Gender differences in the interpretations and reactions to viewing pornographic vignettes

Date of Completion

January 1995


Women's Studies|Psychology, Clinical




For many years, the "money shot," otherwise known as the "cum shot," has been the sine qua non of pornography. This study examined gender differences in the perception, interpretation and reaction to this particular form of pornography. Previous research has shown that men find cum shots to be more arousing than do women (Gardos, 1992). This gender difference may be due to variations in the perception and/or interpretation of these scenes. In particular, men may interpret the cum shot as a sign of a woman's acceptance of them and their sexuality; whereas women may interpret men ejaculating on the faces and bodies of women as degrading. To assesses this hypothesis, 202 females and 173 males were randomly assigned to view one of four videos: one unaltered, one with the cum shot removed, one with the soundtrack modified so as to accentuate any degrading aspects of the vignettes, and one with the soundtrack modified so as to accentuate any acceptance aspects of the vignettes. Reactions were assessed on measures of sexual arousal, enjoyment, ratings of degradation and ratings of acceptance. As predicted, men reported more positive psychosexual and affective response, as well as lower ratings of degradation and higher ratings of acceptance to all of the videos. The degrading voice-over increased ratings of degradingness but also decreased sexual arousal and enjoyment for both men and women. In addition, ratings of degradation negatively influenced feelings of enjoyment and sexual arousal, whereas perception of acceptance positively influenced these same ratings for all participants. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that the crucial variable in determining an individual's psychosexual and affective response to pornography is not gender but how that individual perceives and interprets the pornography. ^