Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Vanessa Baird

Second Advisor

Edward Scott Adler

Third Advisor

Celeste Montoya


Nonconsensual pornography entails the sharing of intimate images, along with personal information and details, within the Internet realm. It is commonly referred to as “revenge porn” because of its vindictive nature. Out of all 50 states, only 27 states have a policy criminalizing the distribution of nonconsensual pornography in effect. For a policy that associates Internet usage with a question of women’s rights, and a theme denoting a sexual connotation, why haven’t more states taken up efforts to enact this particular policy? I argue that the studies of policy diffusion and policy dispersion help explain the enactment of nonconsensual pornography policies. Policy diffusion involves external pressures, such as one government’s policy choices being influenced by the previous choices of other government. Policy diffusion involves internal pressures, such as attitudes of legislators or composition of the state government.

In this context, two sets of internal pressures and two sets of external pressures are examined. The internal pressures include characteristics of each individual state and the evaluation of a state score that corresponds to current Internet regulation policies in effect. The external pressures include geographic clustering, which includes diffusion of policies influencing neighboring states, and analyzing the wording that relates to the degree of punishment associated with the act of distributing nonconsensual pornography. Analyzing the wording of the punishment will help draw the effect neighbor-to-neighbor flow had on the policy enactment. Exploring both internal and external pressures affecting each state allows for an in depth study into a topic not widely discussed, nonconsensual pornography, but also a better look at the rate of success in enacting a criminalization policy.