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.
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