Naysayers say that watching TV -- and especially, binge-watching TV -- rots your brain. And sure, every now and then they actually have a point, because going outside is nice and it's always great to strive for balance and what not. But according to this new study from Washington State University, watching this particular show can greatly help the human brain when it comes to issues of consent and sexual violence.
Researchers interviewed 313 freshmen from a large Northwestern university about "Law & Order," "CSI," and "NCIS," trying to figure out if exposure to these violent series affected rape myth acceptance and/or sexual assault prevention behaviors -- because, in the past, research has found that exposure to the crime drama is actually helpful when it comes to awareness and prevention of sexual violence. The study surveyed how its participants responded to rape myths and issues of consent before conducting their research, and also asked the students -- a mix of male and female -- if they'd been, or knew someone who had been, a victim of sexual violence.
What they found is pretty great, and proves once and for all that Taylor Swift had the right idea when she was naming her cat: of all three shows, the "Law & Order" franchise was the one that promoted the healthiest ideas surrounding sexual assault. The students involved in the study who watched the series showed signs of decreased rape myth acceptance ("she was asking for it because she was drunk," or "she had it coming because she was wearing that" are popular examples), and increased signs of wanting to stop sexual violence from happening (or "intentions to refuse unwanted sexual activity") and adhere to decisions related to sexual consent.
There was "no significant relation between exposure to 'CSI' and rape myth acceptance," but the students with exposure to "CSI" were less likely to actively seek consent. They were not more or less likely to intend to refuse unwanted sexual activity, but exposure to "CSI" did prove to be "associated with lowered intentions to adhere to decisions related to sexual consent." Yikes.
As for "NCIS," exposure to that series proved to have no correlation with rape myth acceptance, intention to seek consent, or adherence to decisions related to consent. There was a correlation with intent to refuse unwanted sexual activity, however -- and not in a good way. Those surveyed were less likely to have "intentions to refuse unwanted sexual activity" which, of course, is pretty not great considering the dismal numbers surrounding rape on college campuses.
So basically, we shouldn't feel weird if kids want to watch Detective Olivia Benson go undercover as a prostitute whenever they damn well please, since there's a good shot that a healthier attitude about sexual violence might come out of it.