Tara M. Emmers-Sommer Department of Communication University of Arizona Ryan J.

Burns Department of Communication Studies Texas Christian University Tara Emmers-Sommer (Ph.D., Ohio University, 1995) is Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Arizona. Ryan Burns (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2001) is Instructor, Department of Communication Studies, Texas Christian University. An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the National Communication Association Conference, Atlanta, GA, 2001. The authors would like to thank Mike Allen and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between exposure to online pornography and rape myth acceptance among self-directed users of online pornography. Results indicate that online pornography consumers are predominantly male, educated, in their mid-thirties, and are involved in close relationships. Participants reported viewing a variety of types of pornography that ranged in visual intensity from softcore, to hardcore, to coercion (i.e., female victim being coerced into an unwanted sex act). Reasons participants reported for consuming pornography primarily involved masturbation, curiosity, boredom, and to induce arousal. Results suggest that an elevation in the intensity of the pornography from softcore to hardcore to coercion relates to rape myth acceptance. In addition, participants who most frequently consume coercive pornography report significantly greater rape myth acceptance than participants who do not consume coercive pornography primarily. Theoretical and social implications of the findings follow. The Relationship Between Exposure to Internet Pornography and Sexual Attitudes Toward Women There are at least three specific reasons that make the study of Internet pornography consumption theoretically and socially important. First, Internet pornography is different than offline pornography in the nature of the experiences involved in consumption, the modes of production and dissemination, and the levels of violence displayed in the material. Cooper (1998) and Young (2002) provide in acronym form the main variables that account for the differences in the experience of consuming Internet pornography. Cooper, Scherer, Boies, and Gordon (1999) proposed the Triple A Engine (Access, Affordability, and Anonymity) to help understand the power and attraction of the Internet for sexual pursuits. Young (2002) claims her ACE model (Anonymity, Convenience, and Escape) explains how the Internet creates a climate of permissiveness that actually serves to encourage and validate sexually deviant behavior. Internet pornography also differs in the modes of production and dissemination. While all media technologies - from print to the Internet - have been used for sexual purposes (Noonan, 1998), Internet pornography's reduced cost and simplified production and distribution have resulted in a "democratization" of pornography (Lane, 2000). Internet pornography is also more violent than offline pornography. Barron and Kimmell's (2000) analysis of the levels of violence from print, to video, to computer-mediated technologies

revealed increasing levels of violence from one medium to the next, culminating in their observation that "Usenet contains more coercive and less consensual sex" than do print and video forms of pornography (Barron & Kimmell, 2000, p. 164). The second important reason to study Internet pornography is that it presents researchers the opportunity to target self-directed consumers of pornography. Indeed, one strong criticism of the majority of existing pornography research is that samples in such studies were recruited to become consumers for the study (Bryant & Brown, 1989). For many such individuals, participation in a one- shot pornography exposure study involves their first and last exposure to pornographic materials. Prolonged exposure to pornography, however, is more likely to affect attitudes and behaviors than short-term exposure (Zillmann & Bryant, 1984). The third reason to study Internet pornography concerns the problems in examining theoretical claims regarding pornography's effects on attitudes and behavior supported by data from one-shot studies involving non-self-directed consumers. Malamuth and Check (1981) suggested that the generalizability of findings from some experimental conditions might be limited. Fisher and Barak (2001) go so far as to claim that "research concerning the effects of experimentally enforced exposure (e.g., Check & Guloien, 1989) to sexually explicit materials on individuals who have not chosen to see such media . . . cannot be generalized readily to assumptions about effects of self-directed, real world exposure to Internet sexually explicit materials" (p. 316). Although identifying and locating self-directed consumers of traditional forms of pornography (e.g., magazine, video) is possible but difficult (see Padgett, BrislinSlutz, & Neal, 1989), the emergence of the Internet and Internet pornography enables researchers to readily tap the attitudes of those who voluntarily consume Internet pornography. While previous research suggests the existence of anti-social effects of pornography and the promotion of dysfunctional anti-female attitudes, to date the research literature on Internet pornography is scarce (Lo & Wei, 2002) and the existing empirical data find a lack of a relationship between exposure to Internet pornography and anti-female attitudes (Cooper, McGloughlin, & Campbell, 2000). Both experimental and nonexperimental studies describe the effects of pornography consumption on attitudes toward women. Experimental studies typically involve students' responses to various attitudes toward women following exposure to a pornographic film (e.g., Malamuth & Check, 1985; Padget et al., 1989). Nonexperimental research typically involves students' responses to survey material about consumption of sexual materials and scales measuring attitudes toward women (Malamuth & Check, 1985). Results of numerous studies on the effects of pornography exposure on attitudes toward women indicate negative effects, such as rape myth acceptance (e.g., Baron & Straus, 1984; Davies, 1997; Malamuth, 1983; Malamuth & Check, 1985; Mundorf, Allen, D'Alessio, & Emmers-Sommer, in press; Zillmann & Bryant, 1982, 1984). In a meta-analysis examining the effects of both experiments and nonexperiments, Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, and Giery (1995) found an effect within experimental research examining the relationship between exposure to pornography and rape myth acceptance: The relationship intensified for violent (versus nonviolent) pornography. No significant relationship existed, however, within nonexperimental (i.e., survey) studies examining the same phenomena. In response to this latter finding, the authors concluded that the outcome for nonexperimental research might differ if self-directed consumers of pornography were examined. Little to no research to date has examined self-directed consumers of pornography. This

reality is likely due to the fact that locating self-directed consumers would prove to be very difficult considering the social stigma associated with consuming pornography. For example, Padgett et al. (1989) secured participation from only 21 patrons of an adult movie theater for a study of pornography's effects on attitudes toward women. However, the advent of the Internet and Internet pornography allows study of self-directed consumers of online pornography. In a commonly-cited statistic, "sex" is the most frequently searched topic on the Internet (Cooper et al., 1999; Freeman-Longo & Blanchard, 1998) and the top word searches on the Internet involve some variation on "pornography" (Sparrow & Griffiths, 1997). Considering the arguments advanced above, the purpose of the present investigation is to examine the relationship between exposure to Internet pornography and sexual attitudes toward women, particularly rape myth acceptance, with self-directed consumers of online pornography in an online nonexperimental condition (e.g., self-report online survey). Additional goals of this investigation include creating a profile of Internet pornography consumers, identifying reasons for viewing Internet pornography, and testing whether or not an effect for violent Internet pornography on rape myth acceptance exists with self-directed consumers of pornography when the nonexperimental condition is an online context. Antisocial Attitudes and Behaviors In a broad summary of the trends in previous pornography effects research, Linz and Donnerstein (1989) concluded that depictions of sexual violence in the media, under some conditions, promote certain antisocial attitudes and behavior. Linz and Donnerstein focused on the detrimental effects of exposure to violent images in pornography portraying the myth that women enjoy or in some way benefit from rape, torture, or other forms of sexual violence. Other research has found similar outcomes (e.g., Allen et al., 1995). Uncertainty exists about the degree of emphasis on violence in pornographic material. Brown and Bryant (1989) claimed that some studies regard violence as a relatively common ingredient in pornography. However, Brown and Bryant (1989) noted that when abuse is featured in pornography, men almost always aggress against women and negative consequences of sexual violence are seldom depicted. With the proliferation of Internet pornography and the difficulty in regulating online sites comes the possibility of added danger. Exposure to such online stimuli could relate to negative sexual attitudes toward women, such as rape myth acceptance. Rape Myth Acceptance Burt (1980) brought the notion of "rape myth" to scholarly and public consciousness. The term rape myth involves an individual believing that the victim of a sexual crime, typically a woman, is somehow responsible for her victimization. Rape myth acceptance also includes an individual's feeling that little to no responsibility for the sexual aggression lies with the perpetrator, who is typically a man. Various scales exist that tap into the sentiment conveyed by the acceptance of rape myths. For example, Burt (1980) developed a number of scales to test aspects of rape myth attitudes such as the rape myth acceptance scale (RMA), the adversarial sexual beliefs scale (ASB), and the acceptance of interpersonal violence scale (AIV) (see Allen et al., 1995 for a review of scales and items). Theories

A number of theoretical models have been called upon to explain the effects of pornography. Given that the focus of this study involves self-directed consumption and repeated exposure to pornographic stimuli, feminist theory, social learning theory, and aggression models will serve as the framework for this investigation. Feminist Perspectives A feminist argument exists that all sexually explicit materials (e.g., pornography) are intended to increase sexual arousal, promote sexist ideology, and thus adversely affect attitudes toward women (Brownmiller, 1975). It is often argued, particularly from a feminist perspective, that pornography portrays women as sex objects, debases them, and promotes male power (MacKinnon, 1993). Pornography portrays women as servants to men's sexual desires, and promotes social subordination (Dworkin, Rubin, & Dines, 1995). According to this viewpoint, all pornography promotes a belief system of social inferiority of women, male supremacy and misogynistic attitudes (Stark, 1997). As Dworkin (1988) asserted, "Pornography is the material means for sexualizing inequality" (p. 264) and dehumanizes women by reducing them to sexual objects (Lederer, 1980; MacKinnon, 1993). The feminist perspective therefore suggests that exposure to any type of pornography may increase RMA, although it is not as specific in its explanatory basis as the next models. Social Learning Theory From a media perspective, social learning theory argues that viewers learn about reality symbolically (Bandura, 1977, 1994). From a sexual standpoint, a core assumption of social learning theory argues that individuals learn about sexual behavior from the sexual stimuli to which they are exposed. Specifically, social learning theory argues that individuals learn from what behaviors are modeled for them. Further, if the behavior that is observed receives a positive reinforcement, the observer is more likely to model the behavior than if the observer views punishment of the observed behavior. Within the context of pornography, consumers of pornography learn about the nature of sexual relationships through exposure to various pornographic stimuli (e.g., film, video, photo, audio, Internet, etc.). From a social learning standpoint, an individual consuming pornography vicariously receives positive reinforcement on a variety of levels. At the most simple, operant learning level, observing a nude still may bring about pleasurable arousal, which can influence the individual to consume such material repeatedly because of the reinforcement the experience brings. However, from a social learning perspective, observing a model display herself sexually may connote a behavioral sequence, and that symbolic process, associated with the observer's pleasure, may constitute a social learning process. Considering more sexually graphic pornography, the consumer might observe the male actor receiving pleasure from his actions and, often, an initially resistant female target of the actions succumbing and being pleasured as well. Even in the most sexually violent material for which the woman is clearly not enjoying the encounter, the man is typically receiving pleasure from his actions (e.g., "getting off" on the female victim's pleas for help). In sum, the consumer of such materials is learning that positive reinforcement exists (i.e., pleasure, arousal) for engagement in such behaviors, and modeling thus occurs. Those who consume pornography might grow to perceive and treat a woman as a commodity and that commodification might increase with exposure (Brummett, 1988). Indeed,

pornography often portrays women as submissive, serving in a role of pleasing men. According to social learning theory, then, consumers of pornography should believe that the portrayals of sexual relationships in pornography reflect those of real life (Malamuth & Check, 1985). In addition, pornographic materials often portray male aggression against females and the consequences of such actions are often not depicted (Brown & Bryant, 1989). Once again, the consumer may believe that the behaviors exhibited in the materials constitute sexual relationships and may eventually accept such behaviors. Recent research on exposure to pornography illustrates the potential negative behavioral outcomes of consumption. In particular, Allen, D'Alessio, and Emmers-Sommer (1999) found that while nonoffenders and sexual offenders did not differ in their frequency of exposure to pornography, they did differ in their reactions to exposure. Specifically, the offenders were more aroused by the pornographic material, particularly when the material was violent pornography and reflected their own crimes. One possible theoretical interpretation from a social learning theory perspective is that offenders learned sexual behavior from violent pornographic material. Interpreting the impact of sexual material from a social learning theory standpoint would suggest that all forms of sexual material would arouse an effect. Thus, material ranging from nude stills and nude modeling videos to sexually violent rape would elicit adverse attitudes and behaviors. In a meta- analysis, Mundorf et al. (in press) found that the impact for softcore, traditional pornographic material on adverse attitudes to be negative, however. This finding suggests that softcore material contributes to the greater good in terms of attitudes toward women. It is unknown what the impact of online softcore material - or hardcore or coercive material, to that end - is on attitudes toward women. Aggression Models Aggression perspectives relate to social learning perspectives to a degree. However, the aggression perspective does not argue that exposure to any time of sexual stimuli per se is what affects attitudes. Rather, this perspective argues that the violent nature of the material is what relates to harmful effects (Donnerstein, 1984). According to this view, then, erotica or consensual sexual behavior should not impact the consumer's behavior negatively but violent pornography should produce harmful effects (e.g., Allen et al., 1995). Thus, similar to social learning theory, aggression models argue that specific stimuli need be present for learning to take place. Unlike social learning theory, however, an aggressive response will not be an outcome unless the sexual stimuli involve violence. From this perspective, only coercive sexual material should elicit negative attitudes toward women, not softcore or hardcore pornography. Again, however, this assumption has not been examined to much of a degree in terms of online pornography. In sum, according to the feminist perspective, positive relationships are expected between each type of pornography (i.e., softcore, hardcore, and coercive) and rape myth acceptance given the feminist perspective argues that all types of pornography adversely affect attitudes toward women. From a social learning perspective, all kinds of pornography may increase RMA, or the effect may be more pronounced for pornography that depicts behaviors that a viewer himself could imagine doing. According to aggression models, sexual stimuli alone should not positively impact rape myth acceptance. Thus, softcore and hardcore pornography are not expected to elicit RMA. However, if the sexual stimuli involve violence, then a positive relationship between exposure to coercive pornography and rape myth acceptance should exist.

Research Questions Given the aforementioned review, the following research questions are posed to create a profile of individuals who consume Internet pornography and the relationship among these variables and RMA in an online context. RQ1: What characteristics describe consumers of Internet pornography? RQ2: What types of Internet pornography do individuals consume most frequently? RQ3: What reasons do individuals report for consuming Internet pornography? What is the impact of Internet pornography increasing in visual intensity from RQ4: softcore to hardcore to coercion on rape myth acceptance? Method Data Collection Procedures Qualifications for participation in the study required respondents to be Internet pornography users, 18 years of age or older. To attract voluntary, self-directed consumers of Internet pornography, participants were recruited from Usenet message boards. Usenet newsgroups have been previously used as subject pools to recruit participants in Internet pornography survey research (e.g., Mehta, 2001; Mehta & Plaza, 1997). The first step was to recruit participants by posting announcements of the study in sexuallyoriented Usenet newsgroups. A list of all sexually oriented Usenet newsgroups (N = 310 on July 3, 2000) under the alt.sex hierarchy was compiled and a systematic sample was drawn from this population by posting study announcements in every fifth newsgroup every day for one month. The post asked readers to respond to an online questionnaire about Internet pornography and contained a link to the survey website. Participants were assured of anonymity and confidentiality in an "Informed Consent Form" webpage prior to beginning the online self-report survey. The responses for each question had a corresponding button for the participants to click with their mouse to indicate their answer. When participants submitted their completed surveys, a survey-to-database interaction program facilitated the automatic submission of the completed surveys to a database. Using an interactive webpage to post results to a server-side database ensured that responses were not e-mailed to the researcher or posted in an easily accessible location that could jeopardize participant anonymity. The only information collected in the database was the numeric string data of responses, the respondents' IP (Internet Protocol) address, GUID (globally unique identifier) and a time and date stamp of submission. No personally identifiable information (e.g., e-mail address) was collected. To improve the reliability of online research methodology, the current study employed unobtrusive Internet-based technology to track participants and responses. Three steps that have been used in other studies of Internet-enabled sexual behavior (Cooper et al., 1999) were taken to reduce or eliminate duplicate submissions. First, the server on which the survey resided assigned a GUID (globally unique identifier) number to each participant, tracking the computer, Internet service provider (ISP), and computer username of the participant. Next, IP (Internet Protocol) addresses were collected from web server log files. GUID numbers and IP addresses were matched with the posted survey results and when duplicate GUID numbers or IP addresses were found, the corresponding survey results were omitted from analysis. As a result, 20 completed surveys were omitted. The final measure was to place a cookie onto the

participant's web browser. A source code within the cookie blocked return visits to the survey page and loaded a webpage reading, "Sorry, you can only complete the survey once." Although prior survey research of online sexual activity has been criticized on validity and methodological grounds, Durant, Carey, and Schroder (2002) demonstrated that anonymous assessments as well as male gender of respondent are associated with better data quality. Also, a meta- analysis (Singer, Von Thurn, & Miller, 1995) evaluating the effects of confidentiality on self-report behavior indicates that assurances of anonymity increase data quality, but only when the data requested are sensitive in nature (as is the case with the current study). Finally, Cooper et al. (1999) asserted that traditionally delivered surveys and face-to-face interviews offer no guarantee that participants will be honest about their sexual activities, and that perceived anonymity may have a disinhibiting effect that can increase subjects' willingness to participate, thus increasing the likelihood of responding with greater honesty. The data collected in the current study conform with all of these recommendations. Instrumentation Respondents' consumption of Internet pornography was measured by asking how much time per week in hours and minutes they spent viewing Internet pornography which was defined for respondents, consistent with the definition used by Allen et al. (1995, p. 13) as "material intended or expected to create sexual arousal for the receiver." To assess what types of Internet pornography respondents consumed, they were asked which type they consumed most often (See Table 1). This definition of pornography is intentionally broad enough to include all material - from a bikini photo to coercive rape - that some perspectives indict as objectifying women and portending harmful attitudes (e.g., Brownmilller, 1975; Stark, 1997). Sub-categories were also defined, such as erotica, which involves softcore material (e.g., nudity in a magazine, such as Playboy); hardcore material involves sexual penetration (e.g., oral, anal, vaginal intercourse) (U.S. Department of Justice, 1986); and violent/coercive pornography, which involves forced sex with an unwilling partner (e.g., a woman being beaten while being penetrated). Violent pornography/coercion was defined as "the use of physical coercion to achieve as sexual union with an unwilling partner" (Allen et al., 1995, p. 16). Reasons for consuming Internet pornography were measured by assessing respondents' support or rejection of 17 possible motivations men have for consuming pornography (see Frable, Johnson, & Kellman, 1997, for complete instrument). Sample items included, "To help me relieve sexual tensions," and "I enjoy seeing unusual positions and acts." (See Table 2). Three scales were used in this analysis to tap into rape myth acceptance: the RMA scale, the ASB scale, and the AIV scale (Burt, 1980). All three scales, created by Burt, represent a consistent underlying theme of the "use of rape or the use of force against women in a sexual context" (Allen et al., 1995, p. 13). All scales were collapsed via second order factor analysis which yielded one factor, explaining 65% of the variance. Thus, the overall scale was treated as a composite measure of rape myth acceptance, i. e., that violence against women is acceptable. Reliability of the composite scale was an acceptable Cronbach's alpha = .89. Results Research question 1 asked, "What characteristics describe consumers of Internet pornography?" Within the context of this study, the sample of Internet pornography

consumers was almost entirely male. Although recent reports suggest that more women than men are online (Bimber, 2000), the findings in this study align with years of research indicating that the majority of pornography consumers are men (e.g., Frable et al., 1997; Stauffer & Frost, 1976). Thus, even when extending to online contexts, the predominant consumers of pornography are men. Specifically, 409 participants were male and 10 were female. The average age of a participant was 33.8 (SD = 10.6), with an age range of 18-69. Ninety-three percent of the sample was white (n = 391), .5% was black (n = 2), 1% was Hispanic (n = 4), 5.3% (n = 22) reported "other". Regarding highest level of education received, 2.9% (n = 12) reported having some high school, 8.8% (n = 37) reported having a high school diploma or a GED, 36% (n = 151) reported having some college, 26.5% (n = 111) reported having a bachelor's degree, 23.1% (n = 97) reported having a master's degree, and 2.6% (n = 11) reported "other". The majority of the sample reported being in a serious relationship. Specifically, 27% (n = 113) reported not dating anyone in particular, 7.2% (n = 30) reported casually dating multiple persons, 6.7% (n = 28) reported casually dating one person, 1% (n = 4) reported dating multiple persons seriously, 15.5% (n = 65) reported dating one person seriously, 8.1% (n = 34) indicated that they were engaged, and 34.6% (n = 145) reported that they were married. In terms of sexual preference, 85.9% (n = 360) reported that they were heterosexual, 6.9% (n = 29) indicated that they were homosexual, and 7.2% (n = 30) indicated that they were bisexual. Participants reported being online an average of 5.73 years (SD = 3.48). In terms of consuming pornography online, participants indicated consuming online porn for a mean average of 4.66 years (SD = 3.16). Participants spent a mean average 6.63 hours per week (SD = 7.84) consuming pornography. Research question 2 asked, "What types of Internet pornography do individuals consume most frequently?" Participants were asked to indicate from a provided list of Internet pornography types which they consumed most often. As noted below in Table 1, participants primarily consumed heterosexual pornography with penetration and softcore material with content similar to Playboy. Table 1 Types of Internet Pornography Consumed Most Often (N = 419) Type of Internet Pornography Consumed Most Often n % Heterosexual porn with penetration 96 23 Softcore (e.g., content similar to Playboy) 75 18 Graphic photos (e.g., exposed genitalia) 55 13 Women coerced into sex 50 12 Homosexual porn (women) 41 10 Lingerie/swimsuits 22 5 Fetish (e.g., "watersports") 29 7 S&M (mutual consent) 30 7 Homosexual porn (men) 21 5

Research question 3 asked, "What reasons do individuals report for consuming Internet pornography?" As noted below in Table 2, participants primarily used Internet pornography for self- gratification purposes, such as masturbation or arousal. In addition, individuals

consumed pornographic material out of feelings of boredom or curiosity. Table 2 Primary Reason for Consuming Internet Pornography (N = 419) Reason n % To masturbate 141 34 Curiosity 59 14 Boredom 47 11 To turn me on 44 11 Relieve sexual tensions 30 7 Enjoy unusual positions and acts 24 6 Makes sex interesting 19 5 For thrills 19 5 My partner and I just do 11 3 Turns me and sexual partner on 8 2 I like to see bizarre sexual acts 8 2 To get information about sex 5 >1 This is how I learned about sex 4 >1 Because my friends approve 0 As a social event 0

Research question 4 asked, "What is the impact of Internet pornography as it increases in visual intensity, from softcore to hardcore to coercion, on rape myth acceptance?" As noted, participants in the current study were asked to indicate which type of pornography they viewed most often (see Table 1). In terms of coding the categories to test RQ4, softcore material (e.g., Internet pornography similar to Playboy) was coded as "softcore pornography"; heterosexual pornography with penetration was coded as "hardcore pornography". Finally, pornography involving women being coerced into sex was coded as "coercive pornography". As noted in Table 1, participants reported other types of pornography viewing (e.g., homosexual pornography, fetishes, etc.). A preliminary test of RQ4 examined the relationship between the visual intensity of material type (i.e., softcore, hardcore, and coercion) and RMA. Crude correlations were conducted between type of pornography most frequently consumed and rape myth acceptance, with the following results: softcore, r = -.04, p > .05; hardcore, r = .10, p < .024; coercion, r = .21, p < .001. Thus, the relationship between coercive pornography and RMA is significant. No significant relationship between hardcore pornography and RMA emerged, nor did a relationship obtain between softcore pornography and RMA. To analyze RQ4 more definitively, consumers of non-coercive pornography were compared to consumers of coercive pornography on RMA, and the groups were significantly different, t (417) = - 4.366, p < .001. Theoretically, the results most strongly support the aggression model. According to the feminist approach, all forms of pornography should predict RMA. Likewise, according to

social learning theory, a similar relationship was expected, with stronger effects for hardcore pornography in which behavior modeling and vicarious reinforcement are typical. The relationships between softcore or hardcore pornography consumption and RMA, however, were nonsignificant. This finding is somewhat aligned with Mundorf et al.'s (in press) finding that traditional softcore pornography was not detrimental to adverse attitudes toward women. According to an aggression model perspective, a significant relationship between RMA and coercive pornography was expected. Indeed, the results of this study did indicate a significant, positive relationship between coercive pornography and RMA. These findings will be elaborated in the discussion. Discussion Findings for this investigation indicate that even in online contexts, men are the predominant consumers of pornography. This result extends prior research indicating that pornography in a more traditional sense (e.g., magazine) is primarily made for and consumed by men (e.g., Dines, Jenson, & Russo, 1988; Frable et al., 1997; Metha & Plaza, 1997; Stauffer & Frost, 1976) to an online context. By and large, the participants in this investigation were white, involved in close personal relationships, educated, and had been online and involved with consuming pornography online for some time. Participants reported consuming various types of pornography, with the majority of the sample viewing hardcore porn, heterosexual porn, lesbian porn, and softcore porn most frequently. Reasons provided by participants for consuming pornography mainly involved masturbation, curiosity, finding porn to provide arousal, and out of boredom. In addition to consuming pornography online, the majority of participants reported consuming pornography available through other media. Specifically, participants indicated consuming a variety of porn media with primary attention being given to XXX-rated videos, pornographic magazines, and XXX-rated CD ROMs. Overall, consumption patterns revealed in this study clearly demonstrate self-directed consumption. Results of this study extend past findings by identifying effects for exposure to pornography and rape myth acceptance similar to those of experimental conditions, by posting a survey online. In addition, the findings extend the previous results to include self-directed consumers. Previous research on pornography was weakened by the fact that many nonexperimental as well as experimental samples involved nonconsumers or "forced" consumers. What is valuable about the results of the present study is that the sample involved individuals who independently chose to consume pornography. Although self-selection is an issue of concern with an online survey, the results of this study are similar to the effects for experimental research on the same topic (Allen et al., 1995). Although the survey methodology solves some methodological concerns, it raises question of whether the observed effects on attitudes are due exclusively to online and not offline porn or some combination. Depictions of "sexual intercourse," "exposed genitals," "homosexual pornography," and "sadomasochism" are considered obscene by various community standards in the United States, and as such, illegal to obtain through offline commercial exchange in many locales (see 18 U.S.C. §§ 1460-1470; Miller v California, 413 U.S. 15 [U.S. Supreme Court, 1973]). In contrast, the Internet adheres to no geographically-based community standards (see Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 [U.S. Supreme Court, 1997]), and is subject to very few of the restrictions regulating the sale of offline porn. Therefore, the consumption of more, and more extreme sexual depictions should be greater via electronic distribution than through traditional means. Although the effects may not exclusively be a result of online pornography, these factors, as well as recruitment of participants from Internet venues

devoted specifically to the exchange of online pornography, suggest a great likelihood that the pornography respondents consume are accessed through Internet channels. As such, the effects may predominately result from consuming online pornography. An additional limitation inherent to non-experimental conditions is the questionable direction of the relationship between the variables (i.e., the use of Internet pornography and user's attitudes toward women). The participants in this study may have already held certain attitudes about women and they may enjoy viewing pornography because it verifies and supports their beliefs. In this case, Internet pornography does not necessarily affect their RMA attitudes; rather it is the belief system that is the motivation for viewing pornography. In an attempt to make causal interpretations, triangulation between experimental and survey findings are needed. The concern over the direction of the relationship between variables in the current nonexperimental study is somewhat mitigated by findings in experimental research: A meta-analysis (Allen et al., 1995) of research on the relationship between exposure to pornography and rape myth acceptance found an effect for experimental research. Whereas some researchers (Fisher & Barak, 2001) are highly skeptical of experimentally enforced exposure to pornography, the findings of the current study are comparable to the findings in pornography studies that used laboratory experimental conditions in which causality was more accurately determined (Allen et al.,1995). Results of this online study suggest that acceptance of rape myth is greater among selfdirected consumers of coercive pornography online. As noted earlier, the relationship between consumption of softcore pornography and RMA is not significant. This finding is consistent with other research suggesting that negative effects do not accrue for exposure to softcore pornography (Mundorf et al., in press). This finding does not align with the feminist perspective that all forms of pornography hold negative implications for women. However, within the context of this study, one must consider the notions of sensitization as well as anchor and contrast effects. Specifically, individuals in this study consumed many hours of online pornography per week. As a result, they might become sensitized to frequently consumed materials. As noted, too, earlier, the boundaries of online pornography are limitless in terms of the extent of what is depicted and the degree of graphicness associated with such depictions. It could be that participants' attitudes toward women were not impacted negatively by softcore pornography in this study because a nude still was "small fry", if you will, in comparison to the readily available depictions of sexual violence available online. As a result, a consumer might readily view a bikini photo or a nude still more positively than a woman being forcibly raped and beaten. Conclusion Theoretically, results of this study offer more support for an aggression model perspective than for a social learning or a feminist perspective reflected in a relationship between rape myth acceptance and consumption of coercive pornography online. From a social learning perspective, hardcore porn would have yielded an effect, and it did not. From a feminist perspective, all levels of pornography would have yielded a positive effect. What can be concluded from the results of this study is that consumption of coercive pornography relates to the strongest acceptance of rape myths. Considering the commodification argument and given that the sample for this study involved self-directed consumers of pornography, concern exists that repeated exposure to coercive pornographic stimuli relates to increasingly negative attitudes toward women.

Further research is necessary to assess whether the effects in this study were due to selfdirected usership, the nonexperimental online setting, or both. Particular attention might be given to the possibility that self-directed consumers of online pornography have become desensitized to the explicit material. Desensitization would involve the consumer being less emotionally affected by the material. Desensitization has been demonstrated in repeated exposure to violence in non-online contexts (e.g., Krafka, Linz, Donnerstein, & Penrod, 1997; Smith & Donnerstein, 1998). Given the limitlessness and lack of boundaries afforded by the availability of Internet pornography, the process of desensitization might be amplified in an online context versus more traditional contexts. The implications of desensitization on rape myth acceptance would result in increased acceptance (i.e., less empathy for the victim and perceptions of less responsibility for the perpetrator). Given the weak to little regulation associated with the Internet, concern exists regarding the materials available online and their potential effects on consumers. The majority of the sample in this study was older, educated, and involved in close relationships; yet, effects existed for RMA. A recent meta-analysis indicated that age is significantly related to understanding of media material such that as individuals become older, they are better able to understand media manipulations and content changes (Allen et al., 1999). Thus, concern is raised when considering that the Internet is available to all and that children or adolescents who do not have a clear understanding of sexuality or sexual relationships can easily access pornographic material with a click of the mouse. Rules and laws exist prohibiting minors from purchasing pornographic material at convenience stores, attending XXX-rated theaters, and renting pornographic videos at video rental counters. Online, sites can only rely on the "word" of those visiting a site. Specifically, consumers are typically asked to indicate that they are age 18 or 21 or older when desiring to enter an adult site. Thus, it is possible that many minors are learning about sexuality through depictions on adult sites. Future research might examine what is being learned by consumers of pornography. Specifically, are consumers learning about particular types of sexual behavior? Are they learning about relationships and sexual interactions? Are they learning about what types of sexual behavior excite them? Are they learning how to perform certain behaviors? Although significant effects were found in this study, the effects were modest. Thus, examining whether pornography consumers really do learn to be objectifying, deviant, or even criminal sexual behavior is worth pursuing. References 18 U.S.C. 1460-1470 (2003). US Code Electronic Edition. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2004 from http://www.access.gpo.gov/uscode/title18/parti_chapter71_.html Allen, M., D'Alessio, D., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (1999). Reactions of criminal sexual offenders to pornography: A meta-analytic summary. In M. E. Roloff (Ed.), Communication yearbook 22 (pp. 139-169). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Allen, M., Emmers, T. M., Gebhardt, L. J., & Giery, M. (1995). Exposure to pornography and acceptance of rape myths: A research summary using meta-analysis. Journal of Communication, 45, 5-26. Bandura, A. (1994). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D.

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