Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pornography

I know a lot of feminists dislike pornography and have written treatises on why it should be abolished. On the other side, people have written about free speech and expression and anti-censorship. What's the solution when there is clearly a market for it?

Over at An Idiot's blog, my friend calls attention to the move to remove on demand pornography from hotel rooms.

Apparently some conservatives don't want children to do the equivalent of "finding their dad's stash" or maybe they really want to reduce rape and abuse. Whatever the motivation, all I can say is that we have talked about the porn causes violence/abuse thing in my various psych classes and have never come to an agreement.

Students think it's weird that Japan is loaded with porn (especially of the comic book kind) but rape is rare compared with the U.S. Now there are a lot of ways of looking at this. Maybe sexual victimization is severely underreported in Japan. Maybe it's no less underreported than it is here.

That is totally irrelevant to the question at hand because such data is correlational; i.e. circumstantial evidence. I want better evidence before I'm willing to convict.

Neil Malamuth has done some interesting research on the subject. He's found, through experiments (!), that it is violence combined with sex that makes porn bad. It leads viewers to blame the victim more, discount the harmful effects of rape on women, etc.

I have seen some bad porn in my lifetime - girls who look underage being choked by a rough blow job, rape scenes, etc.

I don't get sexually excited by it, but I bet some do. Those people are not normal.

However, sexually violent imagery/audio is arousing stuff. And that is the problem: Arousal increases the tendency to violence. So does frustration. Lots of stimuli can produce arousal and frustration. Should we ban them too? Good luck trying.

Violent porn should not be available in hotel rooms. It ought to be regulated. But rather than having to legislate that, I would hope that hotels would make the morally appropriate choice not to buy that kind of programming.

1 comment:

Rose Connors said...

Holly,

Good post. I've never been into porn. I have a girlfriend who is fond of a porn video involving attractive male gardeners. That sounds better than the typical stuff I've seen that does seem to be demeaning to women. That's the cutoff for me. Are the sexual partners depicted as equals?