There was an interesting study recently released that measures the appetite for pornography based on scales of religious and social conservatism. The results of this survey are not surprising when compared to other results released years ago.
In the old report, arousal was measured in men, who self-identified from very anti-LGBT to liberal, when they watched “gay porn.” Not surprisingly, those who had the most negative attitude about GLBT had more erectile arousal than those who had less. The results of the survey showed that homophobia is as or more likely to be caused by shame and suppression of innate homosexual tendencies as any other cause.
This recent survey, and the summary article in New Scientist, seems to show a similar pattern with regard to subscription rates to online pornography. While the range is less than impressive, the correlation is that the more conservative and religious states – those that are most vocally against pornography and other sexual liberties – are likely to experience higher subscription rates to pay-for-porn websites. Is this another case of “protesting too much?”
While I am inclined to think that a puritanical worldview does give rise to more prurient interests that, in turn, cause internalized shame and outward outrage, this study seems to fall short of proving it. It is entirely plausible that the correlation is exactly as it appears – that “some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by.” But, there is another palusible explanation, as well – one which the study does not negate.
The fact that higher subscription rates are visible in conservative or religious states does not immediately mean that the most conservative or religious are the actual customers of porn. While it might be a hard sell, from the point of view of statistics, could not a localized tendency to using porn cause an equally local, but vociferous outcry against it? That could explain the highest incidence of porn subscriptions also being found in the areas with the most shrill voices crying out against it. It would, admittedly, not explain the relationship between the incidence of religiosity or conservatism with porn subscriptions, however.
Perhaps I’m just a little too eager to give my conservative sisters and brothers some breathing room with regard to this survey.