Background:Despite viewing less often than young men, young women view pornography. This study used an online survey to describe young women’s pornography use and their reflections on the influence of this use. Methods: Young Australian women (15-29 years) were recruited via Facebook to complete an online survey in 2016. Respondents who had ever viewed pornography (n = 491) were asked 10 closed-ended questions related to their exposure to pornography and an open-ended question: ‘How has pornography influenced your life?’. Quantitative responses were descriptively analysed. Qualitative responses were thematically analysed using a descriptive qualitative approach. Results: Most respondents (89%) watched pornography alone for sexual arousal and openly reflected on the influence of their own use. Two overarching themes were identified across qualitative data. The first, exploration, included positive sub-themes of safety, independence, normalisation of sexuality and diversity in body type. The second, harm, included negative sub-themes related to conditioning, comparison and dependency. Themes were identified separately among two discrete groups, but were also described concurrently among a third group of (mostly older) respondents who experienced pornography both as a place for exploration and as a potential source of harm. Conclusion: Young women watch pornography and have positive, negative and mixed experiences that they link to their own viewing. Future research must provide a safe space for young women to be honest regarding their pornography use to ensure that their perspectives are heard and understood.
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