Three Faces of Sexual Explicitness: The Good, the Bad, and the Useful
Kathryn Kelley Lori Dawson University at Albany, State University of New York Donna M. Musialowski Clarion University
The title of this chapter, Three Faces of Sexual Explicitness, refers to the major topics we examine. First, empirical effects of sexual explicitness certainly do involve antisocial ones, but they can also include potentially prosocial and educational effects. The second major topic reviewed here concerns the interface of internal fantasy and external stimulation. Finally, therapy for sexual deviance, variation, and dysfunction, and the important issues connected to them, receive attention.
Cutting across each of these three topics is the theme of individual differences in affective or feeling response. A sexually explicit stimulus that evokes socially harmless pleasure in some individuals may lead to great displeasure and even socially negative effects in other individuals. Thus, what may be good, bad, or useful according to some perceivers may have bad, worse, and ugly connotations to others. Evaluations of worth, decisions about policy issues, and even attributions about the bearers of this information are all dependent on this powerful personality trait, sexual attitudes ( Kelley, 1985a).
While participating in the U.S. Surgeon General's Workshop on Pornography and Public Health held in June, 1986, Kelley observed the great need for precision in definition. In this chapter, sexual