[Excerpts from various parts of Pornography: The Other Side have been put together in this document.]



            Preface                                                                                                           vii



     1            Background: Sexual Desire and Fantasy                                                    1



     2            Background: Sex and Values                                                                        11                [Back]



     3            Common Charges Against Sexual Explicitness                                         25



     4            Pornography and Women                                                                               40



     5            Portrayals of Violence                                                                                    58



     6            Degrading Content                                                                                          71



     7            Alleged Ill Effects from Use                                                                            86



     8            Sex and Psychological Health                                                                        102



     9            Elicitation of Violence: The Theories                                                          114



     10            Elicitation of Violence: The Evidence                                                         126         



     11            Portrayed Violence and Real Aggression                                                 139         

[From so large a mis-statement (and other things), it is clear: she didn't recall the first thing she'd read.] [Back]


     12            Sexual Repressiveness and Violence                                                         147



     13            Pornography and the Law                                                                             154



                Notes                                                                                                                        166



                Bibliography                                                                                                            177



                Index                                                                                                                      184


(p. 2)

To judge from the cross-cultural evidence, the production of pornography is a very common thing for humans to engage in.  From all around the world have come reliable reports of this: sexually explicit pictures and sculptures, legends and stories, songs and dances. Of course, most human societies haven’t had our technology of mass production; but that difference is reflected in everything from phonograph records to silk hats.  In old Tahiti, for example, family entertainment was a performance by the Arioi society: songs, dances and a large variety of sexual acts. Elsewhere in Polynesia there were nude beauty contests. Among the Muria of India, showing drawings or carvings of sex organs is a socially acceptable way for a boy to proposition a girl. (Here it would be called sexual “harassment”.)         [Next]      Among the more technologically advanced nations, the pornography of ancient Persia, Greece, India, Japan, and many other countries is well known. In most of these societies, to judge from the ethnographic reports, the idea that there is something disgusting or degrading about such materials and performances may not have existed at all.3


(P. 13)

The idea that nature’s goals are always good is a variation on the wider belief that whatever is natural is good. One has only to reflect on such natural occurrences as earthquakes, epidemics and drought, and on the fact that every species can survive only through the suffering and death of others, to realize that the latter is false. A more restricted claim, that whatever is natural for humans to do is good, is also false. After all, the biological tendencies we are programmed with include such unlovely ones as selfishness, aggression, and spite. Even so, what is natural is most certainly relevant to what is of value. Being natural is evidence for being healthy, and that is a very important kind of good.  Nature can definitely be improved upon; but as biologists have long realized, most of the ways in which a given organism’s behavior might diverge from the natural are harmful. The belatedly realized harms of our modern diet and low‑exercise lifestyle provide a familiar example.  Some natural tendencies can be changed or repressed fairly easily; others, only at a heavy cost.2                                                [Back]                          

(p. 16)

The exact way in which sexual aversion is learned in this culture, and how our

socialization differs from that of those in which children are raised to view sex

more positively, is a complex subject. But a couple of illustrations can be given.

Even among those parents who don't overtly punish their children's expressions of eroticism (which many do, physically or psychologically), the message is sent in subtle ways. If a child is playing with its genitals, the hand is pushed away.

[As the continuing passage above and below make clear, this is not about teaching children

"appropriate times and places", but about nonverbal actions that send the message "bad".]  [Next]

The sex organs are studiously avoided in conversation--except in connection with

the pollution of waste‑elimination, that is. And of course, there is the perpetual

anxious avoidance of nudity and of sex‑talk around children. The message is

subliminal but clear: there is something sinister about sexuality, and certain parts

of the body. The unnaturally high degree of sexual privacy in which modern

children are raised is another factor in all this. Through the long prehistory of

human evolution, the norm was for large families to live together in a single

enclosure, where children could observe nudity, sexual activity and childbirth

from their earliest years.3 That our practice of shielding children from such

things is a contributor both to an increased sense of "modesty" and to a

heightened male interest in nudity is virtually certain.


(p. 20) [In the conditions under which all humans lived until 10,000 years ago--the "most natural" state--privacy was scarce; children were exposed to sexuality from infancy. A comment elsewhere in the book:]

Some also opine that children naturally experience distress on seeing sexual (or even just affectionate) activity.  On the basis of current information, these possibilities cannot be ruled out. But this much can be said: if such tendencies exist, they are mild compared to the antisexual feelings our society has built on top of them. Sexual sights do not possess the highly negative emotional impact in most cultures that they have in this one. In many cultures, for example, one who encounters or occupies the same shelter as a copulating couple is expected to avert his or her eyes and ignore them; but the experience is hardly traumatic for anyone involved. Moreover, there is certainly no natural tendency to have feelings of shame or disgust over mere nudity or over one’s own sexual behavior per se.                                                                                                                          [Back]


(p. 49)

The foregoing discussion has led us to an ironic conclusion. Not only is it

false that pornography per se is sexist; but as has begun to be revealed,

the shoe is on the other foot. The anti‑pornography campaign itself

represents a pernicious sort of intolerance against persons with certain types

of sexual needs and desires--the great majority of whom are males.

Though the movement's focus is on media expressions of those feelings, the

broader message is inevitable: "Your needs and emotions are evil, and so

must be repressed." One cannot rationally say that sexual portrayals degrade

women without holding that typical male feelings do the same thing; whether

he uses sexual substitutes or not, a man is being told that an inherent part of

himself is bad. Coming from women who don't share that nature (more shortly

on men who say such things), these charges are blatant sexism. For what is

the core of sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry, after all? It is the

attitude, "You're different from me, therefore you're inferior".


Once again, the opposition to pornography is only one manifestation of a wider

set of attitudes. Though ours is a pluralistic society, and has changed its views

about sex somewhat in recent decades, it still contains powerful antisexual currents.

These hurt both males and females, to be sure; the "double standard" has included

a double dose of sexual guilt for many women. But they are apt to cause the most

pain to those whose erotic desires are strongest. Moreover, females aren't raised

with the tradition that their natural feelings toward the opposite sex are

exploitive and objectifying. Yet from the time a boy is very small he is sent the

message that his desires toward a female's body are nasty and degrading to her,

and that in any sort of sexual encounter he would be an offender, she his victim.

Most women don't seem to appreciate what this can be like. (Women often

congratulate themselves on being more sensitive than men. Perhaps so--and perhaps,

like people in general, they are mostly just more aware of sorrows like the ones they

themselves have to face.) Incredibly, in fact, some go about talking as if sexual

guilt were directed only at females.


One marvelous exception to this rule is Nancy Friday, whose book Men in Love is full

of insights into male feelings. She describes such a young boy, "angry and forlorn in

the knowledge that [his sexuality] is unacceptable to women. ...Women have placed

his body at war with his soul. Only when he gets out of the house, only when he

discovers that other little boys are just like himself, does he get enough reinforcement

to bear being bad...." A commonly expressed fear from the antipornography camp is

that little girls may suffer distress and damage to their self‑image from the sight of the

naked women in pornography. The real source of any such reaction would be the sex‑

negative emotions they have previously been conditioned to have. But in addition, the

author of this essay can report the effect such exposure had on his self‑image as a little

boy: aside from satisfying some powerful yearnings that had been denied, it gave him

the reassuring feeling that at least some people didn't regard him as evil for having

those desires. [The exposure in my case--this was the very early 1950s--was to photographs from nudist camps, which included naked children. Such items were hidden and passed around by some boys I knew.]


Of course, not all males have consciously felt this pain or realized its source, any

more than all females have been aware of suffering from the discrimination toward

them. The former have historically failed to recognize the sexism against them for

basically the same reasons as the latter once did, and need to experience the same

sort of "consciousness raising" to do so. The sad fact is that both sexes are very

largely the puppets of our culture's attitudes: codes of propriety and honor and

morality that they have not created but merely inherited, and which are very often

contrary to their interests and their real desires. It has already been stressed that

people can be socialized into accepting almost anything; most males (also females,

of course) have just accepted and internalized the sexual guilt thrust upon them.

To see in further detail why men have traditionally acquiesced or even participated

in condemnations of their sexuality, let us look at some special influences.



(P. 54)

One branch of the feminist movement, the one that has been most strident in attacking pornography, is in a category by itself in this regard. These feminists can only be described as blatant sexists, and are sometimes simply vicious. They make such charges as that all men consciously use the threat of rape to control women, that all men feel rage at women and desire to degrade them, that all men are inclined to be child molesters, that all men are by nature violent...the sickening list goes on. 5 [For me to consider false accusations of child molestation "sickening" is clearly to regard adult-child sex itself as seriously bad.]                [Next]



(p. 73)

One thing that helps to reveal this fact is the very different attitude found in many

other cultures. Regarding the matter of readiness to have "casual" sex, for instance,

it has been standard among the single people of many times and places; such

behavior is perfectly healthy and wholesome for human beings. Among the Mbuti,

for just one example, work expeditions of young people frequently turn into happy

orgies on the trail. [As my book notes elsewhere, such behavior can be wrongful under external conditions where disease or unprepared pregnancy is a serious danger.]                                        [Next]                    


(p. 89)

Of course, that a belief is held for bad reasons does not mean there are no good reasons for it. Nonetheless, it can be said without hesitation that the evidence available is strongly against the “domino theory” of character. One has only to consider the cross-cultural picture to begin to realize this, say, the promiscuous children and youth of Mangaia or the Trobriand Islands or the Muria villages, who grow up into hard-working adults who have internalized all of their society’s moral standards.  More generally, there is no indication that sexually positive cultures have greater amounts of antisocial behavior. In fact, one cross-cultural survey found significantly more personal crime in groups where premarital sex is strongly punished than in others.2 (The fact that the crime rate in permissive northern Europe is much lower than that in the U.S. may already be known to the reader—but beware of post hoc thinking.) The belief that gratifying sexual feelings tends somehow to turn into a general state of moral corruption, or even to damage one’s capacity for self-discipline, is sheer superstition.


(P. 100)

A related problem that needs comment here is that of unmarried pregnancy among juveniles.  Teenagers in this culture are generally unprepared, emotionally and otherwise, to cope with pregnancy and childbirth.  This is largely the result of modern technology and social structure: under the type of society in which humans evolved, “adolescents” did the same work as adults, and had extended families or the whole tribe to help care for their children. For us, by contrast, teenage pregnancy is a serious problem.     [Back]    For reasons similar to those already cited, however, it is unlikely that pornography has a significant effect in promoting adolescent sexuality.  Aside from the fact that other media and social institutions are much more influential, to make young men and women find sex desirable does not require such materials. Indeed, it is romance novels and magazines that most stimulate the sexual feelings of teenage girls. 12                                                 


Should we nonetheless try to keep young people from acting on those desires by preventing positive messages about sex from reaching them? Absolutely not. The sexual ignorance and guilt traditionally imposed on adolescents are harmful in countless ways.  (More on this as we continue.) In fact, they are highly counterproductive; they are what prevent large numbers of teenagers from using adequate contraception.  For one thing, to take such precautions means admitting in advance—to others and to themselves—that they have sexual plans, rather than having the excuse of being carried away by the passion of the moment.  (“Nice girls don’t use birth control.”) Other industrialized countries with greater acceptance of adolescent sexuality have a much lower level of unwed pregnancy. In the permissive Netherlands, for example, where use of contraceptives is strongly stressed, the rates of teenage childbirth and abortion are only a tiny fraction of those in the United States. 13                                                                    



(P. 106)

[This discussion here of damage to the mind clearly implies that paraphilias are something bad:]       --->

To counter irrational fears on this subject, it will be worthwhile to say a little about what is known concerning the causation of paraphilias.  There are two main proposed explanations, both of which have some clinical support—perhaps both etiologies are at work, in different cases or some of the same ones. The compensatory account suggests that the perversion is a defense mechanism, the subconscious mind’s way of maintaining sexual desire in spite of traumatic events that threaten to destroy it.  The “imprinting” theory holds that salient features of the circumstances of sexual arousal in early life become a permanent part of the paraphile’s mental “lovemap”. It posits a kind of one‑shot conditioning that is perhaps reinforced through time. (Some writers still talk as if ordinary “classical” conditioning could explain paraphilias, but its effects are too weak to account for the data. For example, sexual perversions have a strong resistance to “extinction”.) Either way, the damage is done by important events early in life, when the person is first experiencing sexual reactions—though neither theory can claim to know for sure what other factors, such as high suggestibility or a fragile ego, make one particularly vulnerable.  Finally, in a certain category of cases the cause of the distorted sexuality is brain damage or chemical imbalance in the brain.[pedophilia is a paraphilia]--->

All this raises the question of whether pornography that is itself deviant (depicting fetishes, sadomasochism, and so on) might produce actual paraphilias. But here, too, many absurd claims have been made. For example, the fact that many pedophiles make sexual photographs of children is frequently presented as evidence that such photos produce sexual interest in children in the first place—even though they were clearly made after the interest existed. Obviously, those with nonstandard sexual desires will have fantasies to match, and hence an interest in the corresponding type of pornography.

So we must have more than that correspondence to argue that the pornography might cause the interest. Is there any such evidence? Certain psychologists have hypothesized that deviant depictions of sex might be able to produce actual paraphilias, at least in sexually inexperienced young men. The data so far weigh against so easy an origin, however: no actual case with such a cause has ever been identified.5  Now, some clinicians do believe that deviant pornography can help to maintain deviant desires, once they exist. But there is not any clear evidence of that; and even if it should be so, the paraphile’s own imagination is quite adequate to do the same thing. Here again, those who register such fears tend not to make the parallel suggestion that young people be allowed to have “straight” pornography, or real sex, in order to pre‑empt the possibility that they will succumb to whatever it is that does produce deviant desires. [Terminological point: Despite the widespread usage by non-specialists, 'pedophile' does not refer to all persons who have sexual contact with children; it refers to individuals with a sexual preference for children. Many who have such contact aren't pedophiles, and some pedophiles refrain from that contact throughout their lives.] [Next]        




(p. 108)

It may even be that our general mental health has been adversely influenced by negative sexual feelings. Malinowski reported that his Trobriand Islanders were psychologically very healthy; it was only among the nearby Mailu and Amphlett Islanders, so similar to the Trobrianders in race and custom but authoritarian and sexually repressive, that he found nervousness, obsessions and deranged violence.8  Similar claims have been made by others who spent years living in sexually permissive cultures. As Danielsson remarked, "Most of the well‑known complexes and maladjustments from which our children suffer are still unknown in Polynesia; I have not yet been able to discover any serious cases of thumb‑sucking, contrariness, bed‑wetting, day‑dreaming, nervousness, nail‑biting or stuttering on the islands, where I have lived long enough to know the conditions well."        [Back]                                                               



Sex and Young People           (Pp. 109-113)


The preceding discussion has skirted the edge of one of the most explosive

issues surrounding pornography and sexuality in general: that involving

minors.  For it is in childhood and adolescence that basic sexual

attitudes are formed, and in those years that the foundations are laid for

psychological health or maladjustment.  For example, the great majority of

paraphilias appear then, and the others seem traceable to that period.

But it is in regard to sexuality during those years that public attitudes

were changed least by the "sexual revolution"; the prevailing feeling

still is one of great apprehension or aversion toward nonadult eroticism.

Minors these days have more sexual information (and more misinformation),

and they engage in much more sexual activity than in earlier decades, but they

still suffer from high levels of guilt and ambivalence.  Although to do this

subject justice would require an entire book, it is essential here to say a

few words about one thing: the common idea that there is something

inherently emotionally unhealthful about children, or even adolescents,

having sexual knowledge or sexual activity.  It is widely averred, for

example, that they are not "emotionally ready" for such things.  Or, in

regard to children, that it is not natural for them to have sexual feelings

at all.


The latter is a perfect example of rationalization and ideologically

induced blindness.  It seems clearly motivated by our traditional

sex-negative views: "Sexual feelings are tainted, but children are pure;

therefore they couldn't have such feelings."  And it is flatly false.

Even though children learn at an early age to hide and repress their

sexual desires in this culture, the fact that they have them could be

discovered by anyone.  (No, their sexual explorations aren't just

"curiosity"—the standard euphemism for childhood lust.)  [The reader needn't pause

to examine more of my book's words at this point; the key section is presented for an in-depth

look at a later point in My Case's discussion, and other parts are linked later as needed.]  [Back]

Moreover, in cultures where they are not prevented from doing so, they

begin sexual activity, sometimes even coitus itself, at a very early age.9

In fact, such activity long before puberty is nearly universal among

primates and very common in other mammals.  The idea that it is only

because of "overstimulation" by sexual images around them that children

have sexual thoughts is a myth.  Exposure to nudity or sex does not create

such feelings in young people, though of course it can trigger them;  it

is their biological nature that does that.  What evidently is true

is that for many individuals, owing in part to a greater dependency on

genital friction for arousal, sexual "awakening" can be long delayed by

preventing the youthful experimentation in which they would otherwise

naturally engage.


As for the common idea that sexual awareness and exploration are harmful

to children or adolescents, it is no less biologically false.  Stories of

emotional distress from early sexual experience are often told in this

society;  but it is clear that the real sources of such trauma, other than

those involving unwanted pregnancy, coercion or disease, lie in the

accompanying social attitudes. [Back]Ironically, in fact, it is the very fear

and guilt that children are taught to keep them from being sexual that

cause the problems.  Countless stories of adults who waited till marriage

for sexual contact and then found it traumatic can also be told.  This is

especially true of earlier times, when women were advised that the way to

minimize the unpleasantness of marital sex was to "lie still and think of

England".  The anthropological data are perfectly clear on this point.

Breaking any serious social taboo can have a devastating

psychological impact on those who do so.  But the sexual anxiety that is

standard in varying degrees in this culture is unknown in those where

people get only positive messages involving sex in childhood and youth.


So the idea that sex is bad for young people is at best another

self-fulfilling prophecy.  To illustrate how easily mistaken such social

traditions can be, consider the long-standing Western belief that babies

should not be picked up every time they cry.  "They will be spoiled", it

is piously alleged, "always expecting instant gratification.  They won't

grow up independent and strong."  In recent years it has been realized,

partly through becoming aware of other cultures' practices, that the truth

is just the reverse.  At that helpless age, evidently, children need such

reassurance and security.  It is those whose needs are not

met who are apt to grow up anxious and dependent, unable to delay

gratification for fear it will not come later.10 Minors certainly do

need guidance and discipline, especially with all the dangers in the

modern world, such as drug abuse.  But when blind dogma makes us try to

fight biology in such ways, the results are often tragic. [Note: mention of the

value of being able to delay gratification implies that self-discipline is important. Note also that

this passage is from the section of my book which the reporter specifically wrote about.]    [Back]              


As the foregoing parallel suggests, the truth in regard to young people's

emotional health may well be just the opposite of the common claim.

Among other primates, early sexual activity, like play in general, is a

kind of "rehearsal" for their adult roles.  And in at least some species,

such sex-play is known to be required for later sexual adequacy.  That

something similar is the case for humans has been suggested by sex

researchers.  (See John Money's book Love and Love Sickness.  Dr.

Money is possibly the world's foremost authority on sexual development in

childhood and youth.)  One of the reasons for distorted or inadequate

erotic feelings may well be that, in vulnerable individuals, healthy

sexual knowledge or experiences are not available during the crucial years

in which nature intended sexual mental structures to be developing.

Prevented from having natural erotic stimulation, the mind may find it in

unnatural things, or become obsessed with it, or perhaps never find it

adequately at all.  For one possible instance of this, there is a strong

statistical tendency for men imprisoned for "peeping" to have been late in

learning about sex, and late specifically in seeing the genitals of the

opposite sex.11 (They also tend to have had no younger sisters, which

could help explain the latter statistic.)


However all this may be, the important point for our purposes is that

sexual awareness in itself is not harmful to young people.  That fact

brings us back to the issue of pornography.  Of the arguments standardly

used against it, one of the most influential has always been that of

protecting children from exposure to sex.  Once it is realized that such

exposure in itself is not harmful, yet another objection to erotic

portrayals is seen to be without merit.  It may even be the case, as

various researchers have suggested, that there is a valuable place for

erotically explicit materials in the education of children, especially

given the fact that our society's high degree of privacy deprives them

of the exposure to nudity and sexuality they would have in a more

natural environment.  This does not apply, of course, to depictions of

deviant sex.  Though it is doubtful they cause actual paraphilias, they

still might send very inappropriate messages. [Next]    But healthy, happy

sexual depictions or descriptions are no more inappropriate for them than

is the case for those involving other kinds of healthy human behavior.    


To be sure, recreational portrayals of sex by themselves are no substitute

for a well-rounded sex education.  If pornography is the only source of sexual

knowledge young people can get, they can be misled in various ways.   

But if they are denied reliable sources, as is so often the case, they

will go on getting it from questionable ones.  It is a real tragedy.            [Back]    

Despite the great importance of sexuality in human life, this society

continues to keep youth in the dark about it.  The "official"

information they do get, moreover, tends to be all negative, about the perils of

disease or molestation, never about the joy of being sexual.  The

inevitable result is a society in which the adults are, in spite

of what they assume, both miserably ignorant about and filled with

superstitious fear concerning their own bodies and feelings. They raise

their children the same way they were raised, and the cycle continues.


One currently popular argument against pornography involves its use by

child molesters as "bait" to entice children into sex with them.  Now,

banning the sale of such materials certainly would not stop this practice,

since it is easy enough for such people to make their own, or to employ

other lures such as candy.  In fact, this and similar tactics by pedophiles

are possible because young people are prevented from having the

sexual knowledge, and the sexual contact with peers, that they naturally

desire.  (Many of the current efforts to protect children from sexual

exploitation are equally counterproductive and terribly harmful — though

that is a whole new story.)  As for the case where minors are sexually

attacked or coerced into sexual activity, note this well:  the best

protection against psychological harm from such assault is a healthy and

positive prior attitude toward sex, not ignorance and shame.  In fact,

given all the harms that (as we'll continue to see) result from teaching

sexual guilt to children, it would be very appropriate to regard such

teachings as a form of child sex abuse.


Finally, what about that special category of pornography that has caused so much alarm in recent years, that which itself portrays children?  This is another topic that needs far more treatment than can be given here, but a few things can be said.  Once more, there is no evidence that such materials cause a sexual interest in children—any more than seeing homosexual pornography produces a homosexual orientation.  As for those who already are sexually aroused by children, for reasons that have also been discussed, banning it does not prevent them from being so aroused.  Even something as innocuous as the little girl in the old Coppertone ads has been reported by numerous pedophiles to be highly sexually stimulating.  Note also that in most of the world throughout history, children have gone naked until the age at which they begin to internalize their culture’s taboos.  This is often the case in modern Europe, where complete nudity for swimming is common for all ages. Moreover, even the possibility that overtly sexual depictions of children elicit child molestation is somewhat disconfirmed by the fact that no increase in police reports of such acts occurred in Denmark during the years there when child pornography was legal and widespread.12


There is something to the idea that if “kidporn” were legal, it would send the message to pedophiles that their desires are socially acceptable.  Even that is unlikely, perhaps, in a society where they are often despised more than murderers. However, there is the special argument that depictions of sex between adults and children can be used to give children the impression that such behavior is socially acceptable.  [As noted earlier, this is the second argument I endorsed against legality for child pornography.] [Back] More importantly, there is a serious problem in regard to the photographic making of such materials.  Given that children are particularly vulnerable to coercion, protecting them from being pressured or forced into something which, in present social conditions, can be highly distressing or even psychologically damaging is a serious concern (though it is potentially no more so, once again, than the practice of coercing them not to act sexually.) That being so, a case for the legal prohibition of this type of pornography can be made.


The topic under discussion is admittedly laden with emotion, but that is

precisely the reason why it must be approached with cool heads and correct

factual information. We know only too well the evils to which hysteria

leads.  Our strong concern for the welfare of children has been exploited

shamelessly by the antipornography movement.  For example, although strict

laws have made it virtually impossible to buy child pornography for some

years, these people continue to claim it is rampant, a billion-dollar

industry.13 They have been collecting and parading such materials

before the public in an attempt to associate them with adult sexual

materials in people’s minds, and they are constantly alleging, on the

basis of no evidence whatever, that pornography in general encourages

child molestation.  Once again, a major source of all this irrational fear

is our culture’s misguided attitudes about sex and children.  Until they

are revised, our efforts to protect young people will continue to do more

harm than good, to everyone.14



(p. 129-131) [The book's discussion in these passages treats pedophilia as a clinical illness.]          --->

Quite apart from such doubts, however, there is positive evidence on the other side.

For one thing, this survey result conflicts with those of others who have interviewed sex criminals extensively. From their questioning of convicted rapists and pedophiles, for example, Goldstein and Kant concluded that "few if any" had been appreciably influenced by pornography. Instead, they decided, real persons in the environment "are far more potent sexual stimuli" for the sex criminal. In fact, many psychiatrists who have worked with sexually disturbed patients believe that pornography often has the effect of preventing sexual violence. And many sex offenders themselves report that that is the case.6 According to Dr. Money, persons requesting help in a sex-offender clinic "commonly disclose in the course of counseling therapy that pornography helps them contain their abnormal sexuality within imagination only, as a fantasy". In fact, in the questionnaire just discussed, 39% of the convicts also agreed that it "provides a safety valve for antisocial impulses". All things considered, this type of evidence provides at least as much reason to believe sexually explicit materials prevent violence as that they incite it.                                                                                                                     ---->



Another way to get evidence regarding the influence of pornography would be to compare the frequency of sex crimes committed by offenders who use pornography

with the number committed by sex offenders who use none, to see if there is any difference. One clinical study of this type, involving rapists and child molesters, has been conducted in recent years, and it found no such difference.8  (Though even if it had, that might have been the result of some other common factor, such as a higher sex drive among those that committed more offences--see more on this point below.) Any new result requires further corroboration, but this too is evidence against the correlation needed by the hypothesis that pornography promotes sexual crimes. Though concerned that violent or paraphilic portrayals might reinforce deviant desires, the authors of this study felt there was no good reason to suspect ordinary sexual materials caused harm. Quite the reverse is generally believed by clinicians who treat sex criminals, in fact: ordinary pornography is standardly used by therapists in an attempt to replace the offenders' perverted desires and fantasies with normal ones.                                                 [Next]                        


(P. 133) [The relevant point is at the bottom of the second paragraph here.]  ----->

The Danish experience with legalizing pornography is particularly noteworthy in this  regard.14  Denmark’s homogeneous population, together with the careful gathering of data by the social scientists involved, make one reasonably confident of the statistics.  That the increase in availability of erotic materials was so large and so sudden, occurring under fairly stable social conditions, eliminates from consideration a lot of other variables that might conceivably have had a causal role.  As is widely known, the rate of reported sex crimes of various types dropped greatly while that increase was taking place.  By questioning people about their feelings, the researchers determined that the decline in reports of milder offenses (e.g., exhibitionism) could plausibly be accounted for by a general softening of attitudes regarding their seriousness, rather than by a change in the frequency of the offenses themselves. That is, the milder offenses were simply not reported to the police as often as they had been.                                                             ----->

Yet they found no comparable change in feelings about “peeping” (still regarded as a frightening invasion of privacy) or adult‑child sex, even though reports of both had declined drastically—by 80 percent and 69 percent, respectively—thus indicating a genuine decrease in their occurrence. Lacking any other plausible explanation for such a result, the researchers found it reasonable to conclude that it was brought about by the sudden high availability of sexually explicit performances and materials.  In fact, it is known that both of these offenses are often committed by socially inadequate individuals as substitutes for socially acceptable sex; so it is quite plausible that the new availability of erotic materials simply provided a legally safe substitute. [Note that these individuals are in a very different category from pedophiles, in psychological terminology.] Whatever the explanation, given that so much of today’s concern over pornography stems from fears for children’s safety and women’s peace of mind, these statistics are highly significant.                    [Back]


(p. 151-2)

[This paragraph is from a section speculating on how emotional pain might help cause sexual pathologies.] This alienation from women has other possible consequences that are very disturbing. Some people react to being shamed and rejected by withdrawing rather than with anger and defiance. And something that is true of male pedophiles in general--the great majority of whom are passive, non-violent individuals--is that they feel threatened by women. This suggests that their sexual interests are turned toward children precisely because of anxiety over rejection and hostility from adult females. In other words, what makes children sexually preferable to such persons is that they are accepting and unthreatening. The extent to which this culture's negative attitudes toward sexuality in general, and male sexuality in particular, might play a part in this has not been adequately explored by psychologists. But the possibility that they are partially to blame is very real. Unfortunately, a culture that reacts to emotional deviance with vengeance rather than compassion is not likely to look in this direction for solutions to the problem. [Interestingly, The Post has published an article--by their columnist Barbara Kay--promoting compassionate monitoring of pedophiles in ways designed to enable them to keep their sexual tendencies under control.]   [Back]


(p. 153)

A terrible irony has emerged from the preceding paragraphs.  Not

only is there no good reason to believe that sexual explicitness per se

leads to violence, but the antisexual attitudes that underlie the

antipornography campaign are themselves a cause of violence.  The message

of sexual aversion that is conveyed by opposition to erotic materials (and

by many other means, of course) is to blame for some, perhaps much, of the

sexual aggression and hostility that plague this society.  Indeed, there

seems to be a vicious circle of repressiveness and violence here. Each

time a particularly heinous sex crime occurs, many say, "See how dangerous

sex is?  This proves it has to be suppressed!" — which merely prepares

the soil for more such acts. In George Washington's day, a respected

medical tradition said disease was caused by "bad blood" and was cured by

letting it out. To treat an illness, Washington's physicians repeatedly bled him;

when instead his illness only grew worse, they frantically let even more blood out,

until he finally died. Our tragically counterproductive attitudes about sex must

somehow be changed; people must be educated to the evil that is being done.


Of course, violent behavior has many sources.  If we are to do anything

significant about all the aggression in this society, the remedy must

include a lot of things, such as attacking its socioeconomic roots.

It must also include simply doing a better job of teaching morality to

children—real morality, that is:  respect and concern for others, and

equal dignity for all.  If guilt is to be taught (and it probably must be),

let it be only over genuine evils like aggression itself.              [Back]



(p. 172, end-notes for Ch. 8)

[This end-note from my book's section "Sex and Young People" is the one about which the

reporter was asked in the passage from her discovery hyperlinked two paragraphs back.

Certain other authoritative sources on child sexuality were listed elsewhere in the book.]

9- The books by Malinowski, Berndt and Berndt, Danielsson, and

Elwin are good sources of information on this matter; see also Floyd

Martinson in Benjamin Wolman's Handbook of Human Sexuality, and

Chapter 10 of Milton Diamond and Arno Karlen's Sexual Decisions.

[The first four sources are in-depth anthropological studies (full references for all of them

were in the book's bibliography) of cultures where the children behave highly sexually

from an early age; these books were chosen for listing here owing to the rigorousness of

the research that produced them. The last two are chapters specifically about children's

sexuality that are located in academic overviews of sexuality research. Those first four

all compare the emotional health of the children of their cultures with those in our own

and other societies, finding no evidence whatever of psychological harm from the early

sexual behavior. Here is a relevant excerpt from my book's Chapter 8:                        [Next]




(p. 173)

14- After years of dismissing reports of child sex abuse

as too horrible to be true, in the 1980s this society swung to the

opposite extreme of considering them too horrid to be false.

A few of the more heartbreaking stories about the hell millions of

innocent parents and their children have since been put

through are chronicled in Paul and Shirley Eberle's

The Politics of Child Abuse. In a much more insidious way, vast

psychological harm is being done by those programs that tell children

"Don't let anyone touch you there". Since they want to touch each

other sexually, the message of self‑hatred is being planted more fearfully

than ever. We can expect the next generation to exhibit more sexual

dysfunction and perversion than we have yet seen. [The return to more liberal

sexual attitudes that began in the  early 1990s relieved much of my fear in regard to this

problem. But as Levine's book documents, it is still a very serious one.]                  [Back]