Gail Dines

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Gail Dines
Gail Dines.jpg
Dines speaking in Westmount, Quebec, in October 2013
Born c. 1958
Known for Campaigning against pornography
Spouse(s) David Levy
Children 1

Gail Dines is an English–American feminist anti-pornography activist, author, professor and lecturer. An academic,[1] she has also been described as "The world's leading anti-pornography campaigner".[1]


Dines was born in Manchester, England[1] and studied for a B.Sc degree at Salford University, and then a Ph. D in Sociology at the same institution.[2] She moved to Israel in 1980 at the age of 22, where she married and became a feminist, and then moved to the United States in 1986.[1] Since 1986, she has been at Wheelock College in Boston, where she is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies[3] and Chair of the American Studies Department.[4]


Dines is the author of three books including Pornland, published in 2010. Her articles have appeared in the New Left Project, Violence Against Women, CounterPunch, and the International Encyclopedia of Communication,[5] and also in popular general-interest publications including Newsweek, Time, Working Woman, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Mail.[3] Dines is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture[3] and co-founder of the National Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement.[4] She has given lectures and participated in formal debates regarding pornography's effect on society at universities.[citation needed]

In 2011, Dines was invited alongside fellow anti-pornography activist Shelley Lubben to debate against Anna Span at the University of Cambridge when it proposed the motion "This house believes that pornography does a good public service."[6] Dines did not sway the house, which decided 231 to 187 against her views.[7][8] Dines said her opponents won because the chamber consisted mostly of "18-22 year old males who are using pornography on a regular basis."[9]


Dines's view is that pornography distorts the user's view of sexuality[10] and makes more difficult the establishment of real-life intimate relationships with women.[1] Dines maintains that modern pornography is cruel and violent[1] unlike earlier forms of pornography with which the general public may be familiar,[10] and has the effect of tending to generally degrade the position of women in society.[1] She also advances the position that the prevalence of hardcore pornography is a contributing factor in increasing "demand" for sex trafficking.[11][12]

Pro-Censorship Position[edit]

Dines believes that pornography is a public health issue, and therefore legal measures are needed to prevent access to pornography. Dines takes a pro-censorship position, and supported recent moves to implement censorship in Iceland. She stated in a 2012 Icelandic television interview "You have to figure out a way for Icelandic men to not have access to hardcore pornography".[13] Later in the same interview she goes on to say "Yes, you need to change thought, but you need to think about legitative activity as well."

Reception and criticism[edit]

Dines' recent work, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality has met with mixed reviews, with many critics citing her use of inflammatory language in the place of genuine academic research. Publishers Weekly writes

Dines's argument rests on a compelling, close reading of the imagery and narrative content of magazines, videos and marketing materials; what is missing, however, is a similarly compelling body of research on how these images are used by viewers, aside from Dines's own anecdotal evidence.

The author's appropriation of addiction terminology — viewers are called users, habitual viewing is an addiction, and pornography featuring teenagers is called Pseudo-Child Pornography or PCP — is distracting and suggests that rhetorical tricks are needed because solid argumentation is lacking.

Likewise, Dines's opponents are unlikely to be swayed by her speculation tying porn viewing to rape and child molestation, nor by the selective sources she draws on to support her point (convicted sex offenders).[14]

Dines has also been criticized by some feminists of attempting to foment moral panic, particularly in opposition to sex work and sex workers' rights, rather than advancing an academically rigorous position.[15][16]

In 2007 Dines wrote an article on the Duke lacrosse case in which she suggested "we should put some of the focus back on the men in this case" and their behavior because "they saw the hiring of two black women to strip as a legitimate form of male entertainment."[17] Writer Cathy Young criticised what she saw as Dines' double-standards, stating "the same feminists who rightly tell us that a rape victim should not have to be an angel to deserve support apply such a different standard to men who may be falsely accused of rape.[18]

Dines' writing and positions have come under fire from other academics, including Ronald Weitzer of George Washington University, whose essay "Pornography: the Need For Solid Evidence" critiques Dines' writing (specifically Pornland) for being poorly researched and in strong opposition to the existing body of legitimate research on pornography.[19]

On January 30, 2013, Dines published an article in CounterPunch in which she accused the BDSM website of being in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The statements resulted in criticism from Mark Kernes of Adult Video News who said that a " 55-year-old college professor" should " know the difference between what goes on in real life and what happens in movies".[20]

Personal life[edit]

Dines is married to David Levy, a professor at UMass-Boston.[21] They have a son.[22]



  • Dines, Gail (2010). PornLand: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-4452-0. 
  • Dines, Gail; Robert Jensen; Ann Russo (1997). Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-91813-8. 
  • Dines, Gail (2010). Dines, Gail; Humez, Jean, eds. Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (3rd ed.). California: Sage publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-7441-7.  (First edition published 1995 under the title Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text Reader)

Selected articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Julie Bindel (July 2, 2010). "The truth about the porn industry". The Guardian (London). Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Faculty Member Gail Dines | Wheelock College, Boston MA". Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  3. ^ a b c "Gail Dines, Ph.D". RCL website. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Faculty Profile - Gail Dines". Wheelock College website. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ Gail Dines. "Gail Dines". Gail Dines website. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Porn debate to spice up Cambridge Union". Cambridge News. January 11, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ Walch, Tad (February 18, 2011). "Cambridge University Union Society decides porn is a 'good public service'". Deseret News. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ Span, Anna (February 21, 2011). "Historic Win for the Porn Industry at Cambridge Debate". AVN. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ Damon, Dan (February 18, 2011). "Debate: Does pornography provide 'a good public service'?". BBC. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Christian Avard (June 29, 2010). "Gail Dines: How "Pornland" destroys intimacy and hijacks sexuality". PULSE. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Gail Dines: "Intersection Between Human Trafficking and Pornography"". Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ "National Planning Meeting to Eliminate Demand for Commercial Sex". May 8, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011. [dead link]
  13. ^ Pornography in Iceland. Interview with Unknown. October 15, 2012. Kastljós. Reykjavik, Iceland. 
  14. ^ "Nonfiction Reviews". Publishers Weekly. April 5, 2010. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  15. ^ Shores, Monica (February 18, 2011). "Anti-Porn Activist's Ugly Attempts To Provoke Outrage". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  16. ^ Comella, Lynn (February 2, 2011). "Feminists Gone Wild! A response to porn critic Gail Dines". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  17. ^ "CNN’s "Journalism" is a Fool’s Paradise". 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  18. ^ "Last Call for "Rape-Crisis" Feminism?". 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  19. ^ "Review Essay: Pornography’s Effects: The Need for Solid Evidence: A Review Essay of Everyday Pornography, edited by Karen Boyle (New York: Routledge, 2010) and Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, by Gail Dines (Boston: Beacon, 2010)". Violence Against Women. doi:10.1177/1077801211407478. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  20. ^ "AVN - Quick! Someone Tell Gail Dines That Porn Is Actually Fantasy!". 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  21. ^ "The Shaping Of Things". Boston Globe. July 27, 2010. 
  22. ^ Joel Tozer (May 20, 2011). "Demonising porn use unleashes more evil". Sydney Morning Herald. 

External links[edit]