real life

The surprising benefit of men watching porn.

By MELISSA WELLHAM

What is porn good for? Aside from the – ahem – obvious.

Well, as it turns out… Straight men who watch pornography are more accepting of gay marriage.

Out of all the film genres, porn (does it count as a ‘genre’?) has perhaps the worst reputation. It’s more maligned than the garden-variety romantic-comedy; promoting an even more damaging stereotype of women than a Sarah Jessica Parker movie.

It portrays all men as terrifyingly endowed, relentlessly virile and more macho than Bruce Willis in Die Hard Whatever Number We’re Up To Now. And there are many out there who believe that porn is about as necessary as another Fast and the Furious flick.

However, putting aside the common criticisms frequently directed at porn – that it portrays an inaccurate male-centric version of female sexuality, that it teaches men to treat women as sex objects, and that it makes men lazy (because, you know, if a woman enjoy giving oral sex so much then there’s certainly no point in making sure she receives it) – there might be some positives to porn.

Namely, that heterosexual men who watch porn are more likely to support homosexual marriage. Seriously.

New research published in an American journal Communication Research, found that men who viewed more porn in 2008, were more likely to support same-sex marriage in 2010. But why?

The Huffington Post reported:

Exposure to porn may cause heterosexual men to be more accepting of “non-traditional sexual situations.” As Wright explained to the Examiner, if people think “individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to have same-sex sex, they will also think that individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to get married to a partner of the same-sex.”

The theory that porn causes men to favor marriage equality was also recently argued by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus, who gained notoriety in 2012 for a now widely denounced study that found children of gay parents were worse off than those of straight parents.

Of course, it’s worth noting that the second explanation – from a man who argued that children of gay parents were worse off than children of straight parents – might be displaying some of his own biases in arguing that porn diminishes sex by removing it from its marital roots.

Which is perhaps the problem with any scientist specifically formulating a study to prove that watching porn makes heterosexual men more accepting of gay marriage. Was this study designed to raise porn as an ‘art form’ in the eyes of little-‘l’-liberals, who are also likely to support gay marriage? Or was it designed to diminish the concept of gay marriage?

Linking gay marriage to porn arguably degrades gay marriage. Just like the common (and bollocks) argument against gay marriage that “next The Gays will be able to marry their brothers. Who are also animals”. It makes homosexuality something deviant. Something wrong. Which is completely and utterly unfair. 

But perhaps neither interpretation of the study is correct. Perhaps this study about two highly contentious topics – porn and gay marriage – is wholly objective, and untainted by bias. It could happen.

In any case, the final conclusion of the study was that, in general, men are still less likely to support marriage equality than women. No matter how much porn they watch.

Have you ever watched pornography? What do you think makes a person more likely to be accepting of gay marriage?

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