Feeds

Survey sets out to pin down nation's pr0n habits

Semiotics of smut sought for the good of us all

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A ground-breaking and timely survey of how individuals use porn was launched yesterday.

The aim of this survey, available online at pornresearch.org, is to collect evidence around the everyday uses of pornography and find out how the people who use it feel it fits into their lives. Ultimately, the data may be used to challenge some of the assumptions now current in debate around the "sexualisation" of society.

Critics of the research have questioned whether such work is necessary, claiming that "everyone knows how porn is used". Those behind the survey, Professors Martin Barker and Feona Attwood, and Dr Clarissa Smith, reader in sexual culture at the University of Sunderland, reckon that the real problem is that we don't have the answers, and society is attempting to legislate in a vacuum.

While not denying the moral dimension of many of the questions, the researchers are concerned that the voices of users and enjoyers will be swamped by a prevailing critical assumption that the only issues worth considering are how problematic porn use is, or how it might affect children. The researchers believe that there can be many different and complicated reasons for looking at pornography and that not all the materials that go under that label are the same, only to be distinguished by how ‘extreme’ or ‘explicit’ they are.

Dr Smith told the Reg: "Although there is much speculation and plenty of academic work which insists on porn having demonstrable and problem 'effects' on users, I've been struck by how often researchers have told me there is no need for any empirical research on how and why porn is consumed.

"Apparently, everyone knows why people look at pornography and that looking leads to bad behaviours, so to want to research what people have to say about how porn fits into their sense of self, their relationships and their everyday lives is to simply waste energy on measuring the obvious.

"At a time when governments are seeking to close down adults' access to adult materials in order to 'protect children' and, at the same time, ensure that supposition and assertion will be all that is necessary to get bad laws passed, it seems to me and my fellow researchers that research of this kind has never been more urgently required."

This approach was given weight at the weekend by Dr Brooke Magnanti, more widely known for her writing as Belle de Jour, who recently debunked widely cited "research" that claimed a link between lap-dancing clubs in Camden and violence against women.

Attacking the certainties of those who believe they have all the answers in respect of sex, she argued: "When it comes to the public discussion of sex there’s a lot that’s wrong. The main problem is misinformation, with biased sources spreading information that is at best poorly researched and at worst completely incorrect."

The survey results are to be published at the end of the year. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.