Group 4

Women, Porn, and Erotica

Why Women Participate in Porn:

When we think of porn stars, we automatically think of women. Those of us who are not actresses in adult films wonder why a woman would want to partake in such activities. The first assumption we have is that women in the industry do it for money. Interviews with some adult film stars find that money was not initially what drew them into the business.

Five reasons actresses gave for participation:
  • Fame
  • Could Excel in the Art of Pornography (Good at it)
  • Find Yourself (Sexually Speaking)
  • Get Rid of Submissive Stereotypes of Women
  • Pleasure in Sex

To elaborate on the aboce mentioned reasons, women wanted to be famous. They wanted their name remembered. This goes hand in hand with the next reason, excelling in the art. One actress said she knew that she was good at sex so why not enter a field where she knew she would excel? Growing up she could not find her niche. Once she realized sex was something she knew was excelled in, making it a career was a wise source of income for her. She could use her passion for the industry to climb the ladder to success. The ultimate goal was fame. Being recognized with awards for performances in films was what she wanted to achieve. Another actress said that she was exploring herself sexually. She still needed to find herself and felt porn was a great industry to help her in that journey. She also wanted to get rid of the stereotype that women played submissive roles in sex. Both actresses said that they were motivated by the pleasure they got out of sex to look into the pornography industry (Smaill, 2009).

Each woman has her own personal reasons for getting involved with the pornography industry. It seems that most reasons can be categorized into a business or personal group. Personal reasons have an influence on the decision to participate in porn, but those personal reasons can also stem from a business perspective as well. Regardless, each female has her own reasons for the decisions she has made. These two individuals that are in the adult film industry do not represent all women who are in the field of pornography.

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Women's Reaction to Porn

Sexual Reaction to Porn and Erotica
  • Women and Men have the same sexual reaction
  • Women and men have close results in masturbation when looking at porn and erotica
  • Women and men have close results in arousal reaction when looking at porn and erotica
(Griffitt, 1987)

The Difference Between Women and Men with Porn and Erotica
  • Women aren't as interested in going out and buying the porn or erotica
  • Men are more likely to go out and buy porn or erotica
  • Men participate in sexual fantasy more than women
    (Leitenberg & Henning, 1995)
  • Men like porn and erotica because they want any sexual activity with out being told no
    (Lips, 2008)

Woman's Confidence
When a woman's sexual partner has been exposed to porn and erotica and he is attracted to a beautiful, perfect woman
in these magazines it can harm her self confidence.Being attracted to the perfect woman can also cause a womans
sexual partner to be less attracted to her which can cause problems in ones relationship (Gutierres, Kenrick, &Goldberg, 1983). Different porn and erotica can support male violence making the man less sympathetic to his sexual partner because the man is associating Violence to sexual arrousal causing the women low self esteem and insecure.This also makes a man be less sensitive to sexual assualt victims (Zillman & Weaver,1989).

When it comes to porn and erotica I found that men and women have really close sexual reactions. The difference is men just want it more than women. Women would rather have a sexual dream with her sexual partner with a story and a climax. The big difference is men and women just dream of sex differently. So I found when looking for woman's reactions to porn is that woman's emotions, self esteem, and confidence can be effected when porn and erotica is involved

Pornography vs. Erotica:

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When you look at these pictures what do you see?
Most people have difficulty distinguishing what is pornography versus erotica. defines the two as:
  1. PORNOGRAPHY-- obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.
  2. EROTICA -- explicitly sexual literature or art.

With these spotty definitions, it is extremely eaasy to get the two confused. This is why many people lump them both todether when they make their ideas and generalizations about the topic of erotica and pornography.

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A study found differing ways that women percieved pornography and erotica. The following are the four categories she places women into regarding their views: (Senn, 1993)
  1. "Radical Feminist Perspective" - These women have had numerous experiences with pornography and erotica. They believe that all sexual imagery or pornography either sets an 'unattainable' standard for everyday women to be held up to, disgraces women, or promotes violence. These women, however, do not see all sexual material to be pornography. Women falling into this category deem erotica and porn damaging for both genders.
  2. "Conservative Perspective" -- These women believe that pornography and erotica is wrong and at the very least should be hidden from the outside world if two people wish to engage in this behavior behind closed doors. They believe all sexual material to be pornography.They feel as if pornography is dirty, wrong, and damaging for both genders.
  3. "Humanist - Child Centered Perspective" -- Women in this category do not see porn or erotica as largely damaging to adults; it is not a favorable act, but it is tolerable. Their real issue with pornography is its potential effect on children. If innocent eyes were to see these 'tarnished' images of women at an early age, they believe that it could be devistating. Their true worst nightmare, like most individuals, is the involvement of children in the industry.
  4. "Ambivalent but Mildly Pro-Pornography Perspective" -- This is a group of women who are interested in and enjoy pornography. In their eyes, the only harm that could arise is the lowering of their own self confidence. They enjoy the idea of 'sexualizing' women and do not mind if their partner uses pornography or erotica.


These groups are a wonderful starting point for categorizing how women percieve pornography. Do you fit into one of these categories? According to Senn, most women do. She also states that the number of women watching porn is on the rise. The novelty of watching porn as a couple is dramatically increasing as well. She found that 1 in 3 people conusiming porn are women. It is clear that the sex industry is catering more to women and couples and liberating those who may be interested in exploring this part of sexuality but they are embarrassed of their curiosity (Senn, 1993).

Erotica vs. Art

When we think of erotica or seeing something erotic our minds go straight to thinking about things such as porn, or something sexually pleasurable. I would like to ask the question, What about Art? Art such as paintings and sculptures that are viewed as art work and nothing sexual is meant by it.

This is the sculpture of David by Michelangelo over 500 years ago. When this sculpture was created, the inspiration was that of a story, David and Goliath, it is to show the courage of David to fight Goliath without any armor. This piece of art is meant to show strength and courage, not to be seen as a sexual object. This sculpture is an example of one seeing nudity but not thinking of it as erotica.

On the other hand there are images, sculptures and paintings that show erotica that the main purpose is to express sexual pleasure. These are objects that show the explicit sexual act to get the viewer's arousal.

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This sculpture is showing the erotic act of sex and this particular piece of art does have the intention of putting that thought of sexual arousal in the viewer's mind.

There is a faint fine line between art seen as art and art seen as erotic. But when looking at these pieces of art we have to ask ourselves, what is the meaning or the purpose behind this and what is the artist intent? Was the artist purpose to arouse the viewer or to tell a story?

References:, 2011. Web. 24 Oct 2011

Griffitt, W. (1987) Females, Male, and sexual responses. In K. Kelly (Ed.), Females, Males and sexuality (pp.156-173). Albany:State University of New York Press.

Gutierres, S. E., Kenrik, D. T., & Goldberg, L. (1983, August). Adverse effect of of popular erotica on judgement of one's mate. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association , Anheim, CA.

Leitenberg, H., & Henning, K. (1995). Sexual fantasy Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 469-496

Lips, H. (2008). Sex and Gender (Sixth ed., pp. 299-301). N.p.: McGraw-Hill Higher Education

Sandstead, L. (2004, September 5). The Meaning of Michelangelo's David. In Art Historian Lee Sandstead.
Retrieved October 25, 2011, from

Senn, Charlene. (1993). "Womens multiple perspectives and experiences with pornography." Psychology of
Women Quarterly. 17:319-341. Ebsco Host. 10 Oct 2011.

Smaill, B. (2009). Documentary Investigations and the Female Porn Star. Jump Cut.

Zillman, D., & Weaver, J.B. (1989). Pornography and men's sexual callousness toward women. In D. Zillman & J. Bryant (Eds.), Pornography : Research advances and policy considerations (pp. 95-125). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

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