Yes, we do need research on pornography…!

Hello everyone – the Living With Porn(ography) project has now had it’s second research meeting and 8 women attended, bringing the group up to 9 members including myself. We have had some really interesting discussions! I am planning to blog more about the project over the next few weeks but for now here is a brief blog about a recent article that I tweeted about, and we discussed in our last research group. 

On Sunday the 7th of May, I read in the Observer magazine, an article entitled “why studying porn is like taking a cold shower” by Eva Wiseman. I found the article to be extremely frustrating, it was a very scathing dismissal of pornography research. One of the examples of said research is the series “Hot Girls Wanted” on Netflix, a series recently criticised for its deception of the women featured in it. Hardly, an example of robust, ethical or responsible research, like many of us pornography researchers aspire to. Eva stated that “there is an ever-growing number of reports and studies on pornography” and asked: “Is this obsession just another way of consuming it?” I very much wanted to respond to this question (by publishing a response), particularly from my perspective as a pornography researcher. I asked the women in the research group what they thought, and we all agreed we need more research on pornography, not less! While I did have some helpful communication from some Guardian/ Observer journalists, I wasn’t able to get anything published this time. So instead, I thought I would blog here the letter I tried to get published which the research group gave their input to.  

“As a PhD student researching pornography, I was quite frustrated to read Eva Wiseman’s  dismissal of pornography research in the Observer Magazine. At a time of such unprecedented availability and accessibility, and increasingly conflicting messages about its benefits and ills, I think we need more research on pornography not less. My research project ( concerns women’s experiences of pornography, and together with a group of Sheffield based women, we are exploring how women feel about pornography, and how it features in our lives. Though there is a diverse range of opinions present in the group, everyone feels opening the discussion on pornography is important. At our most recent meeting, I put to them Eva’s question: “is this obsession just another way of consuming it?” to which one woman instantly responded (to raucous laughter): “we’re not all sitting here masturbating”. Everyone agreed that “knowing more stuff is always going to help you”. We hope this research can be an opportunity to hear voices that aren’t always heard, and open the conversation on pornography. We need to talk about it more not less. The group wished to extend an invitation to Eva, come and chat to us about pornography, perhaps we can change your mind about pornography research.”

I’d be interested to hear what everyone else’s opinions are, so please do get in touch if you have any comments/ questions. I’ll blog again soon with more research updates. #LetsTalkAboutPorn