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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Problem of Porn

There's a new study out that blames male porn use for the drop in marriage. It's a fairly lousy study. Marriage depends on a lot of different factors. This study only looks at one, so it really doesn't tell us anything.

For instance, take the fact that high-income, college-educated people marry at a MUCH higher rate than high-school dropouts. Of course, when college-educated couples divorce, 90% of the divorces are initiated by the woman (overall, women initiate divorce 65% of the time). So, if porn is the problem, we are simultaneously saying that college-educated men don't look at porn as much as high school dropouts (thus the college grads marry more) AND college-educated men look at porn MUCH more than high school dropouts (thus the high divorce rate).

Clearly, both cannot be simultaneously true.

And furthermore, how do we find a significantly large control group of men who do not use porn? It turns out to be a lot tougher than you might think. Researchers typically can't find enough men who don't use porn to create a control group for comparison purposes.

Then we have the problem of marriage itself - when divorce happens, women get the man's income, the man's children, often his house and car, regardless of how much the woman might herself be earning. Female hypergamy means that women won't marry high school dropouts - they always try to step up to a "higher quality" man. Indeed, you can make a very strong argument that allowing women access to higher education is at least as pernicious in its effect on marriage as allowing men access to porn.

But the pool of "higher quality" men is contracting as men are getting fewer and fewer college degrees. Why are they dropping out of college? Because college is an increasingly hostile place for men. All a woman has to do is cry "rape" and the male student is instantly thrown out of school, blacklisted, with his future destroyed. Ironically, this is true even though the proliferation of internet porn happened at the same time that rape began a dramatic decline.



But, as a result of the hostile college climate, the majority of all college degrees now go to women. So fewer and fewer men are considered "eligible" marriage material by women. Female hypergamy means the men who don't put themselves through the abuse which we call college are not considered "marriageable." And of those men who are eligible, many refuse to marry precisely because they understand that if the woman decides to walk out of the relationship, it is the man who will lose his wallet. Many "eligible" men look at the cost-benefit ratio and decline the odds. But that is not addressed in this study.

Furthermore, this study only looks at MEN. What about women's porn? And women's porn isn't just 50 Shades of Grey. In women, both yoga and shopping stimulate the same brain centers as orgasm. That is, for a woman, finding a good sale is as pleasurable as having sex.

But do we find articles warning us that women imperil marriage by going shopping or practicing yoga? Do we find articles warning women to stop being hypergamous? Do we warn women not to attend college? Of course we don't. Only men imperil marriage. Women never do.

So, is porn use a consequence of non-marriage or a cause? Is it just a correlation? Given the many other factors involved (and I've only mentioned two: hypergamy and anti-male social bias), how much of the problem can be associated with porn use?

I'm not defending porn use. I'm just pointing out that there's a lot less here than meets the eye (pardon the pun). Both St. Augustine and the Angelic Doctor were willing to tolerate legal prostitution as a necessary concession to human brokenness. Does porn fall into that same category? I don't know. But I find it interesting that the porn stick is only wielded against men - never against women.

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