Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships

Rothman at Penn: Let's talk about pornography
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"...[Y]ou don’t have to believe that porn leads to sexual assault or that it’s creating a generation of brutal men to wonder how it helps shape how teenagers talk and think about sex and, by extension, their ideas about masculinity, femininity, intimacy and power." - Maggie Jones, New York Times Magazine


Visiting scholar, Emily Rothman, ScD, whose research on porn literacy among teens was featured in the New York Times Magazine, spoke last night to a Penn audience. Executive director Susan B. Sorenson has been a mentor to Rothman and has followed her work throughout the years. Last night's presentation highlighted Rothman's research on pornography, what young people learn from it and why it attracts teenagers and adults.


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Pornography has evolved over the years to be competitive and exciting, what was once on the fringe is now mainstream. Porn today is not your parents’ porn, most young people (regardless of gender) have seen online porn by the time they start college. An important takeaway is that researchers haven't been able to find a connection between pornography and sexual violence. Some abusers have stated that they use pornography, but the causal link is elusive. Rothman states that a more nuanced perspective is needed in this area.