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42% of young Americans okay with porn, compared to only 19% of older people

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A new Gallup poll finds that 42% of Americans aged eighteen to thirty-four consider pornography morally acceptable, compared to only 19% of Americans aged fifty-five or older. (The thirty-five to fifty-four group falls in the middle with 29%.)

This is a pretty stark contrast, and the largest generation gap that Gallup found in a survey of sex-related morality issues that included homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, and polygamy. (Younger people are more okay with all of the above, but not by as wide margins.) Growing acceptance of gay marriage has been in the news a lot lately, but America's feelings on porn are actually changing faster. Is this a result of porn's ubiquity on the internet? Or an increasingly sexy (though not necessarily sex-positive) culture? When Paul Rudd showed up in America's sexless apartment to deliver "Boner Jams '03", did America finally sigh and accept?

Of course, people who think porn is morally acceptable are still in the minority (though that seems likely to flip in the next decade). But of course, America's stated values and America's actual practices are often pretty different. The real question is how many people watch porn regardless of whether they think it's morally acceptable. That number's harder to quantify, since porn comes from millions of sources and at this point, a lot of it's free.

Is this a good thing? On the one hand, we could take this growing acceptance as a move away from the repression and and hypocrisy of past generations. On the other, porn's not necessarily very good for us.