Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1389–1401 | Cite as

Pornography, Normalization, and Empowerment

  • Martin S. WeinbergEmail author
  • Colin J. Williams
  • Sibyl Kleiner
  • Yasmiyn Irizarry
Original Paper


Opponents and proponents of erotic representations (referred to hereafter as “pornography”) have described the effects of pornography from their perspective. Little, however, has been done in the way of research to investigate these claims from the consumer’s point of view. This especially has been so regarding the positive impact of such consumption on a person’s sex life. Using a study group of 245 college students, we examined this question in a framework of scripting theory. We wanted to see whether viewing pornography appeared to expand sexual horizons through normalization and facilitate a willingness to explore new sexual behaviors and sexual relationships through empowerment. The data supported this viewpoint and further showed the effects to be mediated by gender and sexual preference identity. They suggested, however, that established scripts were extended rather than abandoned. We conclude with connections between our findings and the widespread viewing of pornography in contemporary society.


Pornography Sexual scripts Gender Sexual preference Normalization Empowerment 



An early version of this paper was presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality meetings, Las Vegas, November 2006. We are indebted to The Kinsey Institute for the Study of Sex, Gender, and Reproduction for its graduate student grant to Sybil Kleiner for her work on the study, and to the Editor and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions for improving the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin S. Weinberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Colin J. Williams
    • 2
  • Sibyl Kleiner
    • 1
  • Yasmiyn Irizarry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyIndiana University-Purdue University at IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

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