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Volume 71, Issue 136, Thursday, April 27, 2006

News

Survey: attitudes on porn changing

Fewer adults than in 1993 see viewing adult movies as acceptable

by LORINDA ROBB
The Daily Cougar

A new study and phone survey by UH communication students about pornography revealed fewer people find it acceptable to watch sexually explicit films as compared to 13 years ago.

"It's such a controversial topic that it makes sense to find out what people in the area think about it," communication senior Nicolas Galan said.

Eighteen students in William Hawes' Comm 4397 course conducted the "Pornography Media Community Standards" study as a continuation of research done in 1973, 1982 and 1993.

Hawes said that with the boom since the mid-90s in communication technology such as the Internet, cell phones and Webcams, it is time to take another look at people's consumption of and feelings about pornography.

Fifty-four percent of the participants in 1993 were female, as opposed to 64 percent in the 2006 study. Eighty-five percent of the1993 respondents said they thought it was fine for adults to watch sexually explicit movies, while 69 percent approved in 2006. 

And while 48 percent of 1993's respondents said they believed pornography promoted hostility and crime, the number rose this year to 52 percent.

According to the study, one of the reasons for ongoing divisiveness concerning pornography is a perceived connection between sexually explicit images and violence against women.

But the report cites two government studies that state no connection between obscene material and criminal behavior.

Only 12 percent of the 2006 respondents said they had ever downloaded Internet pornography. Of the 52 percent who said they have seen an X-rated movie, 33 percent of those said they watched it in a home while 12 percent went to adult bookstores. 

Out of more than 1,000 random phone calls made to households listed in the 2006 Greater Houston White Pages, only 138 adults agreed to answer researchers' questions. In 1993, 552 people responded to the survey.

This semester, the students' assignment included visiting adult bookstores and theaters and listening to guest speakers from the pornography industry, religious groups and law enforcement.

And though students watched the 1970s classic porn films "Behind the Green Door" and "Deep Throat" as part of their work, communication senior Stephanie Martens said the research was serious. 

"I think a few of us actually thought we were just going to watch porn and do a lot less work," she said.

Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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