Summary II

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
3

While the number of studies on sex offenders has proliferated in the last fifteen years, the etiology of deviancy still remains to be answered.

There is evidence of a correlational relationship between pornography availability and rape offenses in the United States but such evidence remains in need of corroboration by experimental evidence using similar stimuli. Furthermore, correctional data appear inconsistent across cultures. There is little analogous social science evidence on pornography availability and child molestation with the exception of Kutchinsky's recent assertion that increases in availability caused less molestation in Denmark and West Germany (1985). The "causal" assertion here is not only tenuous; clinical evidence of long term use of pornography being correlated with length of the deviancy at least suggests this assertion is debatable.

The contribution of pornography to sexual deviance remains an open question. At present, "no single, comprehensive theory to explain the development of paraphiliac behavior has yet emerged." (Kilmann et al. 1982). Competing models include a psychoanalytic view which views the paraphilia as a symptom of an underlying psychopathology, with its origins in unresolved conflicts during psychosexual development, a Freudian view; a behavioral model which postulates that the occurrence of sexual variance is a result of classical conditioning processes including modeling, reinforcement, generalization, and punishment, much as "normal" sexual behavior also occurs; and a biological model which suggests genetic influences and emphasizes the control of sexual behavior through biological or hormonal means (e.g., Ball, 1968; Berlin, 1983; Money, 1984).

The 1970 Commission's conclusion that sex offenders have less exposure to pornography may have been applicable only to serious sex offenders (that is, those incarcerated in maximum security institutions). At most, a reevaluation of their evidence and those from subsequent studies suggests that rather than frequency of exposure, it may be the quality of that exposure and the age-of-first-exposure that might help explain subsequent sex behavior differences. Malamuth and Billings (1985) have, in fact, suggested that the effect of pornography on rapists may be more pronounced as a function of their more restrictive home environments, with limited or no information on sexuality and male-female relations.

It is unfortunate that the nature of the first masturbatory experiences and the role of pornography in that experience, if any, also remains a gap in our knowledge for future research to address.

Finally, while self-reports of some offenders appear to implicate pornography in the commission of their sex offenses, the objective data of actual offenses committed which show no significant differences between those who use pornography and those who don't have to be viewed as tentative. It is clear that in addition to investigating developmental sexual behavior patterns among offenders, their arousal patterns as these relate to offenses committed should be investigated more thoroughly.