Researchers at the University of New Brunswick have published a new study that examines depictions of sex in specific types of pornography and their impacts on those who watch. “Schoolgirls and Soccer Moms: A Content Analysis of Free ‘Teen’ and ‘MILF’ Online Pornography” was recently published in the Journal of Sex Research by Sarah Vannier, Anna Currie and Lucia O’Sullivan.

Free, full-length pornography is both easily accessible and widely consumed. There is concern about the role porn plays in shaping sexual norms. However, until recently researchers knew little about what the consumers of these videos were watching.

“Most of the analyses that we’re aware of to date have been old videos and Playboy magazines. But we know there’s tons of free, full-length porn readily available, which every young person I meet, the men anyway, will know very well how to access,” says Dr. Lucia O’Sullivan, the UNB psychology professor who supervised the research.

The idea to study “Teen” and “MILF” videos came from Anna Currie, an honours student in psychology working under the supervision of Sarah Vannier, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, and Dr. O’Sullivan.

“I chose to study pornography because I was intrigued by the seeming paradox between the popularity of Internet pornography and the ‘moral panic’ that often surrounds it. I am also very interested in media portrayals of women and gender roles” said Currie. Over the course of a semester, Currie reviewed 100 videos selected from 10 popular websites. Videos ranged from two to 37 minutes long; in total she analyzed over 15 hours of screen time.

There was a standard sexual script across all of the videos. Over 85% of videos placed an emphasis on vaginal intercourse and fellatio, although masturbation, cunnilingus, and kissing were also quite common. Condom use, cuddling, sex toy use, and paraphilias were rare and occurred in less than 5% of videos.

Despite concerns about the violent content in pornography, explicit forms of aggression, coercion, and of exploitation were rare. These actions, or scripts, were more common in the teen videos. Control of the pace and direction of sexual activity was typically shared by the male and female actors. However, women in the MILF videos were more likely to initiate and control sexual activity, whereas women in teen videos tended to be more passive.

This study is part of a larger research program led by Vannier. Future plans include examining the content of other genres of pornography and looking into the association between viewing different types of porn and sexual attitudes or experiences.

“Porn really is one of the only places we get explicit information about what sex is supposed to look like,” says Vannier. “My main interest is understanding how porn might give us a script or template for how sexual activity is supposed to unfold. This project is the first step in that process”.

“Schoolgirls and Soccer Moms: A Content Analysis of Free ‘Teen’ and ‘MILF’ Online Pornography” was recently published in the Journal of Sex Research and is currently available for free download.

To arrange a media interview, please contact Kelsey Seymour.

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