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Beyond the Screen: Violence and Aggression

Beyond the Screen: Violence and Aggression towards Women within an Excepted Online SpaceFull Article Name: Beyond the Screen: Violence and Aggression towards Women within an Excepted Online Space

Open Access: Yes


This theoretical review explores the possibility that the consumption of internet pornography (IP) represents a credible risk factor in the perpetration of aggression and violence against women. Sexual violence, abuse, and degradation of women is commonly depicted in mainstream heterosexual IP. Despite the violent tenor, the effect this material may have on beliefs, attitudes and behaviors is understudied, as are the reasons why violent and degrading IP is so widely viewed, enjoyed, and accepted. Both theory and empirical findings support the contention that depictions of violence in IP may contribute to real world aggression and violence against women, with two relevant spheres of inquiry proposed in this theoretical review. The first considers IP as a ‘zone of cultural exception’, in which the perpetration of violent and degrading acts against women are eroticized and celebrated, despite such behaviors being considered antisocial in wider society. It is suggested that this excepted status is enabled by the operation of the third person effect to negate the detrimental effects of IP. The second explores the objectification and dehumanization of women in IP and the use of moral disengagement by viewers to enable their disavowal of any harm in the depicted violence.


    Bernstein, S., Warburton,  W. A., Bussey, K., & Sweller, N. (2022). Beyond the screen: Violence and aggression towards women within an excepted online space. Sexes, 3(1), 78-96.

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