“Dines understands both the economics and cultural power of the pornography industry perhaps better than anyone ever has”, wrote Jackson Katz in his 2006 book, The Macho Paradox. Academic, writer, speaker and political activist, Gail Dines is a tireless campaigner in the fight against the global pornography industry, and one of the most important and respected voices on the subject.
She was born in Manchester and studied at Salford University as an undergraduate and later, as a postgraduate. She achieved her PhD in Sociology with a thesis that centred on a sociological investigation of cartoons with particular reference to those of Playboy. In 1980, soon after attaining her doctorate, Gail moved to Israel. There, aged just 22, she volunteered at a rape crisis centre in Tel Aviv and set up the feminist movement, Woman to Woman, in her own living room.
Moving to the USA in 1986, Gail embarked on her academic career, undertaking a position at Wheelock College in Boston. She has taught there for over 30 years and, until very recently, she was the Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies and the Chair of the American Studies Department.
Her research, writing and teaching has focused on the hypersexualisation of our culture and the way the images of pornography filter into the mainstream media, how this shapes gender and racial identity and the role pornography plays in the validating of violence against women and children. For three decades Gail has taught, researched and written extensively on the porn industry and its influence.
Gail’s work puts forward the view that young men and boys are continually exposed to pornography which is increasingly violent towards women, and that this has a harmful effect on them, distorting their view of sex and sexuality, and making it difficult for them to pursue intimate relationships with women.
Similarly, her work shows how the prevalence of cruelty against women in modern pornography denigrates the position of women in society and has a devastating effect on teenage girls, their self-image and their view of sexuality. She writes that contemporary idealised femininity has been reduced to a “Hypersexualised, young, thin, toned, hairless and, in many cases, surgically enhanced woman with a come-hither look on her face”.
Widely published, Gail is the co-author of Pornography: the Production and Consumption of Inequality and the co-editor of best selling text-book, Gender, Race and Class in Media. The latter publication is now in its third edition and won the Myers Centre Award for the Study of Human Rights.
Gail’s 2010 book, PORNLAND: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, examines how the lives, sexuality and relationships of both men and women are shaped by porn culture. She writes, “No anti-porn feminist I know has suggested there is one image, or even a few, that could lead a non-rapist to rape: the argument, rather, is that taken together, pornographic images create a world that is at best inhospitable to women, and at worst dangerous to their physical and emotional well-being”.
“By the time they first encounter porn”, she continues, “Most men have internalised the sexist ideology of our culture and porn, rather than being an aberration, actually cements and consolidates their ideas about sexuality.” The book has been translated into five languages and has been adapted into a documentary.
Gail has always ensured that her work is widely accessible beyond the world of academia and has successfully initiated a much wider debate on the effects of porn culture on society. She makes regular appearances on radio and television programmes and is an engaging public orator, speaking extensively at colleges, conferences, debates and various events around the world. She writes for journals, newspapers and magazines and her work is frequently used and quoted in the media and online. Furthermore, she is a consultant to government agencies both in the USA and abroad.
In 2007, Gail was one of the founder members of Stop Porn Culture, an activist group formed to develop educational materials and raise awareness about the effects of the porn industry on society. As chair of the board, she helped to raise the group’s international profile and develop it into the feminist health education organisation, Culture Reframed.
In September of this year, Gail withdrew from her roles at Wheelock College, becoming instead a Professor Emeritus. She has chosen to step back from academia in order to concentrate on anti-porn campaigning through the organisation, Culture Reframed. In a post on social media, Gail stated that she has loved being a teacher but now wants “To be a constant thorn in the side of the porn industry and grow the only health-based organisation in the USA that builds resilience and resistance to porn culture.”
©The Heroine Collective 2016 – Present, All Rights Reserved. Every effort is made to ensure our articles are as accurate as they can possibly can be, but if you notice a factual error, please do be in touch. We only use images we believe are either in the public domain or images we believe we are able to use for illustrative, editorial and non-commercial purposes. If you believe one of our images is being used incorrectly, please be in touch. References include http://gaildines.com/ https://upclosed.com/people/gail-dines/ https://www.wheelock.edu/academics/faculty-and-administration/dines-gail http://www.culturereframed.org/ http://www.culturereframed.org/team/ and selected works by the author.