Which statement is more accurate?  Sexually aggressive men are drawn to pornography because it reinforces their preexisting hostile orientation to sexuality or reading or watching pornography can...

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There is simply no way to tell which of these statements is more accurate.  Researchers feel that they have found evidence for both ideas.  My own view is that neither statement is particularly accurate.

First of all, we have to realize that there are many kinds of pornography.  Different types of pornography can be seen as more or less degrading towards women. However, this distinction is clearly in the eye of the beholder.  This means that any study that lumps all men who view pornography together fails to capture the importance of the different types of pornography.  At the same time, studies that attempt to capture these differences can be flawed because the people conducting the study must define which kinds of pornography are degrading.  What this means is that it is hard to know how useful various studies are.

Second, we have to realize that the vast majority of men view pornography to at least some extent, particularly in the internet age.  Yet not all men are sexually aggressive.  Therefore, neither statement can be completely true.

Finally, it is very hard to measure the actual causation at work in this relationship.  To do it properly, you would have to take men before they have viewed pornography.  You would then need to determine what their attitudes toward sexuality were.  Then, you would need to let some of them watch pornography while preventing others.  You would then have to follow them over time and determine if their attitudes change.  Even then, you would be hard-pressed to know what had caused any changes you might see since pornography would not be the only variable acting on the men.

Thus, the accuracy of both statements has to be deferred till future time.  The various answers found by various studies thus far tend to indicate that this is not something we are able to determine given our current technology and our current ability to test human attitudes.


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