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Faith or Fap: why is the Bible Belt watching so much porn?

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

The religious Bible Belt in the Southern United States is known for its Christian, politically conservative population – but studies over the past decade allude to the idea that maybe the sex-negative South ‘doth protest too much.’ Several recent surveys, all of which were performed by analyzing anonymous user data, indicate that states with more religious conservatives search for more porn, more gay porn, and submit more homemade sex tapes than the rest of the country. This begs the question: Why are these numbers so contrary to what typical religious values espouse?

So what gives? There’s a lot to unpack there – after all, conservative Christianity is more readily associated with promise rings than porn. One idea that can be posited about Dixie’s predilection for pornography comes from the psychological concept of reactance. People, when faced with a perceived limitation, will often feel their freedom is being threatened and act out in the manner that has been proscribed against. Assuming that most people in the South were raised in communities with values similar to their own – which is a pretty safe assumption when considering the fact that children of highly religious parents overwhelmingly remain the same faith through adulthood – it is easy to theorize that conservative Christian Southerners might simply be rebelling against social mores that have been passed down to them. As any kinkster or psychologist will tell you, taboo can play a compelling role in sexuality.

Aggressive bravado may be another explanation for these statistical anomalies. A recent study found that men who voted for Donald Trump were more likely to be insecure in their masculinity, and there is little that the cult of toxic masculinity hates more than homosexuality. Politicians of the American South are also notoriously anti-porn; it is hardly a stretch to consider that gay men in heavily Republican areas such as the American South may feel compelled to overact in order to defend their masculine identity and place within their communities. A large number of closeted men would create a disparity in the perception of the culture when contrasted with actual practices of everyday people.

An opposing theory is that the studies quoted could be statistical anomalies that don’t take into account the current (read as: younger) face of the South. As an audience, we are accustomed to viewing the South as a sort of cartoonish Dixieland, waving Confederate flags and burning crosses. While current events reflect that this is still somewhat true, this may not be a complete vision of the majority of Southerners. Relying on internet analytics may give us a comprehensive view of what internet users are doing, but it could be argued that it does not account for the entire population of an area. Internet users are more likely to be young; internet usage penetration for 18–29-year-olds in the United States has been recorded at 98%, with 97% penetration for 30–49-year-olds. When compared with only 66% penetration for seniors aged 65+ and the fact that seniors 60+ are more likely to be active voters, there is a discrepancy between what older generations of Southerners vote for and what younger Southerners are practicing that needs to be statistically accommodated for.

Whichever theory you attribute to these findings, it is important to remember that analysis of trends like those presented can only give us a general idea of correlation, and does not fully allow us to draw conclusions about individuals. American Southerners are statistically likely to be Trump voters and religious conservatives, and people using the internet in these areas search for more porn and more gay porn than the rest of the country. Whether you assign those things meaning in the context of one another is up to you…

This post first appeared on MyErotica.com

REFERENCES:

Brown, E. N. (2018, November 13). Anti-Porn Republicans Haven’t Gone Anywhere. https://reason.com/blog/2018/11/13/porn-panic-in-politics-never-left

Feit, N. (2018, February 20). Confederate flag debate in SC to be featured on television program. https://www.thestate.com/entertainment/tv/article201180744.html

Keisling, P. (2017, February 8). Our Ever-Older Electorate and What It Means for Democracy. http://www.governing.com/columns/smart-mgmt/col-aging-electorate-voting-participation-democracy.html

Knowles, E., and DiMuccio, S. (2018, November 29). How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/11/29/how-donald-trump-appeals-to-men-secretly-insecure-about-their-manhood/

Macinnis, C. C., and Hodson, G. (2014, 10). Do American States with More Religious or Conservative Populations Search More for Sexual Content on Google? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(1), 137–147. doi:10.1007/s10508–014–0361–8

Mitchell, T. (2016, November 01). The links between religious upbringing, current religious identity. http://www.pewforum.org/2016/10/26/links-between-childhood-religious-upbringing-and-current-religious-identity/

Pornhub. (2014, March 6). Porn Equality - Gay Viewers by US State. https://www.pornhub.com/insights/gay-usa-porn-equality

Reactance Theory. (n.d.). https://study.com/academy/lesson/psychological-reactance-theory.html

Seltzer, L. F. (2012, May 31). The Secret, Taboo Aspects of Male Sexual Desire. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201205/the-secrettaboo-aspects-male-sexual-desire

Snow, A. (2014, October 11). Christian Right-Wingers Love Porn: New Studies Suggest the Bible Belt Has A Kinky Side. https://www.thedailybeast.com/christian-right-wingers-love-porn-new-studies-suggest-the-bible-belt-has-a-kinky-side

Statista. (n.d.). Share of adults in the United States who use the internet in 2018, by age group. https://www.statista.com/statistics/266587/percentage-of-internet-users-by-age-groups-in-the-us/

Vandello, J. A., Bosson, J. K., Cohen, D., Burnaford, R. M., & Weaver, J. R. (2008). Precarious manhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(6), 1325–1339.

 

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