WHY therapists need to know about porn (Part 3)

Photo by Jascha400d

by Duncan E. Stafford (psychotherapist, supervisor and author) @therapyspaceuk

A popular argument made against pornography is that it fosters negative attitudes towards women. While this might seem logical, studies by Baron (1990), Davis (1997) and Barak et al. (1999) all report that there appears to be no significant correlation between exposure to pornography and increased measures of misogynist attitudes. Equally entrenched is the fear that pornography encourages rape. As long ago as 1970, Kupperstein and Wilson in the USA reported on studies from 1960 to 1969 that found, ‘with some exceptions, while pornography became increasingly available, there was an overall decrease in sexual offenses’. More recently, studies from around the world including Landripet, Stulhofer & Diamond (2006) in Croatia and D’Amato (2006) in the USA report similar findings on reported rape. In short, there is still a majority of studies that appear to suggest that as porn use has gone up, rape figures have come down.[1] However, it is worth looking into the detail of some or all of these studies because, although they do well in challenging lay-accepted views about pornography, they also bring to our attention once more the ‘definitions’ problem I raised in Part 2 of this article. Studies on the effects of pornography are reporting on the effects of what sort of pornography? While some might call pornography a marriage saver or an education, I don’t think they have in mind hardcore films like 4 in the pink, Four in the stink, Meatholes or Piss mops. I also find it difficult to see how these sorts of movies foster or support positive views of women (or humanity).

For those interested in rich detail of such material but who do not want to do their own Internet research, the book Girlvert, a porno memoir by Oriana Small (aka porn actress, Ashley Blue) offers a brilliant and exceptionally frank insight into the life of a porn star. Alternatively, for those interested in the effects that porn and cybersex have on users, then my own book Turned On: Intimacy in a Pornized Society offers an equally frank and detailed view of hardcore, pornography set within the framework of a therapeutic encounter.

1 Baron (1990), Davis (1997),  Barak et al. (1999), D’Amato (2006), and Kupperstein and Wilson, Landripet, Stulhofer & Diamond (2006), all in Diamond M., ‘Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review’ International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 32 (2009).

In Part 4, Duncan E. Stafford looks towards working with porn as a therapist.

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