Monday, August 28, 2006

Porn Up, Rape Down Or ...

... Porn Up, Brain Down?

In the Daily Kos's efforts to mock conservatives who want porn eliminated, a huge mistake was made to say the least. Troutfishing, the author of this post, either doesn't know about all of the concerted effort that's been made in the fight against rape since the beginning of the 1970s or sees the creation and rise of rape crisis lines (the first US rape crisis center opened in 1971) as immaterial to the incidence of rape.

The author of the Porn Up, Rape Down study, Anthony D'Amato of the Northwestern University School of Law, who was quoted in the Daily Kos post, lists 4 minor factors for the decline of rape, but rape crisis lines and the related improvements in enforcement are AWOL.

Here are those 4 minor factors:
(a) less lawlessness associated with crack cocaine;
(b) women have been taught to avoid unsafe situations;
(c) more would-be rapists already in prison for other crimes;
(d) sex education classes telling boys that "no means no."
I won't go into the flaws in the first 3 items on this list other than to say they reinforce old stereotypes about who ...

Does rape: skanky crack addict lurking under busted streetlight waiting for some foolish girl to wander too close.

Doesn't rape: clean-cut boy who wouldn't know crack cocaine from the crack of his ___, but does know he's going to score before he lets his tease of a girlfriend out of his grip. He's a real man, not a rapist. Rapists lurk ...

Enough about rapist stereotypes. What was the watershed moment in this decline in rapes according to this study?

Deep Throat's release in 1972. (The year after the first US rape crisis center opened.)

Yes, all those rapists were enraptured and temporarily taken off the streets. If this study is correct, each new porn delivery system has taken more and more of the would-be rapists time. Basically, social crimes are down today because would-be rapists can't pull themselves away from their Internet porn long enough to even think about getting their rape through actual human contact.

Social crime prevention through total social isolation.

Internet access rates are used to prove this hypothesis (though not worded this bluntly). Minnesota is listed as one of the 4 states with the lowest Internet access rates and rape statistics are actually up here in 2000 vs. 1980.

Mr. D'Amato again either doesn't know or doesn't care that Minnesota has been a national leader in the fight against rape, from raising awareness about rape to improving the criminal justice system's concern for how rape victims are treated. The acknowledgement of rape is up, but that might not mean that there is a corresponding increase in the number of rapes committed since estimates are based on reports to police and reports to surveys.

And you can't coun't what no one will or can acknowledge.

Instead of giving great crime-fighting effort its due, an industry that exploits sex and which does little or nothing to protect the safety of those recorded are given hero status. It's a very convenient linkage.

The rapes that are committed and then sold as porn aren't even a blip on Mr. D'Amato's radar, neither are sex tourism and sex trafficking.

Apparently, all those victims suffer for the greater social good.

Yet an article on false allegations of rape on what may be a sex tourism site recognizes a shift in attitudes in America regarding rape. Here's the most telling line:
Males now feel much more vulnerable than they did just two decades ago, and this has resulted in strongly modified behavioral patterns, designed to avoid becoming the victims of made-up charges.
A fair number of males who aren't skanky crack addicts but who refuse to have their sex lives ruled by the whims of women (She had me at, "HELL NO!") realize more than porn has changed in the last two decades.

I blogged about this same claim of porn as rape prevention made by Glenn Reynolds in his article Porn: Good For America! back in June in a post titled: If Porn Doesn't Make Men Rape Why Not Support Porn?

People may choose to believe that the majority of porn doesn't record sexual exploitation or flat-out rape, but to choose to believe that porn is the best preventative to rape is to refuse to see beyond stacks and megabytes of porn.

If you still don't get it, put the porn down for 24 hours, let blood flow return to brain. Read post again tomorrow.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   5 comments links to this post

5 Comments:

At August 28, 2006 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That post really annoyed me. I rarely rad Kos anymore but Ihad to comment on it.


"To cite such a flimsy piece of work which shows no direct correlation – just an illusion of one - does great disservice to the true facts on rape.

In the case of it being used another way, to prove the neo-cons wrong, well it certainly helps in that regard if one does not look too close.

How about having the party just do something or many things so right that you don't have to use a study as empirically faulty as this one to make a point.
"

I say shame on these people for being so shortsighted.

It is through a narrow keyhole they look at this time and I have a hard time buying all the bullshit out there in the name of getting the net roots people into office.

 
At August 28, 2006 9:40 AM, Blogger pornstudent said...

The decrease in rape is good news anyway you look at it. I wouldn't assume the increase in porn is the reason for the decrease, but those who assume porn causes rape should be corrected.

 
At September 01, 2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Karma said...

Good for you for challenging rape myths. How ridiculous people are getting with these false rape charge freak outs really gets on my nerves. Often cases which are called false are really just not provable in a court of law because of our legal system (and rape myths held by juries).

 
At September 03, 2006 8:18 AM, Blogger xx said...

The problem with the English legal system is that for a criminal case conviction, the prosecution have to prove guilt ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ - evidence, proof, statements, alone are not enough; whereas for a civil case, it’s a matter of ‘on the balance of probability’.

Human rights and civil liberties have for too long been placed higher than the rights and liberties of victims, except recently, when it suits the establishment, as in the case of suspected terrorists.

No doubt that ‘on the balance of probability’, far more cases would be found guilty, but alas, the need to ‘prove beyond all reasonable doubt’ for the benefit of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rapist, means many get away with it – and they, and their lawyers know it.

 
At May 27, 2007 8:26 PM, Anonymous NoPornNorthampton said...

NoPornNorthampton.org provides a variety of rebuttals to arguments such as Professor D'Amato's:

How Spread of Porn Could Give the Illusion that Rape is in Decline (explicit language)
Indications from books like Unhooked or Female Chauvinist Pigs suggest that many women in our present age, understandably, prefer to conceive of themselves as powerful and in control, not as victims. Female members of the porn industry like Lizzy Borden fuel this image of woman as dominator, as opposed to the dominated. A woman acknowledging she was made to have sex against her will, whether to police or to a survey-taker, would not be compatible with this self-image. We observe that sexual assault is both widespread and a substantially underreported crime...

We can hypothesize that as women adopt the promiscuous, callous lifestyle advocated by porn, they will be less likely to report instances of rape. This might be in part because porn trains people to expect discourteous behavior in sex, and in part because of widespread beliefs that ‘loose’ women have little credibility when it comes to accusations of rape. A raped woman has every reason to fear that her sexual history might be mercilessly worked over in court (and/or public opinion) during a trial, especially if that history is long and messy. For reasons like these, one cannot conclude from mere correlation that porn truly reduces the incidence of sexual assault. There is no unambiguous logical connection between the two...

It is easy to see how the propagation of rape myths would decrease reporting of rape. The victim might not be sure that an actual crime occurred, or even if they did, might not feel that our legal system will recognize their injury.

United Kingdom: A Glaring Counter-Example to the Theory that Internet Porn is Cathartic
Law professor Anthony D'Amato, and more recently Todd Kendall of Clemson University, have attempted to correlate increased Internet penetration with decreasing rates of rape. Since the Internet is a major vector for porn, they suggest that more porn in the home means fewer people will rape. In short, they claim that porn is cathartic.

We have already discussed some of the flaws in this argument, the origins of which go back over 30 years. A new counter-example has recently come to our attention. Between 2000-2005, the number of Internet users in the United Kingdom increased from 15.4 million to 35.8 million (InternetWorldStats). During this time, the overall population only grew from 58.8 million to 59.9 million, so the proportion of Internet users in the population grew from 26% to 60%.

If the D'Amato/Kendall theory was correct, you would expect a measurable decrease in the number of reported rapes. However, the opposite trend was seen. In the period 1999-2000, just under 8,000 rapes of a female were reported in England and Wales. This level then increased every year until by the 2005-2006 period, over 13,000 rapes of a female were reported (Home Office Crime Statistics). This was during a time when the overall population increased by just 2%.

In Scotland, the trend of recorded rapes is similar. After dipping slightly between the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 reporting periods, rapes recorded by police increased every year through the 2005-2006 reporting period (Scottish Executive). Overall, recorded rapes increased from just under 600 in 1999-2000 to just under 1,000 in 2005-2006.

Government officials in the United Kingdom believe that some of the increases in recorded rapes are due to improved reporting of crimes. Factors like these underscore the risks of drawing simple conclusions from apparent correlations between changes in reported crime rates and changes in other phenomena. The challenges are especially great when discussing heavily underreported crimes such as rape and domestic assault.

When combined with personal testimony and scientific experiments, the balance of the data suggests that porn stimulates rape and confuses people about what's acceptable behavior (such as whether to take no for an answer during sex). It certainly cannot be concluded that porn reduces rape.

Porn and Sex Crimes in Other Countries: The Historical Experience
Porn advocates are usually quieter about the results of studies of Sweden, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia, where “"as the constraints on the availability of pornography were lifted...the rates of rape in those countries increased."”[35] For example, “in two Australian states between 1964 and 1977, when South Australia liberalized it’s laws on pornography and Queensland maintained its conservative policy...over the thirteen-year period, the number of rapes in Queensland remained at the same low level while South Australia’s’ showed a sixfold increase."[36]

 

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