Defense Dept Approves Porn Sales on Military Bases

playboy cover us gov

After a thorough review, the Department of Defense has concluded that magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, and Nude may continue to be sold on American bases around the world. A July 22 letter by Undersecretary of Defense Frederick Vollrath explains that a department review board convened to address the issue found that the publications were not “sexually explicit” but rather qualified as “adult sophisticate material” and as such do not stand in violation of any federal laws. This decision “would be hilarious if the situation were not so tragic,” says Morality in Media, the ecumenical Christian group whose complaints led to the DoD investigation in the first place. The group claims that in addition to posing great moral danger to service members, pornography on U.S. bases is in part responsible for an increase in sexual assaults in the military. But does this argument have a solid basis?

In fact, most scientific studies conducted on this subject suggest quite the opposite–pornography may in fact reduce the amount of sexual assault that occurs in society. A 2009 analysis of a number of studies, published by the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior (Christopher J. Ferguson, Richard D. Hartley), notes an inverse relationship between porn consumption and rape rates, and suggests that “it is time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior.” Other studies suggest that the regular use of mainstream pornographic material like Playboy does not increase sexism or violent behavior among men. Says Milton Diamond, director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society, “It’s a moral issue, not a factual issue.” But the stakes here–with epidemic sexual violence in the military–are high. It’s enormously difficult to measure the subtler effects of the military’s tacit condoning of sexual objectification. On the other hand, US soldiers are primarily charged with protecting our freedoms and our rights, including the freedom of expression that permits these publications under law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>