Here's a study that has already prompted controversy. The Sunny Side of Smut argues that for "the more casual exposure typical of most porn users, recent research shows that moderate pornography consumption does not make users more aggressive, promote sexism, or harm relationships. If anything, some researchers suggest, exposure to pornography might make some people less likely to commit sexual crimes." While most Europeans would find little surprise in the findings, we Americans take our prudishness seriously. Porn has been a hotbed (as it were) issue for many years. As one researcher reminds us, "There's absolutely no evidence that pornography does anything negative. It's a moral issue, not a factual issue."
It is perhaps telling that our attitudes toward porn say more about ourselves as individuals, than about pornography's effect or lack of effect. For instance, regarding the alleged link between porn and sexism, "The survey respondents who were most sexist were generally older men who voted for a right-wing political party, lived in a rural area, and had a lower level of formal education." In short, porn is falsely indicted by association with mindsets which are already predisposed to sexism, aggression, or shaky relationships.
Caveat: the conclusions cited refer to adults viewing adult porn, not to bestiality or child porn. Check out the study (including the comments left by readers), and see what you think. Also, what do you think of the image of abstract art shown above? Is it sexually suggestive to you? Why, or why not? Would you consider the image pornographic?
While we're considering our attitudes and behavior surrounding sex, consider My Mixed Feelings About Slut Walks. A slutwalk is a public demonstration by barely-clad or provocatively-clad feminist women, intended to challenge our assumptions about women's clothing, sexual assault, and personal responsibility (among both women and men). The demonstrators contend that how a woman dresses is irrelevant to how a man behaves in response. A lone woman dressed stylishly, or in a manner which celebrates her body, is a more likely target for harassment or sexual assault than a woman who dresses more modestly, or so the rationale goes. "She's asking for it," is a cruder way of defending the indefensible ~ men who take it upon themselves to behave like boors at best, and like animals at worst.
The author's mixed feelings derive from her own past experience with being raped. Her essay is sobering, and well worth the read.