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
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
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. Malcolm Scott.
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?
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