When we think of pornography, what images pop up in our heads? Are they merely the rubbing of genitals, foreplay, sexual intercourse, the most absurd and grotesque fantasies made true? Of course, these all entail what one might see in a porn video posted online. Then the more philosophical concern that humanity has found a new low in its moral standing, appears in the minds of the morally conservative. However, these two concepts hold a surprise for us all, both for the consumers of porn, and the ones who are enraged over its existence and prevalence. That surprise comes in the form that pornography, with all the negative elements associated with it, could possibly be a protective shield for the vulnerable peoples the likes of women and children.
We rarely, if ever, associate positive attributes with pornography. When uncensored breasts, vaginas, and penises appear on the big or silver screens, we shield the eyes of our children and act as embarrassed or neutral as possible. Many societies—especially those of the first world—to hold the idea that nudity and sex should not be made public and confined only to the most intimate of interactions. Hence, governments such as that of Indonesia’s, establish censorship laws. Something as unprovocative as a woman’s cleavage are blurred, or at times cut out entirely from the television, editing the stream so that the camera focuses on some other usually irrelevant object. For theatrical releases, sex-scenes are completely cut out. Meanwhile, the internet has recently become one of the primary objects of concern; a topic we will return to later on in this post.
There are consequences to hindering access to erotic images, be they gratuitous or artistic. The most obvious being fewer and fewer members of the populace would be able to consume them. Whilst I support the movevent somewhat, as it restricts pornography to children—though the missing aspect being that they are still not allowed to enjoy such sights at the ages of eighteen or twenty—the unexpected consequence of implementing a restriction to pornography might just be intolerable.
According to a study by the Professor Emeritus Milton Diamond, who specializes in the field of human sexuality, a controversial correlation has been discovered between pornography and sexual crimes. By analyzing how accessible pornographic media are in certain countries, and comparing them to the rates of rapes, gropings, etc., the professor came to a surprising conclusion: the more accessible pornography is to a population, the less likely are their members of to be sex-offenders (Diamond, 2009).
Now, it is important to remember the number one rule in research, “correlation does not mean causation; there have to be some supporting arguments for Diamond’s study to be awarded credibility. And—though I’m not exactly an expert on the subject, merely somewhat knowledgable about psychology and its sub-field of evolutionary psychology—I will try my very best to offer some useful support.
Humans, especially those who have experienced it, have an unquenchable desire for sex. It is part of the evolutionary strategy that we have adopted, one which propels us to continue to place reproduction above all else—hence affairs, one-night-stands, and so on. Yet the means by which evolution drives us to procreate is trough pleasure, something found only amongst humans, bonobos, dolphins, and a few other species a currently can’t recall. For the other members of the animal kingdom, sex isn’t thought to be a sought-after prize, rather an activity as dull and mundane as excreting waste products, eating, and other similarly unexciting tasks. As a consequence of how pleasurable sex is to us compared to our fellow animals, humans mate with its own species not merely to procreate, but to derive as much enjoyment as possible from sex.
Sadly, as many of us unfortunately know, sex isn’t particularly easy to come by. Unless we continuously hire prostitutes, we don’t come home every single night with a partner eager to get in bet with us. We’ve termed this rather unpleasant condition, and its implied grievances as “sexual frustration,” where there is nothing more desirable to us than holding a meeting between our genitalia with that of another’s. It is admittedly quite humiliating to find ourselves in such a seat, but the frustration is not uncommon, considering that’s all I hear whenever I talk with my classmates.
Now since we are all adult enough here, or I’m hoping close to the appropriate age, the act of masturbation done by the sexually frustrated—or those of who are just plain bored—should draw no surprised gasps. How else would one fulfill the need for sexual intercourse when there are not that many people willing to help? Besides, masturbation causes harm to no one (and actually reduces the risk of prostate cancer), and should not induce overblown reactions as if it’s something we haven’t done as a species throughout our hundreds of thousands of years on this planet.
However, masturbation isn’t accomplished so easily, despite the popularized image of teenaged kids requiring next to no aid for it. Masturbation requires a bit of visual stimuli. The more elaborate methods even require specific sets of tools such as vibrators, dildos, and so on. Yet masturbation is a last resort for the fulfillment of sexual needs. It is the only way for the sexually frustrated to satiate their appetites, like a homeless man eating stale and possibly moldy pieces of bread from the alleys, masturbators seek out pornographic media out of desperation.
Imagine the outcome of taking one of the most crucial objects required to masturbate: pornography, the one of the very few elements which can provide the much needed visual stimuli. It would be akin to taking away the aforementioned bread from the homeless man; an act that would incite some form of rebuttal from the victim.
It is unsurprising to find that the sexually frustrated, without their much-loved porn, would be forced to resort to other measures. These would be of the harmful, amoral, and illegal kinds. Rapes, gropings, solicitation of prostitutes, and an endless list of despicable deeds would be committed by those depraved and starved enough from a good they consider essential to their well-being.
Masturbation, as I have said, is a last resort for the sexually frustrated. Though it cannot be denied that the positive aspect of it, is that one’s frustration would be slightly curbed for a while, at the very least take the person’s mind away from sex—although this is quite embarrassing, I can personally vouch for the existence of this effect.
Restricting access to porn means taking away the fuel for that last resort. The side-effects of which, as previously suggested, would be incredibly unpleasant for the victimized parties. The incredibly desperate would vent their frustrations via other means; ones that hurt and in some cases have already lead to the deaths of the victims. Rapes and homicides being the extremes of the spectrum.
Access to pornography is beneficial for the vulnerable: both women, children, and at times men, alike. It shields them away from would-be predators via means of distraction. Porn preoccupies the more perverted of our societies, and it prevents them from committing the atrocities we rage and weep over when broadcast on the evening news.
I cannot say that increasing access to porn would completely eliminate sexual crimes. There are those plagued with a hunger for committing hurtful, dangerous sexual actions and deriving pleasure out of them. But even with this shortcoming, it is a moral imperative to reduce the chances of someone being traumatized, raped, and murdered as they walk home from their workplaces or schools. No matter what our views are on pornography, if its correlation with sexual crimes is indeed spot on, there is nothing to justify restricting access to a relatively harmless form of entertainment; one that has created jobs, industries, and now, shields those in need from potential sexual predators.
Diamond, Milton. 2006. Pornography, public acceptance and sex related crime: A review. Amsterdam: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry Vol. 32 Issue 5, Elsevier Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160252709000715