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New Study Reveals Just How Differently Women And Men Are Treated in Porn

It's getting a little better. Kind of.

According to a new study from the Journal of Sex Research, there is still a ton of gender inequality in porn (duh) but it is shifting toward equality in a few small ways. 

The study analyzed 400 pornographic online videos from the most popular porn websites (Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, and xHamster) and found that women were objectified more via instrumentality ("treating someone as a tool for one's own purposes, whose experience and feelings [if any] are unimportant") while men were objectified through dehumanization ("the denial of human characteristics, through which people are no longer viewed as having feelings and thoughts"). Both pretty much seem the same in my eyes. If you're treating someone as an object, they're not a person, so it seems like both genders are achieving the same result through slightly different means. But at least the genders seem to be more equally objectified now than ever.

A 1993 study showed that many of the relationships in porn were of a powerful man in a higher position than the woman (boss/secretary). However, in the contemporary videos they watched, men didn't differ in social or professional status from women, violence was rare ("except for spanking and gagging"), and rape fantasies were relatively rare (though who knows what's relative.) 

They also noted that porn still objectifies women by featuring a ton of sex organ close-ups, female-focused sex happened rarely, and women are rarely seen as having orgasms, with many porn scripts starting with blow jobs and ending with guys coming. 

Another study conducted by A. McKee in 2005 said that in porn, women are initiating sex just as often if not more so than men, and that women's faces are shown more often in close-up shots. Because of that information, McKee concluded that sex doesn't objectify women more than men, which is accurate, but the absolute wrong interpretation of those facts, since in most of those scenarios, women are initiating male-driven sex (i.e. "I want you to use me to make you come and I'll be over here, without ever having an orgasm") and the close-ups are usually just used to show how much the woman is supposedly loving serving the man with zero needs of her own. 

Also noteworthy is that researchers, one of whom being McKee, who reported rarely seeing "coerced sex" in pornography included videos that were "not sexually explicit" and "scenes that were not sexual" in their study materials. 

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One slightly less depressing thing is that instances of coerced sex have decreased since the '80s and '90s where it happened frequently among "explicit sex scenes." In a more recent study on Internet porn from 2014, they found that these kinds of scenes were more rare, though they say those findings are inconclusive. 

Which doesn't leave us with very much, but at least Naughty Female Secretary plot lines are on the decline. 

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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