Men’s use of pornography

Authored by: Matthew B. Ezzell

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Pornography is sometimes dismissed, celebrated, or problematized as fantasy (see, e.g., Kipnis 1996; Lehman 2006; Williams 2004). It has been argued that pornography reflects, shapes, and conditions the sexual imaginations and fantasies of consumers and, more broadly, those growing up within a social world in which pornography is neither fringe nor secret, but part and parcel of the mainstream culture (Dines 2010; Levy 2005; Paul 2005). And, yet, in important respects, pornography is not fantasy. The billions of dollars traded in national and international markets are real. 1 The women and men used in its production are real. What is done to those people is real. And the consumers who purchase or otherwise access pornographic material are real (Boyle 2000; Dworkin 1995; Jensen 2007). The majority of these consumers are heterosexual men. 2 While these men, the everyday consumers of pornography, have been the focus of much research, here I highlight the ways that men’s choices to consume pornography function as an expression of patriarchal masculinity that reinforces sex inequality. I will outline the male pornography consumer and the material consumed, analyze men’s choices in the context of patriarchy and global corporate capitalism, review existing research on the impact of men’s consumption patterns, and discuss the promise of men’s choices to resist. Who is the male pornography consumer, and what impact do his choices have on the world he inhabits?

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