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Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality [Hardcover]

Gail Dines
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 29 2010
Professor Gail Dines has written about and researched the porn industry for over two decades. She attends industry conferences, interviews producers and performers, and speaks to hundreds of men and women each year about their experience with porn. Students and educators describe her work as "life changing."

In Pornland—the culmination of her life's work—Dines takes an unflinching look at porn and its affect on our lives. Astonishingly, the average age of first viewing porn is now 11.5 years for boys, and with the advent of the Internet, it's no surprise that young people are consuming more porn than ever. But, as Dines shows, today's porn is strikingly different from yesterday's Playboy. As porn culture has become absorbed into pop culture, a new wave of entrepreneurs are creating porn that is even more hard-core, violent, sexist, and racist. To differentiate their products in a glutted market, producers have created profitable niche products—like teen sex, torture porn, and gonzo—in order to entice a generation of desensitized users.

Going from the backstreets to Wall Street, Dines traces the extensive money trail behind this multibillion-dollar industry—one that reaps more profits than the film and music industries combined. Like Big Tobacco—with its powerful lobbying groups and sophisticated business practices—porn companies don't simply sell products. Rather they influence legislators, partner with mainstream media, and develop new technologies like streaming video for cell phones. Proving that this assembly line of content is actually limiting our sexual freedom, Dines argues that porn's omnipresence has become a public health concern we can no longer ignore.

Going from the backstreets to Wall Street, Dines reveals how porn is affecting our lives and why its omnipresence is detrimental to our sexual freedom.

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Review

Bravo to Gail Dines! She exposes a huge problem of our time that few people are willing to confront. Dines follows the extensive money trail, uncovering the role of corporate duplicity and greed, while showing how steadily pornography has infiltrated into everyday life from almost cradle to grave.—Diane Levin, coauthor of So Sexy, So Soon

"We're now so pornography-saturated that our capacity for sexual delight is being brutalized. Gail Dines brilliantly exposes porn's economics, pervasiveness, and impact with scholarship as impeccable as her tone is reasonable. This book will change your life. Ignore it at your peril."—Robin Morgan

"Thoroughly researched and forcefully argued, Pornland is a must-read. From the intricate linking of the porn industry with Fortune 500 companies to behind the scenes of Girls Gone Wild, Dines makes eye-opening connections and breaks new ground with every chapter."—Chyng Sun, associate professor of media studies, New York University, director of The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships

"Pornland takes a quantum leap beyond the tired pro-porn vs. anti-porn debates of recent decades. It will now be the starting point for serious discussions about how porn shapes and distorts social and sexual norms. Gail Dines understands both the economics and cultural power of the pornography industry perhaps better than anyone ever has. This is accessible and grounded social analysis at its finest."—Jackson Katz, Ph.D., creator of the video Tough Guise and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

"An eyes-wide-open look at the way the porn industry exploits and damages the gift of our sexuality to fuel itself. Pornland is well researched, well written, and heartfelt. I highly recommend it."—Wendy Maltz, LCSW, DST, coauthor of The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography

"For more than a decade, Gail Dines has been at the forefront of the study of the contemporary pornography industry and its effects. Many have been eagerly awaiting Pornland, in which she synthesizes all that work-and it has been worth the wait. It is, without question, the definitive book on pornography and pop culture in the twenty-first century. Dines has achieved something rare: she looks at an increasingly pornographic society without backing away from the ugly truth, and without giving up hope for a better world."
—Robert Jensen, University of Texas at Austin, author of Getting Off:Pornography and the End of Masculinity

About the Author

Gail Dines is professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College. The author of two previous books and a regular commentator on TV and radio, Dines has been covered in Newsweek, Time, USA Today, the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative June 18 2014
By Kelsi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Dines did a great job illustrating the harmful effects pornography has on both men and women.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read May 12 2012
By Craig
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to all non fiction readers.
This book follows the evolution porn has taken and the way it is being socially engrained on everyday life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
59 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think porn culture isn't a problem? You need to read this book! July 30 2011
By Autumn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am fortunate enough to have had the chance read Gail Dines' book, Pornland. Dines' describes how the porn industry operates *today*, in the 21st Century. She does this first by describing the men who created the industry as now know it: Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, and Larry Flynt. These men were excellent capitalists, not lovers of freedom. Dines provides evidence from women who've worked for them, and uses the pornographer's own words as well, to prove her points.

She then describes the hard-core pornography that has become mainstream today. The popular film series Girls Gone Wild depicts all women as being sexually available, Dines asserts, because women, specifically young, white women, are ready to undress and make-out with one another just for the thrill of knowing men are watching...or so one would think from watching Girls Gone Wild.

Dines also addresses how both women and men are negatively influenced by the mainstream porn industry in their everyday life. Many heterosexual women are confused by why men are so interested in having anal sex; the increased focus on anal sex in pornography might have something to do with this. Likewise, the vast majority of teenage and twenty-something women in the U.S. have taken up shaving their pubic hair. This comes directly from porn, where women are typically shown hairless (liking pubic hair on a women is considered a fetish and there is a special genre of porn for it). This change in the way women take care of themselves has resulted in nurses changing the way they do rape-crises kits; they can no longer collect samples of public hair, as they once did.

Anyone living in today's society should pick up this book, as I really did not begin to touch on the arguments Dines makes. Everything she says comes from the view of a Marxist and leftist who is fed up with the left not taking the racist, misogynist, capitalist porn industry seriously, and indeed, coming up with every possible excuse of why not to do so.
78 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, Gut Wrenching, Groundbreaking, Expose July 20 2010
By John D. Foubert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gail Dines' Pornland lives up to its billing as the culmination of the life's work of one of the most reputable scholars of the effects of pornography on society. In it, Dines lays out an indictment of the pornography industry where only the pornography industry itself could vote "acquit." She masterfully traces the history of pornography from the feud between Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler through the modern day mainstream "body punishing sex" and brutal violence of online pornography. Based on her several decades of research on pornography and its purveyors, she lays bare an industry that has violated women in every way imaginable and is now running out of ideas on how many ways to penetrate their orifices. Her book reveals to everyday pornography users and to people who haven't ever seen pornography just how much porn is effecting our society, how violent it has become, and how much we all need to work to rid our society of its effects. Pornland is a call to action to reclaim a critical part of ourselves -- our sexuality. Whether the reader understands the cause of pornography to be sin, patriarchy, oppression, whether the reader sees porn as an expression of healthy sexuality, an addiction, or a harmless pastime, all should read Dines' critical look at this omnipresent influence on our society.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important, difficult book Jan. 3 2014
By Amanda Sledz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I went searching for this book after reading an article in the New York Times about declining American sexuality. This article stated that over 50% of American women now claim to experience little to no pleasure from sex. From there I read an article revealing that 47% of Japanese women report no interest in sex, and plan to never marry or have children. Both of these articles stated that researchers had discovered two likely causes of this decline: increased reliance on technology, and increased porn use. The first one made sense to me; it's hard to have a spicy evening if your lover takes an iPad to bad, and then rolls over to send a few final messages and Tweets into a phone before passing out. See two people on a date recently? If they can make it through dinner without a phone check, it's cause for applause. The second one though? Increased viewing of sexual intimacy seemed like something that would cause *more* sexuality, not less. Still, the article stated that increasingly men reported preferring "hook-up culture" to relationships because it was closer to their relationship to porn: quick and to the point and with a new face. At the same time, that "quick and to the point" is exactly what straight women don't want, and so they'd rather be alone.

This book illuminated these assertions. The author deftly outlines how male sexual understanding is shaped through observation of porn-style sex from an early age. This isn't stealing dad's nudie magazine or watching an old grainy Hustler tape; this is one image after the other, with the option to increase the violence or kink as tastes evolve over time. The porn industry itself supports this assertion through documentaries like "Hardcore" (a UK release) and "9 to 5 in the Porn Industry" which interviews heavy weight porn stars like Sasha Grey at the early stages of her career. At that early age, the stars have to be willing to do almost anything, and are violently degraded and physically hurt for hours -- so much so that 90% don't make a second film. Even those who have long careers lamented in the films how evolving tastes are forcing them to endure increasing levels of violence and humiliation if they want to prolong their careers.

And what do young male viewers learn from watching this? That if they want to up the ante in a sexual relationship, they up the violence. That female sexual response mirrors male response. That women are willing to do anything, and there's no need to stop, even if she's crying or asks you to. Similar to the articles listed above, the author reports that only 5% of women report enjoying sex on a "hook up" -- not much motivation to pursue further. She also states that men are also left vulnerable, and insecure about sexual capabilities when using porn stars as a means of measurement.

Is her evidence perfect? No. She bases a lot of her research on informal surveys of college and high school students. It is unclear what kind of racial, class, and ethnic diversity was present in the survey sample. It was also unclear how many surveys were distributed over all. It would be compelling to include data about the porn habits of sex offenders and domestic abusers, as well as female viewers of porn (an area that really needed to be addressed more thoroughly). Segments of stories from stars like Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey, both of whom radically changed the industry before ditching it, further underscores the potency of her assertions. If these women are presented and understood as objects, do their male porn counterparts suffer the same stigma? Is there any escaping the objectification? And if there isn't, isn't it plain to see that this type of media is damaging?

I can't recommend doing away with any form of media, but we should know what we're watching, and acknowledge the potential impact. And this seems to be what the author successfully encourages each reader to do.
29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutly best argument built against porn so far Sept. 17 2012
By VR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i cant recommend this book enough - the author (a woman and a feminist) put the arguments against using porn in such an eloquent manner with such powerfull and bulletproof logic and argument NO MAN ON EARTH COULD ! it probably takes a woman view to tell us men how ugly the porn got... we men just completely lost the ability to critically think about this men's favorite past-time beyond repeating formulaic shouts like:

1) porn is only fantasy and harmless fairytale for adults
2) porn is finally liberating our long pent-up sexuality
3) we are adults and we can always discern between porn and real sex with real women
4) porn can never change our attitudes towards women

The author Gail Dines is no feminist radical and you must admire her patience and clear logic with which she builds the case against the porn-industry and its false claims and downright lies about their noble and liberating mission in our bedrooms... the books reads like crime novel and with every page and with every popular claim observed (some are listed above 1-4), disected and completely debunked with cold logic and arguments.. the ugly and slimy face of porn starts to seep though the public mask this industry carefully constructed within last 15 years, built to make you believe watching porn is actually natural and healthy "entertainment" with no side-effects and absolutely no doubts necessary...

as reaction to some other reviewers... i actually loved that the book was on more philosophical and personal-opinion side rather than the ussual pop-psychology books with hundreds of research studies and all-nation surveys and polls put together and thrown into your face on every other page but no critical thinking from the authors... Gail Dineson on the other hand sat down and really thought about the whole problem and presented a coherent and well argumented view of pornography... you dont have to agree with her but this book is like having a great discussion with a very good rhetoric and critical thinker who doesnt beat you with surveys and poll results but instead uses arguments and critical thinking to try to convert you... iam totally converted... and btw. iam a man, 31 age, in long-term relationship, atheistic and recently worried by my long term compulsive porn-use and its effects on health, relationship and my sexuality...

I believe we need both types of books - those author teams that gather scientific data and statistical numbers (the hard facts) and draw conclusions from facts only and the other type - the independent thinkers and "philosophers" who only use comon sense and their own experience and views... both books have their benefits and value in the discussion...

some reviewers seem to devaluate Daines because she dares to say "only" her opinion without supporting it with double blind studies and national poll results, graphs and consumer analysis... iam a man and porn-user and everything Daines says makes total sense - a common sense in fact... much of the stuff disclosed in the book about male behaviour of porn-users applies perfectly in my case - i just never could articulate it as good and clear as this women...
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important for anyone who has or thinks about having sex Oct. 4 2010
By SmartgyrlinLA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a succinctly but cogently argued book about how corporate pornography's effects are permeating our culture and our socially-constructed social norms. The most extreme and violent images are entering our culture and our culture's ideas of sexuality in ways that are having widespread impacts on this most intimate aspect of our humanity. This is NOT a simplistic anti-sex, anti-male, PORN=RAPE book, but a sophisticated critique of porn's evolution and impacts on society and individuals. She may be slightly exaggerating the market dominance of gonzo porn, but her basic thesis is still intact as the most degrading and defining elements of gonzo porn are now commonplace themes in other forms of widely used erotic materials. She very effectively sets forth how porn is a global corporate industry with a large, well-defined economic incentive for commodifying and market-segmenting the sexuality of the consumer, not just the performers who produce this material. Far from dismissing the idea of individual responsibility or agency, she puts forth a clear argument for how the cultural environment shapes the choices of individuals, has the potential to impact the quality of individual lives and relationships, and indeed delimits what choices are available to us, even in a realm in which so many have fought, and are still fighting, to be free of oppressive norms.
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