Researching Pornography

 Arousing researchers everywhere



  Psychology of the bleedin' obvious...

Academics find that people who frequently view topless images in the national press are less likely to think of them as porn than people who don't often view them


Link Here 16th June 2016
british psychological society logo 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].

 

  Aggressive research...

US academics claim that porn consumption correlates with actual acts of sexual aggression


Link Here 27th January 2016

journal of communicationA 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

Abstract

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.

 

  Maybe related to religious people not generally being porn viewers...

Porn users tend to have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users


Link Here 8th November 2015

journal-of-sex-researchThe 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.

 

  Addicted to junk science...

Researchers reveal the nonsense of 'porn addiction' claims


Link Here 10th July 2015

biological psychology 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

Abstract

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.

 

 Offsite Article: Porn and video games: more hysteria about 'rewiring brains'...


Link Here 12th May 2015
the spectator logo Writer shows that porn research rewires the brain and is linked to cerebral dysfunction. By Damian Thompson

See article from blogs.spectator.co.uk

 

  Un-PC facts about internet porn...

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'


Link Here 19th February 2015
qut logoQueensland 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 pornographic material:

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.

 

  Men with big feet wear big shoes 'therefore' wearing big shoes 'causes' big feet...

Worthless research finds that unmarried men view more porn 'therefore' porn viewing 'causes' men to not get married.


Link Here 24th December 2014

west chester university seal logo 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 with Little Brains...

Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption


Link Here 3rd June 2014
jama psychiatry logo 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.

 

  Rethinking the effects paradigm in porn studies...

A paper examining the correlation between porn being available and countries being nice places to live


Link Here 11th May 2014
porn studies

Abstract

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.

 

  Porn Studies Issue 1...

Academic journal established by Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith launches first issue


Link Here 22nd March 2014
porn studies 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 Emperor Has No Clothes...

A Review of the Pornography Addiction Model. Researchers are not impressed by claims of porn 'addiction'


Link Here 15th February 2014

current sexual health reports Abstract

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 discrepancy.

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.

 

  Researching the Bleedin' Obvious...

Researchers find that porn viewers are not generally supportive of feminist policies (Unsurprising when many of these policies are aimed at banning porn!)


Link Here 19th September 2013
psychology of women logoShould 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 interview.

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.

 

  Pornography and sex crimes in the Czech Republic...

Sex crimes did not increase after the Czech Republic legalised pornography


Link Here 29th August 2013
Czech Republic flagFrom Pacific Center for Sex and Society, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA. diamond@hawaii.edu

Abstract

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.

 

 Offsite Article: Millions of Americans Watch Porn...


Link Here 18th August 2013
Sociologists Journey through Entertainment ebook But for academics, studying it remains a challenge. An interview with Chauntelle Tibbals

See article from slate.com

 

 Update: Genderist Researchers Recommend...

Fifty Shades of Grey


Link Here 13th August 2013  full story: Fifty Shades of Grey...BDSM book scores an international hit
Fifty Shades Grey E James 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 abused women.

 

  Moral Panic...

Study finds that porn has a smaller effect on teenagers than previously thought


Link Here 26th April 2013

journal of sexual medicineThe 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.

 

  Seeking Good Attention...

Posting nude photos of themselves may be good for young adults


Link Here 5th January 2013

malmo university logoWatching 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.

 

16th September
2011
  

Offsite: Are Dicks Politically Correct?...Err...No...


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Does sexual equality change porn?
Link Here

norway magA 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 (GEM).

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 looking body.

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.

...Read the full article

 

8th May
2011
  

Updated: Casual Reporting...


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Newspapers pick up on obscure research about people selecting their own community to seek acceptance of their views, be they right, wrong, good or evil
Link Here
Violent Sexual Offenders Assessment Management

 One of a collection of papers published in 2008

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.

Update: Casual Churnalism

8th May 2011.

See article from sundaymercury.net

The Daily Mail have now corrected their story and corrected 'casual link' to 'causal link'. They have also pixellated the small full frontal porn image.

Meanwhile Birmingham's Sunday Mercury newspaper didn't spot the spelling error and re-churned the story complete with the 'casual link':

sunday mercury logo Psychologists from a Midland university say internet porn is linked to increases in sex attacks.

Research by Dr Tim Jones from Worcester University and Professor David Wilson from Birmingham City University showed a casual link between extreme graphic sex scenes and sex offenders.

They interviewed a convicted paedophile who is serving a 14-year sentence for numerous sexual offences involving children, and found paedophilia has been made more extreme by the web.

Dr Jones said: The internet is fuelling more extreme fantasies. The danger is they could be played out in real life.

 

22nd November
2010
  

Aggressive Porn Linked to Aggressive Sex...


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But non-aggressive porn is cleared
Link Here

aggressive behaviour 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.

 

18th November
2010
  

Offsite: Pornography: Does it lead to crime?...

Placating victims, politicians or irate citizens will not solve society's problems
Link Here

geric graph of crime 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.

...Read the full article: part 1 + part 2

 

19th October
2010
  

Just a Fringe Fantasy...

Watching porn videos not harmful for men
Link Here

universiiy of montreal logoWatching 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 not.

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.

 

20th September
2010
  

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy...

Religious porn addicts advised to ditch the self loathing, enjoy their porn, but maybe cut down a bit
Link Here

Get Your Mind Into Life 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.

 

5th March
2010
  

Porn Availability Doesn't Increase Sex Crime...

Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review
Link Here

law psychaitry 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.

He writes:

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.

 

25th January
2010
  

Hardcore is Good For You...

As contended by 2 recent studies
Link Here

Psychology Today logo 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 sexes)!

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.

 

5th March
2009
  

Adolescence, pornography and harm...

Very high probability that adolescents will view porn
Link Here

AIC logoDr 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.

Abstract: Adolescence, pornography and harm

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 media.

 

25th September
2008
  

Daily Porn...

A third of German men regularly watch porn
Link Here

DGSS logo 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.

 

8th April
2008
  

Positive Views...

Danish study finds that users consider porn a positive influence
Link Here

Danish Hardcore magazine 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."

 

26th February
2008
  

Not Negative...

Porn use does not lead to negative attitudes to women
Link Here

The Porn Report book New research has revealed the majority of Australian pornography consumers are not shady perverts, but religious, monogamous men and increasingly their partners.

The Porn Report , by academics Alan McKee, Kath Albury and Catharine Lumby delves into the Australia's pornography industry and has turned up some interesting results.

The report has found most pornography users do not have disproportionately negative attitudes towards women.

When asked questions like Should women get equal pay for equal work? and Would I mind working for a female boss? regular pornography users did not fare any differently to non-users.

28% of pornography users are Labor voters and 24% for the Coalition, while Greens voters (16%), Democrats (9%) and One Nation (3%) made up the numbers.

The report also found Queenslanders and West Australians consumer more porn per capita than the rest of the country.

Unsurprisingly, younger Australians are more liberal in their views toward porn than their parents while young women and couples are increasingly carving off a section of the adult market.

 

15th December
2007
  

Generation XXX...

Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults
Link Here

brigham Young University 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].



The Use of Sex Videos & DVDs in Britain

Summary of Findings of the BBFC Research

Murray Perkins & Pete Johnson

October 2006

Read the paper: Research_into_the_use_of_pornography.pdf


BBFC logoAs 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 ).

Read the paper: Research_into_the_use_of_pornography.pdf

 

Pornography, Rape & the Internet

by Todd Kendall
Clemson University

Published May 2006

Read the paper: Pornography, Rape & the Internet [pdf]


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.

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.

Read the paper: Pornography, Rape & the Internet [pdf]

 

Porn Up, Rape Down

by Anthony D'Amato
Northwestern University - School of Law

Published June 2006

Read the paper: Porn Up, Rape Down (pdf)


Abstract
 
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.

Read the paper: Porn Up, Rape Down (pdf)

 

Pornography has its benefits

by Dr James McConvill
Lawyer and Principal of The Corporate Research Group in Australia.

Published October 2006

From www.onlineopinion.com.au


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 their system”.

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.

 

Why wage war on porn?

Is this a battle the FBI should be fighting?

By Brian Alexander

From MSNBC October 2005


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 likely to.

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.

 

Does Obscenity Cause Moral Harm?

Andrew M.M. Koppelman, Northwestern University School of Law

Download the Paper (PDF format) - February 11, 2005


ABSTRACT:

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.

 

A guide to what is known about the effects of sexually explicit material

Commissioned for the Film Censor's office in New Zealand

January 2004

The full report is available at either of the following links:
www.censorship.govt.nz/pdfword/research_document_2003.pdf

research_document_2003.pdf

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.

 

Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan

Milton Diamond
Pacific Center for Sex and Society

Ayako Uchiyama
National Research Institute of Police Science

Published 1999

Read the paper: Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan


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.

Read the paper: Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan

 

Where's the Harm?

Study by Queen's psychology professor William Marshall

Published 1992

See full article from Ottawa Citizen


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 viewing.

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.