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Are the effects of pornography negligible?

Montreal, December 1, 2009 A Universit de Montral researcher, funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence Against Women, has launched a new study to examine the effects of pornography on men. "We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography. We couldn't find any," says Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a postdoctoral student and professor at the School of Social Work.

"The objective of my work is to observe the impact of pornography on the sexuality of men, and how it shapes their perception of men and women," says Lajeunesse. To do so, he has so far recruited and interviewed 20 heterosexual male university students who consume pornography.

"They shared their sexual history starting with their first contact with pornography, which was in early adolescence. Not one subject had a pathological sexuality. In fact, all of their sexual practices were quite conventional," says Lajeunesse.

The research concluded that 90 percent of pornography is consumed on the Internet, while 10 percent comes from video stores. On average, single men watch pornography three times a week for 40 minutes. Those who are in committed relationships watch it on average 1.7 times a week for 20 minutes.

Lajeunesse found most boys seek out pornographic material by the age of 10, when they are most sexually curious. However, they quickly discard what they don't like and find offensive. As adults, they will continue to look for content in tune with their image of sexuality. They also rarely consume pornography as a couple and always choose what they watch.

All test subjects said they supported gender equality and felt victimized by rhetoric demonizing pornography. "Pornography hasn't changed their perception of women or their relationship which they all want as harmonious and fulfilling as possible. Those who could not live out their fantasy in real life with their partner simply set aside the fantasy. The fantasy is broken in the real world and men don't want their partner to look like a porn star," says Lajeunesse.

Lajeunesse refutes the perverse effect often attributed to pornography. "Aggressors don't need pornography to be violent and addicts can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, gaming and asocial cases are pathological. If pornography had the impact that many claim it has, you would just have to show heterosexual films to a homosexual to change his sexual orientation."


Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
University of Montreal

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