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RESEARCH ARTICLE

‘It’s always just there in your face’: young people’s views on porn

Shelley Walker A B C D , Meredith Temple-Smith C , Peter Higgs A B and Lena Sanci C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Curtin University, National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Melbourne Office Suite 6, 19–35 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Vic. 3065, Australia.

B Burnet Institute, Centre for Population Health, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.

C University of Melbourne, Department of General Practice, 200 Berkeley Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: shelley.walker@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

Sexual Health 12(3) 200-206 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH14225
Submitted: 25 November 2014  Accepted: 23 February 2015   Published: 4 May 2015

Abstract

Background: Young people’s exposure to pornography has increased, as has the violent and sexist nature of mainstream porn. Contemporary content means young people are exposed to violent porn whether they like it or not, and it is no longer a question of whether they will be exposed, but rather when. Methods: Using purposive sampling, 33 in-depth interviews were conducted with young people aged 15–20 years in 2010–11, to explore the phenomenon of sexting. During initial interviews, participants raised the topic of pornography exposure as a secondary, unexpected finding. Discussions highlighted an important link between sexting and pornography. The inductive nature of the research meant this new and important area of inquiry was able to be explored. Results: Data was thematically coded and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Findings highlight that many young people are exposed to porn both intentionally and unintentionally. Furthermore, they are concerned about gendered norms that reinforce men’s power and subordination over women. A link between porn exposure, young men’s sexual expectations and young women’s pressure to conform to what is being viewed, has been exposed. Conclusions: Results are significant given this is one of few recent qualitative Australian studies to explore the issue of pornography exposure from the perspective of young people. Important implications for educators, parents and health providers have been revealed, including the need to create opportunities for young people to challenge the messages expressed in porn, and for their views to be heard in academic and public debate.


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