SEX

Virginia Lawmakers: Porn Watching Leads To Group Sex!

The state is considering a resolution calling pornography harmful and toxic — and implying that it's the cause of orgies

SEX
An orgy in a scene from the film 'Nympho', 1965. — Getty Images
Feb 02, 2017 at 4:00 PM ET

Update: The Virginia House passed the resolution on Thursday. Now it will go to the Senate.

Anti-porn legislation is all the rage these days, what with Utah calling adult content a “public health crisis” and several states considering mandatory content blocks on X-rated material. But Virginia has found a way to really stand out from the pearl-clutching pack with a resolution that not only calls pornography harmful and toxic, but also links it to an increased risk of — heavens, please cover your eyes — having group sex.

The resolution has already passed a House of Delegates subcommittee and is reportedly set for a vote this Friday. It would obligate the state General Assembly to “recognize the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level” with regard to porn.

Early versions of the text called porn a “public health crisis” and “epidemic,” and claimed that it “teaches girls that they are to be used and teaches boys to be users,” according to The Virginian Pilot. The language has since been toned down, but it still blames porn for “individual and societal harms,” “a sexually toxic environment,” normalizing “violence and abuse,” equating “violence with sex and pain with pleasure,” increasing “the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, images of child sexual abuse, and child pornography.” It also points to research suggesting that porn may be “biologically addictive” (while ignoring research and major professional opinions suggesting the opposite).

These are very familiar accusations against porn — some seem to reasonably have a place in a much more nuanced conversation about porn, while others are either totally lacking in evidence or contradict available research and mainstream professional thought. But, more uniquely, the resolution, HJ549, warns about those damn porn-fueled orgies. That particular passage reads, “use of pornography, by either partner, is linked to an increased likelihood that individuals will engage in group intercourse.” The implication being both that porn causes group intercourse and also that group intercourse is somehow a problem.

It is unclear where the resolution’s authors found that porn-orgy link. The sponsor, Del. Bob Marshall, did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Several leading sex researchers who study pornography told Vocativ that they are unaware of any peer-reviewed, longitudinal, or experimental studies suggesting anything of the sort. That said, it’s not unreasonable to think that such a connection might exist. “The correlational data consistently finds that pornography use is often positively correlated with personal variables such as sexual sensation-seeking, openness to experience, sexual orientation, and libido,” said David Ley, a clinical psychologist and author of the book, “Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure.” “Those same variables are likely to also predict involvement in group sex.”

Of course, even if studies do bear that out, correlation is not causation. A greater likelihood of group sex among porn-watchers does not mean that X-rated videos make them do it; it could be that those who are more predisposed to watching porn are also more inclined toward group sex. The more fundamental issue here why group sex should be of concern to politicians. As Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist specializing in sex research, said, “It sounds like they are hoping to use sexual stigma to suggest ‘porn’ is causing dirty, dirty group sex.” They might want to be careful, lest their campaign against porn become a compelling advertisement for it.