‘What Themes in Pornography Lead to Perceptions of the Degradation of Women?’ – by Gloria Cowan and Kerri F. Dunn (1994)

“We assessed ratings of nine themes in commercial pornography to test feminist theory about what is degrading to
women in pornography. Ninety-four female and 89 male college student volunteers rated nine brief excerpts of sexually explicit material. Seven of the nine themes depicted two types of inequalities, active subordination and status
inequality; one theme depicted female indiscriminate availability; and one theme depicted equal sex.

Participants viewed the themes either with or without accompanying definitions. Consistent with feminist theory, both men and women who viewed the excerpts rated active subordination more degrading than status inequalities and both types of
inequalities more degrading than sexually explicit material with equality, with one qualification. Women rated all
inequalities and availability more degrading than equal sex, whereas men rated active subordination themes and
status inequalities more degrading than nonreciprocated sex, female availability, and equal sex.

In general, video clips without the definitions were rated as degrading as those presented with definitions, with some variations in ratings of status inequality themes. Suggestions for future research to assess degrading aspects of pornography are provided.”

Author(s): Gloria Cowan and Kerri F. Dunn

Source: The Journal of Sex Research,Vol. 31, No. 1 (1994), pp. 11-21