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Just How Bad Is Porn, Anyway? : The Thoughtful Animal

Posted: June 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Citing numerous studies, developmental psychology post-grad Jason G. Goldman writes, "in general both males and females report overall positive effects of pornography UNLESS they are not sexually fulfilled […] in which case they report negative effects." His research was sparked by claims to the contrary made by religiously-backed Stop Porn Culture, whose upcoming conference features Women's Studies Professor and character assassin Donna M. Hughes.

Goldman notes it's "impossible to infer causality" from current literature but "this data suggests very strongly that pornography is not a direct cause of aggression against women; rather, pornography moderates the relationship between sexual promiscuity/hostile masculinity and sexual aggression." According to him, "people who are meeting…to denounce pornography might redirect their efforts at improving the quality of sex education in our schools."

Read brief source…

Update: A key figure in the pro-porn argument, Violet Blue, says Goldman’s research “is a huge change for the entire discussion.”

9 Comments on “Just How Bad Is Porn, Anyway? : The Thoughtful Animal”

  1. 1 Jason G. Goldman said at 10:27 pm on June 5th, 2010:

    Something needs to be made clear: this is not MY research (e.g. “His research was sparked by claims”). I simply did a cursory literature search and pulled out 3 of the MANY scientific papers out there to write about. I chose ones that I thought were interesting and accessible.

    It needs to be clear that the study of pornography and its effects is NOT my line of research; all I can do is read and interpret the articles at face value, without the benefit of the context of a larger body of research.

    Also, the interpretation, “in general both males and females report overall positive effects of pornography UNLESS they are not sexually fulfilled […] in which case they report negative effects” is hugely speculative at best. (And in my original post, I went out of my way to say so). These studies all simply report the way different variables vary in a systematic way.

    This was a blog post, and NOT a peer-reviewed piece of scientific literature, and that is an important distinction to keep in mind. It is not subject to the same scientific rigor or methodology as a serious piece of scholarship.

  2. 2 maymay said at 10:47 pm on June 5th, 2010:

    Thanks for your comment, Jason. :) Your points are duly noted, and you did, indeed, do a fantastic job highlighting the distinctions between fact and speculation in your post.

    My use of the words “his research” was intended to indicate your reading of the aggregate studies. I try to keep these Kink On Tap “briefs,” well, very brief, and brevity can sometimes be an enemy of clarity. So, again, thanks for the clarifying comment!

  3. 3 Iamcuriousblue said at 11:56 am on June 17th, 2010:

    I just wanted to note that Goldman’s article includes the Malamuth et al (2000) meta-analysis of previous porn effects studies, and that this in fact was a *really important paper* to cite. So good choice, Jason!

    Malamuth’s research is in fact really important to pay attention to, because it is one that the antis cite a lot (including this same paper), and misinterpret wildly. Malamuth takes the position that there is a describable behavioral effect from some porn on some men, against the null hypothesis that there is no effect. The antis trumpet this wildly as proof for everything they claim. A closer look at the paper reveals far more modest outcomes, something Malamuth acknowledges very explicitly in his conclusions.

    I note with some interest that blogs like “I Blame the Patriarchy” which have been jumping down Goldman’s throat about this have been saying things like Goldman is just citing fringe “pro-porn” research. Wrong – he’s looking at one of the main sources the antis are using to build their case.

  4. 4 Iamcuriousblue said at 11:09 pm on June 25th, 2010:

    I forgot to point out, Neal Malamuth makes the entire paper available on his website:


    Long and dense, but well worth a look, at least for the concluding discussion. Key point: “for the majority of American men, pornography exposure (even at the highest levels assessed here) is not associated with high levels of sexual aggression”.

  5. 5 pornisextremelysexistwomanhatingsick&damaging! said at 3:52 pm on July 3rd, 2010:

    Pornography is extremely sexist and woman-hating and it teaches and normalizes sick distortions of women,men and sexuality,and it sexualizes male supremacy,sexist gender inequality,male dominance,women’s subordination and submission to men,,male supremacy objectification and dehumanization of women as only sex objects to be used,ejac*lated all over,and disgarded, for men,often calls women woman-hating names like s***s,b******,and w***** and even male violence!


    MODERATOR’S NOTE: This person’s comment has been truncated. They have posted multiple comments on this entry that are, verbatim, their same comments posted on this Ms. Magazine article, that maymay also commented on. I’m not a fan of moderating comments, but multiple separate comments that are identical to the comments left on another website that are thousands of words long are not discussion, they are spam and will be marked as such. If you wish to engage in a conversation on this site, you need to speak, not spam.

  6. 6 no you claim to be against censorship by you censored all of my strong information on harms of pornography! said at 4:21 pm on July 3rd, 2010:

    No I was not spamming I have a lot of strong great information besides what Dr.Neil Malamuth has written,and Dr.Michael Flood includes his research studies and many others that *do* find harms by boys and men who use even non violent pornography especially those who use it a lot.But you censored my information and didn’t allow me to make my strong case,yet you are against censoring pornography!

    And because it sexualizes and normalizes all of these sick things and sexist injustices,


    MODERATOR’S NOTE: This comment has been truncated because it, too, is a word-for-word duplicate of this comment on the Ms. Magazine article, with the exception of the first paragraph. We consider multiple, repeated duplicate comments spam and they are treated as such. If you have something to say, make it unique and address the post or other commenters directly, as the first paragraph of this comment (sort of) does. Thanks.

  7. 7 maymay said at 4:40 pm on July 3rd, 2010:

    No I was not spamming

    As the moderator who truncated the above two comments and will not approve the 7 other similar duplicated comments from other sites, let me just say that, whomever-you-are, you’re welcome to leave comments here but you need to say your piece in one comment, not nine. Further, you need to avoid the copy-and-paste function when you comment. Using copy-and-paste is not engaging in a discussion, it’s a spam technique.

    Be aware that you’ve been given this one warning. That’s all you get. Further comments like the last 9 will simply mean your comments skip the moderation queue and are deleted automatically as spam. Thanks for understanding.

    Now, to address your point:

    Dr.Michael Flood includes his research studies and many others that *do* find harms by boys and men who use even non violent pornography especially those who use it a lot.

    This reminds me a lot about the arguments over video games. Some studies say violent video games make people more violent. Other studies say they don’t. As Jason Goldman poignantly remarks in his article, it seems that porn increases the aggression of men who are already predisposed to violence. Similarly, I remain skeptical that violent video games would make anyone who was not already predisposed to violence more aggressive.

  8. 8 Iamcuriousblue said at 6:36 pm on July 3rd, 2010:


    Providing a link back to the exact same thing you posted on another blog is pretty far from censoring you.

    Some advice: 1) Pick an actual name. 2) Calm. Down. It will do wonders for the coherence of your writing. 3) The space bar is your friend.

  9. 9 maymay said at 1:03 am on July 6th, 2010:

    Noting that looks like whateverthehellyournameis is a serial drive-by duplicate commenter. That is all. :)