Pornography and Censorship

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Diana E. H. Russell


Research on How Women Experience the Impact of Pornography

Research on how women experience the impact of pornography has so far been of little interest to male researchers. I would therefore like to present some preliminary results from my own research. *

Nine hundred thirty-three women 18 years and older, who were living in San Francisco during the summer of 1978, were interviewed to ascertain the prevalence of sexual assault in that city. These women were drawn from a random-household sample obtained by a San Francisco public-opinion polling firm -- Field Research Associates. The women in the study were asked the following question: "Have you ever been upset by anyone trying to get you to do what they'd seen in pornographic pictures, movies, or books?" Of the 929 women who answered this question, 89 (10 percent) said they had been upset by such an experience at least once, while 840 (90 percent) said they had no such experience. Since the sample is a representative one, one can predict from this finding that 10 percent of the adult female population in San Francisco would say that they have been upset by men having seen something in pornography and then trying to get the women to do what they'd seen. Of course, it is possible that the women may be wrong in thinking that the men were inspired by what they had seen in the pornographic pictures, movies, or books. On the other hand, there are

Excerpted from Diana E. H. Russell, "Pornography and Violence: What Does the New Research Say?" In Laura Lederer, editor, Take Back the Night, William Morrow ( 1980). Reprinted by permission of the author. I

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