Is pornography a result of a general degrading of our culture, or is our culture degrading because of many factors, including increased violence and the prevalence of more violent forms of media, including pornography? As the use of the Internet has grown and developed, more studies have been conducted to try to answer those nagging questions.
Several studies have looked at the "third-person effect" of Internet pornography. Basically, the third-person effect is one where most people tend to believe that a certain media or other trigger affects others in society more than it affects themselves. Researchers Lo and Wei continue, "Similar research conducted in Taiwan shows that respondents perceived pornography to have greater negative influence on others than on themselves" (Lo and Wei), and this seems to hold true around the globe. For example, researchers Azy Barak and William a. Fisher report, "individuals who approach Internet sexuality with strong arousal responses and positive affective and cognitive responses to sexuality will be more inclined to incorporate elements of Internet sexual scenarios into their covert and overt sexual behavior" (Fisher and Barak). Thus, those who are most affected by pornography, and may be the most susceptible to affecting others, may not even perceive the risk or the damage they themselves could perpetrate. This has heavy moral and ethical implications for society. If pornography appeals to individuals who are more sexually aggressive, and these individuals are more apt to act on their impulses than others, than it seems that society could be impacted in a wide variety of ways.
As the availability of pornography increases, so would the prevalence of sexually aggressive crimes and actions. This seems to be the case with child pornography, which seems to have jumped considerably in the news and in society. Just about every nightly newscast seems to include information on a sexual predator kidnapping or murdering innocent children, and this type of news seems to have increased dramatically in the last decade. This position is backed up by a counselor working with sex offenders, Rory Reid, who writes, "During these therapy sessions, it is not uncommon to hear an inmate indicate that part of the reason for their sexual deviance was due to consumption of pornography which influenced the way they behaved" (Reid). Reid also cites other studies in his conclusion that sex crimes and pornography are intertwined, and that sex crimes are increasing in the country. He notes, "The study concluded that, in fact, there was existence of reliable associations between frequent pornography use and sexually aggressive behaviors, particularly for violent pornography and/or for men at high risk for sexual aggression" (Reid). Thus, it may not be simply the imaginations of many that sex and child sex crimes are increasing in the country.
Clearly, this has a negative and lasting affect on society and culture. Parents are more afraid and more protective of their children, and people become less trusting of each other. Aggressive individuals run the risk of never being able to develop trusting, intimate, and loving relationships if they cannot learn to separate sex, violence, and domination. This has implications for how relationships grow and develop in society, and a general degradation of how many men view and treat women and children in society. Many people argue that pornography is a "victimless" crime. Another writer, Cynthia a. Stark, writes, "they [liberals] regard pornography as relatively harmless. They identify the harm of pornography as the harm of offense and maintain that the fact that some find certain materials offensive is not a sufficient reason for restricting those materials" (Stark). However, it is shown that in many cases this is simply not true. Often, models used in pornography are used against their will, and the results of viewing pornography can lead to increased violence, desensitivity, and dehumanization of women, children, and relationships, which all can lead to victims of aggression, sexual abuse, and molestation.
In conclusion, research, studies, and most public opinion show that pornography, especially violent pornography, can have a negative effect on the culture of a society. As the acceptance of pornography increases, the resistance to other forms of violence, such as rape and murder, seem to decrease. Clearly, this is a detriment to society and to the culture of a society and an age. Pornography, and the general acceptance of pornography in the media and in everyday life, can create quite a change in society, and that change may lead to more openness and understanding in some areas, but it can also lead to more violence, mayhem, and persecution in many other areas of society.
Fisher, William a., and Azy Barak. "Internet Pornography: A Social Psychological Perspective on Internet Sexuality." The Journal of Sex Research 38.4 (2001): 312+.
Flood, Dr. Michael. "Between Critique and Censorship: Developing an Ethical Pornography." Australian Government. Sept. 2003. 11 July 2005. http://www.oflc.gov.au/resource.html?resource=243&filename=243.pdf
Lo, Ven-Hwei, and Ran Wei. "Third-Person Effect, Gender and Pornography on the Internet." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 46.1 (2002): 13+.
Palczewski, Catherine Helen. "Contesting Pornography: Terministic Catharsis and Definitional Argument." Argumentation and Advocacy 38.1 (2001): 1+.
Reid, Rory. "Porn Use and Sex Crimes." ContentWatch.com. 2000. 11 July 2005. http://www.contentwatch.com/learn_center/article.php?id=107
Stark, Cynthia a. "Is Pornography an Action?: The Causal vs. The Conceptual View of Pornography's Harm." Social Theory…