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Pornification is the absorption by mainstream culture of styles or content of the sex industry and the sexualisation of Western culture, sometimes referred to as raunch culture.[1] Pornification, particularly the use of sexualised images of women, is said to demonstrate "how patriarchal power operates in the field of gender representation".[2] In Women in Popular Culture, Marion Meyers argues that the portrayal of women in modern society is primarily influenced by "the mainstreaming of pornography and its resultant hypersexualization of women and girls, and the commodification of those images for a global market".[3] Pornification also features in discussions of post-feminism by Ariel Levy,[4] Natasha Walter,[5] Feona Attwood, and Brian McNair.[1][6] Pornography began to move into mainstream culture in the second half of the 20th century, now known as the Golden Age of Porn. Pornification is a product of the widespread availability of porn on the internet.[citation needed]

Effects on culture[edit]

Bernadette Barton, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Morehead State University, cites as examples of "raunch culture" there being little consequence for Donald Trump's own words regarding his treatment of women; or his wife's past behavior as a model. Pole dancing has become a form of exercise for suburban women, and sexually suggestive words find their way into everyday public statements.[7]

Effects of media[edit]


Advertising by Carl's Jr. in 2016 featuring scantily clad women and suggestive language were replaced by a "food-centric" approach in 2019, the change attributed to the #MeToo movement.[8]


Literature which people read for sexual satisfaction is one of the earliest forms of media portraying sexuality. Now, there are various websites to satisfy most people's varied sexual preferences and tastes. As erotica was a form of social protest against the values of the culture at the time, as was with the famous book The Romance of Lust, written as a few volumes between 1873 and 1876. Described in the book are homosexuality, incest, and other socially unacceptable concepts. The values of the Victorian era perpetuated purity and innocence. So this book offered a new perspective.[9] In recent years, erotica has become the new norm, and is extremely popular. The most recent commercial success was Fifty Shades of Grey, describing in detail scenes of sadomasochism and other forms of kink.[10] It sold over "31 million worldwide", and has been adapted into a film starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.[11]


Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson were cast in the lead roles in the BDSM inspired film, Fifty Shades of Grey.

The real-life effects of watching film sex and violence have been heavily disputed. While some groups argue that media violence causes viewers to be more violent,[12][13] there is no academic consensus on this and indeed large studies suggest that there is no causative link between images of violence and violence in spectators,[14] nor between images of sex and sexual behavior. The links between films and spectator behavior are complex and while pornography undoubtedly plays a big role in how people view sex and relationships, we should always be wary of attributing a single source (e.g. pornography) to a single action (e.g. sexual violence) as human behavior is so much more complex than this.


Teens who were exposed to highly sexual content on TV were more likely to "act older" than their age. If what was being shown on TV was educational, it could yield a positive result on teenagers. For example, on one specific episode of Friends, which had nearly 2 million viewers at the time, one of the characters had gotten pregnant even after using contraception. After the episode, teens were actually more likely to engage in safer sexual activity, and as much as 65% remembered what was in that episode.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McNair, Brian (2009), "From porno-chic to porno-fear: the return of the repressed (Abstract)", in Attwood, Feona (ed.), Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualisation of Western Culture, London: IB Taurus, pp. 110–130, ISBN 978-1-84511-827-3.
  2. ^ Woodward, Kath (2011), "Gendered bodies: gendered representations", in Woodward, Kath (ed.), The Short Guide to Gender, The Policy Press, University of Bristol, p. 85, ISBN 978-1-84742-763-2.
  3. ^ Meyers, Marian (May 2008). Women in Popular Culture: Representation and Meaning. Hampton Press.
  4. ^ Levy, Ariel (2006). Female chauvinist pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture. New York: Free Press. ISBN 9780743284288.
  5. ^ Walter, Natasha (2010). Living dolls: the return of sexism. London: Virago. ISBN 9781844084845.
  6. ^ McNair, Brian (2013). Porno? Chic!: how pornography changed the world and made it a better place. Abingdon, Oxon New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 9780203134153.
  7. ^ Barton, Bernadette (March 2021). The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture Is Ruining Our Society. NYU Press. p. 232. ISBN 9781479894437.
  8. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (November 13, 2019). "Carl's Jr.'s Marketing Plan: Pitch Burgers, Not Sex". The New York Times. With sales slipping, a fast-food chain notorious for featuring scantily clad women has decided on a food-centric message.
  9. ^ Anonymous (1873–1876). The Romance Of Lust (1892 ed.). United Kingdom: Grove Green. OCLC 760964009.
  10. ^ James, E.L. (2012). Fifty shades of Grey. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 9780872723269.
  11. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (13 July 2012). "Explaining Fifty Shades wild success". CNN.
  12. ^ "Sexual assault and the media". Stop Violence Against Women, the Advocates for Human Rights. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  13. ^ Sapolsky, Barry; Molitor, Fred; Luque, Sarah (March 2003). "Sex and violence in slasher films: re-examining the assumptions". Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. Sage. 80 (1): 26–38. doi:10.1177/107769900308000103. S2CID 143908234.
  14. ^ Grimes, Tom; Anderson, James; Bergen, Lori (2008). Media violence and aggression : science and ideology. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781412914406. OCLC 123390925.
  15. ^ Collins, Rebecca L.; Elliott, Marc N.; Berry, Sandra H.; Kanouse, David E.; Kunkel, Dale; Hunter, Sarah B.; Miu, Angela. Does watching sex on television influence teens' sexual activity?. RAND Corporation. Retrieved 5 December 2016.

Further reading[edit]