Men’s leisure and women’s lives: The impact of pornography on women (1999)

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Susan M. Shaw

Leisure Studies, 18, 197–212. Volume 18, Issue 3, 1999



The issue of pornography as a form of leisure practice has received little attention from researchers. In this study, the impact of pornography consumption on women's lives was examined. A diverse group of thirty-two women was interviewed, with discussion focusing on their individual experiences, meanings, and perceptions of pornography. The women's reactions to pornography, especially to violent pornography, were consistently negative. Pornography elicited fear reactions, had a negative effect on women's identities and on their relationships with men, and was seen to reinforce sexist attitudes among men. Despite this, many of the women felt that their opinions were not ‘legitimate’, and overt resistance to pornography was often muted. The findings are discussed in terms of the role of pornography in the reproduction of gender, the ideology of individualism, and the potential for resistance among women.