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
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 and abuse.
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
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
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
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
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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