Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2018


This thesis is a quantitative and qualitative study of University of Maine students attitudes and consumption habits of pornography. It contains a literature review of anti-pornography feminism from the Second Wave, as well as an overview of sex-positive and sex-critical theories of pornography from more recent years. The goal of the thesis is to understand how sex-negative and/or sex-positive ideas have or have not permeated college student’s understanding of pornography. Over 800 students were surveyed about pornography consumption through the Psychology Department’s Fall prescreen. 4 students from the survey, who all happened to be women, were interviewed about their relationships with sex and pornography. The findings of this study suggest that young adults (18+) have nuanced and multifaceted relationships with pornography. Men reported watching pornography at a higher frequency than women, but men and women both reported that they do not believe pornography is similar to real life sex. The interviews suggest a significant level of porn literacy and gender consciousness among consumers. It was found that participants were more likely to have sex-positive ideas about their own consumption habits than others’. Additionally, this research is significant because it serves as a pilot study for future sex-positive models in pornography research. The study also provides a lens through which feminism can be more inclusive of sex workers’ rights.