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Haugaard in July: Coronavirus Lockdowns Lead to Porn Spike… in South Dakota?

While I was looking up the American Legislative Exchange Council’s involvement with corporate coronavirus liability measures like South Dakota’s pending House Bill 1046, I noticed then-Speaker, now merely Representative Steven Haugaard’s (R-10/Sioux Falls) participation in this July 22, 2020, workshop at ALEC’s annual meeting. The thesis of the meeting was that some governors used the pandemic and “outdated” emergency management acts as an excuse for “government overreach.”

Yes, because when people start getting sick and dying, the first thing we liberals think of is, “Oh boy! Let’s expand government to further our ideological ends!” Once again, Republicans and corporate fascists project their own vile impulses onto others.

But anyway, I scanned Rep. Haugaard’s burblings to his fellow fascists on July 22 and found he opened his remarks with this remarkable claim [listen at 4:30]:

…Our state’s got a lot of credit for being kind of hands off, but that wasn’t exactly accurate information. We were a hotspot at one point with our Smithfield pork processing plant that had a lot of positive tests, and now as time goes by, it seems like the goal initially was just to flatten the curve to make sure we didn’t overrun the hospitals. That simply has never been even close to happening. What has happened is we’ve seen a spike in drug abuse and alcohol abuse and pornography consumption… [Rep. Steven Haugaard, “ALEC Panel: Executive Powers During Covid-19,” 2020.07.22, timestamp 4:30].

Really? South Dakota saw a spike in porn consumption? I missed that stat on the South Dakota coronavirus dashboard. Where did Rep. Haugaard get that information?

I face a problem here, since googling “spike” and “porn” may lead to all sorts of trouble on the Googles. But some careful clicking reveals that, at the beginning of the pandemic, online porn vendor (are there any offline porn vendors left?) Pornhub reported its traffic increased 4% to 24%, plus bigger surges when the muckbucket lifted its paywall as a kind pandemic gesture in Italy, France, and Spain. However, a broader, independent study of Google trends from January 9 to May 25, 2020, found that the week relative search volume for major porn sites in the United States and Sweden did not show any significant difference in percentage change as was found in China, Italy, France, and Spain. That study did find a general increase in searches for coronavirus-themed porn, which “mostly includes sex with masks, surgical gloves, and hazmat suits.” Hmm… so that counts as safe sex, right? No wonder Haugaard has issues with that spike….

But Haugaard seemed to be talking about South Dakota, and I can’t find any state-level studies of pornography habits since the beginning of the pandemic. I can contribute some meager data from my own blog stats indicating that, since Governor Kristi Noem started using the pandemic as a platform for her 2024 Presidential bid, the top search terms reaching Dakota Free Press that don’t include “Dakota Free Press” show a certain salacious trend:

  1. kristi noem nude
  2. amazon sioux falls sd
  3. racota valley ranch
  4. kristi noem
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  6. gov kristi noem hot
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  24. amazon
  25. kristi noem affairs
  26. racota valley ranch south dakota
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  32. devin saxon
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Hmm… a lot of people are looking for Kristi Noem or for Amazons in Sioux Falls….

But that’s just one source, and I wouldn’t make broad political claims on the basis of my survey of one website’s search terms. I doubt Rep. Haugaard has any hard data about South Dakota porn-searching trends, only anecdotal evidence… which anecdotal evidence I’d love to hear from Haugaard.

The implication from Haugaard, of course, is that if people are looking at more porn online due to coronavirus lockdowns, then for the sake of all that is good and holy, we need to stop using lockdowns and send people out into the world where they can catch real diseases. But Joshua B. Grubbs, who professes psychology at Bowling Green State University says the bulk of research doesn’t nail down porn use as the cause of major problems:

Already, numerous anti-pornography activists have expressed grave concerns about these increases in use, with many groups providing resources for fighting those rises.

As a scientist, however, I’m skeptical of blanket claims that increased use right now will translate to widespread negative outcomes such as addiction or sexual dysfunction. Like most aspects of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, there are probably not enough data yet for researchers to make definitive predictions, but past studies do provide some ideas.

…Some research, though, does find links between pornography use and potentially concerning outcomes. For example, for men, pornography use is often linked with lower levels of sexual satisfaction, but the current evidence doesn’t untangle whether men use pornography more when they are dealing with sexual dissatisfaction or if men using pornography more leads to more sexual dissatisfaction.

For women, the results are even more unclear. Some studies have actually found that pornography use is associated with more sexual satisfaction, whereas others have found that it is not associated with sexual satisfaction at all.

Studies related to pornography use and mental health have found that hours spent using pornography do not necessarily cause depression, anxiety, stress or anger over time. The same holds for sexual dysfunctions. Although there are cases of people who state that pornography led them to experience erectile dysfunction, large-scale studies have repeatedly found that mere pornography use does not predict erectile dysfunction over time [Joshua B. Grubbs, “Porn Use Is Up, Thanks to the Pandemic,” 2020.04.08].

Hmmm… maybe less sexual satisfaction for men, maybe more sexual satisfaction for women—ah, once again, we can see why Haugaard would be concerned.

But hey, leave it to South Dakota Republicans like Steven Haugaard to think people looking up naughty pictures on the Internet is a bigger problem than a global pandemic  that’s killed nearly 1,600 South Dakotans in less than a year.

6 Comments

  1. Donald Pay 2021-01-12

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Somebody viewing porn is about the last thing legislators should be thinking about. I realize Haugaard thinks he got covid from Stormy Daniels on his computer screen, but between you and me I think it came from not wearing a mask and socially distancing. What a complete fool. No wonder South Dakota is the laughing stock of the nation.

  2. cibvet 2021-01-12

    I’ve no doubt if their computer was checked, you would find porn. Of course, then the explanation would be ” i only looked to see how porn corrupts the mind’.

  3. Buckobear 2021-01-12

    South Dakotans know we are getting f…..d, we just want to see how.

  4. Jenny 2021-01-12

    Why does it always have to be creepy with Haugaard?

  5. jerry 2021-01-12

    I kinda get the feeling that Hag watches porn with the rest of the religious lying liars.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-12

    Jenny, such is the nature of the morality police. Their ceaseless concern with the private activities of others slides easily into prurience.

    You’d think the party that constantly cries for government to keep its nose out of our business is led and epitomized by people like Haugaard who continually stick their nose in our business.

    I’m still waiting for the state-specific report on porn consumption rates.

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