The EU’s Porn Show

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Today the parliament of the European Union will vote on a resolution to ban pornography, ostensibly to promote gender equality. Zack Beauchamp argues that such a ban would be counterproductive:

[There is] empirical evidence that [pornography] reduces the incidence of sexual violence. One 2007 study by Todd Kendall compared the rates of crime between U.S. states with greater and lesser access to the internet. After controlling for other crime-inducing variables (like rates of urbanization and alcoholism), Kendall found that more internet access led to lower rates of two crimes only — rape and prostitution[.]

Amanda Hess thinks the resolution, which is unlikely to pass, is patronizing:

When we find gender disparities in other sectors—from literary journalism to tech—we urge industry leaders to assess the problem and encourage women to lean in. But when it comes to porn, the impulse is to just shut the whole thing down. That’s unfortunate, because it reinforces the expectation that women can only ever be innocent bystanders to sexual material, never producers or consumers in their own right (banning all porn would mean negating the contributions of proudly feminist pornographers like Tristan Taormino, Nina Hartley, and Cindy Gallop). It glides over the experiences of female porn viewers (who have leveraged the Internet to find and distribute porn that appeals to them, even when it’s not marketed that way). It totally ignores the men who are “sexualized” in porn (if pornography discriminates against women, can we all keep watching gay porn?).

(Photo from the series The Armory by Elizabeth Moran, which “documents the ever-changing sets of the pornography company Kink.com … Devoid of people, the spaces allude to an activity, but leave the viewer to imagine the scene.)