It is curious to speculate why pornography is considered especially likely to stimulate its readers into performing the activities described. The literature of murder is a vast one…but I have never seen it seriously suggested that…[it] tended to deprave and corrupt, or would incite weak-minded or immature readers into carrying out in reality the activities described in the fantasies. On the contrary…representatives of all the most respected professions have stated that detective stories are among their favorite reading. Musing about murder is apparently “healthy”; musing about sexual enjoyment is not. – Geoffrey Gorer
In the commentary following the Jill Brenneman Interviews which was later gathered into the second Jill Brenneman Q & A column, Amanda Brooks pointed out the real meaning behind the prohibitionists’ labeling those who support sex worker rights the “pro-prostitution lobby”; as Jill said, “There is NO ‘pro-prostitution’ as it is represented by the antis. I don’t know that people without experience from within the anti movement realize the horrible meaning [they] attach to that. [They] believe that all prostitution is bought and sold rape; what they are saying by calling us ‘pro-prostitution’ is that we are ‘pro-rape’, that we are deliberately trying to get as many women raped, assaulted and hurt as we can.” But as I pointed out in my column of September 24th: A number of cross-cultural studies such as this one have shown that in every culture where prostitution is legalized, the rape rate dramatically decreases; the author of the linked paper predicts a 25% decrease in rape in the US if prostitution were legalized. That’s right, the neofeminists and politicians know what’s best for women, so they allow an extra 25,000 of us to be raped every year rather than bury their opposition to a venerable institution which also provides income for many tens of thousands of other women. But I’m sure all the women who were raped by sex-mad men this year can rest assured in the knowledge that their torture was not in vain; after all, it was necessary to advance the holy neofeminist cause of preventing heterosexual males from having convenient access to sex.
In other words, there really is a “pro-rape coalition”, but it’s not those who support sex worker rights; it’s the neofeminists and politicians who oppose measures which have been shown to decrease rape. And decriminalization of prostitution isn’t the only such measure; as pointed out in Radley Balko’s Agitator column of last Thursday, widespread availability of porn is also associated with lower rape rates, so of course the Pro-Rape Coalition wants it banned as well:
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding more federal obscenity prosecutions. The letter was co-signed by more than 100 other senators and congressmen. Here’s an excerpt:
Last June, an important briefing in the Capitol outlined how pornography has changed, becoming more harmful, addictive, and available, and linked to other crimes. Researchers, scholars, and other experts explained, for example, how today’s hardcore pornography is typified by extreme violence against women and how pornography consumption can contribute to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Another expert warned that Internet adult pornography normalizes sexual harm to children, while another addressed the growing connection between pornography and sex trafficking…Simply put, we know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking. This material harms individuals, families, and communities and the problems are only getting worse.
Hatch is full of crap. We don’t “know” any of these things. In fact, every conceivable social trend over the last 20 years obliterates the idea that porn is causing widespread societal harm. The rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s made porn increasingly accessible to the point that today, just about everyone can watch people have sex damn-near any time of day, in every conceivable manner, in every possible variety. If Hatch and his colleagues are right, over the last 15-20 years, we should have seen a massive increase in the social ills listed in Hatch’s letter. And in fact, every single one of these problems are trending in the opposite direction. And it isn’t even close:
Sex crimes against children: Down 53 percent between 1992 and 2006.
Abortion: The abortion rate has dropped by about 25 percent since 1993.
Teen pregnancy: In 2009, teen pregnancy hit its lowest rate in the 70 years that the federal government has been tracking the statistic.
Divorce: The U.S. divorce rate is at its lowest level since 1970.
Domestic violence: The rate of reported domestic violence in the U.S. dropped by more than half between 1993 and 2004.
Rape: The forcible rape rate in the U.S. has dropped from 41.1 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 28.7 in 2009. That latter figure is also an all-time low.
These numbers are overwhelming. What’s more, there are at least a couple of studies suggesting that the widespread availability of pornography is partially responsible for some of these trends, especially the drop in reported rapes. Of course, like the activists pushing bullshit sex trafficking figures to shut down online escort ads, Hatch and his colleagues aren’t interested in actual data. This much is certainly true: There are substantially more people masturbating to pornography in America today than 20 years ago. And that’s really the only figure that matters to people like Hatch. (My favorite example of this line of thought: Concerned Women for America’s amusing attack on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue a couple years ago. Note that the article is titled “Do the Math”, yet doesn’t contain any actual math.)
Expect no one to actually challenge Hatch or his co-signers on any of the letter’s claims…
Balko is of course right; with the exception of libertarians like himself, bloggers like me and a handful of ethical journalists, the claims of the Pro-Rape Coalition will be accepted without question and endlessly re-quoted until they are either marginalized by shifting public opinion or they achieve their goal of reducing every American woman to a state of cowering dependence on those who claim to want to “protect” them by entirely eliminating their sexual freedom.