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
Daniels and Duff examined the relationship between frequency of exposure to soft-core pornographic images of women and attitudes towards women, rape myths and level of sensitivity or desensitisation to the images.
The results indicated that people who frequently viewed soft-core pornographic images were less likely to describe these as pornographic than people who had low levels of exposure to these images. People who were desensitised to these images were more
likely than others to endorse rape myths. Furthermore, people who frequently viewed these images were less likely to have positive attitudes to women.
The researchers claim that an argument could be made for greater media regulation and censorship of soft-core pornographic images of women.
[Melon Farmers have been doing their own bleedin' obvious research, and have found that people who frequently viewed feminist writings are less likely to describe them as politically correct feminist gobbledygook than people who had low levels of
exposure to such nonsense].
A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population
Paul J. Wright, Robert S. Tokunaga, Ashley Kraus
First published: 29 December 2015
Whether pornography consumption is a reliable correlate of sexually aggressive behavior continues to be debated. Meta-analyses of experimental studies have found effects on aggressive behavior and attitudes. That pornography consumption correlates with
aggressive attitudes in naturalistic studies has also been found. Yet, no meta-analysis has addressed the question motivating this body of work: Is pornography consumption correlated with committing actual acts of sexual aggression? 22 studies from 7
different countries were analyzed. Consumption was associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Associations were stronger for verbal than physical
sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new
study has suggested.
Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be useful allies in women's struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office.
Taylor Kohut, the study leader and a post-doctoral fellow in psychology, analysed data from 35 years of the General Social Survey, a US government-funded project that interviews around 24,000 men and women a year about a variety of issues.
They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23% of people who said they had watched an X-rated film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
They also found that, on average, porn-watchers expressed more positive attitudes towards women in positions of power, as well as less negative attitudes towards abortion and women in the workforce.
Kohut said: I'd rather not live in a culture where our government decide to regulate [or] outlaw behaviour or material because they assume it's harmful. I'd rather they demonstrate it is, first.
Supporting the study Christopher Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M International University, said that gauges of male aggression such as rape and domestic violence have actually been decreasing throughout the Internet era, the
National Post reported. Dr Ferguson said:
I think if porn were going to ruin society, it's already had 20 years to do it ... And it's not happened.
Kohut said that the results may partly be explained by the fact that porn users are more likely to be liberal people, where as non-users are more likely to be conservative or religious.
Watching porn is not an addiction like substance abuse and viewers do not elicit the same neurological
responses as other addicts, a study has revealed. Sexual psycho-physiologist and lead researcher Nicole Prause said:
The findings provide clear evidence that porn does not look like other addictions.
Prause and her colleagues examined 122 men and women, 55 of whom reported a porn problem .
The volunteers viewed photos categorised as pleasant, neutral and unpleasant. Half of the pleasant photos were erotic. The team focused on late positive potential (LPP), a common measure for the intensity of the brain's emotional response
at a given moment.
They found that porn addicts showed a lower -- and not higher -- late positive potential when viewing sexually explicit images.
Those who said they had experienced major problems with porn usage showed decreased brain reactions when shown the sexual images .
The research was published in the journal Biological Psychology:
Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with porn addiction
Excessive viewing of visual sexual stimuli (VSS) is the most commonly reported hypersexual behavior problem and is especially amenable to laboratory study. A pattern of enhanced sexual cue responsiveness is expected in this sample if
hypersexuality shares features of other addiction models. Participants (N = 122) who either reported or denied problematic VSS use were presented with emotional, including explicit sexual, images while their evoked response potentials were
recorded. An interaction of hypersexual problem group and the level of desire for sex with a partner predicted LPP amplitude. Specifically, those reporting problems regulating their VSS use who also reported higher sexual desire had lower LPP in
response to VSS. This pattern appears different from substance addiction models. These are the first functional physiological data of persons reporting VSS regulation problems.
University professor notes: 'There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations'
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Brian McNair is one of the world's foremost academic experts on pornography.
The subject matter of his work is often seen as peculiar or taboo, yet he believes pornography should be studied in the same way as Hollywood movies and the pop industry. Professor McNair told ABC Brisbane's Spencer Howson that the growing acceptance of
pornography had made it a fascinating subject of academia:
Since the 1990s many scholars have taken the topic of pornography seriously and tried to apply to it the same methods that we use for mainstream cinema, advertising and so on, he said. There is a growing acceptance and tolerance of pornography as
something ordinary people do or use.
There is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs. Professor Brian Mc Nair. He said the ease and degree of access had led to more people viewing
Children as young as 8, 9 or 10 have access to pornography, hard-core explicit images of a type that could not be purchased legally, or even in sex shops in Sydney, he said.
That is a qualitatively different environment than existed pre-internet, so it creates justified anxieties amongst parents about what their children are watching in their bedrooms at night.
That said, there is no evidence that today's generation of young people are behaving any differently in relation to sex, marriage, pregnancy, children or STDs than previous generations.
The statistics in all of these elements are improving.
He believes parents must take responsibility for policing the media consumption of their children. He said:
Apart from the very clear and unambiguously bad forms of pornography, I do not think it is helpful for the state to intervene and try to censor the internet for everyone
Whether or not you attribute broader social harms to pornography, there is no evidence that increasing access to pornography is somehow generating more sexual abuse or violence ... or the other things that sometimes pornography is accused of.
There is evidence of greater tolerance of gay marriage, reduced tolerance of domestic violence and sexism. All of this has happened despite the face that we have this hugely sexualised culture.
Are Pornography and Marriage Substitutes for Young Men? by Michael Malcolm, George S Naufal (November 2014) forthcoming in: Eastern Economic Journal, 2015
Substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. Proliferation of the Internet has made pornography an increasingly low-cost substitute. We investigate the effect of Internet usage, and of pornography consumption
specifically, on the marital status of young men. We show that increased Internet usage is negatively associated with marriage formation. Pornography consumption specifically has an even stronger effect. Instrumental variables and a number of robustness
checks suggest that the effect is causal.
Research published in the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany claims that the rise of free porn on the internet is both correlated with the decline in the amount of young adult men who are married and might actually play a role in the
decline. Researchers surveyed more than 1500 men between 18 and 35, analyzing how they used the internet between 2000 and 2004. The researchers took a look at how many hours each participant spent and how many looked at porn versus religious sites,
adjusting for variables like age, income, education, religiosity, and employment. Roberto A. Ferman at Washington Post writes :
Broadly, higher Internet usage was associated with lower marriage rates. But pornography use in particular was more closely linked to those participants who were not married than any other form of Internet use, including regular use of financial
websites, news websites, sports websites, and several others. The opposite, for comparison, was true for religious website use, which was positively correlated with marriage.
One of the study's authors, professor at University of West Chester, Pennsylvania Dr. Michael Malcolm explains that the study could point to marriage and sexual gratification. Ferman continues:
If pornography is viewed as a means of alternative sexual gratification, then it could be undercutting the need for marriages to serve this function, at the very least during a younger age. Think of it as a milder form of premarital sex.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin found that a part of the brain which activates when people feel motivated or rewarded is smaller for porn users.
However the researchers don't know whether this is a correlation or causal link. Dr Simone Kuhn said:
It's not clear, for example, whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn.
The abstract for the paper is as follows:
Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption
By Simone Kuhn, Jurgen Gallinat
Importance Since pornography appeared on the Internet, the accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming visual sexual stimuli have increased and attracted millions of users. Based on the assumption that pornography consumption bears
resemblance with reward-seeking behavior, novelty-seeking behavior, and addictive behavior, we hypothesized alterations of the frontostriatal network in frequent users.
Objective To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.
Design, Setting, and Participants Sixty-four healthy male adults with a broad range of pornography consumption at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, reported hours of pornography consumption per week. Pornography
consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.
Main Outcomes and Measures Gray matter volume of the brain was measured by voxel-based morphometry and resting state functional connectivity was measured on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Results We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a sexual
cue--reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P < .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.
Conclusions and Relevance The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate
to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively, it could be a
precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.
It has been an assumption of most anti-pornography discourse that porn damages women (and children) in a variety of ways. In Porno? Chic!, the author interrogated this assumption by examining the correlation between the incidence of sexual violence and
other indicators of misogyny, and the availability and accessibility of pornography within a number of societies. This article develops that work with a specific focus on the regulatory environment as it relates to pornography and sexual representation.
Does a liberal regulatory regime in sexual culture correlate with a relatively advanced state of sexual politics in a given country? Conversely, does an illiberal regime, where pornography and other forms of sexual culture are banned or severely
restricted, correlate with relatively strong patriarchal structures? A comparative cross-country analysis seeks to explain the correlations identified, and to assess the extent to which the availability of porn can be viewed as a causal or a
consequential characteristic of those societies where feminism has achieved significant advances.
Brian McNaira. Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia Published online: 21 Mar 2014.
Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith introduce their Porn Studies journal as follows:
This journal has been more than two years in its planning, followed by the exciting, though time-intense and anxiety-making, work of bringing together the content for a launch issue. Porn Studies has been a labour of love. Our interests in
bringing the journal to fruition were born out of our personal and professional fascinations with the ways in which pornography matters and is discussed. Clearly pornography is a significant topic across a whole range of academic, public and
policy domains, and yet the spaces in which it is discussed and debated are not always conducive to the sharing of research and the development of meaningful dialogue. Just as there are specialist journals, conferences, book series and collections
enabling consideration of other areas of media and cultural production, so pornography needs a dedicated space for research and debate.
Researching pornography can be particularly complicated and challenging. Newspaper articles examine the proliferations of sexually explicit materials as evidence of changing mores, of other peoples' weaknesses and excesses; pornography as an
industry is characterized as a big business whose sheer size means it ought to be condemned. It (and pornography is almost always characterized as singular) is portrayed as an industry that succeeds by pandering to ever-more extreme
interests and one that pulls everything, even the most innocent of people, into its orbit so that anything which hints at sexuality -- dress, topographies of body hair, musical tastes, dancing, and so on -- is marked by and marks pornography's
influence . With such 'overhead noise' about pornography, uncovering the histories and contemporary forms of sexually explicit representation, their production and consumption, their circulation and distribution, their importance and
insignificances can be daunting.
Yet it is too easy to focus on the problems of researching pornography, and we also ought to be able to celebrate successes. Research on pornography has found a home in journals and a presence at seminars and conferences across various
disciplines. However, as important as these have been, they have not provided the dedicated space that allows for the development of a research tradition and for discussions about the kinds of approaches and methods which will produce good
research. We need a dedicated space to explore the complexities and potentials of research into pornography. This is the right time for a journal for porn studies. We need to develop our methods and theories, and to talk about the importance of
different technologies, their particular employment as platforms for distribution, and the contributions these make to the kinds of pornographies that are available. We need to be able to engage with and examine the variety of legislative moves
against pornography and how those might be tied to concerns about the spread and accessibility of other forms of information, and we need to recognize where regulation is being lessened or loosened and why this is so.
The addiction model is rarely used to describe high-frequency use of visual sexual stimuli (VSS) in research, yet common in media and clinical practice.
The theory and research behind pornography addiction is hindered by poor experimental designs, limited methodological rigor, and lack of model specification.
The history and limitations of addiction models are reviewed, including how VSS fails to meet standards of addiction. These include how VSS use can reduce health-risk behaviors. Proposed negative effects, including erectile problems,
difficulty regulating sexual feelings, and neuroadaptations are discussed as non-pathological evidence of learning.
Individuals reporting addictive use of VSS could be better conceptualized by considering issues such as gender, sexual orientation, libido, desire for sensation, with internal and external conflicts influenced by religiosity and desire
Since a large, lucrative industry has promised treatments for pornography addiction despite this poor evidence, scientific psychologists are called to declare the emperor (treatment industry) has no clothes (supporting evidence). When faced
with such complaints, clinicians are encouraged to address behaviors without conjuring addiction labels.
Nerve reports further
Dr. David Ley, author of a new study in the Current Sexual Health Reports, says that slapping the label of porn addict on net smut enthusiasts is not only missing the point, but ignoring the benefits of watching porn. Ley contends that fewer
than two in every five research articles about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction, and furthermore, a limiting 27 percent of articles on porn addiction actually contain any empirical data. In fact, in studies,
there's been no evidence of any of the commonly hyped life-crushing negative effects of porn addiction, like erectile dysfunction and brain rewiring.
When we pathologize common sexual behaviors, even if they seem compulsive, we're also stigmatizing them. Frequently watching porn, even up to five hours a week, maybe could cause a mean case of carpal tunnel and near-sightedness, but it also
increases positive attitudes towards sex, increases frequency of sex, decreases rates of sex crimes, and fosters open dialogues of sexuality between couples.
Statistically, people most likely to hop on the porn addict train are usually male, have a non-heterosexual orientation, have high libidos, and have religious values that conflict with their compulsions. Meaning: we like to diagnose things
that run counter to our carefully constructed social and family values, when maybe, masturbating frequently is perfectly normal. Watching porn isn't accepted in every circle, so it became quite easy to call the behaviors of everyone --- from
the helpless, to the hyper horny, to the completely ordinary --- an illness.
Porn addiction is also a business. The highly profitable conversation surrounding porn addiction is worrisome to Dr. Ley, who claims, we need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli,
without pathologizing them or their use thereof...Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the 'porn addiction' concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the
acceptance of the idea.
Should women receive preferential treatment in the workplace? Newly published research suggests attitudes toward
this issue may correlate in part to whether people are porn viewers.
Writing in the Psychology of Women Quarterly , Indiana University researchers Paul Wright and Michelle Funk report people who admitted to watching pornography were less likely to support affirmative action for women in a subsequent 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.
From Pacific Center for Sex and Society, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822,
By Diamond M, Jozifkova E, Weiss P.
Pornography continues to be a contentious matter with those on the one side arguing it detrimental to society while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready availability of
sexually explicit materials thereon particularly has seemed to raise questions of its influence. Following the effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed pornography to a society previously having forbidden it allowed us to monitor
the change in sex related crime that followed the change.
As found in all other countries in which the phenomenon has been studied, rape and other sex crimes did not increase. Of particular note is that this country, like Denmark and Japan, had a prolonged interval during which possession of child
pornography was not illegal and, like those other countries, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of child sex abuse.
Fifty Shades of Grey , the best-selling tale of erotic romance, perpetuates the problem of violence against women, according to a new genderist study.
Reporting in the Journal of Women's Health , Dr Amy Bonomi concluded that emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel, with the main female character, Anastasia, suffering harm as a result:
This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it's being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women. The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse.
The researchers, at Ohio State University, conducted an analysis of the novel and found patterns consistent with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention definitions of intimate partner violence, and associated reactions known to occur in abused
The negative effect of pornography on a teenager's sexuality has been greatly exaggerated, according to a
new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Parents have long had reasons to intervene when they catch their teens looking at pornography. There are arguments to be made against pornography on almost every level: Most films, especially from the mainstream, at best give very unrealistic depictions
of men, women, and various sex acts, and it has long been thought that exposure to pornography has a negative effect on a teen's sexual development.
But at least one new study argues the contrary: That pornography might not have as big an effect on teen sexual behavior as thought.
For the new study, 4,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in The Netherlands were surveyed about their sex lives and their use of pornography. The survey asked whether they used pornography, how many sexual partners they have had, and whether
or not they've had one-night stands or exchanged money for sex.
Gert Martin Hald, the lead author of the study and associate professor in the department of public health at the University of Copenhagen, said that previous studies on the subject focused too much on the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and
the consumption of pornography. This means that previous studies had already overestimated the link between porn and sexual behavior without laying any proper groundwork. Their study, therefore, focused on sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness, sensation seeking,
and the extent to which young people sought out sexual excitement and physical pleasure.
The study found that ultimately, there does exist a statistically significant relationship between the subjects' pornography use and their sexual behavior, [but] that link turned out to be a modest one. Hald also argues that more attention should
be paid to other influences outside of pornography. Hald said:
There has been a sort of moral panic -- sometimes in Britain and in the U.S. especially -- about the influence of pornography on sexual behaviours. And although this study can't claim to investigate cause and effect, it can still say that there are a lot
of other factors that determine sexual behaviours, so maybe we should put the debate into a larger perspective instead of being just one-sided.
Perhaps he is trying to suggest that unemployment and a lack of prospects may be doing far more harm to kids than viewing porn.
Watching porn and posting nude photos of oneself may be good for young people according to a Swedish researcher.
Pernilla Nigard, a doctoral candidate at Malmo University studied men and women 18-25 and found that young people's online porn habits can enrich their lives. She even believes the practices may help shape their identities. Nigard told The Local: A
lot of it is about the need to be seen, to get affirmation, and to get attention,
When asked why they posted sexualized images of themselves online, the women Nigard interviewed said that they feel stronger when they receive positive comments.
But it's not all good news. If women receive negative comments, they're likely to strike back at their critics. Nigard found that it's OK to be seen as sexy, but if women are labeled sluts or whores it can become problematic for those who
post their photos, especially when they're spread across the internet.
Men on the other hand use porn in the pursuit of independence. Nigard said: It's sort of like uncomplicated sex. There aren't any demands like in a real relationship because there is a lack of intimacy.
Nigard's research also indicated that it's not really clear why young people feel good about exposing their sexuality online when it's those who comment who have the real power. She said that perhaps it's the simple fact that our image-heavy culture helps shape young people's identities regardless of the consequences.
A new study investigates the link between a country's relative gender equality and the degree of female
"empowerment" in the X-rated entertainment it consumes.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii focused on three countries in particular: Norway, the United States and Japan, which are respectively ranked 1st, 15th and (yikes) 54th on the United Nations Gender Empowerment Measure
To simplify their analysis, their library of smut was limited to explicit photographs of women from mainstream pornographic magazines and Internet websites, as well as from the portfolios of the most popular porn stars from
each nation. Then they set out to evaluate each image on both a disempowerment and an empowerment scale, using respective measures like whether the woman is bound and dominated by leashes, collars, gags, or handcuffs or whether she has a natural
Their hypothesis was that societies with greater gender equity will consume pornography that has more representations of empowered women and less of disempowered women.
It turned out the former was true, but, contradictory as it may sound, the latter was not. While Norwegian pornography offers a wider variety of body types -- conforming less to a societal ideal that is disempowering to
the average woman -- there are still many images that do not promote a healthy respect for women, the researchers explain.
In other words, Norwegian porn showed more signs of female empowerment, but X-rated images in all three countries equally depicted women in demeaning positions and scenarios. This, the researchers surmise, suggests that
empowerment and disempowerment within pornography are potentially different constructs.
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
7th May 2011. See article
(note also the small, but full frontal, image used to illustrate the story)
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.
Viewing violent x-rated material may contribute to sexually aggressive behavior among 10-17 year olds. X-rated
material without violent content does not appear to have the same impact, finds a new study conducted by Internet Solutions for Kids and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Published in Aggressive Behavior , the study is expected to be highly influential. Because of the obvious ethical problems of purposefully exposing kids to pornography, Dr. Michele Ybarra, the primary author of the study, explains,
little was known before about how viewing x-rated material may be related to sexual aggression in children. We asked kids whether they had looked at x-rated material before, and then looked to see if the kids who said 'yes' were more likely to
also say that they were sexually aggressive. The study finds that youth who look at violent x-rated material are six times more likely to report forcing someone to do something sexual online or in-person versus kids not exposed to x-rated
material. Watching violent pornography does not always lead to sexual aggression and not all sexual aggressors have been exposed to pornography, Ybarra cautions; nor does the study prove that violent x-rated material causes sexual aggression.
Exposure to Internet pornography is relatively common. Findings from the Youth Internet Safety Survey – 2 indicate that 15% of 12-17 year olds have purposefully looked at x-rated material online. Data from the Pew Internet and American
Life Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year-old Internet users accidentally view pornography very or somewhat often. Nevertheless, Ybarra's study also finds that the Internet is not the most common source of x-rated material
– even violent x-rated material. Fourteen percent looked at x-rated material in movies, 12% in magazines, and 11% online. There's an assumption out there that the Internet has somehow increased kids' exposures to deviant content. Our
data don't support this. We're learning that just because content that we find disturbing is accessible online, doesn't mean kids will seek it out, Ybarra explains. She agrees that blocking and filtering software will likely prevent exposure
to violent x-rated material online. But, these things won't do anything to prevent exposure through magazines and movies. That's why it's important to talk to your kids also.
The concern that countries allowing pornography and liberal anti-obscenity laws would show increased sex
crime rates due to modeling or that children or adolescents in particular would be negatively vulnerable to and receptive to such models or that society would be otherwise adversely effected is not supported by evidence. It is certainly clear
from the data reviewed, and the new data and analysis presented, that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan, the United States and elsewhere has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among
youngsters as perpetrators or victims. Even in this area of concern no clear and present danger exists for the suppression of sexually explicit material. There is no evidence that pornography is intended or likely to produce imminent
lawless action (see Brandenberg v. Ohio, 1969). It is reasonable that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently rejected the principal that speech or expression can be punished because it offends some people's sensibilities or beliefs.
Compared with hate speech or commercial speech there seems even less justification for banning sex speech.
Sex abuse of any kind is deplorable and should be eliminated. Rape and sex crimes, like any criminal activities are blights on society which should be expunged. The question remains How best to do this? Most assuredly, focusing energy
in the wrong direction, or taking actions just to placate victims, politicians or irate citizens will not solve the problem or help. Nor will spreading myths or misinformation. Removing pornography from our midst will, according to the evidence,
only hurt rather than help society.
I think it is better to expend our energies in two directions. 1) Make better pornography so that preferred role models are portrayed and more segments of society can come to appreciate or at least understand and tolerate its value; and 2) turn
our research to other directions to eliminate or reduce the social ills of rape and other sex crimes. The best place to look is probably in the home during the first decade of life. But it is only by research that we can continue to understand
how to most effectively meet this social challenge. Governments as well as the pornography industry itself would do well to finance and encourage such research.
Watching pornographic videos does not impact the sexual habits of a man and there is no ill-effect
on his sexual relationships with his partner.
Allaying the fears of negative impact on men watching pornographic videos, a report conducted by a Canadian researcher over a period of two years says that there is nothing harmful in the practice.
Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a Montreal University associate professor, has asserted that his research discards the common view that pornography enthusiasts seek out in life what they see in X-rated videos, that ultimately leads to sexual abuse or
denigration of women.
Denying the common apprehension of negative impact of porn videos, Simon said: It would be like saying that vodka ads lead to alcoholism.
His research proves that a majority of men watch movies containing explicit pornographic content to satisfy their fringe fantasy and it is wrong to assume that it leads to criminal behavior.
Simon said that he face a lot of problems while conducting his research, as adult video stores and sex shops refused to allow him to post notices inviting men to participate. However, a handful of universities permitted him to address their
campuses, and after appealing to some 2,000 mostly women students to take part, 20 heterosexual men agreed to come out to talk on the issue of sex in their lives.
Among the many discoveries that Simon derived during his course of the study, he reached a conclusion that all the respondents watched adult videos online and almost all searched alone for online erotica, whether in a committed relationship or
The study also revealed that men tend to fast-forward through scenes that do not interest them, often involving sexual violence or group ejaculation which they found disgusting.
Clinical research journal Behavioral Therapy has published results of the first-ever study conducted to address problematic internet pornography viewing.
Though it is common for many anti-pornography campaigners to refer to issues related to the excessive use of internet porn as addiction, the authors of the study, Utah State University psychologist Michael Twohig and graduate student Jess Crosby,
approached the problem rather as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Despite the prevalence of problematic internet pornography viewing and the breadth of intervention approaches to potentially address it, no studies to address this problem have been reported to date, reads an abstract of the study. An
emerging treatment approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) , holds promise as a treatment for internet pornography viewing because of its focus on processes hypothesized to underlie this maladaptive behavior.
ACT, according to Psychology Today blogger Stephen C. Hayes, teaches people to walk in the exact opposite direction than that suggested by the problem-solving organ between our ears. Instead of controlling urges, ACT teaches acceptance and mindful
awareness of them. Instead of self-loathing and criticism, ACT teaches self-compassion. Instead of avoidance, ACT instigates approaching ones' values.
This is counter-intuitive. Suppressive avoidance is what the mind knows how to do. A highly religious young man struggling with pornography viewing is likely to criticize himself horribly, and then try to eliminate the urge and suppress all thoughts
about it. It almost looks as though that is the moral thing to do, but instead this research suggests that it is a route toward more struggle, more suffering, and ironically toward more obsessive viewing.
The study, which appears in the September issue of Behavioral Therapy , reports that the outcome was successful:
In the first experiment on the treatment of problematic internet pornography viewing, the abstract continues, 6 adult males who reported that their internet pornography viewing was affecting their quality of life were treated in eight 1.5-hour
sessions of ACT for problematic pornography viewing. The effects of the intervention were assessed in a multiple-baseline-across-participants design with time viewing pornography as the dependent variable. Treatment resulted in an 85 percent reduction in
viewing at post treatment with results being maintained at 3-month follow-up (83 percent reduction).
In other words, says Hayes, Religious obsessions went down but positive commitments went up. Obsessive thinking was relieved and with it worry that unbidden thoughts alone cause harm. People became more accepting of their emotions and less entangled
with their thoughts. And they were more able to act in accord with their values as a positive goal, carrying difficult thoughts and feelings with them in a more compassionate way.
Milton Diamond, a professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has authored a study titled Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review.
Published in 2009 in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the study takes a comprehensive, cross-cultural look at research conducted over the years on the subject of porn's influence on individuals as well as societies.
Diamond's conclusion, which he readily admits flies in the face of common assumptions held by many today, is that there is no objective, verifiable evidence that exposure to pornography causes any of the societal ills ascribed to it, including sex
crimes, the abuse or disempowerment of women, and a host of negative effects on individuals or families.
With these data from a wide variety of communities, cultures and countries we can better evaluate the thesis that an abundance of sexual explicit material invariably leads to an increase of illegal sexual activity and eventually
rape. Similarly we can now better reconsider the conclusion of the Meese Commission and others that there exists 'a causal relationship to antisocial acts of sexual violence and … unlawful acts of sexual violence' (Meese, 1986, page 326). Indeed, the
data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes.
Further, considering the findings of studies of community standards and wide spread usage of SEM (sexually explicit material), it is obvious that in local communities as nationally and internationally, porn is available, widely used
and felt appropriate for voluntary adult consumption. If there is a consensus against pornography it is in regard to any SEM that involves children or minors in its production or consumption.
Lastly, we see that objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence. It is relevant to
mention here that a temporal correlation between pornography and any effect is a necessary condition before one can rationally entertain the idea that there is a positive statistical correlation between pornography and any negative effect. Nowhere has
such a temporal association been found.
His findings are a severe blow to those who claim that porn leads to crime.
In every region investigated, he writes, researchers have found that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased.
The notion that hardcore pornography is addictive and, even worse, a corrosive hazard to individuals, families and society is running headlong into studies conducted by noted researchers that show precisely the opposite—that hardcore pornography
is good for you.
A blog post by Dr. Gad Saad on the Psychology Today website makes just that argument, citing two recent studies, including one conducted by Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth.
I should mention, writes Saad, that Neil Malamuth is a highly regarded scholar of pornography who has often argued for its supposed ill effects. Hence, if there exists a possibility of an a priori bias here, it would be in hoping to find
that pornography yields negative consequences.
But that is not what the researchers found in their survey
of 688 young Danish adults (men = 316; women = 372). Instead, Hald and Malamuth found that respondents construed the viewing of hardcover pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions and attitudes
towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and over all. The obtained beneficial effects were statistically significant for all but one measure across both sexes. Now here is the kicker: A positive correlation was obtained
between the amount of hardcover pornography that was viewed and the impact of the benefits reaped. This positive correlation was found for both sexes. In other words, the more that one watched porn, the stronger the benefits (for both 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.
Dr Collen Bryant of the Australian Institute of Criminology said research showed males reported more positive attitudes to pornography from an
early age than did females who were generally extremely negative.
But by their mid-20s, both males and females might report similarly positive attitudes.For that reason, seeking to minimise exposure to pornography was not the whole answer.
Though restricting exposure will remain a priority, an over-reliance on this approach to protect against the perceived harms of pornography is problematic as it fails to recognise the realities of ready availability and the high acceptance of
pornography among young people, she said.
The probability that a young person will have exposure to pornography prior to the age of 18 - the legal age in Australia at which it is permissible to view and purchase such materials - is very high.
Concern exists, among both parents and policymakers, that widespread, premature exposure to pornography is changing the nature of sexual attitudes, behaviours, and intimate relationships and potentially contributing to sexual violence in society. The
extent to which it is difficult to determine, owing to the scarcity of adolescent-based research and differing conceptions about harm.
This paper examines the many factors that underpin pornography exposure, and stresses how the risk factors for exposure and problematic sexual behaviours intersect to contribute to harm. An understanding of the complex interplay of factors such as
gender, age, attitude, personal characteristics and social context of use is important in the development of strategies that will assist young people to avoid any potential adverse outcomes.
The available evidence remains highly incomplete, and its interpretation is highly contested, so the paper highlights the need for longitudinal studies of use and of actual behaviour, and for studies that focus on cultural contexts and emerging media.
The Use of Sex Videos & DVDs in Britain
Summary of Findings of the BBFC Research
Murray Perkins & Pete Johnson
part of a programme of on-going research to better inform the work of
the British Board of Film Classification (the BBFC), the BBFC conducted
research into the use of sex videos and DVDs. The purpose of the
research was primarily to assist the BBFC in its understanding of the
audience for the material. In addition, it was hoped that, by
investigating in detail the viewing experience and its relation to
viewers’ own sexual activity, lessons would be learned regarding such
practical classification issues as the relevance of dialogue and the
likelihood of imitation of specific activities featured in the material.
These issues play a significant part in the BBFC’s assessment of the
likelihood that a particular sex video/DVD may cause harm to potential
viewers, or may cause harm to society through the actions of potential
viewers, factors to which special regard is given in accordance with the
terms of the Video Recordings Act 1984.
The results of the research have provided support for
BBFC policy in a number of areas, especially those relating to adult
performers acting as non-adults, the use of dangerous objects for
penetration, violent or abusive activity and inherently dangerous
practices such as asphyxiative sex play . The research has also
highlighted the extent to which the use of sex videos reaches beyond the
stereotype of solo male masturbation.
The research is part of a series of investigations
into sex works and provided background for the recent ‘BBFC Expert
Consultation – Teen References in R18’ study and a similar exercise
currently being undertaken with regard to scenes in which performers
appear to consent to significant abuse and discomfort (outside an
established sado-masochistic role play context ).
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25
years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers
and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to
pornographic materials produced social violence. The reverse may be true:
that pornography has reduced social violence.
The results above suggest
that potential rapists perceive pornography as a substitute for rape. With
the mass market introduction of the world wide web in the late-1990’s, both
pecuniary and non-pecuniary prices for pornography fell. The associated
decline in rape illustrated in the analysis here is consistent with a
theory, such as that in Posner (1994), in which pornography is a complement
for masturbation or consensual sex, which are themselves substitutes for
rape, making pornography a net substitute for rape.
Given the limitations of the data, policy prescriptions based on these
results must be made with extreme care. Nevertheless, the results suggest
that, in contrast to previous theories to the contrary, liberalization of
pornography access may lead to declines in sexual victimization of women.
The results in Table 7 suggest that the internet has had large effects on
important social behaviors; further exploration of these effects is
necessary to fully understand these results, however.
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85% in the past 25
years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers
and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to
pornographic materials produced social violence. The reverse may be true:
that pornography has reduced social violence.
The sexy thing to do these days when it comes to internet pornography is to
regulate. The Australian Federal Government is into it, with proposals to
amend the Broadcasting Services Act to tighten internet content regulation.
Federal Labor has joined the party too, with Beazley screaming out that the
Australian Communications and Media Authority should ban international
websites which contain graphic sexual material.
It is time for an informed debate about the influence of internet
pornography in our community. Rather than regulation, what is needed is
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
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
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
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:
reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is time to be
confident about the benefits of pornography, in particular internet
pornography, and move forward as an open-minded, mature, peaceful society.
We have the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, and now, the
War on Porn.
In a recent story in the Washington Post, writer Barton Gellman revealed
that the FBI has signed onto the Bush administration’s War on Porn by
recruiting agents for a special anti-obscenity squad. And they won’t just be
looking for child porn, either, but pornography for grown-ups, made by
grown-ups, featuring grown-ups.
Critics say the specter of 10 G-Men hunched over video screens watching porn
may not be the best use of the FBI’s time. Advocates say it’s long past time
the government cracked down because pornography can turn people into sexual
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
But, he says, in both Denmark and the U.S. we see time and again high
prevalence rates of porn consumption, a general lack of research showing
consistent adverse effects of pornography for the general consumer, and that
individual differences are important mediators of effects. Research shows
that this holds true for both the American and the Danish context.
Maybe that special FBI squad should plant porn inside terrorist cells. You
know, keep 'em busy.
Andrew M.M. Koppelman, Northwestern University School of Law
February 11, 2005
This essay will reconsider the fundamentals of obscenity law: the harm that
the law addresses and the means by which the law tries to prevent that harm.
Strangely, even though an enormous amount of scholarship examines this
doctrine, these fundamentals have not been adequately addressed. The harm
that the doctrine seeks to prevent is not offense to unwilling viewers. It
is not incitement to violence against women. It is not promotion of sexism.
Rather, it is moral harm - a concept that modern scholarship finds hard to
grasp. Liberals have not even understood the concept of moral harm, and so
their arguments have often missed the point of the laws they were
criticizing. Conservatives have understood the concept quite well, but have
thought that it straightway entailed censorship. This essay is, to my
knowledge, the first presentation of the liberal argument that does justice
to the conservative case for censorship. I will argue that the concept is a
coherent one and that obscenity law tries to prevent a genuine evil. But I
will conclude that the law is too crude a tool for the task. A sound
understanding of obscenity law's ambitions reveals that the doctrine is
unworkable and should be abandoned.
Commissioned for the Film Censor's office in New Zealand
Thanks to Shaun:
It seems to draw the same conclusions we have often seen. That for 30 years
the debate has gone on, yet the harm of (especially none violent)
sexually explicit material, has not been proven.
You'd think that if the harm (which is supposed to justify the repressive
censorship campaigns by some people in authority around the world), was so
rampant, and manifest, we'd know it by know! Surely that fact alone should
close the case!
From comments near the end of the document:
For over 30 years researchers have been trying to establish whether use of
sexually explicit material affects men’s attitudes to or behaviour towards
women, and yet we are no closer to having a definitive answer. There is some
consensus that the effects of non-violent sexually explicit material if
such effects exist at all are less pronounced than the effects of sexually
There is some agreement that not all people are affected by sexually
explicit material in the same way, and that men who are of a more
characteristically masculine sex-type may be more susceptible to the effects
of sexually explicit material than others. There is growing understanding
that it may be the degradation within some sexually explicit material that
has the effect, rather than the explicitness of the sexual content.
There appears to be no evidence that the availability of sexually
explicit material leads to an increase in reported sex crimes, and any
differences between sex-offenders’ use of sexually explicit material and
that of other men are hard to find. Yet, against that we have moving
narratives from women who have been damaged by a man’s use of sexually
explicit material, and who in more extreme cases have been forced to
replicate sexual acts men have seen in sexually explicit material they have
used. These findings are difficult to reconcile.
National Research Institute of Police Science
This present study concentrates on the offences of
Rape, Sexual assault and Public indecency in Japan and analyzes how
their occurrence correlates with the increasing availability of
pornography. For comparison and as "control" measures we also look at
the incidence of Murder and nonsexual Violent crimes for the same
period. We particularly attend to any influence the introduction of
widely available pornography might have had on juveniles.
This What if you went looking for the harmful effects
of the very worst kinds of pornography -- and they weren't there?
That's what happened to Canada Customs when it paid researchers to study
customs officials who spend up to 15 hours a week reading and viewing
material that goes well beyond erotica or even so-called hard-core porn.
Noted the researchers: Their work most often focuses on materials of
an extreme nature which deal with clearly unacceptable sexual activities
such as incest, children in a sexual context, necrophilia, bestiality,
and sex involving violence, bondage and degradation. Their study of
90 officers found:
repeated exposure to such graphic pornography had
little or no measurable harmful effect on the officers, 40% of whom
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
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
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