Censoring Centrefolds

While most of the recent commentary has been on the federal government’s health checks and alcohol bans, one of the more curious aspects is the pornography ban. So far as I know, there’s no convincing experimental evidence on the question of whether pornography is a complement to or a substitute for sexual violence. In theory, it could foster bad thoughts – or it could divert them. If the latter, then banning pornography could conceivably increase sexual assault rates. Does anyone know of convincing studies on this question?

Update: This study says substitute (hat tip: Robert Merkel). So does this one and this one, discussed in this Slate article (hat tip: Martin).

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10 Responses to Censoring Centrefolds

  1. this might be of interest, but I’m not sure it’s particularly convincing.

  2. backroom girl says:

    Andrew, I’m not sure it’s centrefolds that people are worried about here

  3. TB says:

    I’m with backroom girl – let’s not downplay things here. It’s not Playboy mags that are the problem in these communities. It’s X-rated pornography that in many cases depicts vulnerable women ‘engaged’ with multiple men (http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/the-obscenity-of-porn-xrated-and-exploitive/2007/05/28/1180205157478.html).

    I’d imagine that the lack of credible studies reflects measurement difficulties, so we don’t have a lot to go on. But does anyone really think that having youth exposed to X-rated pornography, which almost always depicts non-standard sex (ie multiple partners, heavily mysogynistic themes), is a harmless thing? Surely it delivers a warped view of sexuality?

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    TB, I’m sure this is pretty awful porn. But the Sheila Jeffreys article you linked to provides no evidence on the substitute/complement issue. Her line is ‘porn is bad, ok’. Yet the article that Robert linked to suggested that the significant rise in porn availability in Japan coincided with a fall in the sexual assault rate. The econometrics could have been better, but at least it’s a piece of evidence. And from what I’ve heard, Japanese pornography is pretty warped.

  5. Martin says:

    Two more pieces of evidence, both indicating, the first more convincingly than the second, that more internet – and therefore more porn – reduces rape.

    Click to access Kendall%20cover%20+%20paper.pdf

    Click to access porn.pdf

    A Slate summery: http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/

  6. D McCarthy says:

    I hope we don’t need much evidence to suggest treating other humans as objects is wrong and should be discouraged ( no doubt there is a mountain of literature and images which vindicate that position anyway.)

    Porn is mostly a depiction of males, females and their intimate human desires and needs in an objective manner. If its consenting adults involved in the depiction, then that is all it is a depiction, whether the acts are real or simulated. If people then use such depictions for profit and some kind of gratification what can you do except maybe advise that real human intimacy is far superior any day or night.

    Consenting adult depiction of porn is not quite real objectification of humans. Where non consenting adults and or those beneath the age of consent are involved that is wrong and those objectify humans and rightly deserves sanction – and I’m sure plenty of laws exist for that sort of thing and is a different matter to what I think the prohibition lobby are about in what Andrew Leigh refers to.

    What links these 3 areas of prohibition and restriction referred to is they are evidence of us all being treated like real objects at worse or grown up children at best. We make choices based on how we touch, see, hear, taste, and smell – combining the senses to do the human thing, feel and think and then act. – as an adult I don’t want a government minister to dictate what my senses can or can not interact with. The government minister in doing so denies the adult the other key human ability to interpret one’s own senses and think and act appropriately in a social context – this legislation effectively turns one into a mere object – automata – pavlov’s dog – whichever takes your objective fancy.

    This is self denial on behalf of the elected government minister, who is dependent upon adults making rational decisions. A study on why there is an ever growing propensity of elected ministers to partake in this form of self denial is most warranted.

    And another is warranted on why there is a growing number of adults that wish to be considered as biologically mature children, clamouring for this sort of legislative objectification of themselves and others. Especially as governments and their ministers are normally held in contempt by their electorates and in the media for being routinely incapable of managing real government things like hospitals, education crime, foreign policy and natural resources in a fair and rational manner. Yet many seem keen to ignore this fact and are quite game for them to dictate about how they should think and feel and act on a personal level.

    It’s a bit perverted if you ask me!

    P S following a quick check at the law, if you are an adult it is still legal to smoke cigarettes, drink alcoholic drinks and have sex with as many consenting adults as you like – and all at the same time if you wish! How long who knows….but for the sake of the adults now and in the future let’s keep the Moraliban at bay please!

  7. I have no personal desire to pornography but recognise the rights of others to access it. If the Commonwealth of Australia could legislate as to pornography then within its powers of Section 122 of the constitution it could not discriminate against Aboriginals only as it would have to be against anyone residing in the NT regardless of race.

    If the powers were executed within Subsection 51(xxvi) then it must be against a “specific race” and in relation to all persons of that race. Then it would not just apply against some Aboriginal communities but also against any Minister of the Crown, doctor/lawyer/judge/politician where they are Aboriginals.
    Is the Federal Government itself becoming a law-breakers to pursue unconstitutional tactics, for political reasons rather then really for the children’s interest and wellbeing may well be asked.

    So they say some Aboriginals (or a lot) are in breach of law, now we send in the troops unconstitutionally, discriminate against Aboriginals unconstitutionally as if that fixes it up.
    It might be an election ploy but anyone of sound mind should question the validity of what is being done.
    You could always check out what I have published on my Yahoo blog;
    http://au.360.yahoo.com/profile-ijpxwMQ4dbXm0BMADq1lv8AYHknTV_QH and/or my website http://WWW.SCHOREL-HLAVKA.CO

  8. Andrew Leigh says:

    It’s a while since I was a lawyer, but I didn’t think s51 limited s122.

  9. Sacha says:

    Legally, I wonder what the term “race” in the constitution would now mean? I can understand how there may have been historical meanings of it, but I wonder what it would mean nowadays?

  10. ChrisPer says:

    I suspect that population studies of white mostly comfy people with access to privacy – are pretty irrelevant to the behaviour of aggregated males routinely under the influence of substances.

    Toxic attitudes to women and consent are normal in such groups, and banning pornography may help create a perspective on society’s view of sexual violence – IF it is part of a culture change program.

    Banning guns, for instance, sends a cultural message that cancelled the media emphasis that created copycat massacres in Australia, and still does in the USA.

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