Added: April 8, 2017 – Last updated: April 8, 2017


Author: Stephen Robert Prince

Title: Power, Pain, and Pleasure in Pornography

Subtitle: A Content Analysis of Pornographic Feature Films, 1972-1985

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Paul Messaris

Year: 1987

Pages: viii + 310pp.

OCLC Number: 757076855 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History | Representations: Films


Link: ScholarlyCommons: Digital Repository of the University of Pennsylvania (Free Access)


Author: Stephen Prince, School of Performing Arts, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityAuthor's Personal Website, Wikipedia

Abstract: »Within the last decade, a view has emerged in governmental publications, the popular press, and research conducted in the fields of communications and film studies which regards pornography as being typified by material which is violent or which exhibits unequal relations of power between the sexes. This dissertation employs content analysis to investigate the portrayal of male and female characters and relationships in pornographic films. The investigation empirically operationalizes certain broadly defined concepts that are often used in conjunction with pornography, concepts of unequal power relations and of the subordination or de-humanization of characters. Specifically, certain observable components of unequal power relations have been postulated and investigated throughout the range of films sampled. In addition, communication patterns, demonstrations of affection and of sexual pleasure are analyzed, as well as rates of violent and abusive behavior.
Three units of analysis are employed: characters, sex scenes, and violent acts. Although the violent-acts unit of analysis made provisions for the coding of violent behavior, the sex-scene unit of analysis was defined so that it, too, would contain variable categories permitting the coding of abusive or violent acts. The sample is 32 "classic" or top-selling pornographic feature films, covering the years 1972-1985. Each film was coded by a male and a female coder. On a variety of measures, male and female characters were found to be portrayed in relatively equivalent terms. The average number of violent acts per film was 1.4. 21 percent of all sex scenes contained abuse. The hypothesis that rates of violence have been increasing in pornography in recent years was not supported.« (Source: Thesis)


  Acknowledgements (p. iii)
  Abstract (p. iv)
  List of Tables (p. viii)
  Chapter I. Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter II. Pornography and Sexual Violence (p. 13)
    The Feminist Anti-Pornography Position (p. 16)
    Accounts in the Mass Media (p. 29)
    Content Analyses of Pornography (p. 33)
    Empirical Research on the Effects of Pornography Consumption (p. 38)
      Post-Commission Studies (p. 43)
    Discussion of Empirical Findings (p. 63)
  Chapter III. Methodology of the Study (p. 67)
    Design (p. 67)
    Sample (p. 69)
    Procedure (p. 71)
    Instrument (p. 73)
    Characters (p. 78)
    Sex Scenes (p. 83)
      Number of participants (p. 83)
      Organization of the scene (p. 85)
      Location of the scene (p. 87)
      Character relationships (p. 88)
      Clothing and costuming (p. 92)
      Sexual behaviors (p. 93)
      Sexual paraphernalia (p. 98)
      Communication among partners (p. 99)
      Affection and pleasure (p. 100)
      Abuse (p. 101)
    Violent Acts (p. 106)
    Analysis (p. 108)
  Chapter IV. Analysis (p. 119)
    Characters in the Pornographic Feature Film (p. 121)
      The Portrayal of Male and Female Characters (p. 126)
      Relationships Among Characters in Sex Scenes (p. 130)
      Summary (p. 134)
    Lethal and Non-Lethal Violence occurring in the Films (p. 136)
      Longitudinal Distribution of Violent Acts (p. 139)
    Violence and Abuse as Part of the Sex Scene (p. 142)
      Dimensions of Victim Portrayal (p. 150)
      Longitudinal Distribution of Sexual Abuse (p. 154))
      Other Characteristics of Abusive Scenes (p. 157)
    A Comparison of Abusive and Non-Abusive Sex Scenes (p. 159)
      Relationship Dimensioons (p. 160)
      Erotic Costuming (p. 162)
      Sexual Paraphernalia (p. 164)
      Sexual Behavior (p.166)
      Location of the Scene (p. 167)
    Reciprocity of Relations Among Male and Female Characters (p. 170)
      Representations of Sexual Agressiveness (p. 172)
      Representations of Sexual Pleasure (p. 173)
      Representations of Sexual Communication (p. 176)
      Representations of Affection (p. 178)
      Representations of Dress and Undress (p. 180)
      Summary (p. 184)
  Chapter V. Discussion (p. 190)
    Discussion and Conclusions (p. 196)
  Appendix I. The Sample of Films (p. 216)
  Appendix II: Frequencies and Reliability Figures for All Variables (p. 218)
  Appendix III: The Coding Forms (p. 257)
  References (p. 294)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1964–80), History of the United States (1980–91) | Film: American films / American pornographic films