The majority of Americans say that watching porn is morally wrong

By Jonathon Van Maren

Now this I did not expect: The Atlantic recently posted an article breaking down statistics that prove the majority of Americans think that watching porn is morally wrong.

Of course, most Americans also watch porn, so I was very sceptical when I read the headline. So, apparently, is noted pervert provocateur Dan Savage. From The Atlantic:

“All men look at porn .… The handful of men who claim they don’t look at porn are liars or castrates.” That’s what Dan Savage, a Seattle-based sex columnist, wrote a few years ago in response to a reader who was fretting about her boyfriend’s affinity for erotica. By this point, his argument seems like a trope: All red-blooded men have watched porn. It’s just part of life. Get used to it.

Savage’s argument, of course, is (as usual) full of problems. Not all men watch porn. In fact, many of the happily married men I know swore off porn because they know that it is extraordinarily damaging to their marriages, and have an aversion to cheating. Considering the number of children these couples have, I do not think that they qualify as “castrates,” which one suspects is Savage’s way of referring to the opponents of the unalloyed libertinism he champions. The secular anti-porn movement is also exploding. Secondarily, the idea that the prevalence of a behavior would have anything to say about whether such a behavior is moral is pretty feeble. It seems to me that treating the concerns of women who dislike how much time their partners want to spend with other naked women, virtual or not, with such callousness is simply another example of how badly the Sexual Revolution and the savages behind it have betrayed women.

Back to The Atlantic:

Whether or not Savage is right about how often people watch porn, they don’t seem to be “getting used to it.” According to data from the Public Religion Research Institute, only 29 percent of Americans think watching porn is morally acceptable. Somewhat predictably, men and women have very different opinions on the issue: Only 23 percent of women approve, while 35 percent of men think it’s okay.

These statistics suggest something wildly different from the Dan Savage view of the sex world. Even if it were true that all men watch porn at some point—which it probably isn’t—65 percent of them feel bad about it.

Which is encouraging news on two fronts. For one, the revelation that reality is “wildly different from the Dan Savage view of the sex world” is just very pleasant to read and contemplate. And secondly, the fact that moral discomfort with pornography is still so prevalent is encouraging.

The report finishes off thusly:

[Despite widespread porn use], the data points to one major conclusion: Most Americans simply don’t approve of porn, in any sense. Importantly, this isn’t necessarily a call to action, especially because it’s unclear what legal regulation of porn would look like, exactly: A government-imposed filter on certain websites? A system of Internet users opting in or opting out of the ability to see hardcore pornography, like Britain has created? Greater regulation of porn production in general?

But the sentiment still matters. Most people favor legal restrictions on porn, and an even greater number are morally uncomfortable with watching it. As emotionally charged discussions about erotica continue, it’s worth remembering that most people fall somewhere between pro-porn feminists and the misogynist frat boys who made death threats against the student sex worker at Duke. Americans may understand the right to make and watch porn, but they still don’t think it’s a good thing.

The anti-porn movement has been exploding in recent years, and it seems there’s good reason for that. The reality of what pornography does to people and their relationships is beginning to surface, and most people have maintained their moral disapproval of porn use. The fact that most Americans want legal restrictions on pornography indicates that activists seeking to protect children from this damaging material may be pushing at an open door. With all the misery and degradation that usually accompanies reports on the porn industry, this is a welcome encouragement.

FacebooktwitterFacebooktwitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *