About Me

My Photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The other side of the porn debate

Thanks to Leslie Cannold for providing this abridged piece by Ronald Weitzer. I can confirm that I've read the entirety of Weitzer piece and it has not been quoted out of context.

I don't claim to be an expert on the sociology or the varieties of pornography, but when accusations of dealing in pornography get thrown around at the drop of a hat, as happened with the Bill Henson debate, among many others, some scepticism about the never-ending attacks on erotica and related forms of expression is only healthy. Cannold is doing a great job of holding anti-porn activists' feet to the fire. The fashionable but empty ravings of Gail Dines and her ilk need to be tested against rigorous intellectual standards as much as anything else.

Sample:

In a unique survey of 688 Danish women and men aged 18-30, men reported significantly more positive effects of porn consumption
than women, but few women and men reported negative effects. Most perceived positive effects on their sex lives, attitudes toward sex, sexual knowledge, and the overall quality of their lives. Moreover, for both men and women, the higher amount of pornography consumed, the greater the perceived positive effects of exposure to porn (Hald & Malamuth, 2008). If these self-perceptions are valid, the researchers suggest that “pornography’s impact is relatively positive and that media and popular books’ reports of highly negative effects on consumers are exaggerated or unfounded” (Hald & Malamuth, 2008, p. 622).

Which is not to say that I am in favour of all aspects of the sexualisation of culture. There's a lot to be said about the various nuances (in other posts, no doubt).

On the gripping hand, if you don't like some aspect of modern culture you can write about why, as sensitively as you are able, rather than making wild accusations about it or its effects. More on that later, no doubt (in those other posts). But in any event, we need people like Cannold and Weitzer to provide a rational perspective.

No comments: