If porn can be loosely
described as the organization of sexually explicit materials
designed to whet sexual appetite, never before in our history
has so much of it been so available, and we, mostly men that
is, available for it.
As a commodity subject
to laws of the marketplace, its prolific supply is guaranteed
by virtual universal accessibility, while demand is assured
by a tantalizing user-confidentiality clause that says: no
one ever need know.
In inverse proportion
to the enormous profits going to the producers and purveyors
of porn is the conspicuous absence of meaningful dialogue
on its psychological effects - if any. Adducing the all-purpose,
freedom of choice clause with mantra-like monotony, the individual
drones on that porn is a person's (always someone else's)
private affair and no one else's business. This widely held
view conceals the presumption that the effects of porn are
as short-lived as a scene from an X-rated movie.
That porn might be
a mine-field where a step in the wrong direction is to risk
losing a limb is a possibility that begs closer examination.
The growing use of
porn raises a number of disconcerting questions. Does repeated
exposure inhibit or maim the healthy sexual response? Is porn
psychologically addictive? What should we teach the young
about it as they mark their years of passage from adolescence
to adulthood? Is there a single, correct response to porn?
What constitutes an informed choice concerning the use of
porn? And how does this bear on the always tenuous relationship
between freedom and responsibility?
many things of our culture that seduce, porn is popular because
we enjoy it and its use requires minimum effort and commitment.
Reduced to its lowest common denominator, porn is a self-contained
universe of one person and his fantasy where deity and duty
are subsumed by the ethos of self-gratification.
If, outside of marriage,
conventional sexual gratification means getting out there
and meeting people, dating, courtship and seduction, porn
is easy -- perhaps too easy. With the flick of the remote,
it anonymously enters our homes and entertains us for the
price of a cocktail, or Internet subscription. At our beck
and call 24 hours a day, it is non-judgmental. Desire and
gratification meet in the winners' circle on every occasion.
In porn's field of
dreams that are packed into adult films and magazines, the
performers are provocatively inanimate and unreal; response
and arousal are a one-way street. When we indulge in porn,
nothing can go wrong except getting caught at it.
On the other hand,
(which is also an adverbial conjunction), when we engage in
'mature' sex, a minimum of one other real person is required
-- and lots of things can go wrong. Always to be considered
'in varying degrees' is the response of the sexual partner,
even in the most brutal and mechanical acts of sex.
Given our manifestly
uneasy relationship with porn, (we don't like to talk about
what we probably have all done -- and enjoyed), we have learned
to shape our social discourse so that it emerges politically
correct. In public, we scorn porn, or effect indifference,
or joke about it in order to mask our abiding fascination
with it. But the sales figures belie our words. Are we still
closet Puritans collectively waxing guilty over all but the
most conservative sexual conduct? Or, is our muteness a confession
of the shame we experience watching others do what we should
be doing? After all, doesn't porn turn us all into Peeping
Toms while encouraging us to do more than peep? If, for the
love of porn, we betray our sexual partners or the desire
to even find one, aren't we all infidels?
To be filed in the
category of lies and deceits are the public pronouncements
bemoaning the invasion (by invitation) of porn. Best intentions
aside, the true meaning we assign to anything we value in
life is always and irrevocably measured by the time we spend
with it. I can shout to the world that I value Dostoievsky
more than porn, but if I use porn everyday and rarely or never
read Dostoievsky, nothing I say can change the fact that I
am always and inescapably that person who is what he is doing.
For some, this is reason enough to never touch porn.
Like the ubiquitous
Golden Arches of McDonalds, porn is now a pervasive aspect
of our culture. If some of us have found good reason not to
eat the things we enjoy at McDonalds, are there equally compelling
reasons not to indulge in porn? Is there a judicious use of
Every individual dwells
in a situation that is uniquely his own, and it is 'the situation'
that often determines one's custom or manner of response to
the world. Perhaps the key here is to avoid injunctions and
absolutes and to recognize that if there is an acceptable
use of porn, it must be in consideration of individual particularity.
Husbands and bachelors inhabit very different worlds and,
perforce, must deal with different pressures and preoccupations.
We might reproach the husband who chooses porn than relations
with his spouse, but regular servings of porn in prisons might
be a good idea if it results in a measured reduction of sexual
violence, or prescribing porn to sexual deviants if it takes
the edge off their proclivity. In The City of God,
St. Augustine observes: "For avarice is not a fault inherent
in gold, but in the man who inordinately loves gold."
Defenders of porn
argue that our abiding interest in it is as innocent as the
urge to copulate, that it is nothing more than the natural,
wholesome extension of sexual fantasy; and whether it take
place in the mind or on celluloid is immaterial. Psychologists
point out that we think of sex every 30 seconds.
Fantasy is demonstrably
part of the creative process. All inventions and works of
art were originally imagined in the mind. If we allow ourselves
the right to indulge in the fantasy of enjoying food before
we actually partake, who would deny us the right to indulge
in sexual fantasy? The critical distinction is that we imagine
the enjoyment of food only to actually taste it. Porn stops
short of the real thing. The fantasy is its own terminus.
And even if we grant that for most of man's history his daily
struggle to survive determined how infrequently he could idyll
in sexual fantasy, today, with leisure time in over-supply
and that original fantasy transformed into ubiquitous cultural
artifact, the eye can indulge in porn ad nauseam?
Thanks to cable TV,
VCRs and satellite dishes, modern societies are awash in porn,
so we have no choice but to learn to live with it and assume
responsibility for our participation in it, and reflect on
how its use reveals us and affects our relationships. The
society that grows and nourishes the porn industry advertises
its values to other societies. As does the society that bans
it and denies its people the freedom to make decisions about
it. To simply aye or gainsay it is to ignore the large gray
areas (which include our own fantasy life) that need to be
addressed. After all, we are bodies that experience recurring
hunger and desire and we must caution ourselves from entertaining
the notion that our relationship with porn can be exclusively
determined by the rule of mind.
One response is to
finally assume responsibility for the fact that it has been
on our watch that porn has been able to carve out a significant
niche for itself in our cultural life, and that a significant
number of today's teens (and adults) risk becoming porn-dependent
and/or sexually disabled (that is, frustrated) adults. There
is circumstantial evidence that the use of porn, if not over-exposure
to it, is affecting how the sexes relate to each other. We
can choose to turn a blind eye to these developments or eye
them with the purpose of turning them into opportunities.
Which is to say, it is not too late to grant porn the socio-historical
status it deserves, which would make it a legitimate subject
of study and debate.
This kind of formal
recognition could become the event that determines if porn
continues to prosper in our new century or if its best years
have been spent.
Gender-based Income Redistribution with Honour and Dignity
Defense of Pornography
Traders in the Material World
Divas, Pantydom and 3-Chord Ditties
Triumph of Pornography
Hi thanks for your site. We must pull together in the arts
to stamp out pornography. It is entering our subconscious
through the web. Most people are totally unaware of the effects
of conditioning upon us humans. We, of all the life forms
on this planet, are subject to endless conditioning. I ask
all artists to help out and to condemn such vile media. Thanks.
Get rid of all internet porn magazines videos and the world
and yourself will be the better. GOD BLESS YOU AND AMERICA.
Jesus will return like a thief in the night, will you be ready?