News

Mass. State Rep. Calls on University VP to Increase Transparency for Allston Multimodal Project

News

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow Made $1.1 Million in 2020, Financial Disclosures Show

News

Harvard Executive Vice President Katie Lapp To Step Down

News

81 Republican Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting SFFA in Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit

News

Duke Senior’s Commencement Speech Appears to Plagiarize 2014 Address by Harvard Student

Study Links Porn to Politics

By Alexander J. Ratner, Contributing Writer

Subscriptions to pornography Web sites are slightly more common in traditionally conservative “red states” than in more democratic “blue states,” a Harvard Business School study reported this week.

Benjamin G. Edelman ’02, a professor at the Harvard Business School who conducted the study, found a statistically significant correlation between porn subscription rates and residency in states which have passed conservative legislation on sexuality. Higher subscription rates were also present in states in which people were likely to agree with statements such as, “I never doubt the existence of God.”

While the study was originally published as a business analysis of the online market for pornography, it has quickly turned political.

Martha “Martabel” Wasserman ’10, the editor-in-chief of H-Bomb—the campus sex magazine—said that the results of the study undermine the traditional conservative position.

“It shows that they’re hypocritical, and that we shouldn’t make pornography and sex work illegal, but should instead make conditions better for the sex workers,” she said.

The New Scientist, a weekly science magazine, also ran an article about the study entitled, “Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers.”

Despite the correlation between religion and pornography, Edelman downplayed over-politicizing his findings, instead putting an emphasis in his study on the more cautious conclusion that “there’s little sign of a major divide” in porn access across the U.S.

“There are strong correlations,” he said, “and yet you need to be careful about what that tells you. Maybe the liberal people in the conservative regions are getting their porn online rather than at retail because the conservative people have shut down the retail stores.”

Edelman said that he believes his study can offer ammunition for either side of the aisle.

“There are facts here that are useful, on both sides,” he said. “To those who are upset about the spread of adult entertainment, I’ve got facts here showing that yes, adult entertainment is being used. On the other hand, I’ve got facts suggesting that, hey, maybe adult entertainment is not actually such a big deal; it seems like everyone is using it.”

This isn’t the first time that Edelman’s academic pursuits have led him to the pornography industry.

In his research today, he is interested in the adult entertainment industry as a surprisingly innovative, adaptive, and successful business model.

“It’s an interesting management question,” he said. “The adult entertainment industry doesn’t have the benefit of many managers with Harvard degrees or MBAs. Yet time and time again, this industry remains at the cutting edge of new technologies.”

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags