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'Porn Studies' Journal Comes Under Fire For Assumed Pro-Porn Stance, Lack Of Critical Debate

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PORN STUDIES JOURNAL
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There might be trouble ahead for an academic journal dedicated to studying pornography.

Back in May, Routledge announced that they would debut Porn Studies in 2014: "the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic."

However, a new petition calls the journal's focus "biased" and calls for recognition of the harmful effects of porn. The petition, sponsored by Stop Porn Culture, states:

While we agree that pornography and porn culture demand and deserve more critical attention, as a group of academics, activists, anti-violence experts, health professionals, and educators, we are deeply concerned about the journal’s intention and focus and about its editorial board, which is uniformly pro-porn.

Sociology professor Gail Dines told the Guardian: "[The journal's] editors come from a pro-porn background where they deny the tons and tons of research that has been done into the negative effects of porn... They are akin to climate-change deniers. They're taking a bit of junk science and leaping to all sorts of unfounded conclusions."

The petition calls for one of two changes: installing a new board comprising of members with more diverse perspectives, or re-naming the journal Pro-Porn Studies. Over 900 people had signed the petition at the time of writing this article, including professors and academics from the UK and the United States.

A number of petition supporters expressed their concern that the journal might present a one-sided point of view. George Deabill, a certified clinical sexologist and marriage and family therapist, commented: "I agree that both sides need to be represented. Porn can be helpful and harmful and studies from both sides should be published." Commenter Janice Williams added: "It is vital that there is some balance in this debate."

The journal's stated intention to "critically explore" pornography and surrounding topics suggests that the issue will be covered from multiple viewpoints -- it seems to be only the ideological positions of the journal's editors and board that have caused this concern. Of course there is no way to know exactly what the journal will cover until it is published.

Ultimately, the jury is still out on porn's impact. While a June 2012 study found that porn use can negatively affect intimate relationships, an April 2013 study suggested that porn may not influence risky sexual behaviors as much as we previously thought.

"Pornography is not as big and bad a wolf as we thought it was," claimed the study's lead author, clinical psychologist Gert Martin Hald.

What do you think of this petition? Comment below, or join the conversation on Twitter @HuffPostWomen!

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