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Young Swedes 'enriched' by porn and sex posing

Young Swedes 'enriched' by porn and sex posing

Published: 21 Dec 2012 15:05 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2012 15:05 GMT+01:00

Watching pornography and exposing oneself sexually online can enrich young people's lives, a Swedish researcher has found, but doing so also carries risks.

"A lot of it is about the need to be seen, to get affirmation, and to get attention," Pernilla Nigård, a doctoral candidate at Malmö University, told The Local.

Earlier this week, Nigård presented a study based on interviews with young men about why they watch pornography and with young women about why they publish revealing pictures of themselves online.

Having previously worked as a school counselor, Nigård had seen first hand how young people were spending more time online, often engaging in activities related to sexual expression.

The interviews, conducted with young men and women aged 18 to 25, revealed that watching pornography and exposing themselves sexually online play an increasingly important role in shaping young people's identities.

The young women with whom Nigård spoke explained that they "feel stronger" when positive comments are posted next to sexualized images of themselves that they post online.

"The sexual exposure that takes place within a social context can also bring benefits for women if the comments are positive and in their favour," Nigård wrote.

However, pitfalls can arise when women seek affirmation through publishing revealing pictures on the internet.

"There is a big risk that they may end up being labelled as 'sluts' or 'whores' and that the images can be spread beyond where they are first published," explained Nigård.

"There is also a conflict between wanting to be seen as sexy and wanting to be seen as a person."

However, the young women don't take the criticism lying down, and often engage negative commenters in an effort to "resist objectification and stigma".

Speaking to young men about their pornography habits, Nigård found that they used pornography "in the pursuit of independence".

"It's sort of like uncomplicated sex. There aren't any demands like in a real relationship because there is a lack of intimacy," she said.

However, young men's relationship with pornography is nevertheless complicated due to norms dictating that they "be both sexually aroused by pornography and at the same time be critical of it".

Nigård explained further that the tendency to seek affirmation "the easy way" through sexual exposure and watching porn may only help young people feel "good for the moment ", but is nevertheless in line with larger trends in society.

"The individual is so important in society, everything is so geared to making the individual feel good about themselves, it's hard to avoid," she said.

It is also unclear whether the young people who expose themselves online are really in charge, despite saying that they feel empowered by it.

"In many ways, it's those who look at the pictures and comment on them who have the power," said Nigård.

"We live in an image-heavy culture so there's no avoiding the fact that images help shape young people's identity. The question is whether you can be both personal and sexy for yourself and for others at the same time."

David Landes

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Your comments about this article

17:02 December 21, 2012 by Achilles7
What a load of clap-trap. It does not 'enrich' one's life at all. People post "sexy" pictures of themselves on the internet, including facebook, because they are desparately insecure, and need others to (hopefully) comment on them and tell them how beautiful they are - which, being their friends, they invariably do. But it's a very quick fix 'solution' and lasts all of about 24 hours until you need another confidence boost.

Rather than glorifying this type of behaviour, one should be looking at the deeper, root problem, which is why young people today are so obsessed with the way they look.
18:53 December 21, 2012 by anonymous4
Sex and porn was not just found today, yesterday, or a few years ago. It's been going on since time began.

If people want to get their kicks out of it, not being forced into it and being of legal age, let them do it.

I don't care!
19:04 December 21, 2012 by rohermoker
I like that thinking---It is not about what you do, how much you learn, or even skills you master, it is all about your facebook comments with out clothes. If Stalin, and Hitler could have watched prom, just imagin how much better the worlld would been.
07:26 December 22, 2012 by Svensksmith
I'm having a sleepless night. Maybe I should enrich myself. It's been such a long time, now let's see, do I use my right hand or left....
10:01 December 22, 2012 by smilingjack
sex is great. the sooner we can stop religious groups from demonising women the better. when girls figure out men will do just about anything for sex ( and that they have the power ) the better off society will be.

your only young once so make the most of those bodies whilst you can. everyone over 35 will testify to that.

by the by swedish girls - those fake tans and glowing orange skin looks hideous. this girl is stunning and her skin will thank her when shes 40. ditto your hair. keep killing it with dye jobs and you will regret it when your 40. you may not think about it now but one day you will be 40 and your hair looks fabulous now the colour it is.

mmmmm swedish women :-)
19:43 December 22, 2012 by dizzymoe33
It is such a sad state of affairs that these young women and young men don't have any sort of respect for ones self let alone anyone else. This story is such garbage. All it is, is a form of "hey look at me, look at what I'm doing", some kind of shock value.
00:23 December 23, 2012 by rramirez
This "study" seems woefully incomplete. For example, did the "researcher" include people who posted pictures and had those pictures posted inappropriately and if so how did this affect them. Did the researcher include people who may have posted pictures years ago? There may be short term gratification involved in posting a picture in a controlled way, but once the picture is our there control is immediately lost so long term effects may seriously outweigh short-term benefits.

Is the study available anywhere so we can see if this doctioral candidate is legit or if she's just trying to do something different and contorversial? What was her mothodology. How many intercviews were conducted. Who was interviewed and how were they selected. Was there quantitative research or was it all qualitative? I would hate to think of any young person reading this article and basing a decision on it that could never be undone.

Quite frankly and quite coarsely, I think in some guys would post positive feedback just to get girls to do more and more outrageous things while they were actually laughing at the stuff girls would do to get what they saw as positive feedback. I have seen lots of guys trying to get girls to do weird stuff just so they can get wilder and wilder stories to tell their friends.
02:40 December 23, 2012 by badwind
I bet many guys are not going to give legitimate answers to the pornography question in a face to face interview with a women. Guys watch pornography to get excited and make a mess all over themselves. Guys do not have a complicated relationship with porn, but they might tell a researcher that in a face to face interview, especially if the researcher started leading them down that road.

Further, I doubt very much that qualitative research done via one time interviews can conclusively determine that young women's lives are "enriched" by posting nude pictures online. When research is found to be based on faulty methodology, all conclusions must be thrown out. As such, I would be very surprised if this research was not junk.
09:47 December 23, 2012 by bsutemp112
I don't think you guys are reading the article close enough. I don't get at all the impression that Ms. Nigård is attempting to encourage the behavior. The article is quite clear in saying that her observations are that the act of posting the pictures for the women can feel initially enriching for them, which explains why they do it in the first place, but that later complications and pitfalls can arise and she even argues that its the people viewing the pictures, not the person posting them, who holds the real power in the dynamic. Naturally the title of the article is what appeals for a news article as it gets people to read it. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the whole point of the study.
18:35 December 23, 2012 by badwind
I appreciate that the article mentions that there could be downsides in addition to the temporary short term empowerment for women, and yes the headline is somewhat distortive and misleading. My hunch is that the downsides of this subject are far greater in comparison than this research indicates, but I have not researched it.

My main point is that good research is a very complicated and scientific undertaking. A subject like this requires extremely well thought through research to give light to a subject as delicate as this. A series of interviews is such a poor source of robust information that it should be an immediate disqualifier. If there is better research it should be presented. If this presentation is only based on interviews it should not be published and should only be considered as an indication that further research with more complete methodology is required.
10:55 December 27, 2012 by Mxzf
Interesting. I think it's a pointer that things are not as simple as Achilles7 is trying to say. (Which doesn't seem to have much science behind it at all?)

But I agree with badwind that this research can't be seen more than a slight indication. But such is most research.
11:07 May 14, 2013 by NataBee
"In many ways, it's those who look at the pictures and comment on them who have the power" - well said
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