Spark: Conservatives are More Likely to Consume Porn

Late to the party on this one, I know, sorry. It turns out that conservative (read: religious) states have the highest porn rates in the country. Probably because they’re not allowed to have deviant (read: fun) sex at home.

Meanwhile, people living in enlightened areas of the country have other outlets for their sexual urges, since sex is not dirty and can be discussed rationally with one’s partner(s).

16 Comments

  1. Davis

    Until that study is reviewed with regard to whether or not hard core porn is legal to buy over the counter in the states in question his research doesn’t really mean much.

    The most conservative states probably have laws against selling hard core porn over the counter, so the buyers turn to the net for it.

    I’m not saying that conservatives don’t buy porn. I’m just saying that this research is far from complete, and that most likely the most important factor is being ignored.

  2. No surprise. That which we limit from are life, that which we resist usually persists. Forcing down urges does not work, ask most Catholic priests.

  3. When I went to BYUI, there was a huge problem with porn. My counselor now counsels a lot of LDS guys with porn addictions. He says it has something to do with not learning about healthy sexuality, so they turn to porn and get addicted really easily. To me that’s just kind of a “well, duh” answer.

  4. @angryyoungwoman,
    Most Mormons consider any usage of porn (or masturbating, etc.) to be an “addiction” and that’s not an accurate or responsible thing to do. I’m hesitant to use the word “addiction” when referring to people who view porn unless it is really an addiction. Even if someone isn’t addicted, they may refer to their activity as an addiction because they’ve been taught ridiculous things about sexuality and sex. Also, saying that there was a “problem” with porn at BYUI (and knowing the culture as I do) sounds more to me like people had a problem with accepting sex as normal and pornography as something that can be useful and good, and not that they had an actual problem with porn itself.

    Using porn and masturbation for sexual pleasure and release can be very useful and a positive thing. There are certainly problems with the industry itself, and the production of certain types of porn, but there are also ethical problems with the way our food is produced as well.

    However, I do agree that it does follow that those who do have wonked out ideas re: sex & porn might be more prone to actual addiction than others who have realistic ideas about sex and pleasure.

  5. Craig,
    Yeah, after I read what I wrote, I realized it sounded a bit weird, but my counselor here in IF wouldn’t call it “addiction” unless it was addiction. He’s very sex-positive. And he treats lots of mormons for porn addictions.

    Another thing I’ve noticed (this is just on my own): people who are conservative sexually (ab-only, super-religious, etc) are very, very interested in really hardcore sex. Most of the people I know who take sex as a given and a positive thing might have a few porn mags or vids, but they tend to be really light stuff. It’s like the sex-negative people are so convinced sex is dirty that they have to make it dirty, you know what I mean? Instead of being fun and funny, it’s dirty and shameful and painful. Scary.

  6. Yeah, I figured that may well be what you meant. I was more responding to the way Mormons use the words “problem” and “addiction” re: porn and sex, and how they’re using them incorrectly and damagingly.

    It is sad how religions tend to pathologise sex and sexuality into something evil and dirty. I don’t understand how newlyweds at BYU can even have sex at all (especially women), let alone any type of emotionally healthy sex.

  7. I think mormons don’t really know the difference between porn and erotica. I consider porn to be the damaging stuff–stuff that portrays rape, racism, and reinforces negative stereotypes while taking advantage of people (men and women) who are not in a position to protect themselves–people who are so in need of money or a job that they will do anything, people who’ve been abused, people who are drunk, etc. Porn always and only benefits the patriarchy.

    Erotica, on the other hand, is sex-positive and harms no one. Hooray for erotica!

    I know these probably aren’t the traditional definitions, but I can make up my own definitions, can’t I?

  8. angryyoungwoman: I like your definition of “porn” vs. “erotica”. I often feel like a bad feminist for enjoying porn. Maybe if I start calling it erotica, it’ll help 🙂

  9. Well, I don’t know if I quite agree with that, but that’s very nice of you to say 🙂

    Like you, I find the negative and degrading kinds of pornography to be unethical, though I’ve never thought to apply a different term to the two kinds. And I agree that Mormons don’t comprehend the difference. And that difference is huge.

    I’m agree that erotica (as you’ve defined it) is awesome. I’ve always defined erotica as something that isn’t explicit, but more suggestive. Whether that’s erotic writing, art, photography or video. A lot of movie scenes for example are designed to be erotic, but aren’t pornographic. It might be good, as you suggest, to expand the definition of erotica to include positive types of what is still called pornography by most people, and make a clearly defined difference between “good” ad “bad” porn.

  10. John

    If xJane is late to the party, I think I arrived just as the guests are leaving. 😛

    I’m with xJane in feeling feminist guilt towards enjoying porn. Sometimes I feel like my Mormon guilt was just replaced by feminist orthodoxy (Craig wins again!). But only sometimes.

    This discussion about porn v. erotica is fascinating, but it seems the terms are so subjective that it would be challenging to come up with definitions that even we could agree on (unless the definitions hard-coded the subjectivity). One man’s porn is another gal’s erotica?

    Since you all seem to enjoy this topic, is this something you’d like to see us post more often on? Would anyone be scared off?

  11. The feminist argument against pornography (or erotica) isn’t one that has really impacted me much because I don’t view pornography that has females in it. But it also doesn’t make sense to me that it should be any worse for a woman in porn than for a man. All in all, it’s a troublesome industry, and a lot goes on that I don’t agree with or support. Perhaps a majority of what is commercially produced is something I don’t enjoy or feel comfortable seeing. Which is why I prefer more amateur-type porn to commercially produced “professional” porn/erotica.

    John, I agree that redefining anything is always a problem, especially when it’s done even somewhat artificially (not as a natural linguistic society-wide process). I think that angryyoungwoman was trying to say that we need to differentiate between porn & erotica that are healthy and positively stimulating, and those types which are degrading, exploitative (emotionally, physically or financially). And it does seem that different things that are generally called erotica could fit into either of the “good” or “bad” categories.

    Interestingly, I do know that there are Mormon couples who use “good” porn & erotica in their marriages , and who don’t believe in the “no-tolerance” policy against porn that the church leaders seem to preach. But that’s likely because they don’t believe in the teaching that sex (before marriage, and sometimes after) is dirty/nasty/evil.

    Anyway, to go back on topic, I would also point out that it seems to me that non-explicit erotica, and a lot of amateur porn (things I feel ok about consuming) are things that are found for free on the internet. Someone brought up that pornographic or erotic print media as something that isn’t always available in every state, but it seems to me that wouldn’t be as big a factor in someone using or not using the internet for erotic purposes. Because even purchasing porn on the internet is often a lot cheaper (based on the variety and amount you get when you purchase) than buying a magazine, let alone several magazines.

    I think that overall, people who are sex-positive (and are more likely to live in more liberal areas of the country) are more aware of the richness and variety there is in the availability of erotic accessories (whether video, print, toys, etc.) than those who are repressed and/or view sex as dirty/evil. It does therefore make sense to me, despite the limits of the study, that the only outlet a lot of conservatives know of is to buy (who knows what kind of) porn on the internet.

  12. Davis

    This data could just as easily be used to show that:

    “Conservative states control access to porn and the sex trade in general more rigidly, so liberals in conservative states have to turn to the internet for hard core porn.”

    Reading interviews with the actual guy that compiled the data shows that even he doesn’t really know exactly what the data means. Attributing it to repressed sexual education etc is a huge and unsupportable guess.

    Again, I am not saying that you are wrong, just that most of what has been posted with regard to this data is guesswork. It could be that conservative states have a higher population of youth, and it has been show that youth (16-25) are by far the biggest users of porn.

  13. I’m not certain that the claim that it’s only the youth of conservative states that are consuming porn supports your argument since the fact still remains that the youth are the target of the harmful teachings of sex-negative conservative policies.

    Additionally, my anecdotal experience of porn, which leads me to take some of the findings at face value, is that porn usage is predominantly internet-based, rather than physical, so a cross-section of internet-based porn use is probably one of the best ways to evaluate all porn use trends. That said, I would definitely look forward to a study that included all kinds of porn.

    I’d be interested in reading those interviews, have you links?

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