A couple weeks ago, we ran a post citing research that found that access to porn consistently reduces the number of sex crimes. The finding brings up the argument that not only is porn nice to look at, it may be good for society as a whole.

Judging by the comments we received, this stance is not a popular one.

We don't want to know if you like porn. Analysis of Internet traffic patterns has already proved beyond a reasonable doubt that porn is extremely popular with the Web-surfing public.

What we are interested in is: Do you think increasingly easy access to pornographic material has been a good thing for humanity?

Read on for the evidence for and against:
Is Society Better Off Because Porn Is So Easy to Access?
Yes -- sexual repression is a bigger problem than boobies bouncing freely2335 (81.8%)
No -- it cheapens the beauty of sex520 (18.2%)


The Research:

Good for society
Increased access to porn does appear to decrease overall rates of rape. There has yet to be a study that suggests the opposite. Perhaps the starkest finding on this subject comes from data taken between 1998 and 2003. Researchers were able to determine, using state crime rates and the percentage of people in each state with home Internet access, that every 10 percent increase in Web access correlated with a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. This was after controlling for all other factors that could make a population more or less prone to sexual assault.

Bad for society
A substantial study undertaken by the American Psychological Association in 2007 concluded: "The proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising and media is harming girls' self-image and healthy development."


The Practical Arguments:

Good for society
People always want to be better at sex. Watching porn won't turn you into Ron Jeremy, but it can probably help your bedroom proficiency. Think how much less awkward someone who's watched baseball but never played it before is going to be on the diamond compared to someone who has never seen nor participated in the game.

Bad for society
Between porn, video games and pizza delivery, some men can lead happy lives without ever interacting with a flesh-and-blood woman. This is not a good thing. In Japan, where they excel in producing cutting-edge porn and video games, socially maladjusted men are beginning to date women made out of pillows. Really. Consequently, the Japanese birthrate is so low, the island's people may soon be extinct.

The Wild Card:

If you're on the fence, perhaps this feedback on our initial post will help. It comes from a woman who tells us that being exposed to naked women at a young age helped her best friend decide she wanted to be a stripper when she grows up. The friend made good on her childhood dream, and apparently has "loved every minute" of the seven years she has spent on the poll.

Score one for porn, which helped this young lady make a proper career choice. (Although we guess how you ultimately feel about this depends on how you ultimately feel about strippers.)