Internet porn and sexual irresponsibility

October 16, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

Remember the old argument that porn encourages rape? I’ve always been suspicious.  It would seem that men who relieve their sexual frustrations in private would be less likely to harass real life women.  I’ve sometimes wondered, then, whether sexual assaults have decreased since Internet porn has become more readily available.

Here are some rather startling statistics, and they suggest that many measures of sexual irresponsibility have decreased with the increased availability of Internet porn. This includes a decrease in sexually transmitted infections, teen sex, divorce, and rape (since 1995, rape has decreased by 44 percent). This article at Psychology Today concludes: “If Internet porn affects society, oddly enough, it looks beneficial. Perhaps mental health professionals should encourage men to view it.”

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Category: Communication, Psychology Cognition, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (7)

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  1. Ryan says:

    I read the linked article and couldn't help but wonder if the writer was at all serious about suggesting that, "If Internet porn affects society, oddly enough, it looks beneficial."

    Correlation = Causation? Talk about committing this fallacy and using it to make sweeping generalization arguments without considering any other factors!

    Abortion rates are down – this has what to do with porn one way or another, surely the entire political party caught up on the issue has had at least comparable effects on abortion rates? STD rates have declined… again I am failing to see how this is more related to porn than to sex education. In the case of rape I can at least see the potentially credible argument that would-be rapists are satisfying themselves instead, but again merely observing that rape is down really does not adequately support the conclusion this conclusion without further evidence and awareness of what other factors have caused rates of rape to fall.

    Interesting idea, poorly constructed argument. It could be true, and it could also be true that turning on my wipers on a dark and cloudy day often causes it to rain.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Ryan: Good reminder that correlation does not equal causation. To be more exact, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. The real world is such a complex place that there could be many factors other than readily available Internet porn leading to these decreases. It is rather phenomenal, though, that the explosion of Internet pornography is not accompanied by an increase in these measures, if one buys the official conservative line regarding pornography. These statistics should make the anti-pornography folks stop and think, because they have been long arguing (with no statistics) that pornography causes the moral breakdown of society.

  2. Have to side with Ryan at least in one aspect, that of rape. It's been well established for a long time now that rape has much less to do with sex as sex than it does to do with anger and power. How does watching people screw on the internet address that in people so prone? Unless the suggestion is that most of them are so lazy that they won't leave their homes if they don't have to…

    But if you confine your argument to the more common sexual fantasy aspect, then it might follow that people who can watch their fantasies rather than try to go out and actually do them results in reductions of certain interactions between real people, you might have something…in the same way that most people would rather watch sports than try to play it.

    Which is also, in a way, sad.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    I've often heard that line that rape has nothing to do with sex, but I've never believed it. I think it has to do with sex AND power/aggression.

  4. Erich,

    I didn't say it has NOTHING to do with sex. It has nothing to do with sex as sex. It's more about power, though, and sufficiently so that the difference in degree seems to become a difference in kind.

  5. I think the people who push that explanation the most are those who have been pushed into that awkward position by those who want to blame the rapist's behavior on the woman—she shouldn't have been dressed that way, she shouldn't have been in that neighborhood, she shouldn't have been cute, etc. (All those, btw, fail to explain the rapes of very old women, which occur in significant enough numbers to be statistically relevant.) The tendency to blame the victim—as part of the same move to shove normal sexuality back into the gutter where some people think it belongs—often forces a rhetorical stance that cannot admit certain factors. This is common in all manner of argument, where any sentence that begins, "Well yes, but…" is immediately used as a crowbar to pry the point away from the speaker and destroy credibility.

    Given the historical evidence that conquering armies have almost always indulged in rape as part of the process of oppressing the conquered people through humiliation and shame, it does beg the question of rape as a mental aberration. Not all soldiers everywhere and at all times can be said to be sociopaths. A social aberration, certainly. But an aberration nevertheless, and one based on an exercise of power rather than desire.

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