On pornography and violence
The government is planning to introduce oppressive and unworkable legislation to criminalise the possession of “violent pornography”. Yet not only is there no evidence of a correlation between the viewing of violent sexual images with actual real-life violence, but a recent research paper suggests that access to pornography actually reduces the incidence of sexual violence.
Anthony D’Amato of the Northwestern University School of Law (.pdf download of the paper) draws attention to a fact that is obvious when you think about it: if there was a correlation between the availability of pornography and the incidence of rape, then the massive increase of the former in this internet age would correspond with a similarly massive increase in the latter.
The opposite, in fact, is true. America has seen an 85% decrease in rape incidence in the last 25 years.
On why this should be the case, D’Amato offers his tentative opinion:
Correlations aside, could access to pornography actually reduce the incidence of rape as a matter of causation? In my article I mentioned one possibility: that some people watching pornography may get it out of their system and thus have no further desire to go out and actually try it. Another possibility might be labeled the Victorian effect: the more that people covered up their bodies with clothes in those days, the greater the mystery of what they looked like in the nude. The sight of a woman’s ankle was considered shocking and erotic. But today, internet porn has thoroughly de-mystified sex. Times have changed so much that some high school teachers of sex education are beginning to show triple-X porn movies to their students in order to depict techniques of satisfactory intercourse.
I am sure there will be other explanations forthcoming as to why access to pornography is the most important causal factor in the decline of rape. Once one accepts the observation that there is a precise negative correlation between the two, the rest can safely be left to the imagination.
The government’s proposed legislation is stupid and wrong.
(Thanks to The Pagan Prattle)