Rick Santorum said during his campaign that pornography “contributes to misogyny and violence against women.” Do you agree?
Congratulations on finding a position that Rick Santorum and I agree upon. I do think there’s a serious problem with the violence we see in some pornography, and it has severe consequences for sexual-assault rates. That said, I don’t think that all erotic material is necessarily problematic. As a friend put it, she would be just fine with feminist porn.
Perhaps the most serious accusation against pornography is that it incites sexual aggression. But not only do rape statistics suggest otherwise, some experts believe the consumption of pornography may actually reduce the desire to rape by offering a safe, private outlet for deviant sexual desires.
“Rates of rapes and sexual assault in the U.S. are at their lowest levels since the 1960s,” says Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University. The same goes for other countries: as access to pornography grew in once restrictive Japan, China and Denmark in the past 40 years, rape statistics plummeted. Within the U.S., the states with the least Internet access between 1980 and 2000—and therefore the least access to Internet pornography—experienced a 53 percent increase in rape incidence, whereas the states with the most access experienced a 27 percent drop in the number of reported rapes, according to a paper published in 2006 by Anthony D’Amato, a law professor at Northwestern University.
It is important to note that these associations are just that—associations. They do not prove that pornography is the cause of the observed crime reductions. Nevertheless, the trends “just don’t fit with the theory that rape and sexual assault are in part influenced by pornography,” Ferguson explains. “At this point I think we can say the evidence just isn’t there, and it is time to retire this belief.”
"Porn causes sexual assault" is a lie—it's a lie like "abortion causes breast cancer" and "contraception causes chaste women to become sluts." That you happen to agree with Rick on this issue doesn't mean you have a nuanced or complex take on human sexuality, Sandra, it means you're just as susceptible to the sex-negativity and shame that sloshes around in our culture as the rightwingers who attacked you for advocacy around contraception.