newly published study that examined a large representative sample of highly watched pornographic videos from a leading online streaming website, we found no evidence for the claim that pornography has become more violent over the last
We also found no evidence for often-heard claims that viewers increasingly prefer aggressive content.
Pornography and sexually explicit materials have long been a matter of intense debate. Since the so-called
sex wars of the 1970s, activists and academics have been embroiled in disputes concerning the production conditions, future directions and long-term consequences of pornography.
Since the rise of online porn along with social media, discussions about pornography have taken on a life of their own, largely unhinged from a credible or systematic evidence base.
Debates about aggression in porn
Our interest in the topic of violence and aggression in pornography came out of reading and hearing claims both in the popular media and in academic circles that pornography is becoming "worse and worse."
Part of this argument has been the result of
scientifically dubious claims about pornography being addictive and users needing to constantly "up the stakes" in order to be satisfied.
According to this logic, porn viewers -- who are mostly men -- become desensitized to "soft" pornography. This forces producers to increasingly generate videos that are more hard-core, creating a growing demand for and supply of violent
and degrading acts against women in mainstream pornographic videos.
However, we found no evidence to support these claims, and most of the existing evidence for the idea that porn is more hard-core than before was anecdotal.
Studies on the presence of aggression in pornographic videos have produced wildly diverging estimates, ranging from about
two per cent to
90 per cent . Differences in the way porn is studied can cause this wide gap in results: Researchers who have looked at aggression in porn have looked at different forms of media and have used various methods to both study and choose their
They have even used various definitions of aggression. Aggression can be strictly defined as a purposeful act resulting in harm in which the target of aggression
attempts to avoid the harm , or more broadly defined as a purposeful act that
results in harm to either the self or another . The choice of definition can have an impact on what is considered aggression, creating the potential to either under- or over-estimate prevalence.
Previous studies have not examined systematically changes in depictions of aggression over time, nor the relationship between aggressive contents and the popularity of videos.
Testing the claims porn is more violent
We set out to test the accepted wisdom of the "harder and harder" argument.
We also tested the assumption that viewers prefer increasingly hard-core pornography by analyzing 269 videos uploaded to PornHub over the past decade.
one of the world's top adult websites and, according to Alexa Internet, the 36th most visited site on the Internet as of 2017, with more than 80 million daily visits. PornHub is a freely accessible video-sharing website similar to YouTube.
Most of the videos we analyzed were frequently watched, but we also analyzed a smaller random sample of less frequently watched videos so that we could compare the highly popular videos versus the less popular ones.
We tested two related claims: One, that aggressive content in videos is on the rise and two, that viewers prefer such content. We used both the number of views as well as the rankings ("based on likes") for videos containing aggression
to help us assess popularity.
We used multiple definitions and measures of aggression (including visible, verbal, non-verbal and non-consensual aggression). Our results offered no support for either of these two claims. Viewers did not show a preference for violent content.
Visible aggression was present in slightly less than 40 per cent of the videos, non-consensual aggression appeared in about 12 per cent of the videos, and nearly 10 per cent of video titles clearly suggested aggression.
None of these showed an upward trend.
In fact, while in 2008, nearly 13 per cent of the average videos portrayed non-consensual aggression, by 2016, this figure had dropped to less than three per cent. This decline in non-consensual aggression and a similar decline in aggressive
video titles suggest that aggression has become less frequent in pornography over the last decade.
We also found that videos containing aggressive acts were both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favourably by viewers, who preferred videos where women clearly demonstrated pleasure.
Whether the women are actually experiencing pleasure is another matter altogether, which our study cannot assess. Nevertheless, videos where women respond with pleasure are more likely to be watched and be "liked" (given a thumb's up by
These findings clearly challenge the assumption about the popularity of aggression, at least among those viewers who choose to share their preferences.
Indeed, it seems like the majority of mainstream viewers are gradually moving away from depictions of aggression and degradation, particularly non-consensual aggression.
This shift away from non-consensual aggression may signify lower demand and, depending on the responsiveness of producers to the preferences of most consumers, might result in reduced distribution of material featuring non-consensual aggression.
That said, surveys and interviews with porn viewers are needed to further explore preferences for aggression-free pornography.
Our research suggests that those making the "harder and harder" argument may be confusing supply (what a substantial portion of mainstream porn still looks like) and demand (what most viewers actually want to watch.)
By Eran Shor and Kimberly Seida of Montreal's McGill University
It is a common notion among many scholars and pundits that the pornography industry becomes harder and harder with every passing year. Some have suggested that porn viewers, who are mostly men, become desensitized to soft pornography, and
producers are happy to generate videos that are more hard core, resulting in a growing demand for and supply of violent and degrading acts against women in mainstream pornographic videos.
We examined this accepted wisdom by utilizing a sample of 269 popular videos uploaded to PornHub over the past decade. More specifically, we tested two related claims, reflected in both the number of views and the rankings for videos containing
(1) aggressive content in videos is on the rise and
(2) viewers prefer such content,
Our results offer no support for these contentions. First, we did not find any consistent uptick in aggressive content over the past decade; in fact, the average video today contains shorter segments showing aggression. Second, videos containing
aggressive acts are both less likely to receive views and less likely to be ranked favorably by viewers, who prefer videos where women clearly perform pleasure.
Unlike many previous studies claiming to quantify aggressive behavior in porn, the McGill researchers defined several different categories of aggressive behavior in porn scenes. The researchers counted acts which simply appear intended to cause
harm, pain or discomfort, and created a separate category for video which depicted those acts as clearly non-consensual, as determined by verbal or visual cues.
Conversely, anti-porn groups that claim excessive violence in porn usually count such acts as playful slaps on the ass, a hand on the throat, and the use of such terms as bitch or slut, no matter in what context, as violent acts.
While they found that depictions of visible aggression fluctuate but show no steady upward or downward trend, with between 30 and 50 percent all videos uploaded each year depicting some visible aggression, the duration of aggressive scenes has
shown a sharp drop over the past decade.
In 2008, nearly 13% of the average video portrayed visible aggression, the researchers write. But in 2016, the average video contained aggressive content lasting only three percent of the total video running time.
Researchers Sophie Daniels and Dr Simon Duff from the University of Nottingham are presenting a paper to annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology. The researchers claim that:
Frequent viewers of soft-core pornography, such as photographs of naked and semi-naked female models, are unlikely to think positively about women and are likely to have become desensitised to soft-core pornography common in newspapers,
advertising and the media.
Daniels and Duff examined the relationship between frequency of exposure to soft-core pornographic images of women and attitudes towards women, rape myths and level of sensitivity or desensitisation to the images.
The results indicated that people who frequently viewed soft-core pornographic images were less likely to describe these as pornographic than people who had low levels of exposure to these images. People who were desensitised to these images were
more likely than others to endorse rape myths. Furthermore, people who frequently viewed these images were less likely to have positive attitudes to women.
The researchers claim that an argument could be made for greater media regulation and censorship of soft-core pornographic images of women.
[Melon Farmers have been doing their own bleedin' obvious research, and have found that people who frequently viewed feminist writings are less likely to describe them as politically correct feminist gobbledygook than people who had low levels of
exposure to such nonsense].
A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies
Paul J. Wright, Robert S. Tokunaga, Ashley Kraus
First published: 29 December 2015
Whether pornography consumption is a reliable correlate of sexually aggressive behavior continues to be debated. Meta-analyses of experimental studies have found effects on aggressive behavior and attitudes. That pornography consumption
correlates with aggressive attitudes in naturalistic studies has also been found. Yet, no meta-analysis has addressed the question motivating this body of work: Is pornography consumption correlated with committing actual acts of sexual
aggression? 22 studies from 7 different countries were analyzed. Consumption was associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Associations
were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested.
Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be useful allies in women's struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office.
Taylor Kohut, the study leader and a post-doctoral fellow in psychology, analysed data from 35 years of the General Social Survey, a US government-funded project that interviews around 24,000 men and women a year about a variety of issues.
They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23% of people who said they had watched an X-rated film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
They also found that, on average, porn-watchers expressed more positive attitudes towards women in positions of power, as well as less negative attitudes towards abortion and women in the workforce.
Kohut said: I'd rather not live in a culture where our government decide to regulate [or] outlaw behaviour or material because they assume it's harmful. I'd rather they demonstrate it is, first.
Supporting the study Christopher Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M International University, said that gauges of male aggression such as rape and domestic violence have actually been decreasing throughout the Internet era, the
National Post reported. Dr Ferguson said:
I think if porn were going to ruin society, it's already had 20 years to do it ... And it's not happened.
Kohut said that the results may partly be explained by the fact that porn users are more likely to be liberal people, where as non-users are more likely to be conservative or religious.
Watching porn is not an addiction like substance abuse and viewers do not elicit the same neurological responses as other addicts, a study has revealed. Sexual psycho-physiologist and lead researcher Nicole Prause said:
The findings provide clear evidence that porn does not look like other addictions.
Prause and her colleagues examined 122 men and women, 55 of whom reported a porn problem .
The volunteers viewed photos categorised as pleasant, neutral and unpleasant. Half of the pleasant photos were erotic. The team focused on late positive potential (LPP), a common measure for the intensity of the brain's emotional response
at a given moment.
They found that porn addicts showed a lower -- and not higher -- late positive potential when viewing sexually explicit images.
Those who said they had experienced major problems with porn usage showed decreased brain reactions when shown the sexual images .
The research was published in the journal Biological Psychology:
Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with porn addiction
Excessive viewing of visual sexual stimuli (VSS) is the most commonly reported hypersexual behavior problem and is especially amenable to laboratory study. A pattern of enhanced sexual cue responsiveness is expected in this sample if
hypersexuality shares features of other addiction models. Participants (N = 122) who either reported or denied problematic VSS use were presented with emotional, including explicit sexual, images while their evoked response potentials were
recorded. An interaction of hypersexual problem group and the level of desire for sex with a partner predicted LPP amplitude. Specifically, those reporting problems regulating their VSS use who also reported higher sexual desire had lower LPP in
response to VSS. This pattern appears different from substance addiction models. These are the first functional physiological data of persons reporting VSS regulation problems.
University professor notes: 'There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations'
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Brian McNair is one of the world's foremost academic experts on pornography.
The subject matter of his work is often seen as peculiar or taboo, yet he believes pornography should be studied in the same way as Hollywood movies and the pop industry. Professor McNair told ABC Brisbane's Spencer Howson that the growing
acceptance of pornography had made it a fascinating subject of academia:
Since the 1990s many scholars have taken the topic of pornography seriously and tried to apply to it the same methods that we use for mainstream cinema, advertising and so on, he said. There is a growing acceptance and tolerance of pornography
as something ordinary people do or use.
There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs. Professor Brian Mc Nair. He said the ease and degree of access had led to more people viewing
Children as young as 8, 9 or 10 have access to pornography, hard-core explicit images of a type that could not be purchased legally, or even in sex shops in Sydney, he said.
That is a qualitatively different environment than existed pre-internet, so it creates justified anxieties amongst parents about what their children are watching in their bedrooms at night.
That said, there is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations.
The statistics in all of these elements are improving.
He believes parents must take responsibility for policing the media consumption of their children. He said:
Apart from the very clear and unambiguously bad forms of pornography, I do not think it is helpful for the state to intervene and try to censor the internet for everyone
Whether or not you attribute broader social harms to pornography, there is no evidence that increasing access to pornography is somehow generating more sexual abuse or violence ... or the other things that sometimes pornography is accused of.
There is evidence of greater tolerance of gay marriage, reduced tolerance of domestic violence and sexism. All of this has happened despite the face that we have this hugely sexualised culture.
Are Pornography and Marriage Substitutes for Young Men? by Michael Malcolm, George S Naufal (November 2014) forthcoming in: Eastern Economic Journal, 2015
Substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. Proliferation of the Internet has made pornography an increasingly low-cost substitute. We investigate the effect of Internet usage, and of pornography consumption
specifically, on the marital status of young men. We show that increased Internet usage is negatively associated with marriage formation. Pornography consumption specifically has an even stronger effect. Instrumental variables and a number of
robustness checks suggest that the effect is causal.
Research published in the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany claims that the rise of free porn on the internet is both correlated with the decline in the amount of young adult men who are married and might actually play a role in
the decline. Researchers surveyed more than 1500 men between 18 and 35, analyzing how they used the internet between 2000 and 2004. The researchers took a look at how many hours each participant spent and how many looked at porn versus religious
sites, adjusting for variables like age, income, education, religiosity, and employment. Roberto A. Ferman at Washington Post writes :
Broadly, higher Internet usage was associated with lower marriage rates. But pornography use in particular was more closely linked to those participants who were not married than any other form of Internet use, including regular use of financial
websites, news websites, sports websites, and several others. The opposite, for comparison, was true for religious website use, which was positively correlated with marriage.
One of the study's authors, professor at University of West Chester, Pennsylvania Dr. Michael Malcolm explains that the study could point to marriage and sexual gratification. Ferman continues:
If pornography is viewed as a means of alternative sexual gratification, then it could be undercutting the need for marriages to serve this function, at the very least during a younger age. Think of it as a milder form of premarital sex.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin found that a part of the brain which activates when people feel motivated or rewarded is smaller for porn users.
However the researchers don't know whether this is a correlation or causal link. Dr Simone Kuhn said:
It's not clear, for example, whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.
The abstract for the paper is as follows:
Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption
By Simone Kuhn, Jurgen Gallinat
Importance Since pornography appeared on the Internet, the accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming visual sexual stimuli have increased and attracted millions of users. Based on the assumption that pornography consumption
bears resemblance with reward-seeking behavior, novelty-seeking behavior, and addictive behavior, we hypothesized alterations of the frontostriatal network in frequent users.
Objective To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.
Design, Setting, and Participants Sixty-four healthy male adults with a broad range of pornography consumption at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, reported hours of pornography consumption per week.
Pornography consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.
Main Outcomes and Measures Gray matter volume of the brain was measured by voxel-based morphometry and resting state functional connectivity was measured on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Results We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a
sexual cue--reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P < .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.
Conclusions and Relevance The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right
caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively,
it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.
It has been an assumption of most anti-pornography discourse that porn damages women (and children) in a variety of ways. In Porno? Chic!, the author interrogated this assumption by examining the correlation between the incidence of sexual
violence and other indicators of misogyny, and the availability and accessibility of pornography within a number of societies. This article develops that work with a specific focus on the regulatory environment as it relates to pornography and
sexual representation. Does a liberal regulatory regime in sexual culture correlate with a relatively advanced state of sexual politics in a given country? Conversely, does an illiberal regime, where pornography and other forms of sexual culture
are banned or severely restricted, correlate with relatively strong patriarchal structures? A comparative cross-country analysis seeks to explain the correlations identified, and to assess the extent to which the availability of porn can be
viewed as a causal or a consequential characteristic of those societies where feminism has achieved significant advances.
Brian McNaira. Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia Published online: 21 Mar 2014.
Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith introduce their Porn Studies journal as follows:
This journal has been more than two years in its planning, followed by the exciting, though time-intense and anxiety-making, work of bringing together the content for a launch issue. Porn Studies has been a labour of love. Our interests in
bringing the journal to fruition were born out of our personal and professional fascinations with the ways in which pornography matters and is discussed. Clearly pornography is a significant topic across a whole range of academic, public and
policy domains, and yet the spaces in which it is discussed and debated are not always conducive to the sharing of research and the development of meaningful dialogue. Just as there are specialist journals, conferences, book series and
collections enabling consideration of other areas of media and cultural production, so pornography needs a dedicated space for research and debate.
Researching pornography can be particularly complicated and challenging. Newspaper articles examine the proliferations of sexually explicit materials as evidence of changing mores, of other peoples' weaknesses and excesses; pornography as an
industry is characterized as a big business whose sheer size means it ought to be condemned. It (and pornography is almost always characterized as singular) is portrayed as an industry that succeeds by pandering to ever-more extreme
interests and one that pulls everything, even the most innocent of people, into its orbit so that anything which hints at sexuality -- dress, topographies of body hair, musical tastes, dancing, and so on -- is marked by and marks pornography's
influence . With such 'overhead noise' about pornography, uncovering the histories and contemporary forms of sexually explicit representation, their production and consumption, their circulation and distribution, their importance and
insignificances can be daunting.
Yet it is too easy to focus on the problems of researching pornography, and we also ought to be able to celebrate successes. Research on pornography has found a home in journals and a presence at seminars and conferences across various
disciplines. However, as important as these have been, they have not provided the dedicated space that allows for the development of a research tradition and for discussions about the kinds of approaches and methods which will produce good
research. We need a dedicated space to explore the complexities and potentials of research into pornography. This is the right time for a journal for porn studies. We need to develop our methods and theories, and to talk about the importance of
different technologies, their particular employment as platforms for distribution, and the contributions these make to the kinds of pornographies that are available. We need to be able to engage with and examine the variety of legislative moves
against pornography and how those might be tied to concerns about the spread and accessibility of other forms of information, and we need to recognize where regulation is being lessened or loosened and why this is so.
The addiction model is rarely used to describe high-frequency use of visual sexual stimuli (VSS) in research, yet common in media and clinical practice.
The theory and research behind pornography addiction is hindered by poor experimental designs, limited methodological rigor, and lack of model specification.
The history and limitations of addiction models are reviewed, including how VSS fails to meet standards of addiction. These include how VSS use can reduce health-risk behaviors. Proposed negative effects, including erectile problems, difficulty
regulating sexual feelings, and neuroadaptations are discussed as non-pathological evidence of learning.
Individuals reporting addictive use of VSS could be better conceptualized by considering issues such as gender, sexual orientation, libido, desire for sensation, with internal and external conflicts influenced by religiosity and desire
Since a large, lucrative industry has promised treatments for pornography addiction despite this poor evidence, scientific psychologists are called to declare the emperor (treatment industry) has no clothes (supporting evidence). When faced with
such complaints, clinicians are encouraged to address behaviors without conjuring addiction labels.
Nerve reports further
Dr. David Ley, author of a new study in the Current Sexual Health Reports, says that slapping the label of porn addict on net smut enthusiasts is not only missing the point, but ignoring the benefits of watching porn. Ley contends that fewer
than two in every five research articles about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction, and furthermore, a limiting 27 percent of articles on porn addiction actually contain any empirical data. In fact, in studies,
there's been no evidence of any of the commonly hyped life-crushing negative effects of porn addiction, like erectile dysfunction and brain rewiring.
When we pathologize common sexual behaviors, even if they seem compulsive, we're also stigmatizing them. Frequently watching porn, even up to five hours a week, maybe could cause a mean case of carpal tunnel and near-sightedness, but it also
increases positive attitudes towards sex, increases frequency of sex, decreases rates of sex crimes, and fosters open dialogues of sexuality between couples.
Statistically, people most likely to hop on the porn addict train are usually male, have a non-heterosexual orientation, have high libidos, and have religious values that conflict with their compulsions. Meaning: we like to diagnose things that
run counter to our carefully constructed social and family values, when maybe, masturbating frequently is perfectly normal. Watching porn isn't accepted in every circle, so it became quite easy to call the behaviors of everyone --- from the
helpless, to the hyper horny, to the completely ordinary --- an illness.
Porn addiction is also a business. The highly profitable conversation surrounding porn addiction is worrisome to Dr. Ley, who claims, we need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli,
without pathologizing them or their use thereof...Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the 'porn addiction' concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance
of the idea.
Should women receive preferential treatment in the workplace? Newly published research suggests attitudes toward this issue may correlate in part to whether people are porn viewers.
Writing in the Psychology of Women Quarterly , Indiana University researchers Paul Wright and Michelle Funk report people who admitted to watching pornography were less likely to support affirmative action for women in a subsequent
That equation held true once a variety of factors that could shape one's view of the issue (including political ideology and religiosity) were removed from the equation. Furthermore, it applied to women as well as men.
The researchers claim: these results suggest that pornography may be a social influence that undermines support for affirmative action programs for women. ( But on the other hand it may just mean that if feminists were a little less
strident in wanting to ban adult entertainment, they may get a little more support in more fundamental issues).
In interviews in 2008, nearly 24% of the men and 13% of the women said they had watched a pornographic film during the previous year. Two years later, as part of a follow-up session, the same people were asked, Are you for or against
preferential hiring and promotion of women?
The results: Prior pornographic viewing predicted subsequent opposition to affirmative action for women. While women in the study (like those in previous research) were more supportive of such programs than men, they, too, were less likely
to express approval if they had watched porn.
According to the researchers, this suggests sexual media activate abstract social scripts, which may then be used to inform opinions about social issues ---particularly issues dealing with gender equality. But really it just means that
porn viewers aren't awfully keen on those who want to take their fun away.
From Pacific Center for Sex and Society, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA. email@example.com
By Diamond M, Jozifkova E, Weiss P.
Pornography continues to be a contentious matter with those on the one side arguing it detrimental to society while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready availability of
sexually explicit materials thereon particularly has seemed to raise questions of its influence. Following the effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed pornography to a society previously having forbidden it allowed us to monitor
the change in sex related crime that followed the change.
As found in all other countries in which the phenomenon has been studied, rape and other sex crimes did not increase. Of particular note is that this country, like Denmark and Japan, had a prolonged interval during which possession of child
pornography was not illegal and, like those other countries, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of child sex abuse.
Fifty Shades of Grey , the best-selling tale of erotic romance, perpetuates the problem of violence against women, according to a new genderist study.
Reporting in the Journal of Women's Health , Dr Amy Bonomi concluded that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result:
This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it's being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women. The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse.
The researchers, at Ohio State University, conducted an analysis of the novel and found patterns consistent with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention definitions of intimate partner violence, and associated reactions known to occur in
The negative effect of pornography on a teenager's sexuality has been greatly exaggerated, according to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Parents have long had reasons to intervene when they catch their teens looking at pornography. There are arguments to be made against pornography on almost every level: Most films, especially from the mainstream, at best give very unrealistic
depictions of men, women, and various sex acts, and it has long been thought that exposure to pornography has a negative effect on a teen's sexual development.
But at least one new study argues the contrary: That pornography might not have as big an effect on teen sexual behavior as thought.
For the new study, 4,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in The Netherlands were surveyed about their sex lives and their use of pornography. The survey asked whether they used pornography, how many sexual partners they have had, and
whether or not they've had one-night stands or exchanged money for sex.
Gert Martin Hald, the lead author of the study and associate professor in the department of public health at the University of Copenhagen, said that previous studies on the subject focused too much on the contraction of sexually transmitted
diseases and the consumption of pornography. This means that previous studies had already overestimated the link between porn and sexual behavior without laying any proper groundwork. Their study, therefore, focused on sexual self-esteem, sexual
assertiveness, sensation seeking, and the extent to which young people sought out sexual excitement and physical pleasure.
The study found that ultimately, there does exist a statistically significant relationship between the subjects' pornography use and their sexual behavior, [but] that link turned out to be a modest one. Hald also argues that more attention
should be paid to other influences outside of pornography. Hald said:
There has been a sort of moral panic -- sometimes in Britain and in the U.S. especially -- about the influence of pornography on sexual behaviours. And although this study can't claim to investigate cause and effect, it can still say that there
are a lot of other factors that determine sexual behaviours, so maybe we should put the debate into a larger perspective instead of being just one-sided.
Perhaps he is trying to suggest that unemployment and a lack of prospects may be doing far more harm to kids than viewing porn.
Watching porn and posting nude photos of oneself may be good for young people according to a Swedish researcher.
Pernilla Nigard, a doctoral candidate at Malmo University studied men and women 18-25 and found that young people's online porn habits can enrich their lives. She even believes the practices may help shape their identities. Nigard told The Local:
A lot of it is about the need to be seen, to get affirmation, and to get attention,
When asked why they posted sexualized images of themselves online, the women Nigard interviewed said that they feel stronger when they receive positive comments.
But it's not all good news. If women receive negative comments, they're likely to strike back at their critics. Nigard found that it's OK to be seen as sexy, but if women are labeled sluts or whores it can become problematic for
those who post their photos, especially when they're spread across the internet.
Men on the other hand use porn in the pursuit of independence. Nigard said: It's sort of like uncomplicated sex. There aren't any demands like in a real relationship because there is a lack of intimacy.
Nigard's research also indicated that it's not really clear why young people feel good about exposing their sexuality online when it's those who comment who have the real power. She said that perhaps it's the simple fact that our image-heavy
culture helps shape young people's identities regardless of the consequences.
A new study investigates the link between a country's relative gender equality and the degree of female "empowerment" in the X-rated entertainment it consumes.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii focused on three countries in particular: Norway, the United States and Japan, which are respectively ranked 1st, 15th and (yikes) 54th on the United Nations Gender Empowerment Measure
To simplify their analysis, their library of smut was limited to explicit photographs of women from mainstream pornographic magazines and Internet websites, as well as from the portfolios of the most popular porn stars from
each nation. Then they set out to evaluate each image on both a disempowerment and an empowerment scale, using respective measures like whether the woman is bound and dominated by leashes, collars, gags, or handcuffs or whether she has a natural
Their hypothesis was that societies with greater gender equity will consume pornography that has more representations of empowered women and less of disempowered women.
It turned out the former was true, but, contradictory as it may sound, the latter was not. While Norwegian pornography offers a wider variety of body types -- conforming less to a societal ideal that is disempowering
to the average woman -- there are still many images that do not promote a healthy respect for women, the researchers explain.
In other words, Norwegian porn showed more signs of female empowerment, but X-rated images in all three countries equally depicted women in demeaning positions and scenarios. This, the researchers surmise, suggests that
empowerment and disempowerment within pornography are potentially different constructs.
The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph have picked up an on 2008 research papers written by Tim Jones. & David Wilson
In my own world: A case study of a paedophile's thinking and doing and his use of the Internet published in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Thinking & Doing; Fantasy & Reality: An Analysis of Convicted Paedophiles published in a collection of papers titled: The Assessment, Treatment and Management of Violent and Sexual Offenders , (London: Willan)
The Daily Mail writes:
Extreme sexual fantasies are being normalised because of the rise in deviant pornography on the internet, psychologists have warned.
Researchers now believe there is a causal link [corrected from casual!] between the rise in explicit images available online and an increase extreme illegal behaviour in real life.
According to experts, the internet is allowing like-minded people to share explicit and violent sexual fantasies, therefore making them more acceptable.
Hardly rocket science, all sorts of frowned up on group chat amongst themselves and hence finding community affirmation of their slant on life. Seems to apply equally to melon farmers, Daily Mail readers and religious nutters.
The findings are based on research conducted by Dr Tim Jones, senior lecturer in cognitive psychology at Worcester University as well as top psychologists such as criminologist Professor David Wilson from Birmingham City
University. Their research is based around a series of interviews with a convicted paedophile named James .
They also point to the rise images of child pornography available on the internet. The Greater Manchester police obscene publications unit has seen a staggering leap in the number of illicit images seized. In 1995, they
seized around dozen images of child pornography, rising to over 41,000 in 1999, and by 2001, the unit was so overwhelmed with the number of images that they stopped counting.
Hardly a revelation, no doubt the same escalation applies to any other category of image that circulates on the internet.
Viewing violent x-rated material may contribute to sexually aggressive behavior among 10-17 year olds. X-rated material without violent content does not appear to have the same impact, finds a new study conducted by Internet Solutions for Kids
and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Published in Aggressive Behavior , the study is expected to be highly influential. Because of the obvious ethical problems of purposefully exposing kids to pornography, Dr. Michele Ybarra, the primary author of the study, explains,
little was known before about how viewing x-rated material may be related to sexual aggression in children. We asked kids whether they had looked at x-rated material before, and then looked to see if the kids who said 'yes' were more likely to
also say that they were sexually aggressive. The study finds that youth who look at violent x-rated material are six times more likely to report forcing someone to do something sexual online or in-person versus kids not exposed to x-rated
material. Watching violent pornography does not always lead to sexual aggression and not all sexual aggressors have been exposed to pornography, Ybarra cautions; nor does the study prove that violent x-rated material causes sexual aggression.
Exposure to Internet pornography is relatively common. Findings from the Youth Internet Safety Survey – 2 indicate that 15% of 12-17 year olds have purposefully looked at x-rated material online. Data from the Pew Internet and American Life
Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year-old Internet users accidentally view pornography very or somewhat often. Nevertheless, Ybarra's study also finds that the Internet is not the most common source of x-rated material – even
violent x-rated material. Fourteen percent looked at x-rated material in movies, 12% in magazines, and 11% online. There's an assumption out there that the Internet has somehow increased kids' exposures to deviant content. Our data don't
support this. We're learning that just because content that we find disturbing is accessible online, doesn't mean kids will seek it out, Ybarra explains. She agrees that blocking and filtering software will likely prevent exposure to violent
x-rated material online. But, these things won't do anything to prevent exposure through magazines and movies. That's why it's important to talk to your kids also.
The concern that countries allowing pornography and liberal anti-obscenity laws would show increased sex crime rates due to modeling or that children or adolescents in particular would be negatively vulnerable to and receptive to such models or
that society would be otherwise adversely effected is not supported by evidence. It is certainly clear from the data reviewed, and the new data and analysis presented, that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan, the United States
and elsewhere has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among youngsters as perpetrators or victims. Even in this area of concern no clear and present danger exists for the suppression of sexually explicit
material. There is no evidence that pornography is intended or likely to produce imminent lawless action (see Brandenberg v. Ohio, 1969). It is reasonable that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently rejected the principal that speech or
expression can be punished because it offends some people's sensibilities or beliefs. Compared with hate speech or commercial speech there seems even less justification for banning sex speech.
Sex abuse of any kind is deplorable and should be eliminated. Rape and sex crimes, like any criminal activities are blights on society which should be expunged. The question remains How best to do this? Most assuredly, focusing energy
in the wrong direction, or taking actions just to placate victims, politicians or irate citizens will not solve the problem or help. Nor will spreading myths or misinformation. Removing pornography from our midst will, according to the evidence,
only hurt rather than help society.
I think it is better to expend our energies in two directions. 1) Make better pornography so that preferred role models are portrayed and more segments of society can come to appreciate or at least understand and tolerate its value; and 2) turn
our research to other directions to eliminate or reduce the social ills of rape and other sex crimes. The best place to look is probably in the home during the first decade of life. But it is only by research that we can continue to understand
how to most effectively meet this social challenge. Governments as well as the pornography industry itself would do well to finance and encourage such research.
Watching pornographic videos does not impact the sexual habits of a man and there is no ill-effect on his sexual relationships with his partner.
Allaying the fears of negative impact on men watching pornographic videos, a report conducted by a Canadian researcher over a period of two years says that there is nothing harmful in the practice.
Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a Montreal University associate professor, has asserted that his research discards the common view that pornography enthusiasts seek out in life what they see in X-rated videos, that ultimately leads to sexual abuse or
denigration of women.
Denying the common apprehension of negative impact of porn videos, Simon said: It would be like saying that vodka ads lead to alcoholism.
His research proves that a majority of men watch movies containing explicit pornographic content to satisfy their fringe fantasy and it is wrong to assume that it leads to criminal behavior.
Simon said that he face a lot of problems while conducting his research, as adult video stores and sex shops refused to allow him to post notices inviting men to participate. However, a handful of universities permitted him to address their
campuses, and after appealing to some 2,000 mostly women students to take part, 20 heterosexual men agreed to come out to talk on the issue of sex in their lives.
Among the many discoveries that Simon derived during his course of the study, he reached a conclusion that all the respondents watched adult videos online and almost all searched alone for online erotica, whether in a committed relationship or
The study also revealed that men tend to fast-forward through scenes that do not interest them, often involving sexual violence or group ejaculation which they found disgusting.
Clinical research journal Behavioral Therapy has published results of the first-ever study conducted to address problematic internet pornography viewing.
Though it is common for many anti-pornography campaigners to refer to issues related to the excessive use of internet porn as addiction, the authors of the study, Utah State University psychologist Michael Twohig and graduate student Jess
Crosby, approached the problem rather as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Despite the prevalence of problematic internet pornography viewing and the breadth of intervention approaches to potentially address it, no studies to address this problem have been reported to date, reads an abstract of the study. An emerging treatment approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
, holds promise as a treatment for internet pornography viewing because of its focus on processes hypothesized to underlie this maladaptive behavior.
ACT, according to Psychology Today blogger Stephen C. Hayes, teaches people to walk in the exact opposite direction than that suggested by the problem-solving organ between our ears. Instead of controlling urges, ACT teaches acceptance and
mindful awareness of them. Instead of self-loathing and criticism, ACT teaches self-compassion. Instead of avoidance, ACT instigates approaching ones' values.
This is counter-intuitive. Suppressive avoidance is what the mind knows how to do. A highly religious young man struggling with pornography viewing is likely to criticize himself horribly, and then try to eliminate the urge and suppress all
thoughts about it. It almost looks as though that is the moral thing to do, but instead this research suggests that it is a route toward more struggle, more suffering, and ironically toward more obsessive viewing.
The study, which appears in the September issue of Behavioral Therapy , reports that the outcome was successful:
In the first experiment on the treatment of problematic internet pornography viewing, the abstract continues, 6 adult males who reported that their internet pornography viewing was affecting their quality of life were treated in eight
1.5-hour sessions of ACT for problematic pornography viewing. The effects of the intervention were assessed in a multiple-baseline-across-participants design with time viewing pornography as the dependent variable. Treatment resulted in an 85
percent reduction in viewing at post treatment with results being maintained at 3-month follow-up (83 percent reduction).
In other words, says Hayes, Religious obsessions went down but positive commitments went up. Obsessive thinking was relieved and with it worry that unbidden thoughts alone cause harm. People became more accepting of their emotions and less
entangled with their thoughts. And they were more able to act in accord with their values as a positive goal, carrying difficult thoughts and feelings with them in a more compassionate way.
Milton Diamond, a professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has authored a study titled Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review.
Published in 2009 in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the study takes a comprehensive, cross-cultural look at research conducted over the years on the subject of porn's influence on individuals as well as societies.
Diamond's conclusion, which he readily admits flies in the face of common assumptions held by many today, is that there is no objective, verifiable evidence that exposure to pornography causes any of the societal ills ascribed to it, including
sex crimes, the abuse or disempowerment of women, and a host of negative effects on individuals or families.
With these data from a wide variety of communities, cultures and countries we can better evaluate the thesis that an abundance of sexual explicit material invariably leads to an increase of illegal sexual activity and
eventually rape. Similarly we can now better reconsider the conclusion of the Meese Commission and others that there exists 'a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and … unlawful acts of sexual violence' (Meese, 1986, page
326). Indeed, the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes.
Further, considering the findings of studies of community standards and wide spread usage of SEM (sexually explicit material), it is obvious that in local communities as nationally and internationally, porn is available,
widely used and felt appropriate for voluntary adult consumption. If there is a consensus against pornography it is in regard to any SEM that involves children or minors in its production or consumption.
Lastly, we see that objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence. It is relevant
to mention here that a temporal correlation between pornography and any effect is a necessary condition before one can rationally entertain the idea that there is a positive statistical correlation between pornography and any negative effect.
Nowhere has such a temporal association been found.
His findings are a severe blow to those who claim that porn leads to crime.
In every region investigated, he writes, researchers have found that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased.
The notion that hardcore pornography is addictive and, even worse, a corrosive hazard to individuals, families and society is running headlong into studies conducted by noted researchers that show precisely the opposite—that hardcore
pornography is good for you.
A blog post by Dr. Gad Saad on the Psychology Today website makes just that argument, citing two recent studies, including one conducted by Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth.
I should mention, writes Saad, that Neil Malamuth is a highly regarded scholar of pornography who has often argued for its supposed ill effects. Hence, if there exists a possibility of an a priori bias here, it would be in hoping to
find that pornography yields negative consequences.
But that is not what the researchers found in their
survey of 688 young Danish adults (men = 316; women = 372). Instead, Hald and Malamuth found that respondents construed the viewing of hardcover pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions
and attitudes towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and over all. The obtained beneficial effects were statistically significant for all but one measure across both sexes. Now here is the kicker: A positive correlation was
obtained between the amount of hardcover pornography that was viewed and the impact of the benefits reaped. This positive correlation was found for both sexes. In other words, the more that one watched porn, the stronger the benefits (for both
The second study yielded similar results. In a paper published in 2009 in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Milton Diamond reviewed a very broad number of studies that have explored the supposed ill effects of pornography, writes Saad.
Diamond concludes, Indeed, the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes. Further, considering the findings of
studies of community standards and wide spread usage of SEM [sexually explicit material], it is obvious that in local communities as nationally and internationally, porn is available, widely used and felt appropriate for voluntary adult
consumption. If there is a consensus against pornography it is in regard to any SEM that involves children or minors in its production or consumption. Lastly we see that objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed
actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence.
Dr Collen Bryant of the Australian Institute of Criminology said research showed males reported more positive attitudes to pornography from an early age than did females who were generally extremely negative.
But by their mid-20s, both males and females might report similarly positive attitudes.For that reason, seeking to minimise exposure to pornography was not the whole answer.
Though restricting exposure will remain a priority, an over-reliance on this approach to protect against the perceived harms of pornography is problematic as it fails to recognise the realities of ready availability and the high acceptance of
pornography among young people, she said.
The probability that a young person will have exposure to pornography prior to the age of 18 - the legal age in Australia at which it is permissible to view and purchase such materials - is very high.
Concern exists, among both parents and policymakers, that widespread, premature exposure to pornography is changing the nature of sexual attitudes, behaviours, and intimate relationships and potentially contributing to sexual violence in society.
The extent to which it is difficult to determine, owing to the scarcity of adolescent-based research and differing conceptions about harm.
This paper examines the many factors that underpin pornography exposure, and stresses how the risk factors for exposure and problematic sexual behaviours intersect to contribute to harm. An understanding of the complex interplay of factors such
as gender, age, attitude, personal characteristics and social context of use is important in the development of strategies that will assist young people to avoid any potential adverse outcomes.
The available evidence remains highly incomplete, and its interpretation is highly contested, so the paper highlights the need for longitudinal studies of use and of actual behaviour, and for studies that focus on cultural contexts and emerging
Scholars at the German Society for Social Scientific Sexuality Research working with London's City University have concluded that a third of men and close to one in 10 women watch porn on a daily basis.
This has contributed to what experts say is a spike in plastic surgery on the genitals and growing pressure at home for couples to have porn-style sex.
The research was based on four months of analysis including an online poll of 55,000 Germans.
The study showed that 98% of men and 90% of women admit to an interest in pornography.
Focusing on the ways sexual attitudes and mores have changed in recent decades, the poll questioned people's range of sexual fantasies and desires and concluded that Germans have become more liberal, more accepting, and more active about the
sexual possibilities open to them.
Large numbers of young German women say they feel their boyfriends want them to behave like porn stars in bed.
An article on the Psychology Today website reports on a recent study conducted in Denmark which found that men and women generally believe that hardcore pornography has a positive influence on their lives.
The study, which was written by Martin Hald and Neil Malamuth, found that those who watch hardcore pornography the most, pleasure themselves from it the most and who consider their source material to be the most realistic, also perceive the
greatest positive effects from it.
The respondents also credited porn with improving their sex lives, their sexual knowledge and attitudes toward the opposite sex, and even their general quality of life.
Lead author Hald did acknowledge, however, that people tend to mitigate the effects of media on their own behavior, sometimes to justify increased consumption. Other studies have come to strikingly different conclusions than the Denmark study
regarding porn's impact on individuals and families.
But co-author Malamuth, who is associate professor and chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at UCLA and co-edited of the book, Pornography and Sexual Aggression , published a paper in 2007 that provided a measured assessment
of pornography's effect on individual behavior: In certain people who are already inclined to be sexually aggressive. It adds fuel to the fire. But for the majority of men, we don't find negative effects."
A recent study by researchers at Brigham Young University found that college-age females are more accepting of porn, even more so than older men. According to a recent report, the findings of a study titled Generation XXX: Pornography
Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults suggest there may be a generational shift taking place, where the acceptance of pornography is concerned.
These women are part of a rising generation that is deeming pornography as more acceptable and more mainstream, Jason Carroll, an associate professor at BYU and lead researcher of the study, told the Salt Lake City Tribune.
A total of 813 students — ages 18 to 26 — at six universities across the country (BYU was not included), and 623 parents were polled. According to the report, researchers found that 48% of male students report viewing pornography at least weekly,
and 3% of female students. However, almost half of the women polled (49%) said viewing pornography is an acceptable way to express one's sexuality, while only 37% of the fathers and 20% of the mothers agreed with that view.
The study will be published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research.
We were surprised by just how common [porn use] was, Laura Walker, a professor in the School of Family Life at BYU and co-author of the study, told the Tribune. If anything, we are probably underestimating [the numbers].
Evidence that non-violent porn is good for society escapes notice of officials bent on crackdown
1st January 2003
By John C. Boseman, Ph.D., at Nude Women of Bojiggly.
Various governments around the world, from the West to the Middle East, have launched or threaten to launch new attacks on pornography, especially on the internet. In the US, for example, for the first time in more than 10 years,
the Justice Department has begun investigating, raiding, filing charges, and arresting people for porn.
Attacks on porn use various theories as justifications - it causes violence, oppresses women, undermines the family, or threatens the health of society as a whole. The weight of evidence shows these charges are no more true than
old claims against masturbation, that it makes you go blind or grow hair on your palms.
In fact, attackers are ignoring mounting evidence that porn is good for the lives and health of most of its users and increases the well-being and progress of societies that allow it. (For research references, see the link near the
bottom of this article.)
Porn and violence
Some years ago, for example, several countries that had restricted pornography finally relented and made it legal. The result was a rapid, major reduction in sexual violence and rape in those countries, according to a number
of studies. One study showed the most dramatic decline occurred in rapes where the victims were under 13 years old. So the availability of porn helped protect some of the most vulnerable members of society from becoming rape victims.
On the other hand, studies suggest that some violent pornography may indeed lead to violence, not because it is porn, but because it is violent. But there is much more violence in mainstream media than in porn. In fact, researchers
had a hard time finding violent porn for their tests of effects on viewer's attitudes. They ended up using R-rated movies.
It is ironic that repression of adult media is part of both Christian and Muslim fundamentalisms, which, through the crusades and terrorism, have fomented far more deadly violence than was ever attributed to media.
Interestingly, a survey found that among users of porn, most had never seen any showing violence, and those who had said it was a turnoff.
Porn and the status of women
Around the world, wherever there is harsh censorship of porn, there is also harsh oppression of women. Who can forget TV images of a Taliban vigilante beating a defenseless Afghan woman with a stick for allowing a tiny bit of her
leg to show under a head-to-toe covering.
Women have reached the greatest degree of freedom and equality in countries where porn has become widely available, primarily Western Europe and the English-speaking countries. In fact, the adult industry has empowered many women,
including performers and entrepreneurs, some with very high incomes. Women are among the most successful business people in the adult industry. A new round of repression would force many women in the sex business back into a life of degradation
Existing western law already strictly prohibits forcing anyone into porn, as it does using minors in porn, because most civilized people find such practices intolerable. Protection of adults and minors against force and abuse
doesn't require a crackdown on pornography, just enforcement of existing law.
Some porn does indeed portray degradation or domination of women. Some even portrays the same of men. Some mainstream entertainment does, too. Evidence of harm from such porn is elusive, however, and it may actually help some
disturbed viewers get their jollies through fantasy, rather than seeking them in reality.
Porn and the family
Men and women are only human, even when they have a family. It is natural for their eyes to wander, whether they are married or not. Husbands often long to see the neighbor lady or a female co-worker naked.
Given human nature, extramarital lust is inevitable. Wishing it away is as useful as asking the wind not to blow. Of the three main ways one can satisfy extramarital lust - porn, prostitution, or adultery - porn runs the least risk
of ruining a marriage or bringing home a disease. Handled properly, it can provide a safety valve that relieves pressure without causing damage and thereby tames the natural wanderlust and strengthens the family.
At the same time, parents do have a right to try to restrict minors' access to adult material. Doing so is difficult, however. Minors have always been able to get porn almost as easily as adults. Software can be somewhat effective
in blocking internet porn, but most teenagers can readily buy skin magazines or enter adult theaters instead.
Laws have never been very effective in this area. Requiring a credit card does not work, since cards are now heavily promoted to minors, and many minors have access to their parents' cards or card numbers.
The biggest concern about the effect of porn on minors is the unrealistic portrayal of sex in many X-rated movies. The sex shown is often between people who just met. The women are always willing and eager. Love, affection, and
caring are ignored. This can create unrealistic expectations and examples for minors, the same way mainstream action movies do, where the hero never gets hurt despite fights, falls, car wrecks, and flying bullets. Ever notice how bad guys always
seem to have such terrible aim?
Fortunately, there is no clear evidence that non-violent porn hurts minors. Nevertheless, efforts to give parents more control can help alleviate concerns.
Porn and health
There is abundant evidence that orgasms contribute to health and longevity by bolstering the immune system, boosting beneficial hormones, reducing cancer risk, providing exercise, aiding sleep, and enhancing the ability to handle
stress. People who have frequent orgasms even look younger, according to research.
These good effects are strongest when orgasms are part of a loving relationship, and nearly as strong when they result from solo masturbation. The beneficial effects seem not to apply, however, to orgasms resulting from stressful
liaisons such as adultery, where the fear of discovery is high.
So here again porn can make a valuable contribution. Few people achieve a permanent loving relationship at an early age that satisfies all their sexual desires the rest of their lives. In the real world masturbation is at times the
only safe and available way to gain the health benefits of orgasm. Porn is a useful and enjoyable aid to masturbation for many people.
Porn and society
Historical evidence is clear - porn and progress go together. The 1500 years of Greco-Roman civilization, in which porn was plentiful, brought great advances in science, technology, art, literature, health, literacy, and general
standards of living. There is a common misconception that sexual liberty caused the fall of the Roman Empire, but historians say this is false.
The Roman Empire fell when corrupt politicians allowed religious fanatics to take over the government. The Dark Ages ensued, a 1000 year period of severe repression of porn, along with increased war, famine, and plague, declining
health and literacy, and the loss of much learning in science, art, and literature.
The Renaissance and the Enlightenment eventually brought forth a reawakening of learning and progress, along with renewed freedom of sexual expression and a new proliferation of porn. Today we see much higher living standards in
countries with such basic freedoms, in contrast to the poverty and backwardness of countries still under repressive regimes.
How porn helps progress
Is porn just a side effect of a free and progressive society, or is it part of the causes of progress? A growing understanding of the function of porn suggests the latter.
The primary function of porn is to assist in sexual arousal and the achievement of orgasm. People who have frequent orgasms are healthier and happier, and so are less likely to rob, steal, rape, kill, make war, or smash things up.
Sexual satisfaction awakens creativity and gets the mind off sex for a while. Sexually satisfied people are more likely to build and create and research and discover and contribute to society. Suppression of porn adds to sexual deprivation, which
leads to sexual preoccupation, and increases frustration and aggression. That is not healthy for society.
Sources of attacks on porn
Where does the impulse to crack down on porn come from? The brutal Taliban repression vividly demonstrates an extreme fear of naked women and sex, a fear that infects the psyche of many deeply religious people. History, from the
Dark Ages to today, shows that wherever such people gain political power, freedom and progress are in grave danger.
Most attacks on porn are rooted in religion, such as those in Moslem and Christian countries. All the attackers share a common aim - they wish to control other people. It is much easier to gain political and religious power over
people if you control their sex lives, in other words, if you have them by the balls.
Adult media are an easy target for vote-obsessed politicians because opponents of porn are outspoken, whereas users are often ashamed or too embarrassed to speak out. Yet good citizens can always stand up for freedom of speech and
freedom of the bedroom, and perhaps even spread the word that non-violent porn is actually good for society, not bad
Information herein is from sources believed reliable, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Original with research references published at Bojiggly.com. Bojiggly is a trademark of Benala Vista LLC. Dr. Boseman (pen name) holds an M.A.
in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology.
I see no point in discussing porn with people who have never seen any, If you don't want to see it, close your eyes or leave the room.
I'm opening up with some of the controversial photos from the Robert Maplethorpe book, recently seized (and later returned) by the West Midlands Police from University of Central England , so you can see what the fuss was about.
But the Oxford Union is a rather unusual place to look at sexually arousing pictures -- better be at home with a stiff dick or juicy pussy in your hand or, preferably both! Looking at porn and perhaps getting aroused in a non-sexual environment
may seem confusing and conflicting.
Women especially might find the experience difficult, especially if you've always believed porn to be bad. You may feel torn between your thoughts and your feelings in your groin, with the resulting wetpatch on your seat. So I'll explain. The
blood is flowing into your pelvic area , waking up your genitalia and moisture is seeping into your vaginal walls and down into your vulva. This is normal and nothing to be afraid of.
I would like to ask that, if you get to the stage where you are bursting to come , either just do it, but please don't get up to visit the lav until the opposition speaks!
These photographs are by Ron Raffaelli -- hounded out of town and made bankrupt. It's still illegal -- for making beautiful images of sex!
It's already been established that Porn is not harmful. The Danish government did a ten year study which concluded that looking at porno is not harmful to adults or children. They lifted its ban on pornography in 1965, admitting that it was a
violation of human rights to prevent individuals deriving pleasure from porn . They were right: the sex crime rate in Denmark fell by 66 per cent.
The Danes bought a lot to begin with then didn't bother much any more. It didn't really change their lives or values. It just made them feel safer because the sex crime rate had dropped.
Interestingly, they don't sell kiddy porn in Denmark because they think it's immoral (and the market so small it's no great loss) So you see -- when people are given freedom they don't go mad or become evil -- they take responsibility for their
lives and in their work.
So why, Oh why couldn't Britain follow their example? Ten years later, a British study culminated in the Williams Report which reached similar conclusions but rejected by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Governments know that by controlling our
sexuality, they can control us. Still people go to prison for selling images such as this! But not if you get a trial by jury because juries never seem to think there's anything wrong in it -- nor is there!
15 reasons why Porn is beneficial in society:
Acting as a safety valve
Looking at porn which shows people all the wild sex they may never get, and produces orgasm to relieve tension. Thus people are less likely to commit sex crimes.
It's useful In sex therapy. I am a sex therapist and use porn to reduce sexual anxiety.
Don't get me wrong, showing a picture of a gorgeous pussy isn't going to turn a homosexual into a heterosexual. Nor should it . But porn is used to educate and help people accept sexual activities better. Most men know that cocks vary a lot in
size and shape and so don't worry about being weird, but women often go mad worrying, especially nervous that they played with themselves and made the labia become weird shapes. So we show them photos of all the various kinds of pussies and
Showing couples how blow-jobs look helps them feel less nervous, showing pictures of masturbation helps lessen the guilt. Once couples find out it's OK to masturbate together, sex therapy proceeds quickly and successfully.
It spices up the sex-lives of millions of couples who've been together for a long time, They look at the porn together, get turned on and have hot sex.
Most people have fantasies about having group sex or doing wild things that are difficult to organise or realise. So porn allows you to witness the scenes of your longings, without all the worries of jealousy, breaking friendships, -- your
neighbours might not speak to you again if you invite them round for an orgy -- or breaking the law.
Porn provides spicy fantasy lives for people without partner or are in a dull relationship. Women tend to read novels and men look at top-shelf mags, films and videos, or satellite TV.
Porno is very popular. When the photographic process was discovered it was used to create porn before anything else. The reverend Chad Varah, founder of The Samaritans, 87 next week, and a member of Keeble college and this Union, told me that
he supports my work, and told me a story last week that in the 60's Sight and Sound magazine did a survey of West End cinemas during the afternoon and found there were four times as many viewers squashed on uncomfortable seats in tiny
basement porno theatres than in the plush cinemas showing big movies! People love porn!
Porn provides more orgasms, which is beneficial for people's health, strengthening the heart and lungs, circulation and leaving them with a feeling of well-being. When I go for a medical check-up, they always say "You must be an
athlete" -- and I just say "No, I enjoy a lot of big orgasms".
Porn is beneficial to many of the people in it. You may find this hard to believe but being sexual in front of a camera can have a profound effect -- especially on women -- they blossom sexually. Porn is a fun job for those who enjoy it. Look
at these women -- in their everyday life and in porn. Do they seem harmed or unhappy? It's a myth that women are drugged and dragging into pornography.
Porn is amusing and lots of people watch it at parties or show it around in the pub, which lowers inhibitions so that people feel less worried about discussing their sex lives. Laughter and sex go together happily as both are joyful.
Porn is shocking This might be the most difficult one to accept but people love to be shocked. Seeing something shocking challenges everyday standards, helps people put things into perspective, makes life less grey, and is cathartic -- bringing
all your repressed emotions to the surface and thus refreshing you.
Porn is educational This is especially true in fetish and S/M porn, where it's sometimes difficult to find out how to give an enema, put someone in bondage or whip them without damaging them. I wish it were more so, teaching shy people how to
make sexual approaches, and educating society that disabled people can be great lovers. People can learn about safer sex from those books and films that show it.
Porn can be enjoyed by everyone whatever their education and class (unlike the media which provides different messages to each). The rich and sophisticated can enjoy their erotic art and when that gets taken to court, the judge is in a dilemma
because it breaks the rule that the refined don't show their sexual feelings, and how can he ban a work of a great artist?
Porn is subversive It's an insult to British adults to ban us seeing hard porn. It's a way of nannying us, and controlling us. It's a very clever device -- because to control the people's sexuality, you control the people. Porno is thus
subversive, and subversion of a police state is very a important benefit to society.
Quite a lot of pornographers have political motivation -- and use it to discredit careerists, embarrass hypocrite and make political statements.
The last three are reasons why banning porn is harmful to society:
13. Banning porn is an insult to sex -- if we can see pictures of everything else, why not sex. Sex is beautiful, not shameful.
14. Banning porn means that the authorities get to see it all, and we don't. If it depraves and corrupts that means we have depraved and corrupt authorities, and if it doesn't, then what's the point of the ban?
15. Finally, Banning porn means society is not free to make our own choices. You are all intelligent adults here, and you don't need someone else to decide what you may and may not read and view.
Don't worry -- there is no slippery slope -- in porn, or drugs. Cannabis does not lead to heroin, and watching a beautiful blow job doesn't lead to snuff movies. This is a false argument to keep us afraid.
Nobody I have ever met has seen a snuff movie. They don't exist. They are a figment of the gutter press's imagination and food for their "double porn". The News of the World sells millions of papers every Sunday, creating scandals and
exposing orgiasts so they can turn its readers on then tell them it's disgusting.
It's very important to me that the British stop being repressed, it's time to take our freedom back, and make our society a safe and happy place.
The Use of Sex Videos & DVDs in Britain
Summary of Findings of the BBFC Research
Murray Perkins & Pete Johnson
As part of a programme of on-going research to better inform the work of the British Board of Film Classification (the BBFC), the BBFC conducted research into the use of sex videos and DVDs. The purpose of the research was primarily to assist the
BBFC in its understanding of the audience for the material. In addition, it was hoped that, by investigating in detail the viewing experience and its relation to viewers’ own sexual activity, lessons would be learned regarding such practical
classification issues as the relevance of dialogue and the likelihood of imitation of specific activities featured in the material. These issues play a significant part in the BBFC’s assessment of the likelihood that a particular sex video/DVD may
cause harm to potential viewers, or may cause harm to society through the actions of potential viewers, factors to which special regard is given in accordance with the terms of the Video Recordings Act 1984.
The results of the research have provided support for BBFC policy in a number of areas, especially those relating to adult performers acting as non-adults, the use of dangerous objects for penetration, violent or abusive activity and
inherently dangerous practices such as asphyxiative sex play . The research has also highlighted the extent to which the use of sex videos reaches beyond the stereotype of solo male masturbation.
The research is part of a series of investigations into sex works and provided background for the recent ‘BBFC Expert Consultation – Teen References in R18’ study and a similar exercise currently being undertaken with regard to scenes
in which performers appear to consent to significant abuse and discomfort (outside an established sado-masochistic role play context ).
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25 years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to
pornographic materials produced social violence. The reverse may be true: that pornography has reduced social violence.
The results above suggest that potential rapists perceive pornography as a substitute for rape. With the mass market introduction of the world wide web in the late-1990’s, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary prices for pornography fell.
The associated decline in rape illustrated in the analysis here is consistent with a theory, such as that in Posner (1994), in which pornography is a complement for masturbation or consensual sex, which are themselves substitutes for rape, making
pornography a net substitute for rape.
Given the limitations of the data, policy prescriptions based on these results must be made with extreme care. Nevertheless, the results suggest that, in contrast to previous theories to the contrary, liberalization of pornography access may lead to
declines in sexual victimization of women. The results in Table 7 suggest that the internet has had large effects on important social behaviors; further exploration of these effects is necessary to fully understand these results, however.
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25 years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to
pornographic materials produced social violence. The reverse may be true: that pornography has reduced social violence.
The sexy thing to do these days when it comes to internet pornography is to regulate. The Australian Federal Government is into it, with proposals to amend the Broadcasting Services Act to tighten internet content regulation. Federal
Labor has joined the party too, with Beazley screaming out that the Australian Communications and Media Authority should ban international websites which contain graphic sexual material.
It is time for an informed debate about the influence of internet pornography in our community. Rather than regulation, what is needed is education.
If we were to stop for a moment and take the time to properly assess the community impact of internet pornography, it would soon become clear that internet pornography is not the height of evil which do-gooder parliamentarians and parental groups
profess. Indeed, it is probably one of the main factors contributing to a notable reduction in violent crime over the last decade.
Our community is safer and more peaceful thanks to internet pornography. This may sound counter-intuitive, but there are recent figures to back up the argument.
In a paper just released in the United States titled Porn Up, Rape Down, Northwestern University Law Professor Anthony D’amato crunches the numbers to reach the conclusion:
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25 years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to pornographic materials
produced social violence. The reverse may be true: that pornography has reduced social violence.
Professor D’amato explains that the Internet is now the predominant way in which people access pornography, noting that purveyors of internet pornography in the US earn an annual income exceeding the total of the major media networks in the country.
The main point that Professor D’amato highlights in his paper is that there is a positive correlation between the recent explosion of household internet access in the US, and a decline in incidents of rape (measured in different ways, including
police reports and survey interviews) during the same period.
According to Professor D’amato, the four US states with the lowest internet access had the highest increase in rape incidents (53% increase) between 1980 and 2004, whereas the four states with the highest internet access, experienced the largest
decrease in rape incidents (27% decrease).
Professor D’amato suggests there are two predominant reasons why an increase in the availability of pornography has led to a reduction in rape. First, using pornographic material provides an easy avenue for the sexually desirous to “get it out of
Second, D’amato points to the so-called “Victorian effect”. This dates back to the old Victorian era where people covered up their bodies with an immense amount of clothing, generating a greater mystery as to what they looked like naked. D’amato
suggests that the free availability of pornography since the 1970s, and the recent bombardment of internet pornography, has de-mystified sex, thus satisfying the sexually curious.
You may well ask while this positive correlation between an increase in pornography (specifically internet pornography) and a reduction in rape has been demonstrated in the United States, do the statistics in Australia present a similar positive
correlation? They certainly do.
According to the Australian Crime and Safety Survey, regularly published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there has been a significant reduction in the number of victims of sexual assault since 1995, when the Internet first crept into our
daily lives. The ABS statistics include both reported and non-reported incidents of sexual assault, which is important given that only one in five incidents of sexual assault are reported to police.
According to the ABS data, between 1995 and 2005, there was a drop from 0.6% to 0.3% of persons aged 18 years and over who were victims of at least one sexual assault. That is a 50%t reduction.
Importantly, in another recent ABS study, it was found that in 2004-5, 56% of homes had internet access, up from approximately 20%of homes in 1998 and 40% in 2001. Thus, access to internet pornography has become much easier for a much greater number
of Australians since 1998. Accordingly, the “porn up, rape down” phenomenon also rings true in Australia.
Rather than parents and parliamentarians thinking about ways to “clean feed” households so that they become internet porn-free zones, maybe they should take the opposite approach and make internet pornography freely available not only in homes, but
also in schools and public libraries. But why stop there?
If we are ditching regulation, perhaps it is time to seriously explore whether content ratings on pornographic films, magazines and other materials should also be removed. There should only be regulation if the benefits exceed the costs. Professor
D’amato makes the important point in his paper that there is no evidence establishing a causal connection between a student’s exposure to pornography and any tendency to commit “anti-social acts”. So, if the only effect of consuming pornography is
positive rather than negative, regulation has no place and should go away.
Potter Stewart, a former US Supreme Court Justice, once said: Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is time to be confident about the benefits of pornography, in particular internet pornography, and move forward as
an open-minded, mature, peaceful society.
We have the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, and now, the War on Porn.
In a recent story in the Washington Post, writer Barton Gellman revealed that the FBI has signed onto the Bush administration’s War on Porn by recruiting agents for a special anti-obscenity squad. And they won’t just be looking for child porn,
either, but pornography for grown-ups, made by grown-ups, featuring grown-ups.
Critics say the specter of 10 G-Men hunched over video screens watching porn may not be the best use of the FBI’s time. Advocates say it’s long past time the government cracked down because pornography can turn people into sexual predators.
Anti-porn crusades have been tried before, of course. During the Reagan administration, for example, attorney general Edwin Meese III convened a controversial study panel to examine the effects of pornography and suggest ways to prosecute purveyors.
In the end, nothing much came of it. Certain fundamentalist religious groups and strains of feminists never gave up, however, and now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, spurred by congressional legislation, has taken up the cause.
But if sources for the Post story are any indication, FBI director Robert Mueller may have a tough time finding agents who take the job seriously. Not only are they more focused on, say, rooting out terrorists and making sure CEOs don’t run off with
the shareholders’ dough, but an awful lot of the FBI no doubt have some personal experience with porn.
Of course, if porn really is such a danger to society, the effort might be worth it. The problem is, the research doesn’t support the worry. And if recent studies by Danish psychologist Gert Martin Hald of the University of Aarhus stand up, it’s not
Hald recently conducted a yet-to-be-published study on the usage of porn by men and women in Denmark that showed porn has become a part of the sexual lives of most people.
In a representative sampling of 688 young people aged 18 to 30, he found that 98 percent of men and 80 percent of women had viewed porn. About half of those women used it at least once per month. Men used it much more often. About 38 percent of men
used it three times per week or more, which makes you wonder what these guys do for a living.
We’re not talking Playboy, either. Hald didn’t count such images as pornography. For the purposes of the study, porn included “any kind of material which aims to create or enhance sexual feelings or thoughts in the recipient and, at the same time,
(a) contains explicit exposure and/or descriptions of the genitals and (b) clear and explicit sexual acts such as vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, bondage, sadomasochism, rape..." (Interestingly, this is pretty
close to the definition used in many obscenity statutes.)
Especially we were surprised that so many women had used pornography and used it on a regular basis , Hald told MSNBC.com. Men don’t have much room for an increase. “Ceiling effect,” Hald joked.
Men do use porn differently from women. Men tend to avoid “chick porn” that depicts deep relationships. They like porn women fast and loose and willing to go nasty, largely because men use porn as masturbation aids more often than women, who tend to
view it with a partner. In fact, only 17 percent of female viewers in Hald’s study used it alone.
So if all those people are seeing all that porn, you'd think Denmark would be a chaos of sex crime. But it's not. In fact, in an influential 1991 study, Hald's (now deceased) compatriot Berl Kutchinsky of the University of Copenhagen concluded that
in the United States, Denmark, Sweden and West Germany more and more porn did not equal more and more rape. In none of the countries did rape increase more than nonsexual violent crimes. This finding in itself would seem sufficient to discard the
hypothesis that pornography causes rape.
But it didn't, of course, and some lab studies did show that exposure to especially violent or degrading porn beefed up male aggressiveness toward women, though a link with actual crime was tough to prove.
Eight years later, a lengthy 1999 paper by Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii's Pacific Center for Sex and Society and Ayako Uchiyama of Japan's National Institute of Police Science backed up Kutchinsky and found that more porn in Japan did
not make for more sex crimes: In sum, the concern that countries allowing pornography would show increased sex crime rates due to modeling or that adolescents in particular would be negatively vulnerable to and receptive to such models or the
society would be otherwise adversely affected has not been vindicated. It is certainly clear from our data and analysis that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes."
An earlier study by Hald on the effects of porn might explain why. In this study, he exposed volunteer subjects — a representative sample larger than many other such studies — to video clips from those classics of cinema, Latex and Gigantic.
Hald's conclusions: The study failed to confirm commonly feared adverse effects of exposure to pornography on nearly all measures. More specifically, the study failed to find any immediate main or stratified effects of exposure to pornography in
regard to the following dependent variables: Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence, Gender Stereotypes, Negative Attitudes Toward Women, Positive Emotionality, Rape Myth Acceptance [belief in the myth that women secretly want to be raped], and Sexism.
In other words, looking at porn did not turn men into rapists. It did not make them want to become rapists.
There was one potentially important exception. In a certain subset of people, those whose personality profiles ranked low on “agreeableness,” which Hald defines as “altruistic, modest, trusting, empathic, compliant, polite,” the porn did seem to have a moderating effect on the relationship between Agreeableness and Rape Myth Acceptance (RMAS)
. After performing statistical corrections, however, all previous significant moderating effects of exposure to pornography turned non-significant i.e. disappeared.
So what does that mean, exactly? I asked Hald if people who are not very agreeable come to accept the rape myth after viewing porn and might be more inclined to commit a sex crime. No. It is not a causal connection. Having a high level of rape
supportive attitudes does not in and of itself lead to sexual aggression such as rape. Nor can you infer a causal connection between low agreeableness, viewing porn and having higher rape supportive attitudes. Agreeableness, he says, is but one
of many factors determining the RMAS score.
So it seems adult porn consumed by adults doesn’t do much of anything other than get people worked up and make them wish their partners looked a lot more like Lexington Steele or Cinnabunz.
Well, you might say, Hald works in Denmark. And you know the Danish, all liberal and Euro and so very different from us. But Hald is now working at UCLA as a visiting researcher and, he says, I strongly believe social context [and] norms are
factors influencing the effects of pornography and consumption rates.
But, he says, in both Denmark and the U.S. we see time and again high prevalence rates of porn consumption, a general lack of research showing consistent adverse effects of pornography for the general consumer, and that individual differences are
important mediators of effects. Research shows that this holds true for both the American and the Danish context.
Maybe that special FBI squad should plant porn inside terrorist cells. You know, keep 'em busy.
Andrew M.M. Koppelman, Northwestern University School of Law
February 11, 2005
This essay will reconsider the fundamentals of obscenity law: the harm that the law addresses and the means by which the law tries to prevent that harm. Strangely, even though an enormous amount of scholarship examines this doctrine,
these fundamentals have not been adequately addressed. The harm that the doctrine seeks to prevent is not offense to unwilling viewers. It is not incitement to violence against women. It is not promotion of sexism. Rather, it is moral harm - a
concept that modern scholarship finds hard to grasp. Liberals have not even understood the concept of moral harm, and so their arguments have often missed the point of the laws they were criticizing. Conservatives have understood the concept quite
well, but have thought that it straightway entailed censorship. This essay is, to my knowledge, the first presentation of the liberal argument that does justice to the conservative case for censorship. I will argue that the concept is a coherent one
and that obscenity law tries to prevent a genuine evil. But I will conclude that the law is too crude a tool for the task. A sound understanding of obscenity law's ambitions reveals that the doctrine is unworkable and should be abandoned.
Commissioned for the Film Censor's office in New Zealand
Thanks to Shaun:
It seems to draw the same conclusions we have often seen. That for 30 years the debate has gone on, yet the harm of (especially none violent) sexually explicit material, has not been proven.
You'd think that if the harm (which is supposed to justify the repressive censorship campaigns by some people in authority around the world), was so rampant, and manifest, we'd know it by know! Surely that fact alone should close the case!
From comments near the end of the document:
For over 30 years researchers have been trying to establish whether use of sexually explicit material affects men’s attitudes to or behaviour towards women, and yet we are no closer to having a definitive answer. There is some consensus that the
effects of non-violent sexually explicit material if such effects exist at all are less pronounced than the effects of sexually violent material.
There is some agreement that not all people are affected by sexually explicit material in the same way, and that men who are of a more characteristically masculine sex-type may be more susceptible to the effects of sexually explicit
material than others. There is growing understanding that it may be the degradation within some sexually explicit material that has the effect, rather than the explicitness of the sexual content.
There appears to be no evidence that the availability of sexually explicit material leads to an increase in reported sex crimes, and any differences between sex-offenders’ use of sexually explicit material and that of other men are
hard to find. Yet, against that we have moving narratives from women who have been damaged by a man’s use of sexually explicit material, and who in more extreme cases have been forced to replicate sexual acts men have seen in sexually explicit
material they have used. These findings are difficult to reconcile.
National Research Institute of Police Science
This present study concentrates on the offences of Rape, Sexual assault and Public indecency in Japan and analyzes how their occurrence correlates with the increasing availability of pornography. For comparison and as
"control" measures we also look at the incidence of Murder and nonsexual Violent crimes for the same period. We particularly attend to any influence the introduction of widely available pornography might have had on juveniles.
This What if you went looking for the harmful effects of the very worst kinds of pornography -- and they weren't there?
That's what happened to Canada Customs when it paid researchers to study customs officials who spend up to 15 hours a week reading and viewing material that goes well beyond erotica or even so-called hard-core porn.
Noted the researchers: Their work most often focuses on materials of an extreme nature which deal with clearly unacceptable sexual activities such as incest, children in a sexual context, necrophilia, bestiality, and sex involving violence,
bondage and degradation. Their study of 90 officers found:
repeated exposure to such graphic pornography had little or no measurable harmful effect on the officers, 40% of whom were female.
only half of the customs officers who regularly review graphic pornographic books, magazines and films support banning sexual materials featuring violence and degradation -- the current Canadian law.
one in six of the customs officers use pornography in their private lives; nearly half have in the past.
The 1992 study's key finding of no appreciable harm from heavy porn viewing contradicts the arguments accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada several years ago in widening the legal definition of obscenity. The finding also runs
counter to current social science orthodoxy -- and to the expectations of the principal researcher, Queen's psychology professor William Marshall:
There are grounds for expecting exposure to pornography to have harmful effects, even when such exposure is part of a person's job requirements. Customs officers, then, who review pornography may be expected to experience problems or to develop
anti-social inclinations, and these effects might be particularly apparent among those officers who review these materials on a full-time basis.
Marshall and Sharon Hodkinson, now in law at Queen's, set out to identify these problems by asking customs officers voluntarily to complete a two-hour questionnaire. The survey used standard psychology techniques (plus some new ones) to measure
factors like hopelessness and depression, satisfaction with life and job, general health, empathy and marital intimacy, the desirability of various sexual practices, views on degrading sexual practices and fears about committing aberrant sexual acts.
These results were then arranged according to the amount of time each officer spent reviewing graphic porn -- ranging from none to more than 60 hours a month. According the current theory, measurable harmful effects should have increased with more
But they didn't. In particular, the sexual functioning of the customs officers was unaffected by repeated exposure to the worst pornography.
The study notes: They are not harmed by deviant thoughts or desires; they are not worried by what they might do sexually; and they appear reasonably satisfied with their present level of sexual activity.
This finding is acutely embarrassing to an agency that bans porn on the grounds that deviant sexual behavior is causally linked to exposure. But those past findings were largely based on lab research or studies of sexual offenders. The Canada Customs
project is a rarity -- a real-life investigation of heavily exposed people whose characteristics, the researchers note, do not differ significantly from the general Canadian population.