What was the aim of the research project?

The aim of the research was to learn more about how women experience pornography in their lives. Essentially, the research explored how a group of women understood, perceived and felt about pornography, and the role / impact/ effect (or not) it had in their lives.

What is an experience of pornography?

One of the aims of this research was to better understand the different ways in which women can have an experience relating to pornography, and what these experiences are like. For example, you may have a direct experience of pornography through your own use, interest, performance, production, distribution, sale of, exposure to or opinions on pornography. You may have indirect experiences relating to a friend or family member’s interactions with pornography, or an experience relating to other people in your personal or professional life. Your experience could simply stem from your thoughts, feelings and opinions on pornography, and how that guides you within society. The research looked at some of the different types of encounters a group of women had with pornography, and how these were experienced to better understand what pornography meant for them.

What was the position of this research?

This research was conducted neither from an anti-pornography stance or a pro-pornography stance. Instead the research was open to women’s diverse experiences of pornography: positive, negative, indifferent and everything in-between. All perspectives on pornography were welcome within this research.

 Why is the title called “porn(ography)”?

The research is called porn(ography) so that you can decide for yourself whether to read it as “porn” or “pornography”. Linda Williams, an academic who has written on pornography, argues that the word “porn” is often used by those who agree with pornography, and denotes a familiarity with it. “Pornography” on the other hand is a more formal term, and used more often by those who disagree with it. Subsequently, the research has been titled “porn(ography)” so you can choose for yourself which name you are more comfortable with.

Who conducted the research project?

This research was conducted by Ruth Beresford, a PhD student at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. She has conducted research into pornography before during her undergraduate studies and for her masters dissertation.

Did the research have ethical approval?

The research was granted ethical approval by the University of Sheffield.

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