The Effects of Counter-Information on the Acceptance of Rape Myths
Daniel Linz Edward Donnerstein University of California, Santa Barbara
Our review of the scientific literature (see Donnerstein, Linz, & Penrod, 1987) has led us to conclude that depictions of sexual violence in the media, under some conditions, promote certain antisocial attitudes and behavior. Specifically, we are most concerned about the detrimental effects of exposure to violent images in pornography and elsewhere that portray the myth that women enjoy or in some way benefit from rape, torture, or other forms of sexual violence. It is important to note, however, that the portrayal of this theme is not found only in pornography. Many mass media depictions that either contain little explicit sex or are only mildly sexually explicit often portray the same myth.
Is there anything that we might do to counter these effects? Should harsher penalties be leveled against persons who traffic in certain forms of pornography? We do not believe so. Rather, it is our opinion that the most prudent course of action would be the development of educational interventions that would teach viewers to become more critical consumers of the mass media. We believe it is premature to advocate either more zealous enforcement of existing obscenity laws or the creation of new laws to curb the distribution of pornography since existing research leaves too many questions unanswered.