Elisabeth Taylor graduated with First Class Honours in History from Sydney University. She was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship for PhD research at Cambridge University where she completed her doctoral thesis in medieval women’s history. Taylor worked for several years in telecoms with an international consultancy based in Cambridge before moving back to Australia. She has undertaken teaching and research work for the Australian Catholic University. Since joining the Australian Christian Lobby as Director of Research, Elisabeth’s research has centered around issues of sexuality and gender.
The pornography industry is expanding exponentially as a result of ongoing technological advances. The ability to stream videos over the internet and the ubiquity of the smart phone have meant that pornography producers are able to use algorithms to target potential consumers, to cultivate new sexual tastes and to deliver content to a more diverse audience over mobile devices. The advent of virtual reality pornography with interactive sex toys and sex robots imbued with artificial intelligence promises to unleash a further step-change in the extent to which pornography influences ‘real-world’ sexual culture. The critical analysis of pornography undertaken over decades largely by feminist academics and activists has produced a compelling account of how pornography serves to manipulate ordinary sexual interests and direct consumers towards more extreme content. The objectification of pornography performers and the promotion of the idea that they are consenting are both essential strategies to allow normal men (and, though less often, women) to feel comfortable with their pornography viewing. Drawing on interational academic literature from a range of disciplines, together with evidence from popular culture, contemporary news, and criminal law cases, this paper examines the growing body of evidence that pornography plays a pivotal and causal role in shaping real-world sexual behaviours and expectations. As the increasingly brutal fantasies represented in pornography continue to inform expectations for sexual experiences, the evidence for the detrimental consequences of this also proliferates. The nature and extent of these detrimental consequences are explored particularly with reference to three population groups: women, adolescents, and children. Having described the nature of modern pornographic content and isolated pornography as an important agent of change in sexual culture, this paper then explores the connection between the the behaviours celebrated in gonzo porn and real-world sexual violence towards women. The promotion of sexually risky practices to adolescents through pornography has a material impact on sexual health as well as social wellbeing. The long-term effects of this can only be guessed at, since no generation has previously been saturated with such extreme sexual content available through such a variety of media. Measurable health outcomes as well as self-reported effects on teenagers highlight the dangers of the current trajectory. Finally, the dangers to children are emphasised in a discussion of how the fantasies encouraged by ‘pseudo child porn’ genres engender a sexual interest in genuine child exploitation material (CEM), which in turn increases the risk of contact abuse for children. CEM is also used by paedophiles to groom future victims and forms ‘currency’ within online communities of men with paedophilic interests. The rise of child-on-child sexual assault can, in many cases, be causally linked to children’s access to pornography or to previous experience of sexual abuse, which is very often filmed.
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Taylor, Elisabeth (2018) "Pornography as a Public Health Issue: Promoting Violence and Exploitation of Children, Youth, and Adults," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 3: Iss. 2, Article 8. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2018.03.02.08
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