Gail Dines

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Gail Dines
Gail Dines, October 2013.jpg
Dines in Westmount, Quebec on October 2013
Born (1958-07-29) 29 July 1958 (age 59)
Manchester, England
Nationality Anglo-American
Occupation Sociologist
Known for Opposition to pornography
Title Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, and Chair of American Studies, Wheelock College, Boston, Massachusetts
Spouse(s) David Levy
Children 1
Awards Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America
Academic background
Education BSc, PhD in sociology (1990), University of Salford, Manchester
Thesis 'Towards a Sociology of Cartoons: A Framework for Sociological Investigation with Special Reference to Playboy Sex Cartoons[1]
Academic work
Notable works Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (2010)

Gail Dines (born 29 July 1958) is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.[2][3]

Dines specializes in the study of pornography. She is co-author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (1997) and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (2010). She is also a founding member of Stop Porn Culture, and one of the chief editors of the journal Sexualization, Media, and Society.[4] Julie Bindel described her in 2010 as the world's leading anti-pornography campaigner.[5]

Dines argues that boys and men are exposed online to pornography that is increasingly cruel and violent toward women. The exposure of teenage girls to the images affects their sense of sexual identity.[5] The result, Dines writes, is that women are "held captive by images by ultimately tell lies about women" and that "contemporary idealized femininity" has been reduced to the "hypersexualized, young, thin, toned, hairless, and, in many cases, surgically enhanced woman with a come-hither look on her face."[6]


Dines was born in Manchester, England.[5] She obtained her BSc from Salford University and her PhD in sociology from the same institution, for a thesis titled Towards a Sociology of Cartoons: A Framework for Sociological Investigation with Special Reference to "Playboy" Sex Cartoons.[1][7]

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.[5] Since 1986, she has been at Wheelock College in Boston, where she is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies[8] and Chair of the American Studies Department.[3]

Career and research[edit]


Dines is the author of three books, including Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality (2010). Her articles have appeared in a variety of journals and newspapers, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time.[8][9] She is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture[8] and co-founder of the National Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement.[3]

Advocacy and views[edit]

External video
TEDx talk by Gail Dines
Growing Up in a Pornified Culture via TEDx Talks on YouTube[10]

Dines's view is that pornography distorts the user's view of sexuality[11] and makes more difficult the establishment of real-life intimate relationships with women. Dines maintains that modern pornography is cruel and violent[5] unlike earlier forms of pornography with which the general public may be familiar,[11] and has the effect of tending to generally degrade the position of women in society.[5]

She also advances the position that the prevalence of hardcore pornography is a contributing factor in increasing "demand" for sex trafficking.[12]

Dines believes that pornography is a public-health issue, and therefore legal measures are needed to prevent access to pornography. In an Icelandic television interview in 2012, the presenter told Dines that the minister of welfare in Iceland, Guðbjartur Hannesson, was opposed to legislation and had suggested relying instead on "a change of thought." Dines replied, "I would say, you absolutely need to change the way people think about it, but I would argue we are at such a crisis level that you need a public health approach. So, one way would certainly be education and the way people think, but I would absolutely argue for legislation as well. If you want to stop this then you have to figure out a way for Icelandic men to not have access to hardcore pornography". Later in the same interview she goes on to say, "If you really want women and girls to have gender equality in Iceland then you cannot be feeding your boys and men a steady diet of pornography. The two don't go together."[13]

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."[14][15] Dines did not sway the house, which decided 231 in favour to 187 against with 197 abstentions.[16][17] Dines said her opponents won because the chamber consisted mostly of "18-22 year old males who are using pornography on a regular basis."[18]


Dines' book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality (2010) received mixed reviews, with some critics citing what they see as her use of inflammatory language.[19]

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.[20][21] Dines dismisses the claim, stating, "To suggest feminists who oppose the pornification of society are stirring up a moral panic is to confuse a politically progressive movement with rightwing attempts to police sexual behaviour."[22]

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, "as we know much about their behavior that night that is not under dispute. They saw the hiring of two black women to strip as a legitimate form of male entertainment. They didn't see the commodifying and sexualizing of black women's bodies as problematic in a country that has a long and ugly history of racism."[23] 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."[24]

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.[25] Dines later wrote, "A Feminist Response to Weitzer", in the same journal stating that her book had used theories and methods of cultural studies developed by, amongst others, Stuart Hall and Antonio Gramsci.[26]

On 30 January 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, suggesting, "This is not a fun, fantasy place run by a charming band of outsiders, but a group of savvy businessmen who missed their calling at Abu Ghraib."[27] 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".[28]


Personal life[edit]

Dines is married to David Levy, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston;[30] they have a son.[31]

Selected works[edit]

  • Dines, Gail (2003), "From fantasy to reality: unmasking the pornography industry", in Morgan, Robin, Sisterhood is forever: the women's anthology for a new millennium, New York, New York: Washington Square Press, pp. 306–314, ISBN 9780743466271. 
  • Dines, Gail (2004), "King Kong and the white woman: Hustler magazine and the demonization of black masculinity", in Whisnant, Rebecca; Stark, Christine, Not for sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 89–101, ISBN 9781876756499. 
  • Dines, Gail; Whisnant, Rebecca; Thompson, Linda (2010), "Arresting images: anti-pornography slide shows, activism and the academy", in Boyle, Karen, Everyday pornography, London New York: Routledge, pp. 17–33, ISBN 9780415543781.  (With Karen Boyle.)
  • Dines, Gail (2011), "The new Lolita: pornography and the sexualization of childhood", in Tankard Reist, Melinda; Bray, Abigail, Big Porn Inc.: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 3–8, ISBN 9781876756895. 
  • Dines, Gail (2011), "Stop porn culture!", in Tankard Reist, Melinda; Bray, Abigail, Big Porn Inc.: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 266–267, ISBN 9781876756895. 
  • Dines, Gail (2013), "Grooming our girls: hypersexualization of the culture as child sexual abuse", in Wild, Jim, Exploiting childhood: how fast food, material obsession and porn culture are creating new forms of child abuse, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 116–129, ISBN 9780857007421. 


  1. ^ a b Gail Dines, Towards a Sociology of Cartoons: A Framework for Sociological Investigation with Special Reference to Playboy Sex Cartoons, University of Salford, 1990.
  2. ^ "Dines, Gail". Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 July 2014. CIP t.p. (Gail Dines) data sheet (b. July 29, 1958) 
  3. ^ a b c "Gail Dines", Wheelock College.
  4. ^ "Editorial board: Sexualization, Media, and Society". Sage. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Bindel, Julie (2 July 2010). "The truth about the porn industry". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Gail Dines, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, Boston: Beacon Press, 2010, p. 102.
  7. ^ "Faculty Member Gail Dines | Wheelock College, Boston MA". Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Gail Dines, Ph.D". RCL website. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "Gail Dines". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Gail Dines (28 April 2015). Growing Up in a Pornified Culture (Video). TEDx Talks via YouTube. Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Avard, Christian (29 June 2010). "Gail Dines: How "Pornland" destroys intimacy and hijacks sexuality". PULSE. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Gail Dines: "Intersection between human trafficking and pornography" (book signing event)". 28 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  13. ^ "Pornography in Iceland". Kastljós (Interview). Interview with Unknown. Reykjavik, Iceland. 15 October 2012. 
  14. ^ For the proposition: Anna Span, Jessi Fischer and Johnny Anglais. Against the proposition: Dr. Gail Dines, Dr. Richard Woolfson and Shelley Lubben. The Cambridge Union Society (17 February 2011). This house believes that pornography does a good public service, The Cambridge Union Society (Video). Cambridge: The Cambridge Union Society via YouTube. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Porn debate to spice up Cambridge Union". Cambridge News. 11 January 2011. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  16. ^ Walch, Tad (18 February 2011). "Cambridge University Union Society decides porn is a 'good public service'". Deseret News. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  17. ^ Span, Anna (21 February 2011). "Historic win for the porn industry at Cambridge debate". Adult Video Network (AVN). Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  18. ^ Damon, Dan (18 February 2011). "Debate: Does pornography provide 'a good public service'?". BBC. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  19. ^ "Nonfiction Reviews". Publishers Weekly. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Shores, Monica (18 February 2011). "Anti-Porn Activist's Ugly Attempts To Provoke Outrage". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  21. ^ Comella, Lynn (2 February 2011). "Feminists Gone Wild! A response to porn critic Gail Dines". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  22. ^ Dines, Gail; Long, Julia (1 December 2011). "Moral panic? No. We are resisting the pornification of women". The Guardian. 
  23. ^ Dines, Gail (19 January 2007). "CNN’s "Journalism" is a fool’s paradise". Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Young, Cathy (16 April 2007). "Last call for "rape-crisis" feminism?". Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Weitzer, Ronald (May 2011). "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. Sage. 17 (5): 666–675. doi:10.1177/1077801211407478. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Dines, Gail (April 2012). "A feminist response to Weitzer". Violence Against Women. Sage. 18 (4): 512–520. doi:10.1177/1077801212452550. 
  27. ^ Dines, Gail (30 January 2013). "Where are the protests against James Franco’s "Feel-good" torture porn?". CounterPunch. CounterPunch. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Kernes, Mark (31 January 2013). "Quick! Someone tell Gail Dines that porn is actually fantasy!". Adult Video News. Adult Video Network (AVN). Retrieved 8 March 2013. Wouldn't one expect a college professor to know all this? And wouldn't one think that Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott would want to know what kind of ignoramus she has teaching sociology and women's studies for her? 
  29. ^ Wild, Jim (2013), "List of contributors: Gail Dines", in Wild, Jim, Exploiting childhood: how fast food, material obsession and porn culture are creating new forms of child abuse, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 116–129, ISBN 9780857007421. 
  30. ^ "The Shaping Of Things". Boston Globe | Living Arts. 27 July 2010. p. G.12. 
  31. ^ Tozer, Joel (20 May 2011). "Demonising porn use unleashes more evil". Sydney Morning Herald. 

External links[edit]