Readily Available Pornography Decreases Rape?
The incidence of rape in the United States has declined 85 per cent in the past 25 years while access to pornography has become freely available to teenagers and adults. The Nixon and Reagan Commissions tried to show that exposure to pornographic materials produced social violence. The reverse may be true: that pornography has reduced social violence.
According to his number crunching, between 1980 and 2004 the four states with the lowest internet access rates had a 53% increase in rape, while the four states with the highest internet access experienced a 27% decrease.
The article also says that the same trend has happened in Australia.
The general trends don’t really surprise me. In the US, violent crime has been decreasing on the whole for a while. While I was researching drug incarceration rates and violent crime among children, I noticed that the per-capita violent crime is indeed lowering.
But this is a case of “correlation does not equal causation.” It’s most likely due to something else, such as better education or socioeconomic status being correlated with internet access and with lower violent crime. Internet pornography may very well do something to prevent rape, but I’d have to see much better data to be convinced of it (and it sounds like Professor D’amato wasn’t making that claim, just pointing out that it may be true).
However, this does mean one thing: internet pornography almost definitely does not increase rape. It would be pretty hard to maintain that pornography increases rape with that data. It’s exactly the opposite trend you’d expect. Of course, exposure to pornography may still increase the odds of someone raping, but it is very, very unlikely, and would have to be a small increase. Also, pornography may well induce some individuals to rape, but I’ve seen no proof of that either, and it’s also very unlikely.
In short, pornography is almost certainly not increasing violent crimes. Of course, wingnuts will still claim that it does, but that’s another story altogether.