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Monday, October 13, 2014

"The Porn Myth"

As far as I can tell, Naomi Wolf is no Christian, nor is she even a conservative. In addition, just within the last week she has been heavily criticized for perpetuating some rather "wacko" conspiracy theories. However, she has written something recently that I believe reveals one the more significant and sad truths when it comes to the plague of pornography.

She misses the mark quite a bit, and I may deal with this later, but for now I just want to share some of what she reveals:

The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention...

But does all this sexual imagery in the air mean that sex has been liberated—or is it the case that the relationship between the multi-billion-dollar porn industry, compulsiveness, and sexual appetite has become like the relationship between agribusiness, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity? If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.

The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn, and how it is not helpful to them in trying to figure out how to be with a real woman...

The whole piece is worth reading and is here. Of course, it's somewhat graphic, but not in a vulgar way. Again, I may come back to this later and deal with how Wolf is not completely accurate in her critique of pornography.

Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

8 comments:

  1. Ahem... Assuming that Trevor has not (intentionally) watched any significant amount of pornography, I will say the problem is a two-way street. As the women your author refers to have lamented regarding their own self-image relative to porn, very few men will measure up to the unrealistic images presented in pornography. I suppose it wouldn't be very good porn if they did...:-)

    However, without diminishing other issues and facets of this subject, my opinion is the most critically important effect that widely disseminated commercial porn has had on western social and civil development is the concept of personal self-control. Men have learned to accept sexuality and sensuality with a degree of openness without the automatic impulse to react oppressively or violently against it.

    Compare western civilization in this respect with mid eastern concepts about sex, pornography, and oppressive social and religious regulations applied typically to females required by localized definitions of family honor and modesty.

    Western man is in better control of his impulses related to violence and opression BECAUSE of pornography. Therefore if there is a battle to be waged with Islamic fundamentalism, it should include the theatres of personal self control and impulse moderation. The best weapon to accomplish goals in this area is pornography. Carpet bombing target areas with copies of Playboy and Penthouse would be cheap and effective.

    Within a generation young Islamic men would regard real women not as property to be owned and controlled, but equals. They would understand the difference between unrealistic sexual ideals of fantasy and requirements of the real world. This would eventuate because they had been forced to address issues of personal impulse control. It follows that what works for impulse control relative to women and sex will also work for impulse control over religious issues.

    By the way, I believe you still owe me a viewing of the film "Quills".
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180073/

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Western man is in better control of his impulses related to violence and opression BECAUSE of pornography."

    Surely you jest! A saturation of porn in our culture hasn't created more "self-control." As Ms. Wolf notes, it's killed libidos--among other things. It has also created perverse attitudes. So much so that--as Ms. Wolf also points out--because so many men have lived in a sexual fantasy world, they don't know how to relate to real women.

    Islamic men are "violent and oppressive" as a result of Islam, not suppressed sexuality.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Surely you jest!"

    Surely I do not. Every male eventually has to confront his sexual impulses with a measure of self-control. Exposure to porn simply makes sure that confrontation comes about earlier and perhaps more often than for an individual in a control situation for which such exposure is absent.

    This confrontation with sexual impulses in particular becomes an exercise in management of impulses in general. Anger management is thus improved in the subject exposed to porn as a result of this phenomenon.

    "Islamic men are "violent and oppressive" as a result of Islam, not suppressed sexuality."

    Ummm... no. Your comment does not explain why sexual and political oppression of women is also very high among members of ultra-orthodox Judiasm. In particular, the ultra-orthodox often do not allow their children to be schooled with children of more moderate Jewish faith, and certainly not with secular kids. In Israel, men from these sects have been known to line the street and spit upon girls (or worse) whose clothing does not meet their definition of appropriate modesty. In some cases it has even been made a crime for women to sing. I can provide more links to this behavior than you can count, and since I know you are not going to blame the Jewish faith for this behavior, you must acknowledge some other common factor. Suppressed sexuality is a likely common factor.

    Links to example news stories:
    -- haredi extremists attack schoolgirls --
    http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/israel/beit_shemesh_modesty_wars

    -- Jewish ‘modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel --
    http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/content/jewish-%E2%80%98modesty-patrols%E2%80%99-sow-fear-israel

    -- Haredi burqa sect -- (the Jewish Taliban)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haredi_burqa_sect

    An ultra-orthodox Jewish religious decree issued to women and quoted at the above site: "follow these rules of modesty to save men from themselves. A man who sees a woman's body parts is sexually aroused, and this might cause him to commit sin. Even if he doesn't actually sin physically, his impure thoughts are sin in themselves".

    -- Modesty in Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads --
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/nyregion/shadowy-squads-enforce-modesty-in-hasidic-brooklyn.html?_r=0

    So when are ya going to see Quills? Trust me, it'll be good for you. No photographic porn in the film, just pornographic text stories. There is also the obscenity of horrific torture applied to "chasten" or cure the pornographer of his sin by political authority of the church. Didn't work, of course, -but aversion and coercion therapies almost never do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's one more example of intolerant behavior among the ultra orthodox in Israel:

    Link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haredi_Judaism#Neighborhoods

    "Haredi Jews in Israel have demanded that the roads in their neighborhoods be closed on Saturdays (Sabbath), vehicular traffic being viewed as an "intolerable provocation" upon their religious lifestyle."

    The words "intolerable provocation" are key to what I am talking about. The impulse to react oppressively or violently presents itself because of the perception of an "intolerable provocation".

    Thus every instance of religious, social, sexual, or political oppression or violence results from the perception of an "intolerable provocation". As an accidental therapy, pornography provokes a personal sexual impulse, the impulse must be managed, thus impulse management (and eventually tolerance) is learned as a coping behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Exposure to porn simply makes sure that confrontation comes about earlier and perhaps more often than for an individual in a control situation for which such exposure is absent."

    Ummm...no. As Ms. Wolf makes clear, the anecdotal as well as clinical evidence proves otherwise. What else explains the relatively recent and massive market for Viagra and similar such drugs?

    If there is oppression among ultra-orthodox Jews, it's certainly not on the same scale as what exists under Islam. There are crazies in nearly every group imaginable, but again, nothing exists on the scale of radical Islam. (As has been noted: http://www.trevorgrantthomas.com/2010/09/the-fruit-of-islam.html and as someone as blind as even Bill Maher can see.)

    Pornography "provokes" and promotes nothing but sin, and the fruit of sin is death.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're kind of sad Trevor. Funny sometimes, but sad for the most part. You refuse to recognize similar behaviors in social, sexual, and political interaction as compared between Islam and Judaism because you don't want to admit there is a more common factor at work besides religion (suppressed sexuality).

    ***
    "Exposure to porn simply makes sure that confrontation comes about earlier and perhaps more often than for an individual in a control situation for which such exposure is absent."
    ***

    "Ummm...no. As Ms. Wolf makes clear, the anecdotal as well as clinical evidence proves otherwise."

    Dude, you aren't even making a counter-argument on the same issue I spoke of. My issue: Males learn to exercise self-control over personal sexual impulses resulting from sensory overload from commercialized pornography creeping into every facet of life from prime time television programming to retail advertisements.

    Specific examples:
    Exhibit 1: Sports Illustrated now features "body paint" bikinis in it's swimsuit edition. You can't actually swim in body paint, but you can sell a lot of magazines with it.

    Exhibit 2:
    Internet based porn available in unlimited quantities on every smart phone in any kid's hand today.

    Exhibit 3:
    "Naked and Afraid" -the prime time reality TV show on Discover channel that presents one man and one woman naked who have to survive in the wilderness for a week. It is a pittiful gimmick, but that is what the battle for ratings has come down to.

    I once remarked to a friend that soon enough some TV producer will have a reality TV show based on events at a whore house. He replied: oh, they've got that already, it's called "Cathouse: The Series", on HBO. It features real prostitutes and apparently real johns.

    Sigh... if this was a race to the bottom of the barrel, surely we're there at this point.

    "What else explains the relatively recent and massive market for Viagra and similar such drugs?"

    Your argument seems to be that porn creates an impulse that when acted upon requires a dose of Viagra. Thus increased porn exposure equates to increased Viagra sales. I say it's just the opposite, and that's actually a good thing.

    You or your quoted author already spoke of the basis for this market: the deadened male libido. Say the wife is sexually bland and uninteresting? Satisfy her with performance based primarily on a pill.

    The fact is sales of Viagra have much more to do with pursuit of dedicated relationships between married spouses than it has to do with porn. No man with access to good porn needs either viagra nor his wife to get off. You seem to wish for every man to see his mate and her flesh as an intolerable sexual provocation that sends the circus to town every night. IE: "Trish, you spoke French!" The problem with that is all those other things that wind up also being viewed as an intolerable provocation, which includes issues of public modesty, misplaced notions of family honor and the violence which extends from that, and religious or political provocations that are viewed as intolerable BECAUSE the man in question never learned impulse control.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Now I will ask you the 64 thousand dollar question: If faced with two choices to defeat militant groups which are based on radical Islamic fundamentalism, would you (A): Shoot them, bomb them, and kill them until the (perceived) threat is diminished, or (B) introduce them to the spiritual poison of pornography and wait for it to moderate and progressively evolve the social behavior of the group?

    So will you kill them, but save their twisted souls from the ravages of porn, or will you poison their minds with porn but save their lives? This should be an interesting answer. The world awaits your ruling.

    ReplyDelete
  8. " if this was a race to the bottom of the barrel, surely we're there at this point."

    No argument here.

    ReplyDelete