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Summary and Comments

on "Pornography," The Bulletin of Christian Medical Fellowship of Hong Kong

Vol. 1: No.1 August 1986.

by Philip Yim Kwok Hung

 

Outline of Contents

Preface

Chapter I Scientific Information on Pornography

What is pornography?

Pornography

Sexually explicit material

Difficulties in doing research on Pornography

The Scientific Evidences Examined

A.No effect

B.Beneficial effect

C.Harmful effect

Conclusion of Scientific Evidences Examined

Appendix (Case reports)

Chapter II Christian Viewpoints on Human Sexuality, Pornography and Censorship on Pornography

A. Human Sexuality

B. Sex and Pornography

C. Censorship on Pornography

Chapter III Statements issued by the Executive Committee of the Christian Medical Fellowship of Hong Kong

Summary

Preface

The aim of this booklet is to present the scientific studies related to pronography and to declare the christian viewpoints on it and human sexuality.

Chapter I Scientific Information on Pornography

Based on Longford Report (1972), "it defined 'pornography' as taht which exploits and dehumanises sex, so that human beings are teated as things and women in particular as sex objects." (quoted in Chapter I) Sexually explicit material and things that creates sexual arousal are not necessarily pornographic; but the manner to treat these things are the focus of problem. Sexually explicit material includes sex educational material, erotica, and hard-core pornography. Only the third one is taken as pornography, since it gernerates sexually aggressive behavior. However, it is hard to distinguish it from the second.

Difficulties in doing research on Pornography includes ethical and methodological issues.

It is unethical to expose men to stimuli which could be potentially damaging to them. It is difficult to set up control groups and to limit the subjects from contacting pornography. Some studies have no sound psychological theory and the researches are selective and fragmented. Sometimes, the researcher's objectivity is in doubt.

The Scientific Evidences Examined

A.No effect

1.The Presidential Commision Report on Obscenity and Pornography (US., 1970)

The conclusion was "no evidence that exposure to or use of explicit sexual materials play a significant role in the causation of social or individual harms such as crime, delinquency, sexual or non-sexual deviancy of severe emotional disturbances." (quoted in I. A. 1.)

A minority report accuses the majority report has ignored and glossed much of the anti-evidences.

The arguments of the majority is based on the following evidences: Poll studies of public opinion on sexually explicit material (abr: SEM) found diverse opinion on sexually explicit material. Surverys of psychiatriest and other helping professionals have revealed that most of them think SEM has no strong effect.

Presentation of conventional herterosexual behaviour can induce arousing better than deviant behavior. repeated exposure to SEM over 15 days will decreased arousal. Long term effect of that is small.

Sex offenders are same as others.

2.The Williams Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship (UK., 1979)

Conclusion: harm arising from pornography is still unproved.

Comment:

The majority report ignored the researchs which contradict their conclusions. For example, Davis and Braucht have found "exposure to pornorgraphy is the strongest predictor of secual deviance among the early age of exposure subjects."

Based on the research on 70 subjects of good background higher than national average, the report generalizes it for all people. The studies are preliminary, outdated (1960s), without good controls. Some major gaps is ignored (e.g. the impact of eotica on youth) Long-term studies has not started.

B.Beneficial effect

1.Danish studies

a.Kutchinsky (1973): No. of pornographic books dropped from 1.2M in 1968 to 0.1M in 1969. (abbr. M = million)

b.Ben-Veniste (1971): He reported heterosexual crimes coming to police's attention had decreased 63%.

2.Wilson (1978): 35 out of 2468 subjects claimed they had received assistance from SEM for their sex problems. By this ratio (1.4%), they extrapolated 1M US people have the same situation.

3.sex therapists

Some therapists have use SEM to help women (Heiman, LoPiccolo & LoPiccolo 1976; McMullen 1978) and men (Gillan 1978) to achieve orgasm.

Comment:

Kutchinsky has restricted the implication of his research to the Danes, normal person, and students. The crime reporting rate doesn't mean crime occurance rate. Some sex therapists, like Feshbach & Malamuth (1978) oppose the use of any media containing rape scene to the patient or encouraging them to have rape fantasies. Erotica are is used by therapist, but pornography is different stuff.

C.Harmful effect

Eight stuides were quoted from Eysenck & Nias (1978) to validate the harmful effect. Prisoners with high exposure to pornography were found to engage more often in group and oral sex (Propper 1972). Erotic films will increase subjects' sexual fantasies, sexual discussions (Davis and Braucht 1971 & Mosher 1971), and aggression towards someone who had earlier shocked them (Tanenbaum 1971). Erotic stories will induce erections or genital sensations (Schmidt et al. 1973). Erotic film induced higher shocks in aggression level than a boxing or neutral film (Zillmann 1971) while mild erotica reduced aggression (Donnerstein et al 1975). Besides, Rachman (1966) and Rochman and Hodgson (1968) show that human may be conditioned to develop a fetish behavior.

Comments:

The link between the type of pornography that is read and the type of sex cimre commited demands further investigation. Though no changes is observed in single students in the studies; but no check is done on the impact on his / her future sexual activities. Emotional arousal combined with negative hedonic attitude will facilitate aggression. Though apparently, men may be conditioned by associating fantasy with sexual excitement and orgasm, but predispostition may paly an important role too; because most deviations are acquired in the early age.

Conclusion of Scientific Evidences Examined

The Presidential Commission Report has much methodological flaw, its conclusion

should not accepted without doubt. Recent researches have confirmed there are some effects on viewers and readers, but its influence varies from person to person. Besides, deep-seated sexual problems may be released by using erotic material under supervision of a therapist. Researches have confirmed there is a direct relationship between sex and violence. However, researches on the long-term effects of pornography, cross-cultural setting, and effects on vulnerable groups have not yet done.

Appendix (Case reports): The "Copycat" syndrome -- the acting out in real life of crime seen on stage or screen.

Four girls have raped a 9-year old girl, copying from a TV movie Born Innocent.

Raonnie Zamorra, a 15-year-old, TV addict shoot and kill a neighbor. He may be

unable to separate TV programmes from real life.

Chapter II Christian Viewpoints on Human Sexuality, Pornography and Censorship on Pornography

A. Human Sexuality

God created man in His image, when sin enters the world it causes disruption. Shameful feelings about nakedness may be a forerunner of sexual disorder. The scripture says, "And they become one flesh". Sexual intercourse is God's gift that express a complete unity between husband and wife.

B. Sex and Pornography

God designs sex in context of mutual love and He abhors adultery (Heb. 13:4) and perverted sexual behaviour (Lev. 18:6-23). Man and woman are created equal before God. pornography that humiliate woman is against God and it may be one of the "lusts of the eye" (1 Jn 2:16).

C. Censorship on Pornography

To impose a rigid censorship on all media would cause political dictatorship. Therefore, prohibiting any public display of pornographic material is to protect the weak (eg. the young). Christian Ethics are based on the Creation of God. Christians believe that all things done according to His rules will be the best choice. Non-Christian religious leaders and secular philosophers will observe there is a basis for morality. The Ten Commandments are reflected in most of the civic, and religious laws of the world.

Chapter III Statements issued by the Executive Committee of the Christian Medical Fellowship of Hong Kong

A. We endorse the following statement of Internation Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne (1972): [I will select some only]

"Sex is ordained by God in the context of love, which is essentially a spiritual factor. ...pornography which involves the exploitation of the weaknesses of man and the corruption of his spiritual and moral nature. ....Pornography, in atttacking the image of God in man, is an attack upon God himself....."

B. As a Christian medical organisation, we hold the following viewpoints:

Sex is a gift given by God. Pornography exploits sex, destroys human dignity and family, endorses lust.

C. We recommend the following:

Children and juveniles should be protected from SEM. Quality control on SEM should be done, esp. in the mass media. Sexual education withing schools should be well-prepared and done by well trained teachers.

Criticism

The report is done in a very orderly fashion. The logical flow of it is good. I do appreciate these brothers have made this report in response to the world. This is an excellent attempt.

This report is methodological sound but there are some problems in the use of sources and data.

1. The use of sources:

All the researches on harmful effects are based on the quotations of one book: Eysenck & Nias (1978). Every author will select and sometimes reinterpret the sources to fit his arguments. Therefore, the report writers should consult more books with different perspectives and the primary sources from which they quote. Besides, the report is issued in August 1986, but most of the references it quotes is before 1978. So the references are sowhat outdated. It may due to the heavy dependency on Eysenck & Nias (1978). Only four references are written after 1978, but one is an editorial in Christianity Today (1985), one is in News of the Christianity Today (1985). Their academic levels are doubtful. Another two are books written by J.H. Court (1980) and J. Dominian (1981) respectively.

If the writers of this report have not seen the reports quoted by Eysenck & Nias, then should they put them in their reference? I think it is methodologically unsound to include them.

2. Arguments:

In A. 2. b., the author comment the cited researches have inappropiate generalisation. I agree on that, but it seems to me some more problems can be mentioned.

For example, the students' interest decrease when the same pornographic materials are presented to them repeatedly. The decrease may be due to getting tired of the same stuff, rather than the effect of the pornographic materials. Besides, there are only 70 subjects in the research that it is a rather small number; hence, the conclusion is not firm.

3. Data or viewpoints:

"The Ten Commandments are reflected in most of the civic, and religious laws of the world." is vague and may not true. For example, many countries believe in animism, polytheism or atheism. This is against the first three laws. They don't observe the sabbath too. In some culture, cutting off the head of a men in an adversary tribe is a gift for wedding proposal (e.g. the head-hunters in Seba). Peoples in the world have different sets of world views and religious ideas, we must admit this and don't impose our wishes on that. I think we should separate wishes from facts.

Summaries are at times unclear

for example, under I. C. 6., what is meant by "previously angered subjects" (referred to 5?). In I. C. 8., the use of coloured circles, triangles and polygons is unclear. How do they relate to the research?

4. Mistakes made by publisher.

In I. 1. "....sexually explicti is not ncessarily.....", "ncessarily" is clearly "necessarily" misspelt.

In II. A. 2. "....a gift from God. 'Any they become one flesh'.... ", "Any" should be "And".

5. Presentation

No pagenumbering is used in this report. It causes problems when it is used by other researchers.

Finally, I have to express my appreciation of these brothers to work on this area that motivate Hong Kong Christians to face the soical problems. In Hong Kong, the fundamentalism has stopped many Christians to respond to the needs of the society. Now, the Lord has changed our heart. May God bless the brothers (& sisters) in the medical field who fight for His truth!