Measured Against Reality

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Readily Available Pornography Decreases Rape?

There’s an article from a few weeks back called “Pornography has its benefits”. It details the research of Northwestern University Law Professor Anthony D’amato, who has “crunched the numbers” and concluded:

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.

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  • So if we increase the number of rapes in society, will the amount of porn go down?

    Surely there's been a study on this. I'll go do some research and get back to you.

    By Blogger Mr. Fantastic!, at 6:49 PM, October 11, 2006  

  • I am a strong supporter for sexual expression. However, the recent studies on the correlation between porn and rape is little more than hogwash, I believe. There are many factors that must be considered when determining the actual level of rape occurence:

    1) how many rapes are actually reported
    2) how a person defines rape; there is much debate amongst feminist as to whether sexual coercion is indeed a form of rape. Most believe that it is. However, if a woman does consent, regardless of the circumstances, it is not considered rape legally.
    3) cover-ups by police organizations. This often takes place in the form of convincing a victim that she really wasn't raped and even destroying evidence.

    There are far too many variables to consider. This study proves absolutely nothing. I'm afraid all the horny people out there in the world are going to have to come up with another excuse for why we should allow so much porn to exist when it DEFINITELY provides an outlet for criminal sexual exploiters of women to continue their "business".

    For more information on this last comment, see my blog:

    You might also wish to check out my other blog which hardly seems to show that rape is decreasing:


    By Blogger Faith, at 5:44 AM, October 13, 2006  

  • very nice topic thanks for sharing I enjoy it so much

    By Anonymous iserve pharmacy, at 10:31 AM, January 06, 2012  

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