I’m wondering if sexual assault porn impacts behavior: Does it increase the likelihood of an individual sexually assaulting someone else?

Responses

  • Michael Castleman says:

    No, porn does not cause or contribute to sexual assault, even porn that depicts it.

    Plenty of studies show that virtually all convicted rapists have viewed porn. Some have viewed a great deal of porn. Based on this, anti-porn activists have concluded that porn causes rape.

    But the anti-porn activists make a big mistake. Virtually ALL men have viewed porn, many quite frequently, and DON’T commit sexual assault. In the world of anti-porn activists, shopping would cause shoplifting. After all, all shoplifters shop. That’s how they find items to steal. But of course, in the real world, the vast majority of shoppers don’t shoplift.

    Fundamentally, porn is a masturbation aid for men. Most men masturbate much more than most women. Masturbation requires erotic fantasies. Men’s own fantasies tend to get stale, so they turn to porn, where zillions of new one are available for free.

    Porn isn’t real sex. It’s cartoon sex. When the Roadrunner hits Wile E. Coyote over the head with a sledgehammer, do legions of viewers grab hammers and hit people in the head? The rare psychotic might, but no, the vast majority of people don’t. The same goes for porn. It’s fantasy, a cartoon. Men don’t rush out to imitate it. They grab their dicks and stroke.

    Which brings me to the natural experiments involving porn and rape. When the Internet went mainstream in the late 1990s, all of a sudden, porn became much more available to many more men. If the anti-porn activists are correct, then the rate of sexual assault should have increased. It didn’t. It declined. The same happened when Communism fell in Eastern Europe. Porn had been very scarce, but with the end of Communism, it became vastly more accessible. What happened? Sexual assaults declined. I’ve included several references to this literature below.

    Anti-porn activists continue to assert that porn contributes to rape. It doesn’t. It encourages men to masturbate. Given the fact that with more porn, there’s less rape, it would appear that porn offers potential rapist a safety valve. They can stroke instead of attacking women.

    Diamond, M. et al. “Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2011) 40:1037

    Diamond, M. “The Effects of Pornography: An International Perspective,” in Pornography 101: Eroticism, Sexuality, and the First Amendment, edited by J. Elias et al. Prometheus Press, Amherst, NY, 1999.

    Diamond, M. and A. Uchiyama. “Pornography, Rape, and Sex Crimes in Japan,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (1999) 22:1.

    Goldstein, M. et al. “Experience with Pornography: Rapists, Pedophiles, Homosexuals, Transsexuals, and Controls,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (19971) 1:1.

    Kutchinsky, B. Pornography and Rape: Theory and Practice? Evidence from crime Data in Four Countries, Where Pornography is Easily Available,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (1991) 14:47.

    Kutchinsky, B. “The Effect of Easy Availability of Pornography on the Incidence of Sex Crimes: The Danish Experience,” Journal of Social Issues (1973) 29:163.

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