Pornography and violence: what does the evidence show?

Is there a link between the availability of pornography in a society and sex crimes like rape? And does watching more pornography lead men to see women as mere sex-objects?

It’s a debate that’s bounced back and forth for decades. Both sides have plausible explanations as to how their claims can be true.

Perhaps, after watching pornography, men are more likely to feel agressive and commit sex crimes. If the increased availability of pornography over the last thirty years has led to more rapes and sexual assaults, surely there’s a good case for our society being more censorious.

Or maybe porn can act as a safety valve, making it easier for men to get sexual release in their own homes and actually reducing sex crime.

Until now, there have been occasional studies but no systematic review of the evidence.

But a study from the University of Hawaii has looked at a variety of different studies in different countries and concluded that

the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis [that more pornography leads to more sex crime] is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes.

It also found no evidence that viewing pornography leads to a more negative attitude towards women.

Are rapists more likely to have viewed pornography?

As The Scientist comments in its write-up of the paper

Michael Goldstein and Harold Kant found that rapists were more likely than nonrapists in the prison population to have been punished for looking at pornography while a youngster, while other research has shown that incarcerated nonrapists had seen more pornography, and seen it at an earlier age, than rapists. What does correlate highly with sex offense is a strict, repressive religious upbringing. Richard Green too has reported that both rapists and child molesters use less pornography than a control group of “normal” males.

Even if we accept this evidence (and, of course, it’s open to challenge and may be flawed), there are still many reasons why we might want to restrict or ban some types of pornography.

For example, it may be entirely appropriate for a society to put limits on the sorts of pornography it’s willing to accept, or on who has access to it.  We might also want to restrict it in public if, regardless of the effect it has on its consumers, it made others feel uncomfortable or vulnerable.

But perhaps, on the important issues of whether pornography causes sex crimes and whether it leads to men having worse attitudes towards women, it’s time to stop debating from entrenched political positions and start looking at the evidence.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

4 Comments

  • “Until now, there have been occasional studies but no systematic review of the evidence.”

    This is simply not true. Whilst I agree with your push for evidence-based policy, there are at least two evidence reviews (can’t remember the titles – sorry) out there and plenty more papers for reading.

    Jennifer Saul’s (Uni. of Sheffield) 2003 paper (link to abstract below) is the best paper to read on the topic in my view – though it is not a review, it seems – sensibly to me – to end up perhaps calling for a context-of-viewing / health-warning approach to the problems.

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120092296/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jul - 7:18pm
    On leadership: I guess there are two extreme approaches, which are both a problem. The "Stalinist" approach is for a leader to ignore the party...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 28th Jul - 6:57pm
    Many thanks, chaps, for further interesting comments, but I have to go out, so I can't deal with them properly till later. But one point,...
  • User AvatarJohn King 28th Jul - 6:46pm
    To Jayne Mansfild. I did try to access that report you mention but it's difficult to determine when the work was done, as opposed to...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jul - 6:42pm
    Simon, Corbyn supporters are not getting "defensive" they are getting furious with your tedious inteminable distortions. You are playing the Corbynites on side!
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Jul - 5:58pm
    3 star chef
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 28th Jul - 5:30pm
    @ Katharine Pindar My pleasure! Here are some further bits and pieces: We would serve our fellow citizens and party well if we could spread...
Wed 2nd Aug 2017
Thu 3rd Aug 2017
Mon 21st Aug 2017