Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
Utah has the highest subscription rate (5.47 subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users) to pornography, while Montana has the lowest (1.92 subsciptions per 1000). The correlation between conservatism and pornography also shows up in states banning gay marriage:
Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
The correlation is seen in states that have a stronger receptivity to family values:
States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour [sic]."
And is seen in the 2008 electoral map:
Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
To which, Edelman makes the common sense, "forbidden fruit" conclusion:
"One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.We've implicitly alluded to this hypothesis earlier in our discussion over the ineffectiveness of virginity pledges. Puritanical and Victorian teachings of sex and sexuality no longer appear to be efficacious, especially in an age where pornography is one click away. We need to teach a healthy and balanced understanding of human sexuality, as teachings that are premised on the inherent sinfulness of sex and sexuality only increase the likelihood of unhealthy sexual behaviors.
Please keep your comments high-minded.
Update: Reader Tripp offers his thoughts on this topic at Homebrewed Christianity, as do Steve Waldman and Andrew Sullivan on their blogs.