Proceedings now available:
Proceedings of the Workshop on Search and Exploration of X-Rated Information (SEXI 2013)
The proceedings include a summary of the workshop published in SIGIR Forum Spring 2013, overviews of the keynotes, and the papers presented at the workshop.
One of the major shifts in psychological research within the past few decades has been the application of evolutionary principles to human behaviour. By using evolutionary theory, scholars have learned far more about human nature than ever before. Specifically, this paradigm shift has changed how psychologists view human sexuality, and with it, how we understand human behaviour more generally. For example, we know much more about sex-specific mating strategies, or competition for mates. This knowledge means that we also know more about which topics most people are sexually interested in, and why. In terms of acquiring insights into behaviour, we have many tools at our disposal; we can ask people, perform eye-tracking studies, or use the argument that when we see an artifact created by humans, we are also viewing something about human nature. That is, just as the consistent types of information presented in tabloids reveals our evolved human nature, so do the frequency of specific search terms used to find pornography.
After briefly introducing “evolutionary psychology,” I will review various findings about the frequency and diversity of sexuality related search terms and discuss why they are so prevalent.
Maryanne L. Fisher is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University, where she is also a member of the interdisciplinary Women and Gender Studies Program. Her primary areas of research interest include women’s competition for men and understanding human universals in popular culture. She is the lead editor of “Evolution’s Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women” (OUP, 2013), writing a book about women’s same sex competition, and is currently planning a book about variable in women’s sexuality.
On the one hand, it is commonly known that search terms for pornographic content top the uncensored listings of most popular search terms. On the other hand, such terms are constantly filtered out when such listing as published. Similarly, Google image searches are filtered by default as a “moderate” SafeSearch, and anyone who wants to access sexually explicit images needs to turn off the filter. SafeSearch filters out images that “contain pornography, explicit sexual content, profanity, and other types of hate content.” This phrasing equates sexually explicit images with hate, while the notion of safety associates them with risk and danger. This rhetorical move reflects the broader, paradoxical position of online porn as perpetually popular yet seen as problematic filth. This presentation questions the conflation of porn with notions of danger. Separating between moral and ethical argumentation in debates on pornography, I argue for the centrality of contextual understanding of the genre, its production, distribution and consumption.
Susanna Paasonen is professor of media studies at University of Turku, Finland. Specialized in internet research, cultural studies and studies of sexuality, she is most recently the author of Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography (MIT Press, 2011) and coeditor of Working with affect in Feminist Readings: Disturbing Differences (Routledge 2010) and Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture (Berg 2007).