Pornography and Masculinity: How Mainstream Pornography Reinforces a Narrow and Destructive Conceptualization of Masculinity

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Judith Fox

Second Advisor

John Holmberg

Third Advisor

Alisa Shanks


Male gender role strain, Masculine socialization, Hegemonic masculinity, Problematic pornography use, Social learning theory, Sexual violence


In mainstream pornography, boys and men are indoctrinated with a profoundly problematic template for sexual intimacy. Both masculine gender role strain and problematic pornography use predict interpersonal and mental health difficulties. In this paper, the relationship between gender role strain and problematic pornography use was examined through the lens of social learning theory, which argues that individuals imitate and replicate others’ behavior in novel situations. Given that mainstream pornography depicts acts of sexual aggression, men who are exposed to pornography before their first partnered sexual experience may recall and imitate the aggressive acts when they later engage in sexual intimacy. Due to culturally supported, narrow definitions of masculinity, boys and men are drawn toward pornography in a misguided attempt to strengthen their sense of masculine identity. In pornography, men may learn that sexual aggression is not only acceptable, but is a normative or even desired component of sex.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

Rights Holder

Seamus Power


Received from author

File Format



English (eng)


44 pgs

File Size

455 KB

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