Growing up with access to hardcore: Exploring the meanings of pornography in the digital age

Samantha M Keene

PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, samantha.keene@vuw.ac.nz

The ‘sex wars’ of the 1980s divided feminists over the issue of pornography. For some, pornography depicted a sexist ideology which would promote and encourage violence against women. For others, pornography was viewed as an important outlet for sexual expression and a critical component of women’s liberation. Today, pornography is primarily viewed online and is more accessible than ever before. The proliferation of online pornography has reignited academic interest in this area, however critical criminological perspectives on this issue are lacking despite the potential for pornography-related harms (DeKeseredy, 2015). This paper provides an overview of an in-progress doctoral study exploring the role that pornography plays in the lives of New Zealanders between the ages of 17 and 30 who have grown up in a generation with access to hardcore internet pornography. This study uses qualitative methods, including an internet-based method of inquiry, and investigates the gendered differences in people’s experiences of pornography in relation to sex, intimacy, relationships and the self. This study provides a critical lens for understanding the meanings attributed to pornography, and contributes to the small, but growing, criminological literature base on this important issue.

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