Porn Consumption in the Bible Belt Exposed

Mar 16, 2012 10:45 AM PST

PHILADELPHIA — The places where 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls are most likely to be railing against porn are also places where an abundance of voters are likely to be consuming it, according to an article written by Alex Henderson, who writes on adult entertainment issues regularly.

Henderson, who wrote "The Bible Belt's Love Affair With (Gay and Straight) Porn" for Alternet.org and is a regular contributor to XBIZ, says that Republican politicians will continue to make the false claim that porn is strictly for “blue state liberals.”

"The more they push a socially conservative agenda, the more 'red state' voters will consume porn — even if they are in the closet about it," he wrote.

Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have not only been playing the abortion and gay marriage cards — they have also assured the Christian Right organization Morality in Media that they would be tough on porn if elected president, he wrote.

Henderson says that of all the GOP presidential hopefuls, Rick Santorum has been the most stridently anti-porn.

"The former Pennsylvania senator has an entire page on his website that is devoted to his opposition to porn," he wrote. "[S]antorum, clearly, would like to see a lot more federal obscenity prosecutions."

Pink Visual's Quentin Boyer, Wasteland.com's Colin Rowntree and the Free Speech Coalition's Diane Duke, among others, were interviewed for the story.

Boyer and Rowntree both explained the degrees of adult consumption in various states.

 “Texas is the second largest state by population, and in terms of our overall traffic, that's where it ranks as well: No. 2, right behind California," Boyer said. "Interestingly, if you adjust the query to cover only mobile traffic, Texas surpasses California very slightly — they actually swap back and forth in the No. 1 spot, depending on the time frame selected — and moves into the No.1 spot.”

Rowntree, meanwhile, said that red states have some of his most loyal and enthusiastic BDSM customers.

“Retention of porn membership in Wasteland is significantly longer for red states and the amount of content viewed, and the length of sessions in the member area is also significantly longer for red state members,” he said.

Texas, Rowntree added, has “double retention from any other state.”

Other states at the top of Wasteland’s list when it comes to loyal subscribers, he said, include Georgia, Ohio and Illinois.

The state with the lowest membership retention for Wasteland, according to Rowntree, is Democrat-leaning Vermont.

Duke pointed out that being religious isn’t necessarily synonymous with hardcore social conservatism, and that Christian fundamentalists rather than more moderate Christians are obsessed with attacking porn.

“I think that with this country being in the state that it is in right now, fear-mongering around the adult entertainment industry is absolutely ridiculous,” Duke emphasized. “Even if I were a fundamentalist, I would argue that adult entertainment is minute compared to other things.”

Henderson told XBIZ on Friday that it’s no coincidence that the consumption of porn in Republican-leaning Bible Belt states is either equal to that of Democratic-leaning states, or higher.

"The more the Christian Right aggressively forces an agenda of extreme, radical social conservatism on people, the more they rebel," he said. "The more the Christian Right tries to make adult entertainment the forbidden fruit in states like Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, the more exciting it becomes to people in those states.

"Also, people who are sexually repressed are hungering for sexual information. So when the Christian Right oppresses people sexually and deprives them of sexual information, their need to consume porn becomes even greater.”

Henderson went on to say that in other parts of the world porn is generally accepted without apology.

 “I’ve traveled in some European countries where porn isn’t really controversial, including France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. If anything, violent action movies are more controversial and more stigmatized in Continental Europe than porn," he said. "And in the countries that have the most liberal attitudes sexually, people are generally a lot less dysfunctional when it comes to sex.

"Rick Santorum would faint if he went to Spain, which has nude and topless beaches, gay marriage, large gay pride events, comprehensive sex education programs and open prostitution in major tourist areas — and yet, Spain has much lower teenage pregnancy rates than a Bible Belt state like Alabama," he said. "That says it all. The anti-porn, anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-sex-education agenda of the Christian Right does not prevent sexual problems; it encourages them.

 “I once interviewed an American expatriate who had worked at Private Media Group, Europe’s largest adult entertainment company, and was raising her teenage daughter in a small town near Barcelona; as she saw it, Spain was a much better place to raise a teenage daughter than the American Bible Belt because Spain has much healthier sexual attitudes. It was a fascinating conversation; here was an American woman who had worked at the largest porn company in Europe and felt that Spain, with its gay marriages and nude beaches and red-light districts, wasn't nearly as screwed up as parts of the U.S. can be. I totally agree.

"Post-Franco, Spain evolved into a country of very softcore Catholics. I don’t knock religion, but I do think that socially, a country is much better served by a more moderate approach to religion than by the type of religious extremism that Rick Santorum and his ilk represent.”  

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