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Friday, January 27, 2012

This Just In: Porn Doesn't Cause Rape

An outstanding post over at Porn For Women by the esteemed Ms. Naughty shows some pretty intriguing statistics for all of those who assume that more porn = more rape. In fact, the opposite is true. Ms. Naughty pulls out a couple of impressive statistics to back her up, but among the most telling is this:

One of the more interesting academic articles dealing with this issue is by Anthony D’Amato from Northwestern University School of Law. His paper Porn Up, Rape Down discusses the idea that there was an 85% reduction in sexual violence over the 25 years to 2003 (and the rate has kept falling since the paper was published). He goes on to posit that not only does porn NOT cause rape, he suggests that it may actually reduce rape, either by serving as a release valve or by demystifying sex. He concedes that the correlation does not equal causality and suggests further research.

So he can definitely say that Porn doesn't cause rape, or even encourage the levels violent rape, statistically speaking. But I'm gonna call it: Porn reduces rape. More of those violent meat-heads who once prowled the parks and streets in search of sexual release are now whacking off to German dungeon porn and Brazilian fart porn and Japanese . . . well, you-name-it porn, a bag of Fritos on their belly and a box of tissues at their side. If nearly free on-line internet porn helps reduce the number of women who suffer sexual assaults every year, then I for one don't think that's too high of a price to pay.

But next time a feminist or white knight gets in your face about porn "contributing to rape culture", haul this little statistic out. In point of fact, porn has reduced violent rape (either that or "abstinence-only" education is the reason, take your pick) which should, in any reasonable person's mind, be the ultimate measure of "rape culture".

The problem is that too many feminists over the years -- and especially the current Old Guard feminists -- have tried to broaden the category of rape to such ambiguous extremes that to them "rape culture" includes the kind of hook-up culture that their younger spiritual descendants see as just another weekend. There was a time when (according to feminists) a woman could even decide she was raped after-the-fact, or if she was drinking then she could decide that any sexual contact was rape if she felt bad about it afterwards. And when feminists tried to broaden the category to include pretty much anything with the label of "bad sex", then that undermined the very real problem of violent rape in our culture.

They attempted to conflate any less-than-ideal sexual liaison or "demeaning to women" portrayal of sex with rape, and most porn fell within that. Yes, there were problems with the porn industry back then, from under-age performers to overt violence in the actual movies. But the industry quickly became regulated as it became prominent, putting safeguards into place to ensure no under-aged performers would be used again, and making a conscious and conscientious decision to remove violence against women from porn themes. That wasn't because they were required to by law, that was because they recognized both the hurtful message such fare sent and because they wanted to tap into the potential of a large female market that recoiled at such rough portrayals. Don't forget, there are an awful lot of women in porn, and they don't like domestic violence or sexual assault any more than any other women. Less, actually, since many performers have had negative experiences like that in their lifetimes, usually before they got to the industry.

I think we're beyond that kind of silliness as a culture now, but the 1980s contention that porn contributes to rape should be well and truly dead at this point. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Ian, could you go over that thing about porn again?"

I saw a comment over at Athol Kay's excellent blog, Married Man Sex Life that I had to respond to. Some folks thought that it was good enough to be posted as a post on it's own, so I thought, why not?

Here's the question, in response to a dude "manning up" and taking the porn filters off of the computer, apparently placed there at an earlier date by his wife who objected to him watching:

[H]ave you figured out why your wife just might object to the porn being readily available?

Have men absolutely no clue as to why a woman would be unhappy with this idea? Yep, some women watch it,too but would venture most don't and a lot of women have a real problem with a spouse that is heavily into it. So many reasons why.

By the way the sex industry is not so pristine (odd idea anyway for it) that you might be supporting the crime of sex trafficking. Any concerns?

Sorry, I disagree. But then I work in the industry. Allow me to rebut:

Men do know why a woman would be unhappy with porn: it provides an alternate sexual outlet to her, and reduces her ability to control the sex life within the relationship. With the "competition" from imaginary women, a woman has higher sexual expectations to live up to, a more knowledgeable partner who may desire things outside of her comfort zone, and a medium through which to express his sexuality without her permission.

If a man is watching porn at home, he's likely watching one of two things these days (and believe me, I spend a lot of my time examining male porn viewing habits -- it's my bread and butter). The first is homemade porn shot by consenting couples in the privacy of their own homes (well over 50% of total porn viewing). The second is professionally-made porn by a reputable studio. Neither one of these areas encourages "sex trafficking" as you speak of it. And if its the suffering of the poor girls you're worried about remember that a) they are very-well compensated for their work and the vast majority enjoy it tremendously and b) there are orders of magnitude more human suffering, despair, and brutal sexual conditions for the poor women in third-world countries who slave away for less than a dollar an hour with no job security, no safety regs, and where putting out for the boss is an expected part of your job . . . all so the women of the West can enjoy fashionable clothes and shoes at affordable prices.

So let's not talk about "sex trafficking", shall we? Pro porn doesn't do that.

Further, you have to understand that to most men, porn is an important expression of their sexuality. Through porn they can maintain a sense of control of their own sexuality, and they can indulge in cultivating sexual variety and developing a fantasy life without straying from their relationship. To most men, porn serves the same function that romance novels, soap operas and "supernatural thrillers" serve for women.

"Porn addiction" (which is not a real medical or psychological condition) is a handy term that wives can use when they object to their husbands trying to assert control over their own sex lives. True, sexual obsession (which is a real psychological condition) can manifest itself through over-use of porn, but this is far rarer than most women want to believe. Most men use porn responsibly as a way to augment and inform their own sexuality. Trying to take that freedom away from a man is tantamount to restricting a woman's ability to establish her place in the social hierarchy.

The truly amazing thing about the female reluctance to accept porn is that is often used to summarily reject an otherwise good guy, because women in general can't approach the subject honestly. So you can either find a guy who says he watches porn, or you can find a guy who lies about it, but using that criteria to reject a man is just foolish.