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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Nov 18th, 2021

National Couples and Pornography Survey 2021

As often happens from my writing connections, I get notifications of new reports like the just released National Couples and Pornography Survey 2021. “Hoping to investigate pornography, gender, and relationships and examine the potentially wide-ranging and complex ways that pornography can influence relationships between men and women,” this survey was built from two national datasets – one with individuals in hetero couple relationships and a second with “matched” partners, whatever the hell the word ‘matched’ means (you will find lots of inaccurate language below).

Some of the findings according to the press release, you can read the survey here are:

1 in 5 couples reported conflict in their relationship related to pornography. 

Am I being obtuse when I ask…what exactly does this wording mean? (inaccuracies, as I mentioned). Did the 1 in 5 find conflict in how they related to porn or that there was a conflict in their relationship because of porn? Is this the same thing?

“A majority of people (over 70%) are at least somewhat accepting of pornography viewing, about 25% of men report actively hiding their viewing from their partner and about a third of women expressed concerns about their partner being more attracted to pornography and thinking about pornography when being intimate. About a third of women were also worried that their partner was withholding some details about their pornography viewing.”

“Least somewhat” “actively hiding,” “about a third,” “expressed concerns,” “being intimate,” and “withholding some details,” again, this language is too vague for me. Yes, you could argue that I am pulling from the press release and not the survey, but the press release, being the first line of introduction many will have of this survey, should use more accurate language, at least to engender my belief in the survey. Furthermore, as is always the case (and therefore always suspicious to me), why is it women are the ones concerned here and not men? Don’t women watch, enjoy, and abuse pornography?

“One-third of dating men (33.5%) reported frequent pornography use (23.9% weekly, 9.6% daily) compared to nearly 1 in 8 of dating women (10.1% weekly + 3.3% daily = 13.4%). For married individuals, the gap of frequent pornography use alone is even greater, with 33% of married men reporting weekly or daily use (23.3% weekly, 9.8% daily), but only slightly less than 1 in 16 married women reporting similar levels.”

It always surprises me in inherently accusatory reporting like this, that finds skew to men watching porn more than women. Hetero men (this survey only surveyed hetero couples) are ever more stimulated by visual sexually stimulating material than women. This is a fact of science no one should be surprised about, nor, do I think, it should be any kind of significant point in a new survey about porn. Do these findings bring us any new or substantive facts?

“About half of all non-married couples report using pornography together, at least sometimes. Among married individuals, a stark difference in reporting can be seen between husbands and wives. While about half of all married men report watching pornography with their spouse, only about a third of married women report the same behavior.”

See above.

“Only a little more than half of all couples surveyed reported they talk about pornography openly in their relationship. Further, the majority of couples surveyed had neither set rules for pornography use in the relationship, nor had they discussed limits and boundaries around pornography use in their relationship. While many couples reported low to no conflict about pornography use, it is possible that much of this lack of conflict is based on an avoidance of the issue or based on not realizing the extent of a partner’s pornography viewing given the lack of accurate assessments of pornography use.”

Maybe what this means “While many couples reported low to no conflict about pornography use, it is possible that much of this lack of conflict is based on an avoidance of the issue or based on not realizing the extent of a partner’s pornography viewing given the lack of accurate assessments of pornography use,” is that there is no problem with porn at all?

And the most dangerous finding of all:

“Couples where both partners report that they do not use pornography at all reported the highest levels of relationship stability, commitment, and relationship satisfaction, with 90% or above of these couples reporting that their relationship is stable, committed, and satisfying. A consistent decline in relationship stability, commitment, and relationship satisfaction was noted as the relative frequency of pornography use increased.”

Again, these terms are too vague for a reasoned conclusion: “relationship stability,” “commitment,” and “relationship satisfaction.”

I do like this statement, though: “In reflection on the overall findings, the authors emphasize how important it is for couples to communicate and set mutually-agreed-upon boundaries in their relationship.” This works for me, one-hundred percent.

Remember, you have to ask a good (clear, well-reasoned) question to get the same kind of answer back. And that when “they” start counting, you should well start questioning. And that all surveys are biased in some way.

Now, go watch some porn.

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National Couples and Pornography Survey 2021