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Source: Akane-k

 

You could probably get two main types of answers to this question, one based on critical theory and cultural analysis, another empirical, looking at behaviors and attitudes from a sociological or psychological perspective.

From a search of the scientific literature, it looks like researchers have only recently begun to distinguish different types of pornography, and thus, their potentially different uses and effects.

The article “Finding Lolita: A Comparative Analysis of Interest in Youth-Oriented Pornography” by Andrea Walker et al. appeared in Sexuality and Culture only in 2016 (Vol 20, No 3, pp. 657-683). Walker conducted an extensive literature review to show that types of porn have not previously been distinguished.

Using principal component analysis with web search data, the authors found four distinct groups: what they called “teen” porn, amateur porn, hentai inspired (including asian teen) porn, and lolita porn.

Image searches showed a different grouping.

They conducted some US state-level ecological regressions with the search query types and demographic predictors, which are kind of interesting but don’t really address your question.

In their discussion, the authors note: “It would be prudent then for future research to include a content analysis of youth-oriented pornography on the internet, in order to examine the cultural, sociological, and psychological factors that may play a role in seeking out these kinds of pornographic images. Furthermore, in its exploratory nature, this research examined the behaviors of porn consumers and does little to test the attitudes of pornography consumers, and the communities in which they live; research that examines these populations at a more micro level is therefore warranted.”

No study citing this one really addresses your question, so I think there is likely little empirical research on this.

You might do a search for Walker and see if she has new research that links to your question.

Shazbot_Nanu

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I will mostly comment on the criminology aspect of the question, and then make some comments about the ‘normalization’ aspect of the paraphilia.

To begin with, as I stated earlier, I am not aware of ‘lolicon’ and ‘shotacon’ pornography being specifically researched by those interested in the topic of pornography in general. I assume that there exist Japanese scholars that study and/or have studied the subject, and that language barriers make them unknown beyond the country’s borders. It seems to me that it is kept as a skeleton in the closet and that when it is publicly debated, it is on legal basis regarding, for example, freedom of expression, thought policing, or whether fictional drawings directly harm children and/or require protections.

According to Galbraith, “Takatsuki Yasushi points out that sexual abuse of minors was statistically much more common in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s, and has actually been decreasing since, which roughly coincides with the increasing presence of fictional lolicon (Takatsuki 2010: 258-262)”. The primary source in Japanese, so I cannot evaluate the claim. This older article by Diamond and Uchiyama seems to reach the same conclusion, suggesting that the proliferation and availability of pornography in Japan, including materials with characters that “may be adults, children, or both, and [that] can be in manga as well as in adult reading materials”, coincided with decreases in sexual abuse.

This observation can be applied generally, as the accessibility of pornography has increased with the Internet, while crime trends have been declining. While it is worthwhile to observe, caution is needed regarding interpretations: this does not by itself mean that pornography (whichever kind) reduces offences of the sexual kind. For sexual crimes, there is also an issue with using official statistics (an illustration for the Japanese case).

That said, while the general literature on the relationship between pornography and sexual abuse has some mixed results, to my knowledge it tends to suggest that the former does not cause the latter. Likewise, the research on the link between consuming child pornography (not virtual) and child abuse has mixed results, but there is reason to suggest that child pornography alone does not contribute to actually committing abuse. Some scholars have suggested the potential value of allowing access to virtual pronography to reduce the risk.

Concerning “normalization”: arguments can be made, and have been made, that the desires of ‘lolicons’ are not necessarily for real-life children and/or abusing actual children. But empirically, it is a question to be researched quantitatively, besides of qualitatively. And concerning causality, although the causes of pedophilia remain an open question, there is research suggesting that pedophilia has both an early age onset and neurobiological causes, which do not give much reason to expect that something like ‘lolicon/shotacon hentai’ can “increase pedophilia”, as in make people develop an attraction for children.

In any case, if we take into account Galbraith’s papers about Japan in relation to ‘Otaku’ culture and in regard to ‘Lolicon’, plus recent trends such as the recent criminalization of possession of child pornography in Japan, I do not think that there is reason to suggest that the existence and proliferation of ‘lolicon/shotacon’ pornography makes pedophilia more socially acceptable. Not in Japan, at least, and not for actual child sexual abuse. This consideration is informed also by the progress in awareness and legislation against sexual abuse (in general in the Western world) and decreasing tolerance for these crimes, even though porn is arguably much more available today than decades ago. To the best of my knowledge, Japan stigmatizes pedophilia (the paraphilia, but also acting on related urges) like in the Western world.

In conclusion, (more) research on the specific topic would be needed to have concrete/better answers on the specific topic of (Japanese) cartoon child pornography. Taking into account some older studies and general considerations about pornography, I would tend to expect that ‘lolicon/shotacon’ pornography does not (alone) contribute to increasing cases of actual sexual abuse of real-life children. Likewise, I would not expect this kind of pornography to increase the percentage of pedophiles (as in people that are sexually attracted to children) or reduce their stigma. I strongly doubt that it contributes to making child abuse socially acceptable.

Revue_of_Zero

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