Conventional wisdom states that pornography is a bad thing, right? It supposedly contributes to rapes and other sex-related crimes, contributes to negative feelings towards women. Women involved in the porn business are abused and degraded.
But is any of this true? Research says it's actually not.
Milton Diamond, a professor at the University of Hawaii and Director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society, wrote an article for TheScientist.com that analyzes data from several studies. In general, he found that in every region studied, as pornography increased in availability, sex crimes either decreased or didn't increase.
And the availability of porn continues to increase. Now it is just a mouse-click away. Some 40-million adults regularly visit porn sites. And it's just not men -- nearly a quarter of visitors are women. Yet according to FBI figures, rape has steadily declined over the past two decades, as Internet access has exploded.
Child pornography is illegal in the United States, but it is legal in some countries. Diamond claims that in those countries, child sex abuse has declined.
What about sex offenders? Surely they used pornography. Think again, writes Diamond:
The police sometimes suggest that a high percentage of sex offenders are found to have used pornography. This is meaningless, since most men have at some time used pornography. Looking closer, (researchers) 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. (Researcher) Richard Green too has reported that both rapists and child molesters use less pornography than a control group of “normal” males.
As far as attitudes towards women, Diamond says research has found no correlation between watching porn and misogynist attitudes. In fact:
Studies of men who had seen X-rated movies found that they were significantly more tolerant and accepting of women than those men who didn’t see those movies.
Certainly people have had their own experiences with pornography, but Diamond says the research concludes that there is no evidence that porn was the cause of any abuse or harm done to others.