A COMPARISON OF MALE AND FEMALE DIRECTORS IN POPULAR PORNOGRAPHY: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN ARE AT THE HELM?

Authors


  • Chyng Sun, Media Studies, McGhee Liberal Arts, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, New York University; Ana Bridges, Department of Psychology, University of Rhode Island; Robert Wosnitzer, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University; Erica Scharrer, Communication, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Rachael Liberman, Media Studies, New School for Social Research, New York.

  • Ana J. Bridges is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Arkansas.

  • We would like to acknowledge the support of Dr. Robert Jensen and the hard work of the three coders, Michelle Chang, Gabrielle Shaw, and Christine Larsen.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Chyng Sun, Department of Communications, New York University, 726 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012. E-mail: cfs1@nyu.edu

Abstract

Pornography is a lucrative business. Increasingly, women have participated in both its production, direction, and consumption. This study investigated how the content in popular pornographic videos created by female directors differs from that of their male counterparts. We conducted a quantitative analysis of 122 randomly selected scenes from 44 top-renting adult videos in 2005 (half male- and half female-directed). Findings revealed that all films shared similar depictions: Verbal and physical aggression was common, women were the primary targets of aggression, and negative responses to aggression were extremely rare. Compared to male-directed films, female-directed films were significantly more likely to portray women-only scenes and sexual acts. Even when controlling for main characters' gender, female-directed films showed significantly more female perpetrators aggressing against female targets and significantly more depictions of women as perpetrators of aggression. We highlight the importance of economic forces, rather than director gender, in dictating the content of popular pornography.

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