Monday, March 21, 2016

Porn: Desire overcomes morality for 40% of men

<This article from 2 years ago> reports that the majority of people just don't think that porn is good. Naturally they are discussing ordinary porn with everyone over 18 years old. A rather large majority think it is morally suspect (71%). The survey naturally found that men are somewhat more likely than women to think looking at porn is morally OK -- but still only 35%.

It is also widely assumed that large majorities of men do look at porn. As the article notes, Dan Savage thinks virtually all men do. There is the story of the researchers who set out to do a study contrasting men who had seen porn and who had not. They couldn't do the study because they couldn't find any men for the second group.

Suppose we make an entirely reasonable estimate that 75% of men do look at porn at least occasionally for the usual purpose of sexual arousal. The survey found that only 35% of men think it is morally OK. This implies that 40% of men look at porn but think it is morally problematic.

A natural explanation is that men's desire for sexual arousal and satisfaction is strong enough to overcome their own moral compass. When adverse effects on others are immediate, such as sexual harassment or the extreme of rape, the moral compass is usually strong enough to overcome the desire (though of course we should be aiming for 100% there, and failures can in no way be excused by a strong sexual desire). But when any ill effects are more distant and indirect, morality loses to sexual desire in a large percentage of men.

I blogged earlier of why we should have <compassion for child porn viewers>. One reaction people have is that only a disgusting, horrible person would seek out pictures of children for sexual arousal, so such disgusting, horrible people deserve harsh punishment.

This is unfair, and I want to separate two parts. One question is why any decent person would find children sexually attractive. Modern science finds it is a desire that is <not chosen and cannot be changed>. People are attracted to who they are attracted to.

Now let's fold into the mix this present result that sexual desire makes 40% of ordinary men do something they think is morally wrong when there is no direct and immediate harm to others. We should expect that pedophiles have the same struggle between morality and desire. And it would be no surprise if 40% of pedophiles would also satisfy their desire with images in a way that poses no direct or immediate harm to anyone else. These are the men who look at CP.

I hope that men look again at their utter disdain for how anyone could enjoy sexual images of children. For in large numbers they too look at images they find morally problematic for purposes of sexual satisfaction. They may be mystified as to why any men would find children attractive -- though they are often equally mystified as to why gay men would find other men attractive. But if they can make that leap of faith, they should see in CP viewers other men with the same level of sexual desire doing the same thing they are doing.

Women should take note too. They share this earth with men, who they find to be mostly decent people, and yet 40% of them look at porn even though it's against their moral beliefs. Let's have some compassion for pedophiles who look at child porn -- an activity which similarly poses no immediate, direct harm to anyone.



16 comments:

  1. Would you look at CP if it was legal?

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    1. I would likely look at it with a professional eye, as I have written so much on the subject, to have somewhat of a better idea what I'm talking about. Would I also be mighty curious? Yes. For erotic purposes, would I look at self-made material from 16-year-olds with no outside coercion? Quite possibly. Would I look at virtual CP with no children involved? Yes. Would I look at other stuff? I don't know whether I would fall into the 40% or not.

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    2. What about just erotic modelling? About a decade ago there were some studios in Eastern Europe that took erotic photos of girls about 12. The photos were sold over the internet to customers all around the world. The girls weren't hurt and modeled with their parents permission. Eastern Europe and Russia aren't as prudish about nudity as Westerners are.

      Would you look at that if it was legal?

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    3. Those poor girls! How do you know they weren't hurt?

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  2. Is there any evidence that looking at porn can change a person's moral values?

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  3. In the controversy over adult porn watching, this comes up sort of. You hear about how it might change men's assumptions about how women act or what they want or what men are entitled to. I don't think the evidence on it is very good. And it's not quite clear that would qualify as a shift in "moral values".

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    1. Psychologists talk about the "cognitive distortions" that CP viewers often develop. One of them is believing that it's ok to view CP because the children aren't harmed. They seem to develop this belief and value as the children are often portrayed as enjoying the abuse but the reality for these kids off-camera is very different.

      StopItNow uses this picture to show how girls may look happy in the pictures:

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CW2JuQLWEAAk430.png:large

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    2. I agree that is a "cognitive distortion". My point is that people also have grave doubts about whether adult actresses in ordinary porn are really there of their own free will or out of restricted life options, whether they suffer ill treatment when not on screen, etc. Men getting off on that porn also rely on "cognitive distortions". But in this case society's reaction is at most, "For shame!", and in the other it is decades in prison. In neither case does the viewing itself cause harm.

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  4. What if the pornographic image or video was posted on the internet by a child or teenager. Boys fool around on the internet and end up posting sexual videos of themselves. It's child made child porno. I've come across some on Gay porn sites. No one should be condemned, charged or judged for viewing such a video. No abuse occured in the making of the video so it just floats out there on the internet until someone finds it and figures out why it's there and weather or not to use it. I wouldn't encourage a boy to post a seaxual video on the internet but I pretty sure that more and more videos are to come.

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    1. This is one of many "edge cases" that supports the ACLU position (and my position) that simple possession of child porn should not be a criminal offense. Yes, maybe it's a dumb thing for the boys to do (or the teens who sext unwisely) but not a criminal matter.

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  5. I have seen porn, but never child porn. I have seen legal images of children, but nothing illegal.

    I think the whole "I can't help it" bit shouldn't be an excuse to watch child porn. With strictness on oneself, one can overcome watching those images. One tool in someone's arsenal would be that it is illegal.

    So, by legalizing child porn, you are taking away one tool I have to avoid it.

    Laws educate. If written correctly, and not sending people away for decades, they can be used to educate people against child porn, instead of making everyone nervous.

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  6. Allowing free speech as much as we do is bad for pedophiles. This is because usually a person who views child pornography will start out with adult pornography or other deviant communication. If people were arrested for dangerous speech but hit with a fine or a light sentence, it might wake them up that this is hazardous and they should cut it out. Instead, what happens today is no one does anything until one day they leap out of nowhere and just destroy the person. It's like someone went to an intersection and removed the stop signs, which is great for everyone who gets to go through faster, until someone has an accident.

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    1. Given that there would ultimately be a very long sentence imposed, then surely a warning or light initial sentence would be an improvement. I'd rather just get the government out of the business entirely, except to track down those who make the stuff.

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    2. There is what you want and then there is what the world wants.

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  7. The production of child pornography always harms a child. The viewing always indirectly harms a child. Adults can consent to being involved in porn. Children cannot. That is the difference and if you cannot see that you are simply an idiot.

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    1. Be more specific in showing how CP viewing "indirectly harms" a child. In any case, you can recognize a difference (and I most definitely do on the production side) and still see a similarity in terms of how the men themselves feel about it. That's my point.

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