Rape And Internet Pornography

Internet pornography leads to a decrease in the number of rape incidents. This is true. Academics have been studying this for a while. But, there is no corresponding decline in other crimes like theft or murder. Why? Madhavan of the Open Magazine, a reasonably smart guy, has an explanation:

“Porn might fuel positive attitudes towards women. The 2011 Scientific American article said, ‘Although consumers of pornography did not display more negative attitudes toward women, they were more likely than other respondents to believe that women should be protected from harm—what the investigators call “benevolent sexism”. All these might sound counter-intuitive and, for feminists, also offensive. But most of these studies are by hardnosed academics with no hidden ideology and have used tested empirical methods.”

Unlike the journalists who look at academic literature in a way not too unlike how savages look at money, this gentleman does not fear academics. But, why is this the obvious explanation? Perhaps the obvious explanation is that pornography satisfies an important need of men, and reduces the urge to commit serious crimes for sex? If sex is primarily motivated by sexual desire, isn’t this the most obvious explanation? David Friedman observes:

“Access to the internet makes pornography more readily available—not only cheaper and easier to find, but more private and so less likely to lead to embarrassment and other negative social consequences. Internet access increased at different rates in different states. Data on rape rates by state is available. So he looked to see whether, controlling for other variables, increased access to the net correlated with an increase or decrease in rape. It correlated with a decrease—about a ten percent drop in rape for a ten percentage point increase in internet access, with the exact numbers varying according to just how he did the analysis. There was no similar relation for murder, which suggests that the result is not simply picking up the effect of some third variable that correlates with both internet access and violent crime. As further evidence, the author repeated the analysis, separating out the data according to the age of the perpetrator. His conjecture was that the men most benefited by the availability of internet porn would be young adult men living with their parents, since they would find it difficult to consume other forms of pornography without risking discovery. The results supported the argument; the reduction in rape was concentrated in the 15-19 age group.”

If this is true—and I think it is—what matters is not the sexist nature of the Indian society, but its sexually repressive nature?

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