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Pornography and Mainstream

Culture
A view from Romania

Valentina Marinescu
University of Bucharest-Romania
Legal framework

• Laws on preventing and fighting against pornography: 196/2003 and


496/2004
– Pornography refers to the “explicit sexual gestures or behaviors, individually as
well as collectively made, images, sounds or words that through their meaning
offence decency and any other form of indecent behavior related to sexual life, if
they are made in public”
– Materials with obscene character refer to objects, engravings, photos, holograms,
drawings, writings, prints, emblems, magazines, movies, video and audio recordings,
advertising spots, software and other applications, musical songs and any other forms
of expressing, that explicitly present or suggest the sexual activity

• Indirect” regulations
– Law for prevention and fighting against human trafficking and prostitution
– On children's rights - in line with international regulations

• Media laws
– European (EU Directive of Television without frontiers) and local ones
– Law of Broadcasting/1992 - programs including pornography and unjustified violence
are forbidden
– There is no Romanian law dedicated to written press activity
Media Consumers

• Audience of self-assumed pornographic magazines is predominantly male


• Tabloids have a more balanced distribution of audience by gender

Audience of m agazines and new spape rs


(Percents)

76,1 82,6
71

53,1
51,8

46,9
29 48,2
23,9
17,4

Playboy FHM Fanatik Libe rtate a Libertatea


Men Women We ekend

• The “hard-core” consumer of pornographic material - Cultural Consumption Barometer (2007-2008)


– 1% (self-declared)
– General profile: man residing in urban areas who frequently watches action and comedy movies on TV; he does not
buy books, does not spend money on “cultural consumption” items and prefers buying new technology gadgets
instead
Public Opinion
• 2005, CURS national survey: 40% of the population agreed to the idea of pornographic materials distributed
for free on the media market
• Internet survey, November 2007:

Do you feel yourself aggressed by the pornographic press? Do you consider that
this type of m edia has to be forbidden?

56%

17% 18%
9%

They do not disturb They do not disturb It is unacceptable to They are imoral and
me. I consider them me as titles but I do see the at the news damaging for our
normal not like to see their stalls society
indecent covers

• 2007 INSOMAR national survey :


– 80% from the respondents assessed that explicit sexuality in the content of TV programs lead to “children’s
premature sexual behaviors”
– The most frequent promoted values in TV programs are:
“violence” 60%
“sexuality” 34%
The research project
Methodology
The survey The content analysis
The survey was made in February-April 2009 The content analysis is intended to be made
on three months: February - April 2009
• The main assumption in this case was the
following: • The sample for the content analysis is
For the public there is no clear-cut made from daily copies of three national
distinction between pornographic and wide newspapers, published in Bucharest:
sexy images in media.
Libertatea, Click, Cancan.
• The sample was made 401 students •
(from various Bucharest Faculties). The unit of analysis was the theme:
“Sexually explicit imagery in the printed
• The empirical instrument for gathering the media”.
data was a questionnaire with two open • Now we present only the results for one
questions: month – March 2009, that is the analysis
– “Please describe as detailed as possible a of 68 copies for the three newspapers
pornographic image”
– “Please describe as detailed as possible a • The sample of Romanian articles with
sexy mage” sexually explicit imagery in March was of
• After the completion of the questionnaire 722 published articles, from which:
we decided to code the open answers. – 211 published in Libertatea
Twenty-four variables resulted – twelve – 260 published in Click
for the characterization of a pornographic – 251 published in Cancan
image and twelve for the characterization
of the sexy image.
Analysis of the results
The main characteristic of the pornographic image

131

46
29 26
11 8 6

It is explicite It is vulgar It is of a poor quality/It It carries negative It leads to an It has no message/It Drawing/Emoticon
is tastelessness emotions and attitudes anormal/devious can not be interpreted
behavior
Analysis of the results
(Continued)

The main characteristic of the sexy image

105

61
48

17 15
4
1
It is artistic It is suggestiv e (It It is not v ulgar/It is It carries positiv e It has its own v alue It carries an ideea, Drawing/Emoticon
is not explicite) decent attitudes and a message
emotions
Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The number and gender of the actors

The number and the gender of 162 143


individuals are not mentioned

Many individuals of different genders 77 42

A w oman and a w oman 2 2

A w oman and a man 52 27

A single man 1 6

A single w oman 40 78

Individual in general 46 84

Pornographic Image Sexy Image


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The nudity of the woman
Questionnaire

The presentation only of the 2 4


shoulders and he ad

The uncle ar presentation of the 18


naked uppe r part of the body

The cle ar presentation of the 4 51


naked uppe r part of the body

The uncle ar presentation of the 4 41


entire naked body

The cle ar presentation of the 216 70


entire naked body

Pornographic image - Frequency Sexy image-Frequency

Woman's nudity in the photo (It is numbe re d pe r pe rson)


Conte nt Analysis

Head and shoulders 3 1 5

The unclear presentation of the upper naked 18 12 22


part of the body

The clear presentation of the naked upper part 14 20 33


of the body

34 18 28
The unclear presentation of the naked body

The clear presentation of the entire naked 25 17 33


body

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The nudity of the man
Questionnaire

The presenta tion only of the 183 1


shoulde rs and he ad

The uncle ar pre se ntation of the 3 14


na ked uppe r part of the body

The cle ar pre se ntation of the 1 37


na ked upper pa rt of the body

The uncle ar pre se ntation of the 2 37


entire na ked body

The cle ar pre se ntation of the 192 295


entire na ked body

Pornographic image-Frequency Sexy image-Frequency

M an's nudity in the photo (It is numbe re d pe r pe rson)


Conte nt Analysis

5 3 9
Head a nd shoulders

The unclea r presenta tion of the upper na ked 1


part of the body

The clea r presenta tion of the na ke d upper part 12 5 7


of the body

3 1 5
The unclea r presenta tion of the na ked body

The clea r presenta tion of the entire na ked 1 8 3


body

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The woman's explicit character
Questionnaire

Sexua l organs are put the ce nter 103 1


of inte rest

Total and direct nudity 148 47

Pa rtial nudity (some parts of the 1 53


body a re covered w ith pixels)

Partial undress 2 93

Provocative clothing 3 53

Pornographic image-Frequency Sexy image-Frequency

Woman's explicit character in the photo (It is numbered per person)


Content Analysis

Complete nudity 5 20 15

Discrete nudity (intimate parts of 7 28 20


the body are covered with pixels)

Undress 255 25 35

Provocative dressing 128 126 130

No explicit chararcter-Normal 48 50 66
character

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The man's explicit character
Questionnaire

Sexual organs are put the center 95


of interest

Total and direct nudity 129 40

Partial nudity (some parts of the 47


body are covered with pixels)

Partial undress 3 66

Provocative clothing 1 39

Pornographic image-Frequency Sexy image-Frequency

M an's e xplicite characte r in the photo (It is numbe re d pe r pe rson)


Conte nt Analysis

Complete nudity 1 10 3

Discrete nudity (intimate parts of 6 4


the body are covered with pixels)

Undress 2 1 8

Provocative dressing 17 16 24

No explicit chararcter-Normal 56 85 63
character

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)

The main theme of the image


Questionnaire

Cultural and educational 1 17

Love and sexuality 1 19

Love 4

Sexuality 23 186

Just the sexual act 227 19

Pornographic image-Frequency Sexy image-Frequency


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The type of subje ct in the article s's te xt (It is numbe re d pe r article )
Conte nt Analysis

Other type 14 14 10

Sta rs life 70 116 97

Politics 3 7 2

Economy 1 4

Social 10 7 7

Cultural-educa tive 11 9 6

Love a nd sex ua lity 14 20 23

Love 3 5 5

Simple sex ua lity 85 78 101

Libertatea Can Can Click

The type of subject in the article's photo (It is numbered per article)
Content Analysis

Other type 23 20 15

Sta rs life 119 144 149

Politics 2 2 6

Economy 1 4 1

Social 9 5 5

Cultural-educative 8 3 8

Love and sex ua lity 8 7 11

Love 2 14 23

Simple sex ua lity 167 189 225

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The main type of relations among the actors in the image
Questionnaire

The man is subordinated 2

Violent ones 14 1

The woman is objectivized 18 11

The woman is exploited 15 1

The woman is subordinated 17 4

Of equality 20 17

Pornographic images-Frequency Sexy images-Frequency


Analysis of the results
(Continued)
The obje ctiv isation re late d to woman in the photo (It is numbe re d pe r pe rson)
Conte nt Analysis

To be in control/to domina te 9 3 3

Submission 4 2

Ine qua lity of sta tus 6 1

The sta tus re duction 20 13 14

Non-mutua l se x 1

Avala bility for se x 110 102 155

Ex plicite se x ua l be ha viour 11 23 28

Libertatea Can Can Click

The objectivization related to man in the photo (It is numbered per person)
Content Analysis

To be in control/to domina te 10 5 7

Submission 1 4 3

Inequality of status 3

The status reduction 7 6 3

Non-mutua l sex

Avala bility for sex 12 10 27

Explicite se xual behaviour 9 13 9

Libertatea Can Can Click


Analysis of the results
(Continued)

The open answers at the questionnaire The articles from the newspaper
(Libertatea)
Sexy image
The first movie with new breast
18 Mach 2009 | Article signed by C Radu Munteanu
•It does not present all the details of the body and let the
room to imagination. One can build up a feeling, an Florina Mihăilă, known as Sexy-
emotion only looking at it. Brăileanca, came back in the movies
industry, after she made a pause.
•The most important element in this case is the attitude of During that period of time she
the individuals. A person can be completely dressed and, underwent a medical intervention to
improve her breast.
at the same time, the photo can deliver an erotic insight.
•It is artistic – many classical pictures are representative
for this type of image.
“I like to make movie, I want to be a
•It delivers the feeling of love, of emotion related to other XXX star world-wide known. This is the
person. reason for which I came back so quickly
on the stage, even if I am not completely
Pornographic image recovered”, said Sexy-Brăileanca.

•It is vulgar, it presents complete nudity of two (or more)


people during the sexual act. Despite the period of break in her
•It is tasteless, the accent is put more on the sexual act activity Florina had impressed the entire
movie team with her professionalism.
and less on the mise-en-scene, on the individuals.
•It has no aesthetic value; the mise-en-scene is
stereotypical and the plot is the same (with minor
variation: a teacher vs his student, a boss vs. his
secretary, three rich men on a yacht and a young lady
etc.) The movie in which Florina played was
•It can be consumed as a “Coke” bottle, it meet a basic Between two radio shows and an
made by Mihai Dumitrescu, a former
porn actor, now manager and movie
human need, as the “Coke” bottle.
interview Sexy-Brăileanca continues her directir of Alego Stil Agency and
career as a pono actress. At the end of goldengate- ro.com site. On this internet
the last week she played in a movie for page one can see images from this
US market, this being the first scenes in movie with cu Sexy-Brăileanca.
whch she appears with a new breast..
Conclusions

The main The gender The nudity The explicit The main The type of
characteristic and number of character theme/ relations
of the image actors subject among
actors
Porno •It is explicit •Woman and •Woman: The unclear Woman: Total nudity Direct sexual Woman:
graphic •It carries man completely naked body +sexual organs are act Exploited,
image negative •A number of •Man: The unclear put in the center of objectified,
The
emotions and individuals of completely naked body interest subordinated
question
naire attitudes different gender Man: Total nudity
+sexual organs are
put in the center of
interest

•It is •Woman alone •Woman: The unclear •Woman: Love and sex Of equality
Sexy suggestive •Individual in completely naked body Provocative clothing
image •It is artistic general + the unclear naked +partial nudity
upper part of the body •Man: Provocative
•Man: The unclear clothing +partial
completely naked body nudity
+ head and shoulders

•Woman: The clear and Woman: Provocative Life of the Woman:


Photo unclear completely clothing + Undress stars Availability for
naked body Man: Provocative Sexuality sex
The
content •Man: The clear clothing Man: In
analysis completely naked body control

Life of the
Text stars
Sexuality
Conclusions
(Continued)

• There is a strong similarity between the way in which the subjects had described a sexy
and/or a pornographic image and the way in which those images and themes are used in
Romanian newspapers.

• One can notice two differences:


– As regards the dimension “The type of relations among actors” the description of a sexy
image assumes a relation of equality and the content analysis had stressed the fact that men
were presented mainly as being in control and women as being available for sexual activity. In
that case we can assume that the stereotype of describing the pornographic image can be
better applied to the published photos (In the case of the pornographic image descriptions the
interviewees stressed mainly the fact that the women are in a subordinate position, they are
exploited, objectivised but not having an equal status).
– As regards the dimension “The main theme/subject” one can notice that the content analysis
stressed the coverage of “Sexuality” theme (alongside with “Stars’ life”) in newspapers’ articles.
In the case of the answers at the questionnaire’s questions one can notice a clear-cut distinction:
The pornographic image has as it main theme the sexual act and the sexy image represents love
and sexuality. Therefore we made the following assumption (which is not yet empirically-tested):
The definition of “sexuality” used in the Romanian media and accepted at the level of Romanian
society is very diffuse. It covers either the simple sexual act (as in pornography case) or/and a
set of positive emotions and attitudes (as in the case of sexy images and stories).
Conclusions
(Continued)

Possible development in the future

• Due to the difficulties and limitation in defining and understanding the “sexuality” as
term and theme both at the level of Romanian media and of its public we shall try to
see how we can explain that situation on the basis of empirical data.

• In order to achieve that objective we intend to develop our analysis on the following
“axes”:

– An in-depth qualitative (discourse) analysis of media messages and of the answers at the
questionnaire questions.

– A set of focus groups on the general issue of “Defining the sexuality in life and media
content” made with interviewees that previously answered at the questionnaire.
Thank you!