No evidence that porn causes harm

One book on my to-buy list is the recently-released The Porn Report by Alan McKee, Katherine Albury and Catharine Lumby. Until I get around to that, Danny Yee’s review has some juicy tidbits (ooherr).

[T]he common stereotypes are wrong: unsurprisingly, given that pornography users make up about a third of Australian adults, they are fairly representative of the broader population, with the major exception being that fewer than one in five of the respondents were women…

Detailed analysis of the most popular Australian DVD titles shows that, even with broad definitions, fewer than 2% of scenes have any kind of violence. The total ban on violence in the Australian X-rated category seems to have worked. Another finding was that “pornography does not really objectify women more than men… On some measures, men are the more active sexual subjects… on others, it’s the women.” The Internet is a lot more diverse, but despite extensive efforts the authors managed to find not a single site with actual rape photographs, and only a handful of sites with faked ones.

There is no evidence that pornography causes harm to its users: the studies that suggest this have involved pushing pornography on non-users in artificial laboratory experiments. In contrast, there has been almost no attempts to study the beneficial effects of pornography, even though consumers overwhelmingly report positive effects…

Part 2 of the book covers issues such as censorship, and notes:

“Protecting the children” has been a rallying call for censorship for a long time. It turns out that actual child pornography — the police prefer to call it “child abuse material” — is extremely hard to find. And evidence-based education has to be central to protecting children from harm, whether from cyberstalking or contact with material they will find disturbing.

Essential reading, I’d have thought, for anyone wanting to discuss censorship of the Internet, eh Senator Conroy?