Learning About Sex From Google

These kind of articles are always fun because we can point and laugh at the hypocritical religious conservatives who advocate one thing for us and then do another thing in their own private lives.

A new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, produced by researchers from Canadian Universities, found American states that identify as more religious and conservative are also more apt to search for sex online. Of course, the study makes a point of separating the religiously conservative from the politically conservative. The latter is more likely to look for sex specific terms, such as “gay sex, free porn and xxx,” whereas those that consider themselves religious were looking for generalized sex terms that could’ve theoretically fallen under the “health and wellness” category.

In heavily religious states, abstinence is often pushed as the only safe sex, with very little to offer in the way of sexual education. Unfortunately, that leaves a growing number of people with questions about sex but no answers. Enter Google: the best way to find an answer to personal, possibly embarrassing questions without calling attention to yourself. So of course the study finds that religious communities have a higher percentage of sex-related searches. That’s what happens when you can’t find it elsewhere.

What’s interesting here, though, is that the study isn’t necessarily showing that religiously conservative communities watch more online porn. What they’re actually showing is that these communities are more likely to use online search engines to look for answers about human sexuality. And their hypothesis for why this is the case is because people in these communities have difficulty getting answers from the people in their lives.

If this is correct, then the real effect of abstinence-only education is to push kids into looking for answers online, and we all know what happens when you ask Google a question about sex: you are offered portals into pornography.

Not to bash porn, but it’s not the best answer to questions about, say, ovulation or birth control.

That’s not quite what that The Daily Beast headline promised, but the Christian right-wingers aren’t protecting their sons and daughters by pushing them to get their answers from the porn industry.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.