back to article The freakonomics of smut: Does it actually cause rape?

Does porn cause rape? It could do: rape fantasies causing porn is a certainty. While there are many who would argue that porn causes rape, what we would really like to know is whether it is true. There's not much actual evidence that it does, that seeing graphic representations of sex, even violent sex, increases the acting …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    The UN really should stop dropping DVDs full of smut on the Congo. That's for sure. I mean, whom do they think they are helping with this? All it leads is to region-wide rapidemics, which then have to be tearfully discussed in liberal-interventionist newspapers, boring people senseless.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong statistic

    >T)here were 2.7 rapes for every 1,000 people in 1980; by 2004, the same survey found the rate had decreased to 0.4 per 1,000 people, a decline of 85 per cent."

    Surely the correct number to be looking at is number of rapists per whatever of the population.

    The drop in the number of rapes could be due to many reasons from lack of opportunity on the part of the rapist to the victim being afraid of not being taken seriously so not reporting the crime.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Surely the correct number"...

      In multivariate systems there is rarely, if ever, anything that can be agreed-upon as the "correct" variable for a given relationship. One is also constrained with what types of data are available - the variable you're looking for might not exist today and would require a study all on its own to produce.

      I don't disagree that looking at things from a different angle - as you suggest - is useful, in fact I think it would be useful... the more the better right? ...but the end result of your proposed analysis, IMHO would be about the same (quality wise) result as the analysis here. Someone else could just as easily come along and say, for example, "What about the average age of the victims and offenders?" It's an iterative process, so if you can find a a variable for per capita rapists rates then by all means go for it - I'd be curious to see it at least.

      Welcome to the world of Economics-style analysis :) Everything is fuzzy and it's these types of exercises that establish - at least from a statistical and empirical standpoint - the "correctness" of a given relationship. We plug the variables in, turn the crank and make the sausage... rinse/repeat with new variables... compare and contrast the results... and so on.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I don't think people tend to put that as an occupation or hobby on census forms.

      (sorry to belittle an important discussion - couldn't help it)

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Comprehension difficulties?

      I'm not sure what the difference is between the number of rapists and the number of rapes, except for the length of time it takes to catch the rapist, during which they may have committed one or more further rapes.

      It's assumed, and broadly justifiably I think, that victims were less likely to report a rape or to have it recorded at the earlier time; society has improved in this respect, although I was alive in 1980 and it didn't seem to be particularly bad then, except that rape by a legal spouse not being counted, in unhappy relationships, is a pretty serious omission.

      Opportunity, you could have a point; probably more people go out in cars in the evening nowadays instead of on foot, and that presumably makes rape more difficult, although from time to time there's a prosecution of a taxi or minicab driver - genuine or fake - for it.

      And I suppose that if people are drinking more nowadays, then they may wake up in the morning not sure whether they consented to sexual intercourse or didn't.

      But do any of these factors correlate to geographical internet penetration, which is what is being compared by proper researchers to the other kind?

    4. Neil Stansbury


      No.. because you don't know how many rapes an individual rapist has committed. So a small number of prolific rapists would mask in increase in rape victims.

      So reported incidents per head of population is correct, it also allows for simple(r) correlation between other statistics - violent crime per head, drug use per head etc etc.

      The drop in the number of incidents could have many causes anyway, from education, to acceptance of women's rights

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No

        If you are looking to tie porn into the number of rapes you have to look at the people who commit the rapes. If porn leads to an increase in the number of rapes is it because it creates more rapists or increases the number of attacks from current ones. Either way the number of victims would increase but you are not validating any perceived correlation of viewing porn to number of rapists you are merely assuming that the increase is due to porn creating more rapists.

        The other figures you mention should not be used neither. I recall not too long ago that an area had it's crime rate cut in half by the convicton of a single crime family. All very good for the sort of figures you mention but the number of criminals didn't really go down.

        Whether the anlysis of the figure is valid or worthwhile is another matter but they should be looking at perps per capita not victims.

        1. Rattus Rattus

          @ Chris W

          I think you're confusing the issue. The number of people committing any crime is not really relevant, the key figure is how many crimes have been committed. That is, after all, what governs the likelihood of someone being the victim of a crime.

          If crime rates decrease through, for example, catching just a handful of the most prolific offenders, then who really cares that the number of criminals remains almost the same, as long as many fewer people become victims? Nobody, that's who. Except for the real hardcore law & order types, who can't sleep for the thought that someone, somewhere might have possibly got away with something. And really, screw them because who wants to be such a sad grey prick?

    5. Brangdon

      Overall rate is what matters

      We don't care whether porn halves the number of rapists (with each committing the same number of crimes), or halves the number of rapes per rapist (leaving the number of rapists the same). Either way porn is having a positive effect.

  3. John G Imrie Silver badge

    What about the children harmed in production?

    With sufficient camera angles and body doubles no children need be harmed in production.

    Of course in these enlightened times where having a nude photograph of you wife, who happens to look under age, gets you on the kiddy fiddling register there is no hope for a rational debate,

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Freakonomics... in my Register?

    I like it!

    Following a train of thought, without emotion, using empirical evidence to its logical conclusion is always a worthy and admirable exercise... no matter how offensive or, at first glance, un-intuitive the result might be. That's not to say that the result always makes sense once you add the political and moral realities of a subject back into the mix... but it is still worth doing even as just a thought experiment.

    As a former student of Economics... looking forward to more of this on the Reg if we can get it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am mostly with John G Imrie on this

      The difference between child porn and "normal" porn, even the stuff depicting the weirdest, most violent / humiliating porn is that adults in porn are giving consent and effectively acting out the scenario, whereas by definition anything stronger than children just getting naked involves an act for which the child cannot give consent and is accepted to have been inflicted harm.

      I suppose there are possible arguments that as long as there can be no harm done to a child then there should be no problem - indeed if you take a picture of your 10 year old daughter in her bathing gear at a beach you are a normal parent and no-one rational would infer any harm has befallen said child, whereas if you take a picture of someone else's child in the same way for private gratification purposes we are inclined to accept harm has occurred even though the actual interaction with the child is exactly the same in both cases.

      However, without any evidence one-way or another it would be pretty impossible to make any predictions on the availability of non-damaging child porn versus incidents of child abuse.

      You would have, as I see it, 3 classes of people to collect data from: convicted child abusers, those convicted of possession of child porn but no direct offenses against children and those who actively possess child porn but have not been caught for it yet.

      Now, in the first case we know convicted people are not that reliable, especially those who commit highly stigmatised offenses - equally though we cannot make any sensible deduction based on child abusers who possess child porn and those that do not - why have the piccies if you are getting it for real on one hand and why not have pictures if you are already committing a much worse offense on the other.

      Then we have the possessors who have not been convicted of direct abuse - firstly they are hardly going to fess up to any uncaught offenses (and it is unlikely any prosecuting body would be permitted to grant them immunity for any 'fessed offenses) and secondly they are hardly going to confess that without child porn they would be likely to be a child rapist, even if they thought it was true.

      Finally we have those who actively collect child porn but have not been caught - how do you track them down? put an advert in the local papers?

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      The Govt by now should have such a repository of child porn that there will be no need to produce more. All they need to do is to allow access to it, perhaps on registered, confidential basis. The society should reward paedophiles with immunity if they come out of the closet and abstain from physically enacting their desires in exchange for it.

      As it stands now the "Think of the childrenz" philosophy only brushes the problem under the carpet, endangering children and causing huge collateral damage to the rest of the society - because every control freak dreaming of control over information and censorship of the 'net jumps on the "Childrenz" argument and uses it to cover their real motives.

      1. Captain Underpants


        The problem with providing access to the material they've confiscated so far is that in a certain sense it will be seen to condone the creation of the original pictures. The last thing any abuse victim would want to find out is that the government is actively circulating the images of their abuse.

        The registered & confidential access idea is probably not a bad one, but we'll need a better class of human before that happens - imagine how fast you'd have murderous lynchmobs on the prowl if it emerged that there was a confidential govt. register of paedophiles who regularly viewed material created by abusing children. Especially since the register would probably be an Excel spreadsheet stored on a pendrive that'd then get left on a train and find its way onto $TORRENT_REPOSITORY_OF_CHOICE...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Vladimir

        What you suggest, whilst coldly logically plausible, would be viewed by most right minded people as morally reprehensible and therefore political suicide for anyone who tried to implement it.

        logically speaking there must be a number of people who are sexually attracted to children who do nothing about it - no kiddie porn and no child abuse - they take this stance because they know it is both morally and legally wrong - we then "reward" these people by not putting them in prison and making them sign any registers.

        Personally I like having sex with women, and there are a number of women I would like to have sex with who are well out of my league (or have politely declined to partake in any bumping of uglies based Ugandan diplomacy with my good self), however I don't then go around raping them and I don't think I should be given access to a bank of hot whores as a reward for not committing a serious and damaging crime.

        And, at the end of your rant you kind of completely lose it - only the most fucktardiest fucktard would think that protection of children through criminalising child porn is some kind of government-based control-freak conspiracy.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @ "what about the children harmed in production?"

          There is already a solution to that problem, or, at least, there was until the last Government in their final desperate attempts to grab votes in their "Won't Someone Think Of The Children" campaign put the kybosh on it by introducing the "Dangerous Drawings" Act whereby a complete fictitious drawing (ie not taken from life or a photograph of actual abuse) or even a 3d rendering of something that looks like a child became illegal.

          Of course this was just another stupid and unenforceable law (like the Dangerous Pictures Act outlawing so-called Extreme Porn) but it made for good headlines in the tabloids.

          The "Porn Causes Rape" arguments have long been shown to be fallacious, but they keep getting repeated by those whose real position is "I don't like this, so *you* shouldn't be allowed to see it", indeed some campaigners are still trying to cite Donnerstein who thought he'd shown a link between porn and violence towards women but then subsequently withdrew his findings when he found that the same results could be achieved by getting subjects to ride an exercise bike for 10 minutes (should be ban exercise bikes, then?!)

          It is good to see that Anthony D'Amato's results back up the findings of Milton Diamond PhD of the University of Hawai'i who also found that an increase in the availability of pornography lead to a reduction in sexual offences (including those with children as victims):

          "It is certainly clear from the data reviewed, and the new data and analysis presented, that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan, the United States and elsewhere has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among youngsters as perpetrators or victims."

          Of course this will be most unlikely to persuade the current administration to reverse the Dangerous Drawings Act in the near future because the Tabloids would love to jump up and shout "Coalition Promotes Kiddy Porn" so because of the wilful ignorance of a vocal minority, there will actually be a *greater* risk to children.

          Bravo to them.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            I broadly agree ...

            ... but the restrictions on pseudo photographs and manipulated photographs actually came in well before 1997.

            I can't remember the date of the Act, but I do recall that that was one of the points we specifically addressed in our evidence. So, while the Labour governments certainly had their own nasty draconian tendencies, especially with the 'Extreme Porn' legislation, this sort of thing is not solely the preserve of one party.

        2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


          "don't then go around raping them and I don't think I should be given access to a bank of hot whores as a reward for not committing a serious and damaging crime"

          Your comparison is not valid - you have a legal way of satisfying your sexual interest. If you can't get laid you have a legal (for the time being) substitute in pornography. For pedos, none of these legal options exist. When you put somebody into a corner he becomes desperate. Also, in for a penny, in for a pound - if the penalty for watching is as hard as for actually committing the act - where is the incentive for him to limit himself to the lesser action?

          As far as the end of the "rant" is concerned - I believe it it you who lost one's cool. a) Did I say anything about conspiracy? and b) when I talk about "think of the children" it's not about criminalising child porn - it's about the idea that you can justify any intrusion and imposition from the Govt into our private lives by appealing to human child-protecting instincts.

      3. A J Stiles

        Are you daring to suggest .....

        ..... that for one more person to look at a picture of a stranger, possibly taken so long ago that the subject depicted is now an adult, will *not* somehow cause any additional harm (assuming any was ever done in the first place -- a kid having fun in a paddling pool probably is not being abused) to the subject depicted?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Following a train of thought, without emotion, using empirical evidence to its logical conclusion"

      Must be a refreshing change after studying economics!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        "Must be a refreshing change"

        Believe it or not... and it is hard to believe sometimes when you see the economists that make the TV circles (the Freakonomics guys being a notable exception)... analysis without emotional or political bias is not *completely* unheard of in the world of Economics.

        Of course, then there's this guy -

        : /

  5. Captain Underpants

    Eeesh, that's going to be a really awkward debate

    If that Czech paper is reliable in its conclusions, and the claim that child molestation decreases with increased availability of material depicting molestation, surely this just re-opens the pseudoporn debate? It's going to be much easier to sell the idea of eg CGI'd abuse material than the idea of existing or (even worse) new material.

    Icon because, well, that's the reaction you're going to get, isn't it...

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    1. Ian Yates


      I think the article could have changed the wording on "increase, not ban, the production of child pornography".

      Surely just not banning it would have the same effect? Increasing circulation, maybe, but production surely is abuse, no?

      Good article, though

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @bad people

      >It isn't the lack of opportunity

      Let me assume you are referring to my comment above. Good people given the opportunity won't commit crimes. Bad people who do commit crime still need opportunity.

      Maybe I should have been more specific and spelled it out more clearly in order to avoid confusion. Oh wait, I've just re-read my comment and it definitely states "lack of opportunity on the part of the rapist" not "lack of opportunity on the part of your normal well adjusted commentard"

  7. Anonymous Coward

    What the fuck?

    "... arguably the best method of reducing the harm done to children is to increase, not ban, the production of child pornography."

    Wow. That is a seriously worrying conclusion, almost entirely unsupported by the facts presented in the article. Well done.

    Here's an idea - why don't we execute paedophiles instead? I'm quite certain the statistics will show that this reduces the rate of re-offence, and therefore results in an overall reduction in child abuse. What's wrong with my conclusion?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      It runs into the pitfall of Capital Punishment.

      That pitfall being that execution acts as a deterrent to crime. The obvious counterargument is that punishment does not figure into the criminal psyche...because they operate on the assumption that they won't get caught in the first place.

    2. Greg J Preece


      "Here's an idea - why don't we execute paedophiles instead? I'm quite certain the statistics will show that this reduces the rate of re-offence, and therefore results in an overall reduction in child abuse. What's wrong with my conclusion?"

      Has the execution of murderers in America done anything to the murder rate? Personally, I find anyone calling for the murder of another human being as the simple solution to a problem far more tasteless, offensive and disturbing than a calmly written article asking questions.

      I don't agree with everything in the article, and I dislike its implication that people who watch porn objectify women, not least because it assumes everyone watching porn is male, but your comment is simply vile.

      1. Lamont Cranston

        I'm no fan of capital punishment,

        but I would have to agree that it would drop the re-offending rate.

    3. Richard IV

      @AC 13:35: Here's what's wrong...

      When the birth rate is greater than the death rate, populations go up. This is despite the probability of death being at a rather stubborn 1 (so far in human history, at least).

      You might like to note that states without the death penalty typically have lower murder rates than those with it. Could the same hold true for paedophilia if we applied your brilliantly argued idea?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Richard IV

        "You might like to note that states without the death penalty typically have lower murder rates than those with it. Could the same hold true for paedophilia"

        That would depend on the correlation between murder and the death penalty - if, for example, the death penalty was applied to say, rape, then it is no worse to murder your victim after raping them from a punishment point if view and certainly better from a chance of getting caught one. Equally if you fry for one murder then why not go out in mad, spree-killer stylee? They can't leccycute you twice. Or three times, or a whole schoolbus full of times, now can they? In these case it is arguably the death penalty itself that contributes to the murder rate, remember that in many places with the death penalty the non-death penalties as harsh enough to preclude re-offending (650 years in gaol don't leave much time for parole)

        Conversely in societies that come from a base of a high murder rate and no or ineffectual , it may be that introducing a death penalty will reduce the murder rate, even if it is only through removing the more prolific killers.

        I am not saying you are wrong, I am just saying I don't see any basis for your statement to be true, or indeed false. Daily-Mailesque commentards aside, this is really about data collection, statistical analysis, correlation / causation and ethics after all

        1. Richard IV

          @ Lee

          "I don't see any basis for your statement to be true, or indeed false"

          That would be why I used a question mark. They're useful for that sort of thing.

          1. Steven Roper

            If the penalty for the crime is death

            then the criminal will kill to escape.

            Is that really the situation you want to put molested children in? Make it so that child abusers will murder their victims in order to escape detection?

    4. James Micallef Silver badge

      For starters...

      ... one thing wrong about your conclusion is that it's based on the wrong assumption that child molesters and paedophiles are incurable recidivists. A recent US study showed that recidivism rates for sex crimes was considerably less than recidivism for other violent offences (about 2% vs 8%, can't remember more exact details, though).

      Some common sense is required here. On one hand, harsh (10+ years) for possession of child porn, life for production. On the other hand, a clear definition that child nudity is not child porn (little kids photographed in the bathtub or at the beach etc). Cartoons are most definitely not children, whatever age they look like, and are unlikely to have been caused any harm while they were being drawn. Teenagers should be allowed to do what teenagers do within a couple of years of their own age, without being branded statutory rapists because the guy/girl they were experimenting with were a few months younger. And pissing in public is NOT a sexual crime

      1. Jean-Luc Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        @For starters...

        Generally agree with your points, except for the length of the possession sentence. 10 yrs? What's the point of a sentence that approaches those handed for murder?

        Let's take your recidivism argument. If a child porn possessor is unlikely to re-offend with child porn, or to directly harm children upon his release, what is society's interest in applying, and paying for, that level of punishment?

        Better a one or two year sentence, actually served, not paroled. Followed by a mandatory spell of counseling and supervision. For recidivist child molesters , I'm for the "throwing away the key" approach.

        Far as the article goes, I find it fascinating, but I am unsure about making child porn available, even if it did reduce molestations, which I find debatable. Certain actions intended to lower criminal behavior are a stain on the soul of the society that applies them (sorry, don't mean to get all preachy with this, not finding the appropriate ethical vocabulary to use). The death penalty in the US is one of them. Distributing child porn would be another.

    5. Naughtyhorse


      well for a start it's bollocks!


      images of carts and horses come to mind. why not execute _everyone_ as this will prevent any children getting abused in the first place (not to mention a host of other crimes).

      Speaking as an adult survivor of an abusive childhood I can assure you that most of the damage I suffered came about as a result of the social disconnect i felt from those around me, when i was supposed to be growing up. Learning how human interactions at all levels worked. The cause of which was 'the secret'. I grew up unable to trust anyone, un able to be myself.. ever, at all. Always different, and not in a good way.

      This leads to a perverse logic; I felt responsible, ergo I was the guilty one, and I was also unhappy, but guilty people deserve to be un happy, so thats ok then...

      Because i was told of the dire consequenses of discovery (I was a young boy, critical thinking didnt really come into it {see the previous para!})

      So the damage to me, and the overwhelming majority of my co-survivors was a direct result of keeping 'the secret', being on guard all of the time.

      you dont have to think about that too hard to work out that

      a) I should not have been abused - it's a given - it could have been worse i could have landed on this planet in the sudan for eg. even so it was pretty shitty... luck for want of a better word.

      b) The massive stigma attached to the crimes that I was a victim of created the 'hard place' that complemented the 'rock' provided by my abuser.

      it's as close to impossible as makes no difference to intercept an abuser prior to an offence. (never mind the legal difficulties - thought crime? no thanks!)

      Abusers are EVERYWHERE. Statistically there are at least a couple on your street right now.

      The stigma generated forces these individuals to evolve complex strategies to protect themselves.

      think of the comments you hear when someone is caught.. what Dave, No Never!, he's a good bloke, always having a laught down the pup etc etc..

      one of the significant effects of these stratigies place a huge burden on the victim.

      Thats what makes us grow up broken.

      If we cant catch the blackhats until it's too late, if we could at least remove some of the pressure, then that would reduce the damage to the child.

      A most un-palatable conclusion. But the more society accepts that these individuals are diseased as poopes to evil then the better chances there will be for their victims.

      that said, I was _very_ happy the day i heard my abuser had died, so what do i know :D

      Oh BTW! sorry AC 13:35 for taking the piss :-) didnt know i was going to write this.

      and BBTW - I did ok in the end. took years of bawling my eyes out in a room ful of strangers, but got there in the end.


    6. JohnG Silver badge

      Why don't we execute paedophiles instead?

      Probably because Social Services has a record of false accusations and coaching children for "evidence". If we followed your idea, a load of innocent people in South Ronaldsay and Rochdale could have been executed.

    7. nyelvmark
      Thumb Down


      I'm not a Christian, but they claim that there was this guy who said "OK. Whoever is without sin shall cast the first stone". Are you ready to do that, AC?

    8. tapanit

      Death penalty

      One somewhat counter-intuitive effect of death penalty (and to a lesser degree, harsher punishments in general) is that it reduces the likelyhood of getting caught and convicted, and (even more surprisingly) increases false convictions. So while DP obviously reduces recidivism in those convicted and executed, it might have the opposite effect in total.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "what about the children harmed in production?"

    Depends on the age rage being depicted, but using young looking actors would be a start. Legal production would be preferable to illegal production for most producers. Illegal producers are presumable already producing so can be discounted.

  9. Diskcrash

    Rape is rape and porn is porn

    Unless one is a psychopath and there are actually very few of those harming or hurting someone regardless of why you are doing it is a pretty obvious action (i.e. the crying and bleeding and death) and can not be justified by anything other than self interest.

    Pornography no more causes rape than a woman who dresses in shorts and a halter top. The potential rapist that reaches the point where they actually commit the crime knows they are doing wrong but have decided to go ahead anyway.

    Does legal prostitution help or hurt the rate of sexual assaults in a country? Pornography is pretty much part and parcel of the same ideology. The people who are against sex for religious, moral, or personal reasons tend to lump it all together. Sex is bad hence any depiction or sexual activity is bad. The reality of course is much murkier because there are always people willing to take things to one extreme or the another either for personal pleasure or to make some money.

    But there are fortunately a few absolutes such as No means NO.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      But attitudes are attitudes...

      The problem is that even if you don't consider porn "art", it certainly falls into the category of "cultural artefact", and as such can transmit attitudes.

      The problem is, it's not just "porn" that objectifies women, but even the "porn lite" in mainstream cinema. Most films play their rape scenes for titillation, and all too often the women make rather pleasant squealy noises. Compare with the French film "Irreversible", which has (by design) the most distressing rape scene ever to get a general cinema release, where Monica Belluci is screaming and wailing in a very upsetting manner.

      So it's hard to make a conclusion from the figures. They don't say conclusively that "porn is good" -- it could simply be that once porn is allowed, you need to saturate the market; it could be that porn moulds the fantasies and desires that lead to sexual violent, and that once this genie is out of the bottle, you've got to keep feeding the beast to make sure it doesn't dine on the villagers....

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Cause and effect

        "it could be that porn moulds the fantasies and desires that lead to sexual violent"

        I believe it couldn't - because it's the other way round. Violent porn is only there because there are people who get turned on by the idea of sexual violence. These people don't need porn to be violent - they can have their fantasies in their heads just as easily. However, having an unfulfilled fantasy in one's head is likely to stimulate that person to act it out in the real life, whereas watching a picture matching his/her fantasy is in itself acting out and will reduce the likeliness of that person going beyond just watching.

        On the other hand, if someone is not into violent sex then no amount of violent porn by itself will "convert" him or her and make them like it.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cause and effect

          I agree with your point, but have you seen the average Japanese pron movie? Its all pretty much the same - and all very weird. I make a fair assumption that the average Japanese guy isn't doing that stuff with his missus.

      2. Graham Marsden

        @The Indomitable Gall

        "Most films play their rape scenes for titillation"

        Really? Care to cite some examples? I doubt you'll be able to because the BBFC guidelines state:

        "A strict policy on sexual violence and rape is applied. Content which might eroticise or endorse sexual violence may require cuts at any classification level. This is more likely with video works than film because of the potential for replaying scenes out of context. Any association of sex with

        non-consensual restraint, pain or humiliation may be cut."

        As for "it could be that porn moulds the fantasies and desires that lead to sexual violent, and that once this genie is out of the bottle, you've got to keep feeding the beast to make sure it doesn't dine on the villagers...."

        Ignoring the woefully mixed metaphor, you're just arguing for the Nanny State "Precautionary Principle" that "well, we don't *know* that this is bad, but we'll ban it anyway, just to be on the safe side".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      I watch too much porn

      Quite a large proportion of legal porn involves "young looking" actors. You only have to be 18 to be in a porn movie, and in the same way that some 18 yo can look far older, the opposite is also true. Also a great many films involve schoolgirl/young girls bedroom scenarios - all completely legal.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      @using young looking actors would be a start

      Wow, what a clever idea!

      We can call it "Barely Legal" and trademark it.

      AC, obviously.

  10. Nigel Whitfield.

    Interesting, but won't make any difference

    No politician is likely to be brave enough to go with this, no matter how much "evidence based policy" is talked about. Don't like the evidence? Ignore it or sack your advisors.

    As far as I recall, evidence regarding porn and sexual crime has always been a bit sketchy; back in the 1990s, I was one of a group of people who put together submission to a parliamentary committee on the topic (even got to debate with a ghastly Tory on Radio 4!)

    We pointed out then that there was no clear link, and there was also a good argument that porn might serve to sate some desires, rather than enhance them. And, if that were true, then you can make a subsequent case for allowing pseudo-porn, as an outlet for certain tendencies. If someone is going to look at images of children (and I don't think anyone's really found a way to actually stop that), then far better that they are created images, where no children have been abused.

    But, of course, many have in the past, and always will, decided for themselves that there MUST be a link between porn and sex crime, and so therefore porn is bad. They feel this is "self evident" and it's hard to get them to pay any attention to real evidence as a result.

    I must try and dig out the evidence we submitted back then; last time I found a copy, it was in WP 5.1 format.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      There MUST be a link

      Some years ago there was an anti porn group handing out "information" that was saying that violent criminals in jail use more porn then the general population, proof that porn caused violent crime.

      Thanks to a story in that days paper I pointed out that smoking in prison (before they banned it) was much higher then the general population, around 2.5 times greater then the difference they were reporting for porn use. So by their logic smoking must be causing all the violent crime...

      But that was just silly, no one thinks smoking causes violent crime... but it's obvious that porn is bad.

  11. Lamont Cranston

    I'm glad you got there in the end!

    I had a horrible feeling that this was going to end in some utilitatian arguement, such that the rape of one child would be a good thing, if distributing footage of the act would prevent more such crimes being committed.

    As to the wider content of the article, I think rape is the wrong subject, and women's wider sexual experience should be considered. In normalising the treatment of women as they are in porn, women may well come to have a considerably less satisfying time in the bedroom, and expectations of men may well be such that the treatment of their sexual partners comes to border on abuse (without necessarily straying over into rape).

  12. Shades

    Tab A Slot A (or B)

    What about C?

  13. Ralph B

    Meta-study Required

    I think we need a meta-study to examine whether increasing numbers of studies into whether porn causes rape is causing more porn.

  14. xperroni

    Hentai FTW?

    Substitute drawn / animated children for the real thing and children harm drops to zero.

    Of course, the current "PAEDOS ARE COMING FOR OUR CHILDREN!!!11!!!1!" collective hysteria has pretty much outlawed any form of erotic / pornographic depiction of underage humans; in practice, owning a drawing of unexisting children involved in sexual activities has become akin to raping real, actually existing children yourself.

    Wonder what the mid/long-term effects will be?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Already starting... some extent. Professional "escorts" of the type patronized by Elliot Spitzer even have a shorthand for whether a client is looking for a GFE ('girlfriend experience") or PSE ("porn star experience").

      However, even that's still in the context of for-pay (not to be confused with fore-play) role-playing, and there's no evidence I know of that people carry what they see in porn into the bedroom, any more than they carry what they see in The Fast and Furious onto the road...

    2. Ian Yates
      Thumb Up

      meta^meta studies

      That reminds of some reading I was doing around environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking).

      Big tobacco funded loads of reports to prove it didn't exist or it had no harm (and eventually admitted some of the reports were fake). But even better was a meta-study that came to the conclusion that ETS didn't exist because there were more high-quality studies showing it didn't than ones showing it did. (Don't have the reference at home)

      Genius! It just made me wish (and hope) that someone's done a meta-meta-study in to how well meta-studies are done.

    3. Ian Yates


      I can't believe you picked that icon over this one ;)

    4. Rattus Rattus


      But I don't *have* a Tab C !

  15. ObSolutions, Inc


    Interesting that the author mentions that book, but abstains from mentioning one of the major conclusions from the same book: In most western countries, the crime rate _in general_ has gone down vastly since the early 80s.

    Perhaps the rate of rape incidents just follow that general curve?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      IIRC, and from what I could find...

      The Freakonomics gents were working with a crime drop "[of up to 50%]" - and I doubt the author here would disagree (I doubt Levitt would either from what I've seen of him) - I'd say that your thinking here is pointed in the right direction.

      So to answer your question/assertion - "Perhaps the rate of rape incidents just follow that general curve?"... 85%>50%, so there is a 35% greater drop in the crime of rape, than crime in general. Without looking for other factors specific to rape, there is no way to explain that disparity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Pedantry alert

        Actually it is a 70% greater drop in rate of rape (85 is 170% of 50) than crime in general. Which is a far bigger discrepancy.

  16. Dave Bell

    A significant difference?

    In the USA, the definition of child porn is based on the age of the participants. So if somebody looks under-18 but can prove that they're over-18, it's legal. And, from my own knowledge, there are rare instances of over-18s looking about 10 years old. While I doubt you would get away with that even in the USA, there's enough US-legal stuff out there which might provoke awkward questions here.

    But if I can believe what I've heard, that vaguely under-age "teen" porn doesn't get prosecuted. I wish I could be sure of that.

    And there's the whole business of psuedo-photographs which, because I've fiddled with CGI-tech, are really obvious to me, even when the age element isn't a factor. But would a prosecutor, or a jury, see those same flaws as they recoil in horror? I sometimes wonder if I'm a little bit of a freak when I switch to how-did-they-do-that mode.

    In the end, I think we have laws that tried to plug loopholes before they happened, and it begins to seem as though the loopholes never will happen, but what politician would dare say we don't need that law?

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Dave Bell

      Since the Tracy Lords Case in the USA (she used a fake Drivers Licence to claim she was 20 instead of 15) they have had 18-USC-2257 which requires documentary proof to be kept on file to demonstrate that a performer is over 18 and thus a consenting adult.

      Unfortunately in the UK it's much more subjective, to the extent that if even a *drawing* looks "under age" you can be prosecuted for child porn.

      There was also the demand in Australia by some nutters who wanted pictures of women with small breasts banned because "well they look like children"...!!

  17. Martijn Otto

    Leaving one final question: what about the children harmed in production? ®

    I think the amount of child pornography produced up till date is more than enough to keep even the sickest of sick people pulling away at their little guy for the rest of their life.

    The real problem is the fact that the government tries to take it all offline. This makes it harder to get to, which means the price will go up, resulting in greater production. This causes more children to be harmed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Martijn Otto

      Your argument on the saturation of child porn is not valid - there is an absolute fuck load of normal and free porn out there already, yet studios are still spunking out hundreds of hours of pay-for smut every month and raking in huge amounts of cash.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Does the harm stop when production is over?

      Or does a child abused for child pornography continue to be traumatized for years afterwards by the thought of sick perverts getting their thrills over pictures of him or her?

      After all, most adults are (at least) embarrassed by naked pictures or sex tapes of themselves being passed around, even when they made those pictures or videos themselves. How much worse for somebody forced to participate as a helpless child?

      (Paris, for obvious reasons).

      1. A J Stiles

        Well, being candid and brutally honest .....

        It's not the mere fact of it happening that causes the upset; it's finding out about it.

        That is to say, someone getting their jollies over pictures of you *while you remain in blissful ignorance* is pretty harmless to you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is no commercial 'production' of CP.

      Please don't believe the absolute tripe CEOP and the IWF trot out every year to decorate their annual reports with. As works of fiction (and sales tools), they excel - but even their dodgy statistics can't disguise the fact that online kiddie porn is neither commercial nor widespread. It's an inconvenient truth, which has seen CEOP widen it's remit (always an inevitability) to include such things as missing children and lie-detector tests. Gotta find work for these jobsworths, when crying wolf no longer strikes such a chord with the tabloids.

      CEOP, NSPCC, IWF, etc - all the usual suspects, in other words - have no interest whatsoever in rational debate and difficult truths. In some perverted irony, they actually need CP to be 'out there' on the interweb - they need the bogeyman to pay the bills and keep them in their well remunerated jobs. This idea that access to CP might actually keep down the level of actual child sexual offences is a total anathema to these closed, agenda-led minds.

      Logic be damned, the Paedogeddon will hold sway and god help any that dare to stand in its' way.

  18. Alex 14
    Paris Hilton

    This bit lost me

    "In D'Amato's paper, he uses Freakonomics-style try to tease out evidence of something more than just correlation"


    "What he found is that the lower the internet penetration in 2004 in a US state, the higher the rape rate had risen and that the higher the internet penetration, the lower rate had fallen. We expect, for those societal reasons, that the reported rape rate will have risen over the time period. And where there's no or limited internet access, it has. Where there is high internet access it has fallen, the fall being greater than the general societal rise."

    Maybe my problem is I know nothing about what 'Freakonomics' entails...maybe it's just because I'm making an assumption from context on what "the higher the internet penetration, the lower rate had fallen" means...but isn't that just saying they've found a different kind of correlation while controlling for 2 variables (reporting rate and legislative changes)?

    Plus, doesn't it say that the best way to reduce rape would be increase internet access in general, not pornography specifically?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Economic analysis is like this

      ... which is why it can be frustrating/maddening for those that come from more backgrounds built on more concrete types of thinking and analysis. The old adage "correlation, not causation" - which the author mentioned here - is a core tenant of economic thinking. When you look at what we have to deal with - especially with macro economic systems, which are really the aggregate of billions of people making trillions of decisions - and to describe those systems as a whole at best you're at dealing with thousands of variables.

      What you wind up doing is picking a specific problem, looking for variables that *could* be related, and then attempting to establish correlations... if you can establish correlations (positive or inverse/negative), you then have to determine - to some standard at least - if those relationships are solid (i.e. can be used to predict in the future) or spurious. Only then can a causal relationship be posited... and ultimately the integrity of that hypothesis is dependent on it holding water in the future - correlations thought to be solid could turn out to be spurious, or the causal relationship could turn out to be nonexistent (i.e. they could correlate for other reasons). The thing that will really drive you crazy is that there are really no, IMHO at least, concrete rules in Economics... they're all fuzzy rules.

      It's a much different way of looking at the world than most folks are used to. Welcome to the party!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    All philosophies are sound until human beings are involved.,...

    Hey, the method of "preventative porn" will work until some hysterical nutter gets a self-righteous idea that they know better, and gains status or self satisfaction by promoting that idea. (The classic "won't someone think of the children" and "peedohs out" brigade).

    I have seen a married friend ostracised and excluded from his church because a young lady gave him an innocent hug and a peck on the cheek and one elder decided this was a "gateway crime" and indicative of something else, and it was, of course, her duty to expose this horrific crime and hound him out.

    People, can't live with em, can't upgrade their firmware.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone who has worked with sex offenders

    There is a fundamental misunderstanding about child sex offenders, which has a significant bearing on this. The fact is that in the vast majority of case these offenders know that what they do is wrong, but it is not a choice whether to go ahead in the way that so many people seem to think.

    Most people will accept that there are bum men, leg men and tit men. Let's say for argument's sake that it was decided tomorrow that pursuing a large breasted woman because of her breasts was illegal. Would it stop a man whose interest is large breasts from liking the look of large breasted women, and trying to bed them? No it wouldn't. And that is the issue with child sex offenders.

    They may know that what they want is wrong, but their sexual urges cannot be controlled by that. They don't decide to like children sexually - they just are that way. In a small number of cases (and yes it is small - look at the number of legal porn sites which concentrate on the just 18 market), they can't control those urges and they go on to offend.

    I find this article very interesting. It is true that conviction rates for sex offences are falling in the UK, although the reasons for that are open to debate (it certainly has nothing to do with the crb regime which is probably now having the opposite effect to that intended). I feel that adults tend to watch porm because of an underlying interest rather than come across it and develop the interest as a consequence, but younger men (and, to a lesser extent, women) up to the age of about 25 can be influenced by watching porn. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule though, and drawing conclusions is difficult when it involves individuals with such widely diverse sexual likings. This is the first I have heard of the internet penetration correlation though, and it is certainly worth looking into.

    I doubt very much that child sex offenders are created by child pornography. The question is whether those with a latent sexual interest in children will have that interest brought out into the open by the pornography. If so, then it might be thought that they are more likely to directly offend once that has happened, but the evidence does not point to that. The majority of child sex offences are concerned with images i.e. pornography, and that in itself points to there being an element of restraint even in those with the interest.

    The only point I disagree with in the article is the inclusion (however oblique) of marital rape in the general description of rape. It may be the same offence in law, but it is not carried out for the same reasons as say street rapes or child rapes. It tends to be done as a perceived punishment, and pornography is unlikely to play a part in most cases.

    Otherwise a good article, and, as has been mentioned above, refreshing to see something on this topic which does not descend to the purely emotional, which does not help to address the problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Just a few things

      @AC 15:07 - Awakening Latent Desires: I think you have a point with pornography awakening latent desires, but I think it would only work if it was a desire that can't be noticed or awakened just by walking around. A man who likes legs would, in a country where people can wear shorts, notice legs and realize he finds legs attractive just by walking around outside. Breast men might find a woman showing cleavage attractive and find his desire for it. I find it easier to believe a man might not know he is a leg man because all the women in his location/time wear long skirts that hide the legs than for a pedophile to not know he is attracted to kids (since he would most likely find out just by being outside and seeing them and thinking subconsciously "I am attracted to this").

      I disagree with the point made by the article that increasing production of child pornography is a good idea to decrease child abuse, perhaps it should be reworded to say fake child pornography or the like. Making the pictures or videos would involve abusing the children. However, perhaps taking off the ban on having the items but still keeping them illegal would make sense. If it already exists you don't have to force a child to perform an act he or she can't consent to, so the damage has already (regrettably) been done.

      Those who physically molest a child should still be in jail and/or rehabilitation for a VERY VERY LONG TIME.

  21. Jason Bassford

    "Internet Penetration"?

    Why am I the first person to mention the oddly appropriate pun-like nature of this phrase? Not only in the article, but it's continued use in comments. Is it just too obvious? (That hasn't stopped others in the past though.) Would it induce too much groaning (uh oh) to rephrase - and explicitly point out the terminology confusion - by saying that the Internet penetration of Internet penetration has increased over the past few years?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    More than one reason.

    I do not think the possibility that child porn complements paedophilia is the best justification for banning it. The objective is to stamp out demand. Even as a substitute this demand is child abuse at a distance as a child must be abused create supply. Your argument only applies to simulated porn.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the ladies?

    Great article, and leaves a very uncomfortable question. However...

    I think we'll all agree that there are different types of rapists: the serial rapist who does it for control/hatred/revenge/whatever reason; at the other extreme you have date rapes, however tenuous. I'm not condoning either, the impact to the woman is the same, regardless of the reasons or motivation.

    It would be interesting to also look at the data on how frequently women are 'puting out' willingly over the same time period. From its Cosmo roots, we now have far greater openness about porn and sex generally in roughly the same time period, Mumsnet members enjoy porn <a href="">too</a>. In the UK we are now less religious, religious institutions frown upon pre-marital sex (I wouldn't want to make the same assumption about the US, given the rise of their religious right), but African attendance is still high. Other changes in our society such as increased wealth, living standards, internet shopping and dating, mobile phones and sexting, which Africa hasn't had.

    So, what if some or all of that has contributed to women being more promiscuous? If we're getting more action, wouldn't we be less likely to force ourselves upon women to satisfy the genetic drive to sow our seed?

    I've seen the long term impact that child abuse can have on a person. If porn is a band-aid that lowers its incidence, we should put our prejudices and disgust for it aside for the greater good. CGI production?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does Smut cause rape? Not for me.

    If anything, porn means I stay in the house.

    Two men go down the pub. One very ugly, such as me, one very good looking.

    Ugly one doesn't get it as often.

    With porn, at least he can shoot his fat in front of the telly. Without it, he bottles it up until he's down the park with a hammer.

    So far as I can see, porn should reduce rape. That said, by the same reasoning, it should also reduce marriage.

    1. alwarming

      "it should also reduce marriage"

      Erm.... hardly anybody (nowadays) marries just for sex.

      If anything, people marry because they (think they) had their fill of sex.

  25. Jason Bassford

    Production does not equal distribution.

    I fail to understand the specific argument that in order to decrease sexual abuse we should be increasing the *production* of pornography. Surely we don't need to *produce* any more at all - unless you want to consider all of those people who make a living out of that job. Purely in terms of those people "happily" viewing said material and thereby getting a "fix" with the side effect of preventing them from leaving their houses and doing something wrong in person, viewing of pornography in no way equates to the production of pornography. Load up all the pictures, movies, and other media already currently in existence and no single person could ever get through all of that without dying of old age well before exhausting the supply.

    So, at best, if I'm going to buy into this whole argument (which is a big stretch, and I'm not saying that at all), it would not be one that would entail new production (unless there was some niche market for the same old things but in current social and technological contexts) but better availability, distribution, and acceptance of *already* produced material. Therefore, the immediate question / argument involving the harm of people in new production is specious.

  26. Bounty

    I thought the extra internet penetration increased access to pornography addiction groups.

    I thought the extra internet penetration increased access to pornography addiction groups. Or at least chat rooms, so you could hook up with willing girls instead of raping random people. People who were looking at dirty mags before just switched to internet porn. No net change.

    Well, then there is the overall trend in lower crime. Guess as the economy got better, guys could hire hookers or afford to take girls to movies. Maybe these guys started penetrating each other since homosexuality became less stigmatized. This economic change probably happened in the bigger cities that also coincidentally had better internet infrastructure. Basically for a thousand reasons, this probably had little to do with porn. Also known as prove it, which that essay does not.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few things I want to add.

    "Most rape is against women".

    From first hand knowledge I know that any man reporting he has been raped has a VERY hard time convincing anyone; after being attacked by a gang of drunken young women when I was 14 I approached a number of authority figures, and every single one said I must be lying, or fobbed it off.

    The incident had a profound effect on my social life and it was nearly 8 years before I felt ready to have a relationship with a girl, even now, it takes time for me to be comfortable with a woman, and I still get the occasional flashback.

    The Law is an ASS Pt 1

    My sister has some old PEARS Soap prints, the ones with the drawings of naked children and babies?? So technically, according to UK law, she is a paedophile.

    The Law is an ASS Pt 2

    There is a photographer called David Hamilton who used to specialise in photographing pubescent girls, you can still buy his books perfectly legally from a number of UK book stores, but if you have the EXACT SAME IMAGES on your PC, it is classed as child porn and you are a paedophile.

  28. mike panero

    I thought wanking was rape

    Did I not hear one of the matriarch utter this? Was it in Alaska ?

    I understand Islam considers it a sex crime.

    A professor, an Australian professor , female, on a documentary about prostitutes stated several times that sex outside of marriage is rape.

    And you think you will change their minds with facts!

    Now who is the wanker!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @mike panero

      Of course the Australian professor thought all sex outside of marriage is rape. In Australia, all sex *IS* rape!

      (I apologize, rape jokes aren't funny but Oz jokes are hilarious. However, the issue that there are people like that women who trivialize rape by comparing it to consensual sex between non-married adults offend whatever sense of decency I may or may not have.)

  29. flibbertigibbet

    And what's wrong with the utilitarian argument?

    I came to pretty much the same conclusions as the article when we have the mandatory filtering debate here in Australia. (We are currently going through the "optional filtering" debate, which roughly translates to the ISP's voluntarily implementing filtering on all their customers (who don't have a choice), because the government is beating them over the head. The government announced during the last couple of weeks when the largest ISP's verbally agreed to come on board. The only problem being now that push has come to shove and the media heat is increasing, the ISP's seem to be realising this move may not popular with their customers and are wavering. We will see.)

    Returning to the topic. I see we have one here saying the fact that the publishing of the abuse of child saves several is not sufficient justification for allowing the publishing. I guess they must be one of those anti-vaccination nutters as well. The argument is the same. Vaccination does undeniably kill some kids, in return for saving many more. The anti utilitarian's argue the greater good is no justification if one kid dies.

    The interesting thing about pedo photo's is there a 1/2 way house. There aren't many crimes where the perpetrator willingly sells photo's of them committing the deed, for the obvious reason they are creating a picture and money trail that leads straight back to them. But this creates an opportunity, for those who are truly interested in the kids welfare, as opposed to just forcing everybody to conform to their own idea of utopia. Rather than crack down so hard on picture trading you force it to become well neigh invisible, you semi-tolerate it - rather in the same manner music piracy is now semi tolerated. It's still a crime, but if you get caught the primary interest is in having legal access to all your records, so you can follow the money trail to a child abuser.

    Now the amazing thing to me was the people in Australia pushing the internet filter, dumb as thick planks they might be, seemed to get this. Towards the twilight of the proposal its primary political proponent actually said rather than begin filtering new child porn sites immediately, they would leave them open for a while so the police could track who was accessing them. It was a tiny, tiny blow for common sense, and a wholly unexpected one.

  30. MMMM

    Researcher missed the point, Porn does cause Rape

    A psychology professor once told our class that sometime in the 1970's there was equal increase in the in-migration of Storks and babies born in Wales.

    Professor D'Amato has completely missed the point. Is that because he's a man who has never read a page of feminist literature? Porn is very often Rape, and if the industry is growing then it's safe to say that it begets even more Rape.

    Before any of you guys out there react too severely please consider the following wikipedia article concerning the highly "celebrated" porn movie Deepthroat:

    If that piques your curiosity a bit then I suggest you read the book "Pornography" by Andrea Dworkin. It will shock you, but speaking as a male I guarantee that you won't be able to put it down.

    We need to understand what the Porn industry is before we judge its effect upon Rape. Professor D'Amato's study is superficial and inhuman. For example, the links between porn and prostitution are well established as are the links between peddlers of porn and snuff films.

    I'm going to make the random assumption that most people who read these articles are men (based on the fact that only 25% of employed IT staff are women). So guys, please go get the real facts which lead to an understanding of the porn industry itself - being content just to consume without question isn't good enough. Rape is a sick subject, before you seek to comment on it learn about how it happens and learn to be repulsed by it.

    Ask yourselves some difficult questions. Do you believe there are any little girls out there who dream of being prostitutes or porn stars? Secondly, would you be happy with your own little girl ending up as a prostitute or porn star? There's much proof to suggest that young girls/women are forced into these roles (through drugs, threats etc) and that you as a responsible parent will not be able do anything directly against it until it is too late.

    For El Reg itself, would you have the courage to launch a campaign against the abuse of women online?

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      You know what?

      It is a different subject but I'm glad you raised it.

      You equate porn with prostitution and that in turn with rape, which is of course a specious and unfunded argument. But, if you and all feminists out there would really like to think about wellbeing of sex workers you would go out and call for legalisation and regulation of prostitution and NOT the other way round, as you prefer to be doing.

      A couple of hundred years ago being an accounting clerk was not much different from slavery, the only reason it isn't now is that it's a legally recognised job and it's being protected by the civilised employment laws...

      1. MMMM
        Thumb Down

        Read my posting properly please

        I did not equate porn and prostitution, I simply stated there are well proven links between the two - try typing the phrase "sex-trafficking" into google, that will help you since you're obviously too lazy to read the wikipedia article I put in my original text. If you want to call something specious and unfounded, back it up with some proof.

        As it is, I happen to be in agreement with appropriate legislation and regulation of sex industries - but that was not the point of my article.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          I did

          "back it up with some proof."

          As you were the one putting forward the original propositions without providing any single shred of evidence I believe that the burden of proof is on you.

          The reference to a well known case of domestic abuse does not count as evidence in this case, otherwise, we will have to denounce singing on the grounds of its links with violence (Tina Turner, a case in point) or ban teaching as it is obviously connected with paedophilia (as demonstrated by the recent cases of teachers being arrested and prosecuted for child abuse).

          And in the contest of your post (which I've re-read again) the term "link" very much implies "equality", sorry.

          1. MMMM

            Change the rules of engagement?

            Link means Link, Cause means Cause and Equality (a term I suspect you don't fully understand) means Equality. Screwing around with the language is time honoured tactic of the lazy mind who can't be bothered even exposing himself to the facts to win an argument

            The main thing I've implied is that many involved in the porn industry are the same people involved in prostitution and sex trafficking. So the next time you amuse yourself in the privacy of your own home, maybe you might just remember to ask yourself whether you *know* that the woman on the screen in front of you had a choice (private, social, political or economical) to record her exposure to you.

            Given your lack of intellectual curiosity displayed to date, I somehow suspect you believe that a fair portion of the good money you paid for your latest "fun" DVD actually went to paying her. Sorry, I should correct myself, I'm giving you too much credit - you probably haven't even thought of this.

            1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


              I am LMAO, quite literally.

              For a person who apparently attaches so much weight to factual debate your own facts are conspicuous by their total and inexplicable absence.

              "maybe you might just remember to ask yourself whether you *know* that the woman on the screen in front of you had a choice (private, social, political or economical) to record her exposure to you."

              Maybe you should think of that every time you watch a movie (any movie) or talk to a waiter in a cafe or interact with just about anyone around you - we all have our own private, social, political and economic pressures and exposures (and not necessarily in terms of physical nudity).

              You are using the usual demagogue technique of concentrating on extremes while passing them for the base case (traficking, Linda Boreman etc.) and you are failing...

              "I somehow suspect you believe that a fair portion of the good money you paid for your latest "fun" DVD actually went to paying her"

              Actually, I believe that female porn stars are quite well paid, probably better than their equivalents in "mainstream" entertainment, but I don't really know - you are welcome to convince me either way by giving me some statistics.

              1. MMMM

                Reply to Vladimir

                And you're quite content to ignore the base case. Speaks volumes for you.

                Go look up on sex trafficking - I'm not going to do all the work for you.

            2. Tom 35 Silver badge

              Link means Link

              You talk about links, but why are the links there? During prohibition in the US there was a link between gangsters and booze. Booze has it's problems but gangsters are far worse. There is a link between drug gangs and prostitution as I'm sure you would agree. There is no natural link, between any of these things other then money.

              If you try and ban something the people who are willing to break the law, or who are already breaking other laws will take over if there is money to be made. As the US found with prohibition it's better to regulate and try and reduce problems then to ban stuff.

    2. Graham Marsden


      "Professor D'Amato has completely missed the point. Is that because he's a man who has never read a page of feminist literature?"

      Or perhaps he's actually a scientist who looks at *all* the evidence, rather than just believing the claims of Dworkinite "All Men Are Rapists!" feminists who cherry pick the data that suits them (see the bottom of this linked page for reference to Donnerstein and bicycles or the Rapid Evidence Assessment which three feminist anti-pornography campaigners produced to justify the last Governments "Dangerous Pictures Act" banning so-called Extreme Pornography)

      And, tell me, have you ever heard of a group called Feminists Against Censorship (see ) these are women who are opposed to other women demanding that (mostly male!) law makers pass legislation telling *them* what they can do with their own bodies!

      As for Linda Lovelace's claims about in Deep Throat, firstly she must be an incredible actress to be able to perform as if she was enjoying it whilst "having a gun at her head" and secondly it was obviously such a traumatising event that, instead of going to the police, she made a sequel a couple of years later.

      Finally, it's clear you have no idea what you're talking about because you bring up the tired old myth of snuff films that, despite over 40 years of searching, the FBI, the British Police and many other law enforcement agencies have *NEVER* found a single example of.

      Before you tell people to "please go get the real facts", try getting some real facts yourself.

      1. MMMM

        Reply to Graham Marsden

        Just read up on Sex Trafficking please (even just a definition firstly). Feminists Against Censorship is hardly relevant to what I've said, that's about freedom of expression - I'm sure they're against Sex Trafficking too.

        Forcing women to perform for porn production is rape. I'm sure Professor D'Amato's study is scientific, but so was much of the work at Auchwitz. It's also just a 6 page report, hardly the stuff of an intellectual heavyweight.

        Porn comes from many sources, some of them acceptable some of them not acceptable. Professor D'Amato's correlation is just that - a correlation, he will always struggle to draw a direct causal relationship.

        ****Encouraging the growth of industry where a substantial portion of the content comes from dubious unregulated sources (i.e. the sources need to be regulated, perhaps the content is just a matter of taste), many of whom have been charged with forcing sexual labour, is hardly the act of a responsible academic****

        Your cite your sources well my friend, but you're more interested in attacking me than you are in having a serious debate. Look up on Sex Trafficking please. Women forced into pornography is Rape. There are tonnes of facts out there - go on, just type it into Google, it's not much effort to look.

        1. Graham Marsden

          Reply to MMMM

          I am well aware of Sex Trafficking. I am also aware that ludicrous figures have been bandied about regarding it, for instance former Minister for Europe, Dennis McShane's claim of twenty five *thousand* women being trafficked into the uk which was shown to be utterly false (see and for more details) especially when the last Government's Pentameter 2 inquiry "failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country." (See )

          There again there were the 40,000 sex workers who were expected to be trafficked to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. There were also 40,000 sex workers (the same 40,000 or a different 40,000?) supposed to be arriving at the World Cup in South Africa, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the last World Cup in Germany who, somehow, didn't surface (see )

          I agree that FAC are, of course, against trafficking, but when you have groups such as the Poppy Project (who get Home Office funding) using that money to influence government policy by artificially boosting their claims of the numbers of trafficked women then it becomes entirely relevant to the discussion.

          You say that "Forcing women to perform for porn production is rape" and, yes, I can agree with that too, but exactly *how many* women are "forced" into it and how many decide to do it of their own free will? I think you will find that the latter number vastly exceeds the former. Should all women be treated as "victims" because of this? (And what about men? Or are none of them "forced" into it?)

          By the way, at this point I should comment that I would be quite within my rights to call a Godwin on your desperate attempt to discredit Professor D'Amato with your reference to Auschwitz, but instead I will simply point out how pathetic that argument is and ignore it as a contemptible red herring.

          You also try to discredit him with comments about him not being an "intellectual heavyweight" because his essay is only six pages and then make assertions about him "encouraging the growth of industry" from "dubious unregulated sources" (really? See 18-USC-2257 ) and conflating that with a claim that "many of whom have been charged with forcing sexual labour" (who are these "many people"? Please cite some figures before making wild claims) and then, having conflated all this together you make the laughable accusation of *him* of not being a "responsible academic".

          At the end you say "Your cite your sources well my friend, but you're more interested in attacking me than you are in having a serious debate" yet you stoop to Ad Hominem attacks on Professor D'Amato bringing to mind comments about pots and kettles.

          Finally you say "Look up on Sex Trafficking please." making a despairing grab for the Debating Fallacy of Appeal to Emotion. "Isn't this terrible? It's so terrible that we *must* do something about it because no matter what the facts are, we should ignore them and *DO SOMETHING* because it's so terrible!"

          The evidence that shows the flaws in your arguments is out there, it's not much effort to look...

    3. James Broome

      I have read Andrea Dworkin

      I have read the book you mention, MMMM, and it led to me believe that the author had no concept of "evidence", and would only be satisfied if all men were kept in cages.

      Porn is not rape - not by any definition, nor by any logical process. Most prostitution is neither rape nor porn. And since you ask, I would rather my daughter end up a prostitute or porn actress than my son a soldier.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      For somebody claiming to be a feminist, you sure are policing what women are allowed to do with their bodies rather heavily.

      Yes, I do object to women being objectified and told that they are only good for their bodies in modern society. Yes, I object to women being forced into the sex industry. However, if a woman wants to become a prostitute or a porn star, because she enjoys sex or is a highly sex-positive human being, she has every right to do that as her own free will and as the only person in control of her own body.

      It's not my job to tell women what they are allowed to do with their own bodies, even my daughter. I will fight hard to make sure she is not forced into a career path she doesn't truly enjoy, but if she finds a job she truly enjoys (be it as a pilot, model, IT worker, doctor, secretary, politician, actress or pornographer) she should be able to pursue it.

      Feel free to hold "feminist literature" in one hand while wagging fingers at women who have sex with the other. You are one of the problems facing women today, people claiming to be feminist while railing on about how women shouldn't have the freedom to control their own body because you disagree with how they are using it.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      "Researcher missed the point, Porn does cause Rape" post, misses the point

      From the comment "Porn is very often Rape, and if the industry is growing then it's safe to say that it begets even more Rape."

      From the article "And the most obvious fact about porn and rape is that reported rape incidence – at least in the United States, where a National Crime Victimization Survey takes place every year – has been falling in recent decades as porn becomes ever more available."

      The analysis is about the increase in access to porn and it's effect on rape incidence, not about the size of the porn industry. But if you want to rant about something unrelated go right ahead.

      The point of the analysis was about CONSUMERS of porn, not the 'porn industry'. The whole house of cards argument for banning possession of media depicting certain acts, is that the offending material, will encourage people to want to carry-out those acts in real life. If that principle is shown to be false and in fact the opposite way around, whole house of cards falls down.

      This is a completely different discussion to the industry that creates that media being criminal. And if it is then why are we going after the consumer, who has no idea of whether the product they have has been created in a nice way or not.. You want more regulation on the industry, fine, but that is not even close to what this article was about.

      Not all porn that has been created has been done by criminals or via rape or exploitation. I can get out a video camera right now and film myself having intercourse with my girlfriend (if she was willing of course) and post it. There would be no immorality in it's production at all. Oh and before you ask I am not going to do that, as with my figure it would not be very erotic......

      People want to stop money being made in the creation of porn and therefore de-incentiveize the criminality. That would be an interesting discussion, but nothing to do with this article.

  31. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Oh, and

    I wouldn't like my daughter (if I had one) to become a prostitute or porn star. However, I would have accepted it if that was her own choice.

    But equally, I don't want my children to become professional sportsmen or street sweepers either...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True or not, time will tell

    If the analysis is true or not, will now be proven over the next few years. Since our government has put in place laws to stop access to various material now, our country is now a bit of a Petri dish. If the analysis is right, then there will be an increase in rates of child abuse (due to the cartoon law) and violent sexual crimes (due to the extreme porn laws). If the analysis is wrong and the 'conventional wisdom' is true, then rates will decrease. So let the experiment begin and keep watching those stats. We will likely appear in future freekonomic analyses...

    If they go up though even though people were warned via analysis like this, but they still pushed ahead due to pressure from the media, then head should roll....

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ MMMM

    no no - you are right.

    I just wanted to reply to the open questions you pose to the end of your piece...

    Yes, contrary to the implied reply you expect, I *have* met a few young ladies with exactly that aspiration (yes, a VERY few, but some none the less). Intelligent, attractive and self assured. I don't claim this to be the norm... just the truth.

    And, as apparently hypocritical as it most certainly sounds, No - I would be absolutely gutted if my own daughter was to considered it a career move. I'd be even more distraught if she told me she wanted to be a lawyer, a banker or a politician.

    1. MMMM

      Reply to Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for your openness. I absolutely believe your first paragraph, though I wonder for how long you actually met these women and how well actually know them and the insecurities they face. Furthermore, though I must admit that while the last line of your second paragraph might be the truth, you're probably not the norm.

      Many women/girls (perhaps a majority?) are simply forced into the sex industry, the point being that they didn't get the chance to "consider" their career move in the first place.

      1. shaunhw

        Just a job, not something to be villified by sanctimonious prigs.

        But isn't it exactly this kind of vilification (of those people in the sex industry), by sanctimonious self righteous prigs, that causes them pain and social ostracism in the first place ? If people didn't condemn their work so much, and tried to understand it instead, then the folks doing it would not feel so bad about it. If they do feel bad that is. Many don't.

        I don't believe that most of them are forced into anything. Some people are "forced" sweep roads, to clean toilets and the rooms of other people's houses and work places, for very little money not having the chance to consider such a career move either. Some people would genuinely rather work as well paid prostitutes than have to do the job of a impoverished scrubber. Is such a choice really so hard to understand ? I'd rather be sat on a sun drenched beach supping a beer or two every day, than sat in a dreary office trying to earn a crust or two.... Perhaps I'd sell myself if it was worth it, but nobody would want me, especially my gender and at my age :-(

        1. MMMM

          Reply to shaunhw

          When you watch porn, there's currently very little means of knowing who is or isn't forced into performing for the consumer. You can argue the same thing about sweeping roads, but I'm pretty sure there's a bit more dignity in being forced to sweep a road in order to put food on your table, than there is in effectively being raped for a video camera.

          Read up on pornography in sex-trafficking. I'm not being sanctimonious and self-righteous - perhaps I'm simply asking people to think a little more before they buy.

          You're speaking of choice and I'm speaking of lack of it. Professor D'Amato's study just ignores it completely and that's particularly dangerous. Did he even stop to think how quickly his porn might reduce Rape study might be leaped upon by all those too keen to look at porn and too lazy to look at the subject of Rape?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Down

            Re: Reply to shaunhw

            I think you're parading your ignorance.

            "When you watch porn, there's currently very little means of knowing who is or isn't forced into performing for the consumer."


            "Read up on pornography in sex-trafficking."


            The trouble is, those who are already familiar with so-called mainstream porn will already know that sex-trafficking has little, if anything, to do with it.

            I certainly don't deny that there is sex-slavery, and that sex-slaves are trafficked. And, as with all such sex crimes of coercion, it's totally unacceptable and a very real and serious problem that certainly has to be dealt with. But I'm not going to unquestioningly swallow hard-line radical feminist propaganda simply because there are cases of rape and other serious sex crimes.

            If you Google 2257, you should find some very good reasons why most mainstream porn - at least if it's American - can be regarded as highly unlikely to be coercively produced. And if you visit VideoBox and have a good browse around the huge amount of (mostly boring, unoriginal, repetitive) mainstream porn, you'll get a good idea of the gulf that exists between what you imagine porn to be like, and what a lot of people know mainstream porn to actually be like.

            Then, perhaps, you'll have a better understanding of why your comments aren't so readily accepted by others.

  34. shaunhw

    Prove the harm properly before restricting others please.

    Again, there's only a lack of dignity because people seem to make it so by their loud condemnation.

    As for sex trafficking, some of the articles on the Melon Farmer's web site and many other places online reveal the truth that it's long been known that the levels of such trafficking are hyper inflated by those with a vested interest in maintaining and perpetuating this myth.

    This article asks people to take an honest look at the truth behind this issue. I certainly wish they would do so, because I think some restrictive approaches do far, far more harm than good.

    I agree that some prostitution is caused by drug addiction. I believe that would be better solved in trying to deal with the user's addiction and the ridiculously unrealistic drug policies we have in this country, rather than the prohibition of prostitution.

    Some people really don't seem to be able to get their heads around the fact that many people really do want to do this kind of thing willingly. The debate really is about pron, and that assertion especially applies to that. In all the consensual pron I've seen, there's little (in fact no) evidence to suggest that people are not involved on their own volition. People should look at the girls. Look at their complexion; look at their hair; look at their teeth; these aren't the kind of features found in girls on heroin or street girls. These are girls involved willingly who discuss their choices openly in many on screen interviews. However let's not let a few true and honest facts get in the way of people's desire for repression of others eh ? I can tell them that many others are completely sick of people with their kind of censorious attitude.

    As far as I remember, one of the very few people to complain bitterly about her involvment was Linda Lovelace. One out of many thousands then.

    Don't people understand that if pron was so damaging to JUSTIFY the kind of sanctions and censorship that some (a minority IMHO) folk appear to want imposed on others, then it would be OBVIOUS, like the harm of drink driving is OBVIOUS; like the harm of speeding is OBVIOUS; like the harm of smoking is now OBVIOUS; all these things and many more we've learned in the last fifty or so years. But the debate about porn RAGES on and on simply because the harm IS NOT so obvious. People should therefore be free to decide for THEMSELVES how much they involve themselves as participants or viewers of so called "adult" material. Our country is supposed to be a free one. I accept many people take a moral position and that is their right. However it is not their right to try and impose it on everyone else for no justified reason. Especially so, when it seems that MORE harm might actually be PREVENTED rather than caused. But some people will use any flimsy argument to refute that evidence, and even resort to untruths, myths and blatent lies. I've been involved in this debate for twenty years now, and I have not seen any evidence to justify strict censorship or other sanctions. All I've ever seen from those in favour of censorship of this kind, is fake science, myths, lies; undue repression and other tricks. I don't say trafficking doesn't exist at all. I also say that it is completely APPALLING and the full force of the law should apply to those involved in it. But I maintain that the levels have been grossly exaggerated by those who have a vested interest. Even then that's no justification to prohibit those willingly involved. There's also been too many cases of such people FORCED to clean or work as waitresses and all kinds of things but these jobs we don't prohibit because of this do we ?


  35. Anonymous Coward

    If it makes economic sense...

    ...for a Polish teacher to move to England to work as a labourer, maybe it makes economic sense for a Romanian prostitute to move to England to work as a prostitute?

    Only traffickers and rapists are going to approve of trafficking, but if there really is as little trafficking as there appears to be, it could be because there is little incentive to commit crimes which attract long prison sentences (abduction, false imprisonment, rape) when economic reality ensures there are enough recruits anyway.

  36. MMMM

    Open Porn - Reply to a few people!

    Anonymous Coward


    Vladimir P

    Graham Marsden

    And one or two others

    Thanks for all of your comments and feedback to my original posting. Having witnessed (indirectly) the effects of Rape and sexual violence on way too many an occasion it's safe to say that my analysis comes from the negative side of life.

    Rape and its effects are really difficult to quantify, causing problems for both my arguments, but for those of Professor D'Amato as well.

    So here's a quick suggestion. Porn in the modern world is becoming more and more a form of digital media. Should we take inspiration from the Open Source world and issue porn under a creative commons licence for example? There are many who would say that Open Source technology is just as good if not better than paid-for code. Likewise, I'm sure you're all fully aware that much of the porn you can buy is complete rubbish.

    Any votes for Open Porn? Free of charge, voluntary contributions (from both sides of the fence, producer and consumer), and a code of ethics to boot (it sure gives a bit of zing to "Be Considerate, Be Respectful, be Collaborative).

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Talk about...

      behind the times.

      the net is awash with 'open porn' has been for decades.

      "from both sides of the fence, producer and consumer"

      to which you can add 'wanton reposter' which brings us straight back to your original, spurious, overwhelmingly ficticious point.

      get down to xhamster :D to see what i mean

    2. shaunhw

      What we need is our rightful freedom to make our OWN choices on this.

      The issue is about whether the porn helps cause, or prevent rape. I firmly believe the latter is the case. The evidence is clear enough from countries who have allowed it for decades with hardly any censorship whatsoever. It's been broadcast on TV1000, Filmnet (now Canal+) and many other European satellite and cable channels for nearly 25 years, whilst we in this country have been firmly subject to the pathetic censorship of the ITC and then Ofcom after it, for no justified reason whatsoever in my opinion, other than they dare not allow a more liberal regime, because of the backlash from the politicians or readers of the Daily Mail. Either that, or high profile individuals in these organisations have used their positions, to impose their narrow minded restrictions on what should be available to the rest of us. If the channel is encrypted and has to be deliberately requested, I don't see a problem. In Europe, if you subscribe to most movie channels, then the porn often comes with it. Eleven years ago, back here, the BBFC allowed much more explicit R18 videos to be sold in licensed sex shops, and then the stream of prohibitions on sale of the European dedicated porn channel's smart cards (available to UK subscribers) suddenly stopped with the exception of Extasi which showed violent porn which wouldn't be passed even at BBFC R18. So you can watch it, if you get a "foreign" card, and the equipment along with a dish pointing at a different satellite from the Sky one. IE you have the cash to spare. Ofcom still have the power to proscribe the sale of such "foreign" porn smart cards, but won't because they are scared of a legal showdown given that equivalent R18 material IS allowed, and such material can be FREELY bought via mail order from other countries, (customs no longer sieze R18 equivalent videos and pictures imported from elsewhere) but R18 cannot be not supplied that way from within the country! Despite the lack of proscription orders the past few years, Ofcom will not allow explicit porn on any of "their" licenced channels. Why ever not when they won't/daren't proscribe the foreign ones and be consistent ?

      Personally I believe that to be subject to such government mandated censorship, without HONEST justification of harm (and in all the years they've never been able to properly provide that justification) well that is just as insulting, belittling and degrading as any argument of objectification of those women depicted, who are after all, legally free to make their own choice. If for some reason they are not, and are forced into something, well that should be dealt with most severely but as a completely seperate issue.

      Incidentally we did not need explicit porn for such objectification of the ladies. Expressions of such as "fancy having to wake up at the side of that!" unpleasant and nasty they are, were used long before hard porn was available anywhere here. In fact any porn to speak of hardley existed years ago. But "Phwoooarr I'd like to xxxx that!" was probably MORE commonly used thirty five years ago than it is nowadays. No one of course mentions the objectification of men, which of course also happens. Overall objectification of this kind has reduced, not increased in the past few years.

      But we now increasingly find that the censorship imposed on us all these years might even be harmful as well. To add injury to the insult already imposed by the narrow-minded censoring classes.

      I don't think we need "open porn", we just need to allow it to be freely available to those who want it, without them having to feel shame and guilt.

      The government's censorship campaign, where online porn is to be turned off, until specifically requested is likely to cause more than a few problems and domestic arguments and strife IMHO. Many people who want it, aren't going to ADMIT to anyone, they want it. even if they DO want it. Censorship needs doing at the computer level, not at the network level. And people should censor their OWN kids, not expect others to do it for them. It is interesting to note that even the Daily Mail readers don't want this for fear of greater censorship once the mechanisms are in place.

      This new coalition regime spoke of freedom, and even created a web site, for us to tell them what freedoms we wanted, which they then ignored. It is clear they don't know the meaning of the word, unless it applies to rich bankers and the like.

      No, we don't really need "Open Porn" as such. What we do need is the rightful freedom to choose to watch the stuff using the channels and media so freely available to our fellow Europeans and for the government to respect that right. If it wants to restrict it, it should put up (ie show the real harm) or simply SHUT UP.

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