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Thursday, December 01, 2005

& Debates - Pornography

My lastest attempt (registration required) to incite flame wars for my own amusement:
From Social Psychology, eighth edition (my social psychology text book), by David G. Myers, pages 399-400:
Evidence also suggests that pornography contributes to men's actual aggression toward women. Correlational studies raise that possibility. John Court (1986) noted that across the world, as pornography became more widely available during the 1960s and 1970s, the rate of reported rapes sharply increased - except in countries and areas where pornography was controlled. (The examples that counter this trend, such as Japan, where violent pornography is available but the rape rate is low, remind us that other factors are also important.) In Hawaii, the number of reported rapes rose ninefold between 1960 and 1974, dropped when restraints on pornography were temporarily imposed, and rose again when the restraints were lifted.

In another correlational study, Larry Baron and Murray Straus (1984) discovered that the sale of sexually explicit magazines (such as Hustler and Playboy) in the 50 states correlated with the state rape rates, even when controlling for other factors, such as the percentage of young males in each state. Alaska ranked first in sex magazine sales and first in rape. Nevada was second on both measures.

When interviewed, Canadian and American sexual offenders commonly acknowledged pornography use. For example, William Marshall (1989) reported that Ontario rapists and child molesters used pornography much more than men who were not sexual offenders. An FBI study also reported considerable exposure to pornography among serial kills, as did the Los Angeles Police Department among most child sex abusers (Bennett, 1991; Ressler & others, 1988).

Although limited to the sorts of short-term behaviors that can be studied in the laboratory, controlled experiments reveal what correlational studies cannot - cause and effect. A consensus statement by 21 leading social scientists summed up the results: "Exposure to violent pornography increases punitive behavior toward women" (Koop, 1987). One of these social scientists, Edward Donnerstein (1980), had shown 120 University of Wisconson men a neutral, an erotic, or an aggressive erotic (rape) film. Then, the men, supposedly as part of another experiment, "taught" a male or female confederate some nonsense syllables by choosing how much shock to administer for incorrect answers. The men who had watched the rape film administered markedly stronger shocks, especially when angered with a female victim.

In a sidebar on page 400:
Repeated exposure to erotic films featuring quick, uncommitted sex also tends to
  • decrease attraction for one's partner,
  • increase acceptance of extramarital sex and of women's sexual submission to men, and
  • increase men's perceiving women in sexual terms.
(Source: See Myers, 200)

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