With the recent election still echoing in everyone's ears, and pundits pundificating about how conservative the country really is, this is a good time to remember the major study done about online pornography subscriptions just 18 months ago.
As reported in the Journal of Economic Perspectives,
* The rates at which people buy pornography are not wildly different from state to state;
* States where people vote for conservative candidates buy more porn than states in which people vote for progressive candidates.
And yes, this is after adjusting for factors including broadband access, income, and population.
According to credit card receipts from a national provider of adult entertainment, eight of the top ten pornography-consuming states went Republican in the 2008 election. And the trend goes beyond voting. For example, states where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage" bought more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. The same difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior."
And of course the state with the highest per capita purchase of online pornography is...Utah. Of course.
To repeat: porn subscriptions don't just come from California, New York, and other Liberal-Jewish-Urban-Latte-Sipping nests of perversion. They come from every state. And they really come from states in which people claim their values make them uninterested in or resistant to porn.
One technical term for such people is liars, but let's be more compassionate, the better to understand our fellow creatures.
There are large groups of people who claim certain negative attitudes about sexuality, yet do those very same things. Porn. Prostitutes. Premarital sex. Same-gender stuff. Affairs. Adult masturbation. Wild fantasies.
What are they saying? That they reject their own sexuality. What are they feeling? Frightened, anxious, alone. Guilty, ashamed, tormented; as if, to quote a Jonny Lang song, "even God has lost track of my soul."
Progressive politics MUST address these feelings in so-called conservative people. Until we do, we're just reinforcing a phony us/them divide cooked up by politically powerful people. Talking about a sexually in-control "us" and a sexually out-of-control "them" is how the Religious Right made its fortune, and stays in business. The regulation of other people's sexuality is a theme that never gets boring-for people who are afraid of their own sexuality.