Flash Polls, Social Issues, Spring 2014 Articles

Duke Student Outed as a Porn Star: Wolfpack Opinions Divided

Recently, a first year female student at Duke was outed as a porn star. The student, who WRAL has been calling “Lauren,” says she is performing in pornographic films to pay for her dream school. She has since been defending herself from the stigmas of pornography. “Lauren” describes her experience in porn as “thrilling, and empowering,” and says that she hopes to end discrimination for sex workers. You can read her OpEd article here.

NC State students, however, are divided over whether they would support a student performing in pornographic films within their own campus community. When respondents were asked if they would approve of a member of the Wolfpack performing in pornography to pay for school, 31% would disapprove, 37% would approve, and 31% have no feelings. Yet, approval is higher for a male than a female student.

Gender Matters

The PackPoll conducted an experiment within the survey to see if there are differences between approving of a female porn actress versus a male porn actor. Respondents were randomly assigned to a version of the survey that described either a male or a female student performing pornography.  In both situations, respondents are slightly more likely to approve than disapprove. However, fewer approved of a female (35%) than a male (41%).

An equally determining factor of approval for student porn stars is based on gender of the respondent. While 44% of male students approved of a female student performing in pornographic films, only 29% of females approved. Women’s greater disapproval could stem from the fact that they find pornography more degrading than their male counterparts. Indeed, 66% of females agreed that “most pornography is degrading to women,” compared to 50% of men.

Porn

Perhaps unsurprisingly, male students at NC State are viewing a more porn than the women they’re in class with, and they’re willing to talk about it. While 68% of female students said they have not watched any porn this month (36% of them said they never watched it ever), only 26% of males skipped “ the skin-flick” this month. Further, 44% of males said they watched porn either several times a week or daily, while only 8% of females have watched the same amount. Additionally, men were more willing to take the survey. Only 38% of the respondents were female.

Prior Awareness Matters

Most State students, 62%, had already heard about the Duke student porn story. Further, awareness of the story might prompt greater support of a porn actress on NC State’s campus.

Students who reported being aware of the Duke student story were more likely to support a female porn actress, but it do not affect approval about a male student. Of students who had heard about “Lauren’s” story, 41% would approve of a female porn actress at NC State. Only 25% of students unaware of “Lauren” are in support. The approval for male actors does not change based on prior awareness of the story, holding at a steady 41%, suggesting that the information flow around “Lauren” might be more likely to promote support of female student porn actresses. Rather than changing minds, people pre-disposed to supporting a person like “Lauren” might be sharing the story with like-minded friends.

Getting paid for sex: there are differences

The PackPoll wanted to test if students found a difference between prostitution and performing in pornography. In both settings, individuals are being paid to have sex, but students report a moral difference between the two jobs. Half the students in the survey were asked if they find prostitution morally acceptable, and half were asked the same question for pornography. As it turns out, there is a 20% difference in how students view the sex. A slim majority, 53%, agreed that it is morally acceptable to be in a pornographic film, but just 33% agreed that prostitution is morally acceptable. It is important to note that while 53% of students agreed performing in pornography is morally acceptable, only 37% approve of a Wolfpack student performing in porn.

The Pack Poll conducts representative surveys of students and faculty on NCSU campus. This poll surveyed 706 undergraduates via random sampling of student email. The survey was conducted over the internet between Feb 27-28, 2014, with a response rate of 24% and margin of sampling error of +/-3.65%. However, this poll had greater participation from males than we would expect based on known student demographics. Since we do not apply weighting to “correct” demographic imbalances, and women were less supportive of appearing in adult films,  overall support among students for a State student performing in pornography is biased slightly upwards.

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4 Comments

  1. These results seem somewhat biased. If only 38 percent of females to males took this survey then how can we conclude that a majority of females find porn degrading? It doesn’t seem right. Maybe women lied in this survey or I have a dirty mind but most women I know watch pornagraphy on a weekly basis and have no problem admitting so.

  2. The results of this survey are not enough to say “prior awareness matters.” Big deal, one more female out there is in porn to pay her bills. Reading about her story does not change my approval of anybody in porn, regardless of gender.

  3. Allison: the lower response rate among women would only affect our ability to generalize to females on campus if certain kinds of females wouldn’t take the survey. Say, for example, that women who find the topic itself to be offensive are less likely to respond to our survey AND these kids of women are less likely to approve of porn, consume porn, etc. Otherwise, what has happened is that our overall estimates of opinions about porn are slightly skewed since women are more likely to say porn is degrading and less likely to ay they watch it. We could have developed sample weights to adjust for the underrepresentation of women in our sample, but that takes a lot of work, and it would have only marginally changed our findings. Lastly, the nature of sampling is that not everyone in the population is asked to take the survey, but everyone in the population (ncsu undergraduates) had an equal chance of being asked. Just because you have different attitudes or behaviors doesn’t mean the rest of the student body looks like you. And yes, though, it is very possible that women were more likely to misreport their experiences with porn due to greater social pressures about it being “taboo”.

  4. Kimberly, I think you are confused about our findings. Our poll indeed found that students who knew about the Duke student were much more supportive of her decision. How you feel may or may not be representative of how other people feel and behave. In this case, it seems like the explanation, as you suggest, isn’t that reading the story changed people’s views, but rather that people pre-disposed to supporting her were passing around the story to their friends, who shared their viewpoint. But with these data we can’t tell which explanation is more responsible.

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