Religion, Sex, Porn and Politics


church_bodiesThe more religious people are, the more upset they will often be about the availability of porn, and yet surprisingly enough (to some), that degree of religiosity also correlates with a voracious consumption of porn, so what is going on here?

Valerie Tarico, a psychologist and writer in Seattle, has a great article over on AlterNet that is well worth a read on all this

studies consistently demonstrate that people in [red-state] conservative religious [regions] search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states.

Ever since Freud first started publishing his theories, psychologists have had a fascination with what he called “defense mechanisms“:

  • Denial means simply refusing to acknowledge that some event or pattern is real.
  • Repression involves pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the far recesses of the subconscious mind.
  • Reaction formation is saying or doing the opposite of what you really want but won’t allow yourself to express.
  • Projection means assuming that others share the impulses, feelings, and vices that you find unacceptable in yourself…

In October, two Toronto researchers, Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, published a study in which they used Google Trends to analyze porn searches. Individual search records are protected by privacy laws, but it is possible to compare the popularity of search terms across various regions or states, which is what they did.

Specifically, MacInnis and Hodson linked state level information from Gallup polls asking about religious and political attitudes together with a variety of sex and porn-related search terms… their findings are in keeping with information from other sources: Business professor Benjamin Edelman at Harvard found that states with more traditional views of sex and gender have higher rates of paid porn subscriptions—meaning people who are willing to put porn on a credit card…

It’s not just a Uniquely Christian US thing, if you check out google trends you will find that the ultra conservative Islamic nation of Pakistan appears to be the number one consumer of some rather weird porn on the planet, so much so that they get a special word in the dictionary to describe their gross hypocrisy.

So is this simply an odd correlation, or is there really a causal relationship here? Well, there are other observations that verify all this, for example …

Strip club owners claim they make three times as much during Republican conventions as Democratic conventions or even the Superbowl. MacInnis and Hodson quote exotic dancer Layla Love who in 2001 said, “Since the RNC has started, I have actually started to do 15 to 17 hour shifts, every day, until the convention is over. So, for basically seven days straight, I will be in the club, every day, day shift and night shift.”

Religion will often advocate for the suppression human sexuality, and when the idea of doing so is fully embraced, it will then turn to ravage and torment the believers, and so it will in effect burst out again, often in secret.

My real beef with these folks is the complete and utter shameless hypocrisy at play here – it turns out that those who want their teens to just say “no”, apparently can’t do so themselves.

Valerie more or less nails it at the end of her article …

American men, women, and yes, children need honest conversation about the world we actually live in, not some pretense or fantasy about how we think the world should work. We need policies that are grounded in evidence and that recognize the awkward, complicated and sometimes embarrassing reality of what it means to be human. And that includes the fact that most of us really, really like sex.

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