such as the removal of public hair and the re-shaping of the labia for cosmetic purposes. As some psychological researchers explain, this has the potential to lead to deleterious long-term effects on the mental health of young girls.

Although porn culture is now an unavoidable facet of everyday life, there are ways to challenge it. There is currently a growing anti-pornography feminist movement that explicitly positions pornography, and the pornification of Western culture, as a form of male violence against women. We have provided you with a list of old and new books, as well as journal articles, that may assist you in starting discussions of your own about the harms of pornography and pornification.


Sexualization, Media and Society: An online journal of scholarly research, editted by Gail Dines and others

Boyle, K (ed) (2010). Everyday Pornography . Oxford: Routledge.

Dines, G. (2010). Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality. Melbourne: Spinifex Press.

Dworkin, A. (1981). Pornography: Men possessing women. London: Women’s Press.

Levy, A. (2005). Female chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture. London: Pocket.

Long, J. (2012). Anti-porn: The resurgence of anti-porn feminism. London: Zed Books.

Jeffreys, S. (2008). The industrial vagina: The political economy of the global sex trade. London:

Kiraly, M., & Tyler, M. (2015). Freedom fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism. Ballarat: Connor
Court Publishing.

Tankard-Reist, M., & Bray, A. (2011). Big porn inc: Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry. Melbourne: Spinifex Press.

Tyler, M. (2011). Selling sex short: The pornographic and sexological construction of women’s sexuality in the West. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Tyler, M., & Quek, K. (2016). Conceptualising pornographication: A lack of clarity and problems for feminist analysis.Sexualisation, Media, & Society, 2(2).

Tylka, T. L., & Kroon Van Diest, A. M. (2015). You looking at her “hot” body may not be
“cool” for me: Integrating male partners’ pornography use into objectification theory for women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(1), 67-84.