April 1, 2010

"Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages..."

"... and so widespread that it produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined."

National Review freaks out about pornography... in an article by an anonymous woman who thinks her husband rejected her and left her for another woman because of pornography.

114 comments:

junyo said...

Because before Playboy, men never even conceived of looking at as many boobs as possible.

Harsh Pencil said...

I followed the link (imagine that!) and wouldn't call what I read "freaking out". Instead, it was (mostly) a call to consider the following possibility: pornography has serious, measurable and perhaps permanent effects on people's brains, and thus their ability to form and/or maintain relationships.

I have no idea whether this hypothesis is true, or large in magnitude if true. But it is true that while the divorce rate may be down, the marriage rate is also way down. I'm pretty sure that overall the incidence of life-long coupling has seriously declined. It should be open to discussion that this may be a very bad thing. It should be open to discussion what are its causes.

MadisonMan said...

Thank goodness women never get hooked on porn. Imagine what a calamity that would be. It's only those darned men!

Salamandyr said...

I too think the "freaking out" reference was over the top. Does merely publishing an article constitute "freaking out"?

I don't think the woman is right though; To blame pornography for a husbands straying eye...one might as well blame short skirts, or makeup. Men like to look at beautiful women.

If her complaint that women in pornography are willing to do things she's not willing to do, then the question should be "why aren't you willing to do them?"

MadisonMan said...

Husband of 13 years, high school sweethearts. And they have five kids! Five kids under the age of 13.

There's more to this story than just porn.

David said...

Nannie porn is the very worst.

Beldar said...

With due respect to Mr. or Ms. Pencil: I'm with Prof. Althouse, the anonymous author of that piece is "freaking out," not presenting a "call to consider [several reasonable] possibilit[ies]."

The reason it's anonymous is the same reason it's not particularly trustworthy: It's an anecdotal report from someone who, by definition, is anything but a detached and objective observer.

It would take me, oh, five minutes to imagine and sketch out, in comparable or more detail than hers, an equally plausible scenario from "hubby's" point of view. I am confident of that not because I'm a psychologist or a porn addict, but because I'm a lawyer who knows what gets hashed out in divorce courts across the country on a daily basis, and if there is one rule that ALL of those divorce courts have in common, it's this one: There's another and altogether different side to EVERY story, friends and neighbors.

Cause and effect is being presumed here, and/or maybe reversed: You may very well have had an unhappy marriage as the cause of him "fleeing" to pornography as a way to stay literally faithful, even if no longer happy in the sack with her.

Lots of assumptions are made by the anonymous author about what her ex-husband's motivations were. Let's stipulate that she has gangbusters by way of credentials; she's STILL quite possibly THE single worst potential witness of everyone who knows her husband, 'cause if she actually had known him their marriage wouldn't have failed.

So, no: Count me no more persuaded by this rant about porn than the similar ones from the traditional feminists. Count me a stong libertarian (so long as we're talking consenting adults) in this area as a matter of good public policy.

Patm said...

I think there is something to be said for the notion that porn can desensitize. I also think the internet speeds the warping of perceptions, because one can begin to believe that the internet "world" one creates (w forums and such) is representative of the world in general and therefore "everyone" or at least "many" people indulge in the same fantasies they do.

The woman writing says she can't say for sure that her husband left her b/c of porn, but it does seem to have been a factor. It's a serious piece that deserves a good-faith read.

Oligonicella said...

Bodice rippers. They cause so many women to feel their men aren't paying them enough attention that they leave.

vet66 said...

""Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages...""

My first thought was that the addiction in question targeted alchoholism and drug abuse. Imagine my surprise when it was about porn.

Addiction is a problem with many subsets. Infantalizing and neutering the male of the species misses the point of the exercise. Namely, that males/females are incapable of exercising a degree of self-control over their fantasies. Indeed, living out your fantasies in real time by the way one dresses, presents himself/herself in uncontrolled tribute to their libido brings the unintended consequence they find troubling in later life.

Controlling yourself has more to do with a dimmer switch than an on/off switch, pardon the electrical metaphor. The bulb lasts longer if not on a perpetual bright klieg light setting.

DADvocate said...

Considering that the divorce rate is going down and women initiate somewhere between 60% and 91% of divorces it seems misplaced to blame porno.

In my personal observations, I've found the same to be true. The woman isn't "happy" or needs to "find herself" or has become a prima donna much more often than the man finds a reason to end the marriage.

Funny that the author of the article is a psychologist. She seems to lack a great deal of insight.

Tom said...

The biggest problem is that the author assumes that any use constitutes -- or will inevitably lead to -- abuse and addiction.

Scott said...

America is a culture of narcissism. Porn-stimulated auto eroticism is the way many narcissists like to have sex, because it divorces the act from messy things like relationships and human emotion.

FloridaSteve said...

Good Grief... Does this stuff still get taken seriously? Wasn't there a story recently about a researcher who was looking for typical western men who didn't use porn to use as a control group in a study on porns effects and he literally couldn't find anyone? Sounds about right. But somehow 50% (or so) of us somehow manage to see our way the the poisoned haze and make our marriges work beyond a few decades. Go figure.

TRO said...

Two points if I may:

1) Weak people can be easily addicted to anything and strong people have some self-control.

2) Drug and alcohol addictions have destroyed a gazillion more marriages than porn ever has I am sure.

I "read" my first Playboy at 13 (a friend's Dad's stash) and have seen a few dirty photos and movies in the subsequent 40 years (few men haven't) and my 26 year-long marriage is in pretty good shape. Raised three sons who are very respectful to women as well - my wife and I wouldn't allow otherwise.

So, I'm not buying it. And I don't think it is a particularly serious piece either. Any number of factors could have destroyed her marriage. Her husband's uncontrollable attraction to porn might be a result of those factors, not a cause.

Opus One Media said...

Obviously part of the boom in the porn business is the Internet where it was, from the onset, the only business plan that made money.

About 15 years ago a guy approached our advertising agency from one of the mainstream men's magazines (not true porn...what I think is now called soft porn) and his plan was to sell downloads of the month's pictorials. He found in a study he did or perported to do, that even on a dialup 12500 connection through AOL people would pay to download a picture although it would be hard to store, there was little picture handling software widely in use, and there would be something like a $4.00 fee for each download (i.e. the then price of the magazine). That was 15+ years ago.

We were perhaps protecting our clients in not getting involved in that stuff but he was right..there was/is a market. The newness of the explosion is the technology that delivers it, not the visual. that demand was there; just not satisfied.

DADvocate said...

I am a psychologist, I know psychologists, I went to school with psychologists.

I was waiting for you to do a Lloyd Bentson and say, "Senatro, you're no psychologist." :-)

I am quite familiar with psychologists though. My father was a clinical psychologists and I worked in mental health for a while. As for you, you seem quite normal, judging from your comments, which would put you outside the norm for the psychologists I've known.

paul a'barge said...

The author's husband dumped her.

Imagine that.

And it was the fault of pornography.

Julius "Ray-the-Raghead" Hoffman said...

Oh, everyone's got a fucking two-bit opinion about pornography! And yet... no one has a fucking clue what they are talking about!

The size of the industry for instance. $97 billion worldwide in 2006 – more than all tech???? BULL. SHIT. There are always attempts to gauge "the size of teh industry" and the results land all over the map. To pull out a number like this and represent it as the truth is just the same old malevolent nonsense that is typical of National Review.

And as for the author of this bit? She seems like a nasty BITCH! To blame porn so quickly and immediately for her ex-husband's loss of interest in her demonstrates how detached she is from her own introspection. Plus... five kids? Show me a man with five young children and I'll show you a man who has very little time or energy left for sex with wifie.

But that's how the militant Feminists over at National Review expect it to be, isn't it? A man has five kids and a job and a lot on his mind, and suffers the burdensome yoke of a non-introspective wife, and yet he is expected to always have interest and desire for marriage partner. Gotta be ready and willing to fuck 100%, and you've gotta really mean it, bucko! No faking!

And let's not get started with National Review's Socialist and Nanny State tendencies. You know who else doesn't like porn, assholes? Communists! Socialists! Just like anti-individualists of every stripe, you need to build a new state agenda around the unjustified whining of one bitter bitch.

Republican said...

The addiction affects all age groups (it's not generational), and it's something that people have been trying to address for years now.

It's a multibillion dollar industry with a ratio of 1 employee servicing thousands of individuals, being operated from garages and hotel rooms, pandering to the afflicted and addicted, and indiscriminately preying on the weak.

Of course porn contributes to infidelity.

Thus:
xxx-Church
Surviving Infidelity with Help
Perverted Justice (expose the pervs)

For starters.

LarsPorsena said...

WTF are these people talking about?
Porn has enriched our lives and elevated the human condition in countless ways.

Seven Machos said...

I'm a big fan of National Review bit I've always found their take on pornography overblown. They did turn a memorable phrase once, though, calling it the wallpaper of our lives.

Anyway NPS is clearly today's theme.

TRO said...

"Of course porn contributes to infidelity."

Tons of stuff does, but mostly it's just a guy or a gal with no self-control.

Word Verification: "faties"

Which is another touchy "lack of self-control" issue.

k*thy said...

The biggest problem is that the author assumes that any use constitutes -- or will inevitably lead to -- abuse and addiction.

The phrase, "one is too many and 10 is never enough" might help explain that.

'cause if she actually had known him their marriage wouldn't have failed.

Oh come on. If her husband is addicted, it's not her fault. The husband was clearly on a deepening cycle of escaping and isolation. Substitute alcohol for porn in the story and it'll become clearer.

Joan said...

Trey, ever the level-headed, speaks for me. Occasional viewing of porn isn't going to cause lasting harm. Daily habitual "use" of porn with auto-stimulation will have an impact on relationships.

I have been in relationships with guys that were really into porn. After I extricated myself from the last one, I put it on the deal-breaker list. Then there is the employee who not only downloaded the stuff at work but also pressured his co-workers into watching it with him. This was a smart guy who was big into social justice and equality politics, who nonetheless thought it was OK to ask his female team members if they wanted to watch porn with him at work. That guy was just messed up -- was the porn a cause or an effect? I'd say some of both. (The female co-worker declined to join the viewing party, and let me know what had happened the next day, which launched a huge HR imbroglio. There was such a boys' club atmosphere there that the guy basically got a slap on the wrist.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

I know a guy who watched so much porn that his island finally tipped over.

rhhardin said...

Early BCD printer porn was a tossup between cat pictures and women.

rhhardin said...

The dynamic is that porn is displaced by live relationships.

They have it backwards.

Sofa King said...

Is it sexual harassment to ask a female colleague if she wants to join the other workers to watch some porn? Is it discrimination not to?

Is there a legal presumption that porn is per se harassing? Is it only per se harassing towards women?

I'm just a simple man. Help me do the right thing here.

Jana said...

The woman in the article is talking about habitual viewing of porn; a husband who isolated himself viewing said porn. Viewing porn on occasion is likely just fine for a healthy marriage/relationship, but as some of us have experienced (and obviously some haven't) habitual use can have a devastating affect on a relationship.

Hombre said...

Personally, I think it's a tribute to the bra-burning feminist movement that women are no longer thought of as sex objects. Assuming that the post-modern porn industry treats them as equals, that is.

It does, doesn't it?

Michael Hasenstab said...

"Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages..."

What, being a Democrat?

Explains the Kennedy clan's divorce record. And Russ Feingold's. And so forth.

Salamandyr said...

Does National Review even have an editorial policy on porn? This piece was not written by one of their staffers, and I imagine it's presence is due to the influence of the editor of the online edition, Kathryn Jean Lopez.

NRO contributor Andrew Stuttaford is currently on record as disagreeing with the article (in the Corner), and Jonah Goldberg, former editor of NRO, and current editor at large and continuing contributor, is known to be a connoisseur of women's prison movies.

This article while taking up their electrons doesn't seem to be representative of NRO as a whole.

pduggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pduggie said...

This article from Cracked.com makes a humorous point about the insidious nature of porn

http://www.cracked.com/article_15725_10-steps-porn-addiction-where-are-you.html

Joan said...

Sofa King, the issue was mostly that the company resources were being used to watch porn, which was specifically prohibited by the company's regs. Also that the guys who were watching it were supposed to be working. The woman didn't file a harassment claim, she came to me and said, essentially, "Can you believe what these idiots are doing?" There were at least 4 guys who were involved in this, and not one of them thought there was anything wrong with it. Ironically, the guy that asked her if she wanted to join them thought he was doing the right thing by not excluding her.

Paul Zrimsek said...

the insidious nature of porn

At first it seems like a cloud the size of a man's right hand...

Radish said...

Yeah, it wasn't really a freakout. But I'm not having a lot of sympathy for a woman who married and had five kids with a man she knew used porn, and is now demanding the rest of society change its behavior to keep other women from being "victims" like herself.

Treacle said...

This is a stupid series of comments. Of course porn is addictive. So is alcohol. And like anything addictive, porn is destructive.

TMink said...

Dadvocate, I am not surprised to hear that you worked in mental health, you have always shown a keen eye for human nature. That is why I did not write "you are no psychologist." And if I did, I would have counted on you to take it as a compliment!

pduggie, that is an amazing idea. Creative, cogent, practical, really, it is an amazing idea. Congrats on coming up with it!

Trey

John said...

"Of course porn contributes to infidelity."

It probably prevents a lot of it too, so the question is, what's the net effect?

TRO said...

"This is a stupid series of comments. Of course porn is addictive. So is alcohol. And like anything addictive, porn is destructive."

Millions (billions?) drink alcohol with no detrimental affect on their lives. I would imagine the same thing applies to porn.

William said...

I have seen lots of Indiana Jones' movies without ever once throwing myself from a speeding car or jumping off a waterfall. Most husbands are aware that the wife will not suggest a hot threesome if she catches him with the teen age baby sitter....The writer shrewdly observes that exposure to pornagraphy leads to masturbation. This, in my estimation, is probably true. We should anticipate that effect. My guess is that that is the only long term effect of pornography on most men. The writer of this article should get a grip.

shoutingthomas said...

Porn conveys some useful information.

I'm only talking to the men here, because the information is something that women don't want you to know.

Women can be very good at sex. They can give a lot more than men, in general, are used to getting. One of the consistent messages of porn is that men are far more sexually generous than women.

Like any kind of information that was once concealed, this information has the potential for explosive positives and negatives.

The negative side is very obvious. Among the kids, expectations for sexual performance are being ramped up beyond reality. And then, there's the Roman Circus thing. The mob has to be fed ever more wild and outrageous spectacles to satisfy its desires. Once you're accustomed to seeing the lions rip bodies apart, you become blase, and something more provocative is needed to produce the same thrill.

Once of the positive outcomes for men from porn is being liberated from the notion that women are exempt from the same lusts men experience. Every woman really does have her whore side. It's a reality produced by a millennium of human experience. For men who are deluded by exaggerated notions of romance, this lesson from porn can very useful.. if they are able to learn.

The cat's out of the bag. That's reality. And, you can't shove what used to be hidden back into the darkness.

The deluge of porn has destroyed one of the great myths of the 60s: that porn will ultimately become an art form, with great plots and sterling performances.

That was a load of crap. Porn is a rigidly categorized commodity, and the consumer quickly gravitates to that category that feeds his/her fetish. So, the four to five minute clip, like the three minute song, is what it will always be.

Porn is a commodity on the level of a McDonald's hamburger. Fast sex, no muss or fuss, with few pretensions of doing anything more than getting the job done.

elizabeth said...

Read Ted Bundy's interview with Dr. James Dobson. He (Bundy) implicitly stated that soft porn led to hard core - leading to pursuing his (sick) fantasies and then murdering women. Porn IS evil, and while it may be questioned whether it leads husbands to stray (Oh, sorry - let's review Hugh Hefner's solid and upright, faithful to one woman life...) but it sure as he** does NOT help. I for one am a woman who was addicted to porn at an early age (it was brought in to our home, for who knows what reason - after a bachelor uncle died...we should have had a huge bonfire.) There is something seriously wrong with sexuality, relationships, (on and on) and if anyone can show me how it is in NO WAY related to porn (and extreme femi-nazis) -- I'd be willing to read/see the evidence.

Paddy O. said...

I think one trouble is that this debate can become so reductionistic.

Porn is the problem.

Or porn always leads to escalation of perversions.

It's seen as an either/or. But there's really a dynamic at work. Porn is not good for relationships because it offers a distorted vision of human relationships. It separates us from the real people, more or less, because real people don't act like that, and most won't do those things.

But then we judge others based on these variously misformed perceptions. Little problems in a relationship become bigger, and rather than healing and wholeness there's increased distance and brokenness.

Most people, I think, can deal with little brokenness and corruptness without it breaking apart or ruining most relationships. But, these are all still affected, often in ways we might not notice, because we don't know anything different.

At the same time, explicit porn is easy to accuse. If it's misshaping our relationships based on unrealistic portrayals, then there's a whole lot of other stuff that is too. Cosmo, Entertainment weekly, TMZ, popular fashion, lots of music and movies, all go into creating unrealistic expectations. Women's 'porn' is often different than men's--it's often more relational and socially accepted, but it leads to the same kind of distance, shallowness, distortions. It creates an unrealistic expectation of romance and relating that drives deep wedges into real, particular relationships.

A Christian author I respect wrote recently that maybe if we should condemn porn, we should also be willing to condemn People magazine. Both feed into the fantasies of men and women in different ways, and often keep them from relating to others in a healthy way.

Methadras said...

Rule 36.

Joe said...

A husband in a miserable marriage, leaves his wife. Quick, find a reason that vilifies the man but exonerates the woman. Can't possibly be that the woman is a bitch or an ice queen. Or even completely nuts. Likewise, why reject the possibility that the man was an asshole all along (because that would mean the woman's judgment wasn't so hot.)

Hell, since we're going with anecdotes, a year or so ago, I frequented a conservative "liberated" woman site. They got into several anti-porn discussions which dovetailed into complaining about their husband's overactive libidos. The single most amazing thing is that almost all these woman bought into the notion that porn caused the increased libido and absent it, their husbands would be just as frigid as they were. Never occurred to them that while porn may be a shallow representation of intimacy and passion, it's still better than nothing. Furthermore, what harm is there in a wife acting more sexual and doing "naughty" things?

Joe said...

Another point I witnessed when I was devoted to a fairly conservative religion: porn could get you off the hook for a whole lot of things. Cheat on your wife, just blame porn, rape someone, just blame porn, molest a child, just blame porn.

Before it was porn, the excuse (for men) was that women were acting the temptress in their dress and mannerism. If she hadn't worn that mini-skirt....

Drugs were a fallback as well: the old "I got drunk and lost control" excuse. (And the silly stories of how a person never would have started drinking if it wasn't for that pretty girl in a mini-skirt or the hunky guy on the football team.)

Porn is just the latest scapegoat in hundreds of thousands of years of scapegoats. (It was the demons!)

Titus said...

I like big tits.

Der Hahn said...

Obsession is obsession. I think you could take this article, substitue 'sports' for 'porn' and 'ESPN' for 'Playboy', post it on any female-oriented website, and get approving nods and a bunch of my-husband-is-just-like-that comments.

Alex said...

Porn-stimulated auto eroticism is the way many narcissists like to have sex, because it divorces the act from messy things like relationships and human emotion.

Good grief man. Do you think it's easy for guys to find attractive girlfriends? Most guys do not enjoy the fact they have to take care of business solo.

Treacle said...

"Millions (billions?) drink alcohol with no detrimental affect on their lives. I would imagine the same thing applies to porn"

And I suspect millions (billions?_ drink alcohol with some detrimental effect. That was a stupid point, TRO, and you proved nothing with it. Be more interesting.

Alex said...

I really want to know why porn is a deal-breaker with most women and why they won't "do that nasty thang" to please their man. They are in denial of their inner-whore.

Joan said...

Furthermore, what harm is there in a wife acting more sexual and doing "naughty" things?

Where do you draw the line, Joe? Suppose your husband wants you to do to a strip tease for him, that's probably OK. But what if he wants you to do a strip tease at the local strip joint's amateur night, is that OK? Well, what's the harm in that? C'mon, it's just for fun.

Men who want their partners to act like porn actresses are bound to be disappointed. That sense of disappointment -- you're not good enough -- gets communicated in a variety ways in a constant undercurrent that affects every part of the relationship. If you live with it long enough, you start to believe it, even though your rational mind knows it's not true. When the person who says he loves you keeps telling you there's something wrong with you, that you're not good enough for him, it seriously messes with your head.

FWIW, I've never bought the addicted/drunk thing as an excuse. I don't even think crazy people should be found innocent -- I think we need a category "guilty but insane," and maybe "guilty under the influence" which may allow for mitigation when it comes to sentencing and/or treatment. But people still should be held accountable for their actions, whether or not they are addicts. We're not helping anyone by letting addicts (regardless of what they are addicted to) off the hook for the consequences of their behavior.

Big Mike said...

@Joan, I concur. Some years ago, when I was shortly out of grad school, I thought bit-map nudes were cool to have by your computer (I graduated a long time ago). Then I was loaned out to a project that needed some help and one of the more talented young women working it had a bit-map copy of Michelangelo's David, no fig leaf. Being faster on the uptake than your average computer nerd, I got her point immediately. I had never gotten around to posting my own bit-map nude, and after what I learned from working with the woman it never crossed my mind again.

As to your example of an employee downloading porn on company hardware on company time, that's a fireable offence everywhere I know of. About the only excuse allowed is that you mis-typed something (someone I know typed "whitehouse.com" instead of "whitehouse.gov") and even then you'd better exit that web site in less than a minute. Inviting a young female to join in the observation is also a fireable offence under the "creating a hostile work environment" rubric. It's been that way for years. I'm pretty nonplussed that your firm allowed the guy to get off with a wrist slap. Was it back in the 80's? Was he a part owner?

Big Mike said...

@Alex, porn is fantasy, female porn stars are paid to perform the acts that they perform, and I imagine that female porn stars are free to turn down the gig if they don't want to do whatever it is the script calls for.

Joan said...

Big Mike -- Was it back in the 80's? Early 90s. If the company had fired all the guys involved, we would have missed a huge development milestone, and they couldn't afford that.

Alex: I can't speak for all women, but a regular porn habit is a deal breaker for me for a lot of reasons. Unrealistic expectations is a big part of it, but also: regular porn users are lousy in bed. The ones I knew were not interested in what I wanted, they viewed me as someone they could do things to. Also, they had become accustomed to certain stimuli, and that took a lot of the fun out of it. Once you've been treated like an object, you realize you never want to have that kind of relationship again.

Salamandyr said...

So...question time, for those who disapprove of pornography.

Should it be banned? At the state or federal level? How far should we go? Just fetish stuff or any sexual nudity at all? What do you think of sex scenes in other movies, for instance some of the more explicit stuff in premium cable shows? How much jail time are you willing to subject those who peruse it to?

And what level of criminality do you think it is? Is it on the level of robbery and assault, or casual drug use? Should it be licensed?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I don't want to take a side in this argument, but I do have a serious question:

It seems logical to me that (as several commenters have pointed out) men would fully understand that it's all just pretend and aren't going to have these expectations from their wives or hold them to porn standards.

But, it also seems logical to me that any man smart enough to turn on a computer would know that viewing it would be completely inappropriate at work, and in particular, inappropriate to share with collegues. Yet it happens All The Time. What's up with that?
- Lyssa

Salamandyr said...

It's amazing the number of people who don't realize all of their on-line activity is viewable by people at the server level.

The urge to view pornography is like the urge to hit on inappropriate women. Most men know better, but a few don't.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Salamandyr,
You ask a serious question, but bear in mind that a person can be against something, and not want anything to do with it and believe that it is wrong, but not necessarily think it should be illegal or regulated by the gov't.

For example, I'm sure most of us would want nothing to do with a KKK member and feel free to condemn membership in that organization, yet we can agree that we want freedom of speech and assembly to trumph. (Not that I think porn viewing is comparable to KKK membership; it's just an example that we can all agree is wrong but legally protected.)

- Lyssa

luz said...

I think there is evidence that pornography can harm marriages, and increase crime. However, you generally have to look to conservative Christian sites in order to find summaries of the research. Like this, for one:

http://www.frc.org/pornography-effects

Big Mike said...

@Salamandyr, before we set out to ban porn, shouldn't we try to define what, exactly, porn is?

A pretty woman has her clothing mostly off. Porn? If so, then is someone going to make young women cover up on the beach? Or do our wives have to lead us down to the water's edge with blindfolds on?

(Not to mention the time I was threatened with an EEO complaint for gently suggesting to one of my more capable female staffers that "casual Fridays" meant dressing casual, not dressing sleazy. Fridays around her were instant Viagra, but she was making it tough for her male colleagues to take her seriously as a professional. I mean as a professional software engineer.)

A pretty woman has her clothing entirely off. Porn? If so, then is someone going to order art museums to pull a lot of their paintings off the walls and put some of their classical statues into storage?

A pair of pretty women are frolicking with their clothes off. Porn? If so then a bunch of old masters depicting satyrs and maenads are still going to have to come off the walls of art museums.

Inter-species copulation? There goes Leda and her swan.

Have I made my point yet? Porn isn't all that easy to define, and no one is eager to figure out where that line should be drawn.

As to the woman who wrote the article, she spends most of her time blaming porn, then in the last paragraph owns up to the idea that maybe porn wasn't really the problem. Yup. As Beldar pointed out upthread, there may be two different stories here.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Salamandyr said: "The urge to view pornography is like the urge to hit on inappropriate women. Most men know better, but a few don't."

The shear number of stories that we hear on this (and those are only the ones who get caught), implies to me that it is more than a few who don't get not to do this.

If the number of men who can't figure out that looking at it at work and sharing it with collegues is similar to that of those who have difficulty separating it from realistic marital expectations, I do think there's a serious problem. That, of course, is the "if."

If the if is met, then we've got a second problem of what to do- regulation is nearly impossible and a bad place for the gov't, anyway. I would, in that case, favor Joan's approach- it's OK for women to say that they don't want to be involved with this, and choose their lovers accordingly.
- Lyssa
- Lyssa

Little Towhee said...

The thing about porn is this. . . who am I to tell another free human being what to do?

But I also have standards and believe that no relationship is a relationship worth keeping if disrespect is involved. I don't like porn, so I don't have to put up with it myself. If I feel disrespected by porn viewing, then I expect someone who really loves me to repect my feelings on the matter. If he loves himself more than he loves me (by choosing porn), then I ought to consider him not worth my time.

My sister is married to a porn addict. I won't go into the sick details. As much as she loves him, she feels dehumanized. And he's turned into a complete mess. He's a nuclear engineer, so he's not an intellectual idiot. But for some reason, he has no common sense when it comes to his marriage (which he can't believe is ending in divorce very soon). He's like a baby. He sought counseling in hopes to glean coping strategies to get his addiction under control. Guess what? The therapist he was seeing told him that porn addiction wasn't really seen as an illness in our culture, and she sent him on his way with the admonition, "You are normal."

Uh, that hasn't helped save the relationships in his life or made him feel better about himself. That cultural lie has only further ruined him.

Then there's my in-laws. My mother-in-law has put up with it for so long by her own choosing, and yet, her self-esteem is so utterly destroyed. (Which affects how she treats others.) My father-in-law is such a sneaky skank, I have never left my children alone with my in-laws for fear his lacking scruples and respect for others would result in harm to my children.

Successful marriages are about mutual respect. If one partner is hurt by the other's actions (doesn't even have to be porn, can be another habit), love should step in and speak. . . love is not love when selfishness is involved.

I didn't think the woman was freaking out. Don't be so sensitive. (Isn't that what they tell to the spouses/partners of porn addicts? I guess it all depends on who you think the victim is in these situations.)

Bruce Hayden said...

If we are going to talk about porn ruining marriages, what about female porn, all those romantic novels you see in the grocery store. Or, indeed, if you go in a bookstore, you probably have more romance than almost any other genre.

And what does it do to marriages? I will suggest that it provides an unrealistic view to its readers of the interaction between men and women. Sure, their husband isn't an Earl with gorgeous pecs, but no one else has one of those either (or, if they do, he philanders like crazy). So, the women, in their fantasizes cannot figure out why their husbands just don't measure up. Never mind that in real life, it is very hard to keep romance alive in a long term relationship.

So, how many divorces have been caused by women reading totally unrealistic romance novels and thereby getting totally unrealistic expectations about relationships with men, and in particular, long term relationships?

Big Mike said...

@Bruce, the problem isn't whether the average husband is a titled Regency lord with great pecs. The problem with romance literature is unrealistic expectations that it may raise regarding male stamina.

Synova said...

"she's STILL quite possibly THE single worst potential witness of everyone who knows her husband, 'cause if she actually had known him their marriage wouldn't have failed."

Excuse me?

So now it's not pornography, or his emotional straying, or his deciding that a pregnant body just isn't very pretty anymore, or his lack of attention or even her decade-plus of hormonal overload in the service of his reproduction...

Now it's her fault because she didn't "know" him?

Why not just say it's her fault because her belly is flabby and gross.

Alex said...

Why not just say it's her fault because her belly is flabby and gross.

Truth is truth. Men who aren't chubby chasers don't like fat folds - it's a huge turn off.

Synova said...

"So...question time, for those who disapprove of pornography.

Should it be banned? At the state or federal level? How far should we go? (...)

And what level of criminality do you think it is? Is it on the level of robbery and assault, or casual drug use? Should it be licensed?
"

Anything good must be required and anything bad must be forbidden?

It's the essential element of all Statism isn't it?

How about we allow the disapproval of bad things to stand outside of State interference. We could even do something as shocking as giving up the notion that legality is the same thing as wholesomeness.

John said...

"However, you generally have to look to conservative Christian sites in order to find summaries of the research."

Yes, that's also where you have to go to find the latest research on things like curing homosexuality, intelligent design, the Search for Noah's Ark, etc.

Synova said...

"Truth is truth. Men who aren't chubby chasers don't like fat folds - it's a huge turn off."

Your wife bore five children for you. Her stomach is flabby and gross. She probably hasn't gotten any sleep to speak of in 10 years either.

Truth is truth.

Love is love.

And if this is going to be a problem for you, don't make promises you can't keep.

Joan said...

I've heard this comparison between porn for men and romance novels for women on the unrealistic expectations score before. The difference is, women don't masturbate to romance novels. Men jack off to porn, and jacking off affects your brain chemistry a lot more than reading does. Frequent, repeated masturbation is going to lay down pathways in the brain that are hard to change. Not impossible to change, but difficult, a lot more difficult.

If you ask a female romance reader to quit reading romance novels for a week, do you really think she'd have that hard a time giving it up?

Culture propagates all sorts of unrealistic expectations all the time. The combination of repeated orgasms set off by fantasy constructs is not the same as watching tv or movies, or listening to music, or reading trashy novels.

All that said, I don't think porn should be banned. I just think people need to be aware of what they're doing to themselves with it. Looking at porn is one thing, masturbating to it is another. Frequency of use is a factor, too. I don't think we need to get the government involved here, either -- most of this should be common sense.

Alex: can't figure out if you're just playing devil's advocate or not -- but if every guy who rejected the flabby-stomached woman who bore his children looked like Adonis, it would be one thing... but they seldom do. The problem is the balding, paunchy, pasty-skinned guy wanting the Amazon goddess in his bed, because that's what porn can give him. Why should his wife be attracted to him?

Alex said...

Synova - agreed the guy knew what he was getting into. But you fail to understand the male libido or don't give a shit. Typical.

Alex said...

The problem is the balding, paunchy, pasty-skinned guy wanting the Amazon goddess in his bed, because that's what porn can give him. Why should his wife be attracted to him?

Agreed a guy like that has no right to demand a goddess in bed. But it's also a fact that increased fat lowers male libido. So that guy might not be needing sex more then once a week anyways. You make your own hell.

Synova said...

"If we are going to talk about porn ruining marriages, what about female porn, all those romantic novels you see in the grocery store. Or, indeed, if you go in a bookstore, you probably have more romance than almost any other genre."

I believe this is a valid point to make. I don't think that the sex in those books is too much of a problem so much as certain prevalent lies about relationships.

It's changed over time. Used to be worse, I think, because the heroes used to be almost abusive, certainly emotionally abusive and hostile and it was all because they were fighting against falling in love and even if the sex was left off the page and until after marriage the kisses were angry or bruising or even punishing and then, to make it worse, the girl liked being forced.

These were written for women.

So, the romances are better now, I think, even if often much more explicit. But there are still relationship lies, the most prevalent is the one where being in love means never having to have self-control again because other women (or men) are no longer tempting. The romantic man is always (almost always) perfect. He's always kind and thoughtful and sensitive even while being super masculine.

There are exceptions and they're always fun to find.

And really, it is sort of the same thing as the porn, isn't it? If a woman can't put the book down or if a guy can't do without his fix and it becomes a problem, then it's a problem.

A relationship requires guarding your heart.

Whatever form that has to take.

Synova said...

"But you fail to understand the male libido or don't give a shit. Typical."

Men don't all have the same sex drive but how about we imagine for a moment that we're talking about a guy who could do it twice a day every day and gets a woody every time he sees a woman not in a burka.

You're right. I don't give a shit.

Because it's not an excuse. Poor widdle joey got a woody... oh, poor dear. How uncomfortable for you.

You can't possibly help it, slave to your little fellow down there.

So if you simply *have* to watch internet porn and pay attention to the little guy instead of taking care of life, it's just not your fault, is it. Poor helpless little fellow you are.

So, yeah.

In a nutshell, I don't give a shit that it's common for men to have a fairly strong sex drive.

I don't give a shit for the women who get bent out of shape about the notion of "maintenance sex" either. If you're not in the mood, give him the opportunity to get you in the mood.

But if your little woody is your master you're a sad sad self-indulgent puppy, and that's just a fact.

Joan said...

LOL Synova. You're awesome.

Women who withhold sex from their partners deserve to be dumped. If you're not having sex often, that's a symptom of a deeper problem in the relationship -- unless of course you both happen to be the type that's not interested in sex, which I'm pretty sure is not that common. Granted there are times when frequent sex is just not a possible -- a newborn in the house, recovering from an illness, or physically separated -- but those situations aren't permanent, and abstinence needn't persist once those situations resolve. We make time for the things that are important to us, and sex in a relationship should be one of those things -- which brings us back to porn. If a person is choosing to spend time with porn rather than having sex with his partner, that's a big red flag right there.

Shanna said...

Synova, I do agree that there are similar issues with romance novels, but it's kind of like the difference in soft core/hard core stuff. Most of the romance novels are a lot of story, with a little sex. Now the story may be formulaic, idiotic, what have you...but it's generally not on the same level as watching hard core porn. It's just not.

Shanna said...

Women who withhold sex from their partners deserve to be dumped.

Agree. Definitely within marriage, at least. I don’t think I’d hold, say, 16 year old girls to that standard.

Hari said...

The problem with the author's theory is that her husband didn't leave her for Internet porn. He left her for another woman.

Opus One Media said...

Perhaps porn or lack thereof is at the route of the problems within the catholic church...now there is something to think about.

Salamandyr said...

How about we allow the disapproval of bad things to stand outside of State interference. We could even do something as shocking as giving up the notion that legality is the same thing as wholesomeness.

Disapproval is fine. I disapprove of reading horoscopes, much less living ones life by it. But I don't medicalize the condition.

The moment I hear someone refer to something as an "addiction", I suspect that person is laying the groundwork for a ban.

The idea I get from this essay was that the author believes if the government had "protected" her family from the evils of pornography, she'd still have her husband. She wants my tax money spent to "study the issue".

So I wanna know, is that something the disapprovers are in favor of censorship or not? If not, then all this noise about how "bad" pornography is just gives ammunition to the censors.

Salamandyr said...

Shorter answer...I'd prefer to see a little more "I may not agree with your decision, but I will fight to the death defend your right to do it!"

William said...

I salute Joan's efforts to have a porn free husband. If a man cannot tell a convincing lie about porn, don't expect him to tell you how great you look during your middle years......For most men, the effort and energy that goes into watching porn is dwarved by the effort and energy that goes into making money and/or playing sports. There are physical limits on the amount of time you can masturbate.....Engineers, particularly nuclear engineers, and microbiologists are the exceptions to this rule. Men in these professions are notoriously prone to porn addiction. Decent women should shun them.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sofa King said...

"Men jack off to porn, and jacking off affects your brain chemistry a lot more than reading does."

Is there some kind of peer-reviewed science that supports this? (The brain chemistry part, that is.) Because it sounds like B.S. to me.

Alex said...

Synova - you confirmed what I thought - you hate real men with sex drives.

Joan:

Women who withhold sex from their partners deserve to be dumped. If you're not having sex often, that's a symptom of a deeper problem in the relationship -- unless of course you both happen to be the type that's not interested in sex, which I'm pretty sure is not that common.

I agree with that 100%. Also it needs to be noted that some men lose their sex drive and then it's not a problem if the woman has as well. But if a guy signed up for a deal that he's getting fantastic sex. THEN she gets preggers and gains 50lbs and becomes this blob that disgusts him, that's HER problem. Women who violate their promise when they are luring the guy are the most evil people ever.

Alex said...

I don’t think I’d hold, say, 16 year old girls to that standard.

In high school there is immense peer pressure to "put out" for your boyfriend. This leads to all sorts of horrible problems.

Salamandyr said...

Women who violate their promise when they are luring the guy are the most evil people ever.

Alex, let's hang the hyperbole. I'm pretty sure murderer's, rapists, and such are more evil than people who put on weight after pregnancy.

Alex said...

Salamdyr - ok, those women are less evil then rapists & murderers. What's your point? The fact is that it's a gigantic problem in America that women keep themselves in shape to lure a husband and then become Shamoo 2 years later. A man's eye will always wander to the slim & sexy.

Joe said...

Joan, what the hell are you talking about? Do you really believe men fantasize about their wives stripping at clubs? Or anywhere in public for that matter?

I put "naughty" in quotes precisely because I was sarcastically referring to things which aren't naughty at all except in the minds of frigid women (and men. Yeah, there are men out there who, if there wives want to be a little sexually adventurous, act just as weird.)

The larger point is that in a relationship, it is rare for one person to be able to say they have no culpability in any problems.

To use a wildly different example, having a boss that verbally berates you, would not justify you, say, destroying company property. In such a circumstance, you should be held accountable. But the boss should also be held accountable for what he did. (This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp since they want all the blame to fall squarely on one party or the other. They also confuse the guilt of one party as justifying the actions of the other or visa-versa.)

Alex said...

Joe - Jack Nicholson said it best in "As Good as it Gets" when his writer character is asked about how he writes female characters. "I start with a man, and take away all reasoning and responsibility". That is so true.

Tom said...

Two interesting numbers:

"$97 billion worldwide in 2006"

and "an estimated 40 million people use this drug on a regular basis"

Therefore, each porn consumer spends about $2,500 per year on porn.

I am not admitting that I have a porn budget, but if I had a porn budget it would not be $2,500.

Joan said...

Joan, what the hell are you talking about? Do you really believe men fantasize about their wives stripping at clubs? Or anywhere in public for that matter?

I don't have to "believe" it, Joe -- I know it for a fact. Ever read the "adult" classifieds in the back of the Boston Phoenix? You think all those people are single? Take off your rose-colored glasses. Guys complaining about their old ladies being prudes aren't all referring to the fact they won't give blowjobs. If the wife happens to have a smokin' bod, there are guys out there who have no problem with showing it off. Or worse.

Alex said...

Joan - so you are generalizing about all men from the perverted classifieds? The fact is if a man is married to a glowing, radiant, FIT woman he is more then satisfied with non-kinky sex.

Salamandyr said...

Salamdyr - ok, those women are less evil then rapists & murderers. What's your point? The fact is that it's a gigantic problem in America that women keep themselves in shape to lure a husband and then become Shamoo 2 years later. A man's eye will always wander to the slim & sexy.

My point is that calling evil that which is, at most, callous is gross hyperbole and renders one incapable of making fine moral distinctions.

Some women put on weight after pregnancy. I'm sure my wife would prefer that my hairline wasn't making a beeline for the back of my skull (I sure would prefer it), and if I was built something more along the lines of Hugh Jackman, she'd probably be okay with that. But she's not getting that either. I can't begin to count the number of lard-ass men I've seen bitch about their fat wives.

That being said, ladies and gentlemen, you should do your best to be as sexy as you can be for your spouse. No, you won't look like a 20 year old anymore, but if your hair shines, your breath is sweet, and your body looks like it will not die if forced to do a push-up, it will go a long way to keeping the spark alive.

madawaskan said...

Porn = instant gratification

Porn= McDonalds.

Wait, even McDonald's is more honest.

Porn=virtual junk food.

Oops-they're serving up young girls and others they are taking advantage of-and you Alex don't even get to participate.

Porn=watching others sexually cannibalize-and you get off on it.

Yuck, I think some can finish the equation.

Alex needs to get real.

madawaskan said...

Doesn't someone have a theory that Alex is Titus-I mean seriously the guy that moby's and fakes out everyone is bitching about how his wife fooled him.

So your wife is shamu-set her free.

Alex said...

I can't believe anyone thinks I'm Titus. I don't go on and on about looks, fashion and fabulousness.

madawaskan said...

Ya -I don't know who started that one-but you do moby and now your bitchin' about your wife, er whales...

Moby Dick!

The irony mobying is lying and now you think your wife puffin' up like the Michelin tire man was some sort of lie.

The irony, Ahab.

Alex said...

I never said I had a wife. I'm talking about other mens' sad, tragic stories. Of course 100% of these men are Adonises and have every right to demand a goddess.

Michael said...

If you read books about the demi-monde of past years, you quickly realize what a huge business prostitution was in most major cities, well into the postwar era. Chicago is estimated to have had about 20,000 working prostitutes in the late 19th century-- which means about 1 out of 25 women, and of course, a much higher proportion of those of suitable age (1 in 10?)

It's clearly a fraction of that today, and the corporatization and media-ization of sex into porn is surely part of the reason. Why mess with Mack Daddy when you can just press a button and Spectravision solves your problem? (Well, you'll have to help.) So porn has clearly had certain beneficial effects... but those are not its only ones.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Because before Playboy, men never even conceived of looking at as many boobs as possible.

I think after the advent of mandatory clothing, men still conceived of looking at as many boobs as possible, but realized that the society was too fucked up and the technology too backward to facilitate it.

Beldar said...

Synova (4/1/10 2:03 PM): It really, really annoys me when someone bothers to write a comment that's critical of something I've previously written, without having taken the trouble to read my entire comment and provide essential context.

Neither you nor I knows the "real" reasons for the failure of the anonymous writer's marriage. We have only the screed of one of the two ex-spouses; we know for sure that she's not disinterested, that instead she's one of the two most interested (i.e., biased) people on the face of the earth, with him being the other.

You've bought into her story, hook line & sinker. Well, fine, you can choose to do that.

But it's intellectually dishonest to refuse to recognize that there's at least a good chance that the ex-husband has his own version of the story. I wasn't making a factual assertion, I was positing examples of the kinds of things I've heard from men in similar situations.

Her story is one anecdote. It's not even a particularly reliable one, because it's from a biased witness and it hasn't been tested or examined by anyone who is objective, and it hasn't had to suffer from comparison with his story, whatever it is.

You're certainly entitled to still find it persuasive, even though I don't. But if you do, admit that your conclusion is based on a set of factual premises that you have simply chosen to believe as a matter of faith.

(WV: retum, appropriate perhaps for those who live in a fantasy world where husbands and wives never do blame each other for getting fat or bald or droopy or old, fairly or unfairly.)

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The main problem is that women are, more often than not, just plain boring. Women are not bred to be interesting; they are sought after for the appearance they give of fertility and a personality that offers a stable family life. The traits that have led to humanity's evolution - intelligence, humor, creativity, abstract thought, reason and rebelliousness have been the traits that women have sought in men. Not vice versa.

But this gets us back to the obvious conundrum. Stability and excitement are a balancing act. To the degree that someone is a lot of fun, they might not be the most stable partner. And the most stable partner is usually quite boring.

If men sought in women the traits that women seek in men, then we would probably achieve a balance of sorts and the species would be better off. In the meantime, we get one gender obsessed with stability at the expense of a creative existence, and another as inclined to destruction as he is to creativity. A hopelessly wandering eye in the latter is probably a part of that same bargain.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Add "the willingness to take a risk" to that list of traits above.

Testosterone is the molecule of risk.

Big Mike said...

@Joan and @Synova, I see that upthread both of you suggest that perhaps the guy was turned off because his wife's "stomach is flabby and gross" after five kids. Frankly there's no evidence to support that assumption. There are women in my neighborhood who are very trim after four children, I can't imagine that number five would be a tipping point. Come to think of it a former colleague had five children, and she's still pretty trim. Mentally very sharp, too, despite whatever her youngest rug rats are doing to her ability to get a good night's sleep.

And the aggrieved wife writing in the National Review said that she tried to get her husband to have sex with her and was turned down, so wherever the notion came from in this thread that perhaps she was withholding sex, it's a nonstarter too.

A question that I don't think I've seen anyone address is whether the husband of the anonymous psychologist was watching porn as a sort of "gateway drug" to adultery and divorce, as she seems to argue until the last paragraph, or whether porn was a symptom of whatever else was wrong in the marriage. We don't know enough to answer, but IMHO it's worth thinking about. She might be a qualified psychologist, but she's wa-a-ay too close to the situation to be a disinterested observer.

I think that most men understand that porn is fantasy. So are most TV shows ("House," for example, would have had his medical license pulled years ago, and he probably would be dead from the complications of the beating he received from a fed-up patient, and what they show on CSI is not how fingerprints are matched in real life). There are outliers from the norm no matter what you are measuring -- height, weight, intelligence, foot size, and gullibility when it comes to porn are only four dimensions where this is obviously true.

Big Mike said...

The main problem is that women are, more often than not, just plain boring.

Not my wife, sonny, not my wife.

El Pollo Real said...

Testosterone is the molecule of risk.

Id say that CO2 is the molecule of risk based on our President's obsession with gambling so much on it. But that's another topic for another time.

Ritmo, it's glaring obvious from your comments further up and your dissing of stability at the expense of "interesting traits" that you don't have and probably will not have a family. That may be OK for you personally, but you can hardly base a civilization on it.

traditionalguy said...

Thoughts on Porn: Pornography is a work place that abuses its employees a lot more than most jobs. Having sex with many strange people at a young age is mentally unhealthy to the extreme. So do not support that industry any more than you would support the illegal drug industry (they once had a common ownership). For the practicing man, the shame and lying about a hidden weakness will destroys his character at the same time it will destroy his image in his wife's eyes. If men need outside help with not drinking to excess, then they also need outside help with not viewing porn to excess. The first weapon against all self destructive inner mental demons is telling the secret to others until it loses its power over you. After that is tried, Exorcists can help the hard cases who want help. But most problem addicts really want to keep their addictions. They love the company.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

That may be OK for you personally, but you can hardly base a civilization on it.

Given the way this sorry excuse for a civilization's going, I don't mind.

Ok, I'm kidding. At least a little bit.

I'm hardly halfway through my thirties. And you might have picked up on my view of American society before. It goes through cycles. I have hopes that we are finally entering a less selfish age once again, and that makes me more hopeful that women will be less afraid to look at traits in men that are more enduring and less shallow than they did in the age of excess. I already get the impression that's occurring, and am enjoying it immensely. So yes, as long as my concern for humanity and civilization is greater than my selfish need to plant some genes down in the heart of it, I'll wait until the time is right to do so.

As a male, that's my prerogative. I can play with the consequences of my molecule of risk for as long as I want (within the limits that protect my own life) and wait until I'm 60 and well vested to lay down biological roots, if I want to. And if the society when I'm 60 is more conducive to mates that are more amenable to my values and interests, then so be it.

I have no interest in reproducing in an environment that believes in eating its young. Once the civilization gets back on track, I have no qualms about reproducing. Until then, I'll wait until the last mean genes have been squozen out of the testes of the cynical and myopic until I decide to take my stab at planting a seed or two in this rock.

Joan said...

Joan - so you are generalizing about all men from the perverted classifieds? The fact is if a man is married to a glowing, radiant, FIT woman he is more then satisfied with non-kinky sex.

No, I'm not generalizing about all men -- can you read? I said "there are guys out there", not "all guys." I know they exist, because I'm speaking from experience, my own and that of friends. If your assertion about what satisfies all married men were true, I might still be married to my first, now ex, husband.

Also please note that I didn't make any assumptions about how Anonymous over at NRO looks after 5 kids, or whether or not she was withholding sex. I was speaking about relationships generally.