Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations

By Dolf Zillmann; Jennings Bryant | Go to book overview

Preface

Pornography has been with us for a long time. If its literal meaning--writings about prostitutes--is any indication, it is as old as the so-called oldest profession. Apparently, there have always been those eager to relate information about their own or others' sexual actions; and more importantly here, there have always been those who delighted in absorbing such information and who, consequently, were drawn to it.

Cultures have varied considerably in the degree of tolerance that they afforded these message exchanges. Mostly in efforts at curtailing violence and the exploitation of dependence in the pursuit of sexual access, sexual behavior has been universally subjected to legal or quasi-legal regulation ( Bullough, 1976). Some sexual affiliations and actions were condoned and encouraged; others were condemned and punished. Such regulation not only made particular intimate relationships socially proper, it also promoted the notion that sexual behavior in a bona fide relationship is private and to be screened from public view ( Zillmann, 1984). Moreover, it spawned the idea that sexual gossip about illegitimate relationships and specific goings-on might be dangerous, and hence highly undesirable, in that it challenges and potentially undermines regulatory efforts.

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