Porn equals rape?

By: Jahanzaib Haque
The Express Tribune

Being the editor of a news website has one major perk – the gift (or curse) of being able to sort and meta-analyse the hordes of comments pouring in on articles. One topic in particular, where commentary borders on the unusual and often naïve is on articles concerning rape.

Inevitably, any report on rape contains the usual ‘our nation is in moral decline’ and ‘Islam has been abandoned, hence, rape is on the rise’ comments. While both these statements merit deconstruction and analysis, there is a third statement I find most strange, though altogether predictable: Pakistanis are watching more porn and watching more porn leads to rape.

At first glance, this assertion seems perfectly natural, and indeed, it is part of a meme which was best voiced by radical feminist writer Robin Morgan who in the 1980s coined, “pornography is the theory — rape is the practice.”

However, that sound byte was created in the US nearly three decades ago – since then the porn industry has multiplied with the growth spurt of the internet. What has happened to the US since then? Is it now full of rapists, sexual deviants and immoral tales of horror as Pakistani commenters so love to claim?

According to The US Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey, sexual violence in the US, over the last 12 years has declined by over 75 per cent. Don’t trust the US Justice Department? Read any of the hundreds of independent media report findings. Don’t believe the US media? How about other independent organisations; follow-up papers by university psychology, sociology departments; research groups, feminist lobby groups – the information is just a click away, and it all points to the same thing. While rape may be an under-reported crime in any society, a decline that steep is visible, no matter what spin you want to put on it. In addition to this, according to the Centres  for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 1990 the US abortion rate has fallen 41 per cent and the syphilis and gonorrhoea rates have fallen by over 50 per cent each.

While it would be equally wrong to glance at the statistics and say ‘pornography has caused a decline in rape, abortion and STDs,’ it would be at least fair to say ‘porn has little or no impact on rape, abortions or the spread of STDs.’

To those who would choose to continue using the rhetoric of “porn equals rape” and “US is immorality central”, do consider the writings of feminist, Susie Bright who characterises this view as part of “the devil made me do it” syndrome. According to her and many other writers, by postulating that pornography causes rape, we are letting the rapist off the hook, because the underlying message of such a statement is: the rapist is not to blame.

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