Porn Free

By Callimachus | Related entries in Ideas, Media, Sexuality

[Warning, some explicit language herein]

Here is someone who rejects the notion that the explosion of digital pornography is a thing to be celebrated, a “glorious Dionysian orgy after two millennia of unnatural Christian repression.”

For every positive effect porn has, there is a Larry Flynt and a slew of victims. I have one friend who describes himself as a “chronic porn addict” and sadly laments that his (very beautiful) girlfriend can never match the 10 million infinitely pliable, infinitely-surgeried fantasy women forever splayed in his laptop. I know teenage lads with wildly unrealistic expectations that women are constantly “up for it” – and up for anything.

And, worst of all, I know girls trying to meet those swollen expectations – girls who have internalised the norms of pornography and who try to convince themselves that they enjoy their boyfriends’ endless requests for anal sex, sex toys and being “shared” with the mates.

But neither is he advocating for a return to “unnatural Christian repression.”

Of course, there are some women who genuinely do enjoy all this, and they need to be protected from clucking puritans. But as I look around, I see far more women trying to contort themselves painfully into an internet-shaped dream-girl.

… While the old Christian puritans who hated the “filth” of porn were clearly wrong, the old Feminist puritans who hated its misogyny had a point. The fact that 30 per cent of women now regularly view internet porn – according to the new survey – seems to undermine this, until you study the figures and see that women are typing dirty in chatrooms rather than watching men being splayed and debased.

Johann is a savvy and liberal-minded writer; like a lot of British commentators, he sometimes gets his facts screwed up, but when he doesn’t, he can make you think. Even when you disagree with him. And especially when you’re not sure whether you agree or not.

In fact, he’s siding here with the “old Feminist puritans.” But his proposal is rather radical:

But what can we do? Even if we concluded that the negative effects of our new pornutopia outweigh the positive – and I’m genuinely not sure about that – we can’t stop it. The web is uncensorable. The police can’t even remove images of children being raped from search engines, when we all agree they should. We are, to borrow a phrase from Jean-Paul Sartre, “condemned to be free”.

That doesn’t mean we should go back into denial. It means we need to start to prepare children to cope with porn from an early age. Young people need to be taught as they approach adolescence to be porn-savvy. Everybody knows from the time they’re a child to be wary of advertising, but young people don’t know to be sceptical about the claims implicit in porn. As one 17-year-old told me, “My first experience of women in a sexual context was seeing them on websites as ‘cum-hungry bitches’. I guess I started looking at it when I was 11 or 12, and it led me to make some terrible mistakes, approaching girls and expecting them to be into the stuff I’d seen.”


This entry was posted on Monday, May 29th, 2006 and is filed under Ideas, Media, Sexuality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Porn Free”

  1. Justin Gardner Says:

    Agreed about educating our children about healthy sexuality at a younger age. This should be the standard in the parenting handbook from now until the end of time.

    However, I have to take some first hand comments I’ve heard on this one as a counterpoint. My brother tells me that him and his friends just don’t care that much about pornography. Why? Because it’s so easy to find. In other words, when something isn’t hidden, isn’t tucked away in dad’s sock drawer, it becomes boring.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean my brother and his friends are necessarily telling the whole truth, but I think it stands to reason that when you demistify something, it sort of loses that aura of sexy and instead picks up an appropriate aura of trashy.

    In any event, good post.

  2. Dyre42 Says:

    I weird little fact I ran across a while ago listening to NPR. Porn sites and religious sites have been growing in a ratio that is proportionally equal.

  3. Rudi Says:

    We have always had a Puritanical influence in the USA. Canada and Europe do not have this problem. These whackjobs ahve problems with: sex not for procreation; an HPV virus will promote illicit sex, no vacine their solution; their beliefs should be my beliefs. I can stand Larry Flynt, he doesn’t claim to leg press 2000 pounds to sell his snake oil.

  4. ford4x4 Says:

    Damn…. I thought the headline said “Free Porn” at first. Couldn’t
    you have at least put some decent links in? :)

  5. Jackson Madden Says:

    LoL, http://www.mongface.com

  6. Trickish Knave Says:

    Porn has been the cornerstone of a Sailor’s underway life since it became available on paper back in the Dageurrotype era. Now we can put digital pictures in our cell phones, laptops, personal DVD players and PSP’s- they are convenient and fit snuggly into our coffin-like racks.

    I think an disinterest in porn might be a little unnatural, though, but I can see why people would become desensitized to it. Last deployment some Max Hardcore DVD’s were floating aorund the sub and at first I was mortified watching this man urinate into a girl’s open asshole and then continue pumping away. I thought there was a check valve when the penis became erect to prevent this.

    Anyway, after 3 months of watching this stuff we would talk about it at meals at the table like we were discussing last night’s game. It didn’t bother us anymore; the circulating joke among some of the viewers was that they couldn’t get a hard on anymore unless their was a hot lunch opening scene. The Naval Academy midshipmen who rode us for a while were thoroughly disgusted.

    There will always be porn on the internet and associated sidestreets (Kazaa, torrents, etc) and there are good and bad things associated with the freedom of having a permanant source of jack-off material. It can become addictive though, as you mentioned, and lead to severe problems. When you start looking at peole in the real world and wonder if they have bananas shoved down their esophagus with a freakishly large penis then you know you need to lay off it for a while.

  7. Callimachus Says:

    Rudi: Hari is a European. He’s not writing about America.

  8. CaseyL Says:

    As I see it, there are two distinct issues here: the sexual response to porn; and what one does with that response.

    Sexual response is a threshold response, in that it’s triggered by unexpected stimuli. Cultures where people, esp. women, go around all covered up, are very low threshold: a glimpse of an ankle, much less a decolletage, is enough to ping a sexual response. Cultures where people, esp. women, go around wearing whatever they please, have a much higher threshold: near-nudity or actual nudity.

    What porn does is set the threshold ever higher, esp. for people who are sexually dysfunctional to start with. Once simple nudity isn’t enough to give the porn consumer a charge, there’s simulated sex; once that loses its sparkle, the compulsive porn consumer needs S&B, S&M, and so on. There’s a phrase for this cycle, mostly applied to drug addictions, but it applies here, too: “tolerance and habituation.” It basically means you need a bigger bang to get the same thrill.

    That’s the part that might be fun, or sad, or pathetic – and it’s the part that, really, is no one’s business but the porn consumer.

    Because porn is only dangerous when the people consuming it take their sexual response to it and go looking for people to act out that sexual response on. And the sexual trigger alone isn’t enough to do that – most people know how to masterbate; my guess is that compulsive porn consumers are pretty darned good at masterbating.

    No, there’s a Factor X that connects pornography to things like exploitation and rape, and that Factor X is the general cultural attitudes towards sexual behavior, emotional connection, and the sexes in general.

    The US doesn’t have a “pornography problem,” per se: the problem is that we have a culture that in general is dehumanizing, that has commodified everything including sexuality and romance, that rewards dominance and exploitation, and that has actually gone seriously backwards in the way it portrays women.

    So someone who already is sexually and/or emotionally dysfunctional also is bombarded with cultural cues, some subtle and some explicit, that reinforce the dehumanizing effect of pornography. Where is someone like that going to find and learn appropriate sexual behavior? Not in schools, not in the popular culture, probably not from their family (remember, they’re screwed up already; chances are their upbringing played a big role in screwing them up) – not in any of the usual places one goes to learn how one ought to act.

    Nothing happens in a vacuum. If the dehumanizing, exploitative, and tolerance/habitation stimulus of porn is a person’s only source of sexual information – and if that person lives in a culture that is also dehumanizing and exploitative – then of course that person is going to think that what he sees in pornography is what he’s actually supposed to do and is allowed to do.

  9. Patrick Says:

    This column reminds me of the Friends episode “The One with the Free Porn” in which Chandler and Joey discover they have tuned into a porn channel. And it’s free. They leave the TV on, afraid switching off will mean no more pornography. By the end of the episode, Chandler is seeing the world through porn-tinted spectacles. “I was just at the bank,” he complains, “and the teller didn’t ask me to go do it with her in the vault.” Joey, bewildered, reports a similar reaction from the pizza-delivery girl. “You know what,” decides Chandler, “we have to turn off the porn.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1079016,00.html

  10. Brian in MA Says:

    I suggest a V-chip for computers, vis-a-vis preventing children from viewing the stuff.

    As to US Culture, I would like to point out that is in effect true, but it not the cause of “those evil puritans”. “Those evil puritans” deplore such a culture and stand against it so adamantly that they are labeled “extreme”. Well I say a little puritanism in this case doesn’t hurt, and it isn’t just US culture, its Western culture in general. Whereas Middle Eastern culture is too assertive on sexuality and gender issues, the US and the West in general are not assertive enough. There has to be a happy medium between wrapping women in sheets and wrapping women in sex.

    That solution should have nothing to do with exposing children to porn. They simply are not ready, no matter how much you wish they are. I tell you what, when you can let your child watch “cum-sucking bitches” and then explain it to him in such a way that neither event will traumatize them or change their views of men and women forever, let me know. Until then, my operating plan is to block it out and ignore it, and when it rears its ugly head I will condemn it for the degredation of women and culture it represents. Even if my would-be children inevitably disobey me and manage to get a stash for themselves, at least they will have the foundation not to let fantasy spill over into reality.

  11. john Says:

    We have domain names for .Gov, .Edu, .Org. It is prime time that pornography also gets a domain name too. I think it is clear that the gov’t is capable of tracking you on the internet, regardless of a unique domain identifier. We should have .Xxx. This way the filters would find it easier to sort it out. I’m sure parent activist groups and christian groups would have no issue with weeding out violators to the .com or .net seperation of porn and other content.

    I like porn as much as the next guy, maybe a little more, but when I’m at work and I get blocked for trying to enter a porn site, when the site I’m actually trying to access is a legitimate non-porn site, I wonder, who is watching this and do they think I’m trying to jerk off at work?

Leave a Reply


NOTE TO COMMENTERS:


You must ALWAYS fill in the two word CAPTCHA below to submit a comment. And if this is your first time commenting on Donklephant, it will be held in a moderation queue for approval. Please don't resubmit the same comment a couple times. We'll get around to moderating it soon enough.


Also, sometimes even if you've commented before, it may still get placed in a moderation queue and/or sent to the spam folder. If it's just in moderation queue, it'll be published, but it may be deleted if it lands in the spam folder. My apologies if this happens but there are some keywords that push it into the spam folder.


One last note, we will not tolerate comments that disparage people based on age, sex, handicap, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. We reserve the right to delete these comments and ban the people who make them from ever commenting here again.


Thanks for understanding and have a pleasurable commenting experience.


Related Posts: