SYDNEY, Australia - Catharine Lumby's new book The Porn Report dispels longstanding stereotypes about porn enthusiasts.
Lumby says the stereotypical middle-aged male porn aficionado is being challenged. She says newcomers to adult material are likely to be women younger than 35, living in the suburbs, voting for a progressive party, in a monogamous relationship and earning slightly more than average.
The book questions a myriad of myths about who views adult material on their television sets and computers in Australia.
According to Lumby, these myths include the belief that "no sane woman" would ever lay eyes on pornography if not forced to do so by a male partner.
"We have very clear evidence there is a growing proportion of porn consumers who are women," she said. "The statistics are so high now that that these myths don't seem correct."
Lumby and academic associates Alan McKee and Katherine Albury conducted a three-year study they described as "the first piece of serious research" on pornography in Australia. It looks at current trends in pornography consumption and production, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Australians.
According to Lumby, men outnumber women as consumers of pornography by about 4 to 1, and many women still consider pornography a societal smear. Nevertheless, her study and a 2003 report on sex in Australia, suggest that the gap is tightening.
"Certainly, there is evidence in our survey, as well as the 2003 survey, that indicates we are seeing a greater proportion of women consuming X-rated material in the age groups under 40," Lumby said.
Of the pornography consumers interviewed for The Porn Report, 17 percent were women and 82 percent were men, compared to 90 percent men in a 1996 survey. Some people did not state their gender.
Of those surveyed, 54 percent of porn consumers were between the ages of 19 and 35, 77 percent were heterosexual, and 55 percent were in a monogamous relationship.
According to Lumby, research indicates that women who consume pornography favor watching DVDs on a laptop at home and like to watch porn with a partner.