So there’s this post. It’s on a blog. Novel, right? Well, at least some people found this post to be “interesting commentary”, while I couldn’t help find it anything but. I was already a bit annoyed by some things that I’d read earlier in the day, so when I came across this, I wasn’t in the best mood for sure…which made me feel that I should spend half the day dwelling on it and writing up a response to it. Joy! X3
Anyway, here’s the post, for anyone who wants to read it. It’s written on a site that claims to be “…founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues to confront the ideology of secularism…” which sets off several alarms just reading that little chunk. Sounds like a winner, eh? Well, here we go at any rate…
Pornography degrades women (those cocksure feminists who claim otherwise have fallen for the biggest male confidence trick of all time).
Do I really have to post porn that doesn’t degrade women here? There’s plenty of it. From amateur porn that’s just people having fun to femdom BDSM with men being degraded, there is plenty out there that isn’t degrading to women. However, any art form will follow the desires of the creators and consumers thereof, and as such we see a powerful reflection of our society when we look at porn. The degradation that does exist in much porn is largely due to the patriarchal bent of our culture, and I find it funny that a (very likely) Christian would be complaining about this.
Not only are there many, many parts of the bible that are explicitly misogynistic (see the first thing that I came up with in a google search here), but in our day and age, Christians are arguing that women should be subservient (see Bachmann, the Quiverfull movement, etc) and trying to block women’s access to both birth control and abortions. It would be astounding to see a religious person trying to pull the hypocritical “Porn is degrading” card if I didn’t see it every day.
It alters the neural pathways of the brain and literally changes the way its consumers think.
It hinders men from developing mature emotional relationships with women.
As does much of society. There’s a lot we need to change, especially religious misogyny.
It reinforces and supercharges the notion that sex is a commodity over which the consumer has complete control.
Shouldn’t we have control over our sex lives? Not complete control when you’re working with others, but we should be free to follow what we desire.
Further, if an article by Cosmo Landesman in this week’s Spectator is to be believed, it is impacting the middle-aged as badly as it is affecting the younger generation.
Typical sex-negative, woman-shaming rubbish. The writer seems intolerant of different forms of sexuality and shames women for shaving. I stopped reading before the end because I couldn’t stand it. While I do agree that it’s terrible that people feel they have to live up to unrealistic norms, shaming people who do that is doubly awful. In this situation, you’re shamed by one group if you conform to one ideal and shamed by another group if you don’t.
The strangest thing about the article is that the author clearly takes personal advantage of the phenomenon which he claims to find so disturbing. Yet perhaps we should not judge him too harshly on this score. Maybe the honesty, the refusal to gloss selfish sleaze as virtue or freedom, is refreshing even if the attitude itself is disturbing.
I’m sorry, but I don’t find hypocrisy refreshing.
One might take the article as more evidence that sex has lost all meaning, becoming divorced not only from procreation but from any relationship. Yet the article also suggests that in a certain sense sex has gained greater meaning than ever.
Alright… *sigh* Let me look at that post again. …So I don’t know where he gets this idea from that post. Perhaps someone could point it out for me? Also, sex long ago became disconnected with procreation. While many animals may have sex only a handful of times per birth, “We and our chimp and bonobo cousins typically have sex hundreds—if not thousands—of times per birth, with or without contraception.” Sex is more about social bonds and pleasure, and far less about procreation, likely for millions of years. I highly doubt Carl R. Trueman realizes this, though.
It is first worth noting that pornography has become important for both men and women. The market among women for porn is said to be increasing, a claim the Fifty Shades phenomenon would seem to confirm.
I feel like he doesn’t realize just how many romance novels were out BEFORE Fifty Shades. Seriously, this doesn’t seem like a new phenomenon, just a more publicly known one.
This does not mean its effects are equally distributed. For two years as a graduate student, I cycled almost every day through the docks in Aberdeen on my way to school. I thus had plenty of opportunities to observe at close range the human faces of those allegedly empowered by prostitution. I am no aficionado of postmodern feminist theory, but the women selling themselves on the street for their next heroin fix did not look to me to be particularly powerful.
Streetwalkers might make up 15% of the prostitutes out there, making this statement one that is unrepresentative of the whole. Furthermore, with legalization, prostitution could be properly controlled, with protective measures put in place for sex workers. It’s a lot easier to fix problems when markets are in the light, rather than in the dark. Furthermore, why is he assuming that porn causes people to go to prostitutes? That’s a huge jump that he doesn’t give reasons for, nor do I think it’s in any way true. Also, further bashing of feminists. *sigh*
Why does porn have such allure?
Because it’s enjoyable. It scratches an itch for us. Other primates even like it from what we’ve seen. (Link is somewhat sex-negative, but the point is still there.)
After all, it would seem to bring in its wake some brutal and unattainable demands which guarantee dissatisfaction and ultimate despair.
Yes, my sex life and those of my friends have become nothing more than dissatisfaction and ultimate despair. X3 *laughs* This is probably one of the funniest lines in the whole piece.
A porn-saturated culture places pressure on women both to cling desperately to the vestiges of youth and, as Landesman suggests, to become more compliant to the selfish sexual demands of men.
Our culture does put pressure on women to cave to the demands of men, but saying that this is due to porn is simple misattribution. Our society demands subservience of women due to our cultural heritage, not due to our porn. Our porn is simply a reflection of what our society thinks and feels. This is informed by the currently dominant religion in the country, Christianity, which has verses like this or this to name a couple.
Ironically, it also places impossible demands on men: the need to spill vast silos of seed with the limitless abandon of an eighteen-year-old becomes a key measure of life itself. Regardless of one’s moral commitments, the physical work rate alone would seem to be off-putting. Yet still the cruel culture of pornography draws us ever onward.
Yes, porn is unrealistic, and that’s part of why people like it…and don’t like it. Ask yourself, have you ever watched an epic movie? Something larger than life? Has an adventure movie ever made you feel like it wasn’t a fun adventure to, you know, go out and explore the real world a bit? On the other hand, porn can feel somewhat…fake at times, for obvious reasons. Amateur porn is a big thing these days, and with its more realistic feel, it’s easy to see why it would appeal to people.
But yes, on the other hand, hyperbolic porn can cause people to have insecurities. Really though, that’s one more reason to make more realistic porn. Give people realistic expectations for once, you know?
Why has sex come to be seen as the central purpose of human existence? Is it just hedonism?
I don’t think it has. It’s a huge thing for humans, yes, since it creates bonds and gives people great pleasure at low cost (when done well). However, there are a lot of other causes that people push for in this day and age. A few of these happen to be sex-related due to the fact that sexuality is policed and legislated in ways that it shouldn’t be. In the past, people have been killed and/or chemically castrated for deviating from the societally accepted methods of sex, and only recently has it been getting a bit better. We’re still trying to pull ourselves out of the dark ages, and part of that entails allowing human sexuality to more properly flourish.
A combination of Augustine, Pascal and Freud might provide the answer: Sex distracts us from death. Again, the Spectator article inadvertently points towards this. To put it as delicately as possible—the apparent growing preference for prepubescent sexual aesthetics among women (and presumably among the men in the sexual marketplace) may well offer worrying witness to, and reinforcement of, a rising predilection for pedophilia. But it would also seem to point just as plausibly to our current obsession with youth and denying the aging process.
So, pedophilia. Let’s note that for one, he’s wrong about this as well. According to this article, “Overall cases of child sexual abuse fell more than 60 percent from 1992 to 2010”. The data used to come to this conclusion come from Cornell. There isn’t a ‘rising predilection for pedophilia’. Quite the opposite. We’re fixing the situation and calling out the people who commit child molestation. Once again, this is heavily seen in churches. Each one of those blue words is a link. Religious people trying to lecture on child molestation are heavily ironic.
Furthermore, death. If anything is true, it’s that Christianity heavily focuses on death. This and the carrot/stick of heaven/hell are used specifically to keep congregants coming in week after week. If people enjoy their lives and aren’t thinking about death all the time, it becomes much harder to keep people in the pews. Just look at places like Sweden.
However, this idea reminds me much of what I thought when I was a child. I was thinking one day and I started to muse that perhaps everything we did was based around fear. Fear of getting hurt or in trouble yes, but also of not getting what you want. I thought that even when you wanted something, you weren’t motivated by the idea of getting it, but rather the fear of not getting it. This was profoundly mistaken. There’s a reason for the carrot and stick metaphor that’s used at times. Carrots are delicious. I don’t eat carrots because I fear not enjoying them, but just because it’s enjoyable to have them. When I eat them, I’m not thinking “Gee, I’m glad I didn’t miss getting this carrot,” but rather “Oh my god, this is so sweet and delicious~”
The same can be said of the idea of death and the enjoyment of sex. Sex isn’t a way to stave off thoughts of death. I enjoy life, and I really enjoy sex. It’s a good time for its own sake. Whether or not I was going to die, I’d enjoy sex. We don’t need a reason outside of sex to have sex, because the act itself is so pleasurable and rewarding.
I feel sorry for the writer of this piece, as he seems to hold a kind of mentality that I left behind back in childhood.
Perhaps our obsession with sex is not really an obsession with sex at all. Perhaps it is really an obsession with death, to be avoided by remaining perpetually young or by tricking ourselves by sexual athletics into thinking that we do so. Yet whatever the aesthetics, sexual activity as a means for preserving the myth of eternal youth is always going to involve the law of diminishing returns and thus ironically prove a powerful witness to its own falsehood.
You know who has a lot of sex? People in nursing homes. You know why? It probably has to do with the fact that they’re bored and it’s fun. It doesn’t take youth to have sex, and no justification is needed. Sex is done for its own sake.
It really does not matter how many orgasms you have, or how intense they are, you are still going to die.
Yes, we are all still going to die, but that in no way makes life meaningless. Does the momentary flash of a firework make it meaningless because it only exists in that moment? Does a flower’s brief stay in this world make it any less beautiful? Are diamonds less valuable because they are more rare and finite? Acting as if life is less valuable because it is finite is a grave mistake. Spending all your time focusing on death is missing the point of life: Life.
Why don’t we just…y’know…actually enjoy the time we have?