Saturday, December 20, 2008

There is no pornography here

Mona Charen has a column on pornography. Read it here
Align Center
While she tries to create a divide between the right and left on this topic, pornography is the one topic that I think the right and left actually can find some agreement. Charen's agrument sounds like a pretty conventional feminist argument to me:

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, author of "The Brain That Changes
Itself," noted that pornography use actually changes the brains of consumers.
Like other addictions, pornography use breeds tolerance and the need for more
intensity to get the desired result. He quoted Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte
Simmons," in which a college kid asks casually, "Anybody got porn?" He is told
that there are magazines on the third floor. He responds, "I've built up a
tolerance to magazines … I need videos." Tolerance is the medically correct
term, Doidge notes, which is why pornography becomes more and more graphic.

Pornography seems to desensitize its consumers to real sex. Now, she goes on to make an argument that I wish she quoted credible research on. I really wonder if there is anything but anecdotal evidence for this:

The men (and they are overwhelmingly men) who become hooked on this bilge
are often miserable about it. They know that it affects their capacity to love
and be loved by real women. As Doidge explained, "Pornographers promise healthy
pleasure and a release from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an
addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the
male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn't like it." Hugh
Hefner, the godfather of mainstream porn, apparently does not have normal sex
with his many girlfriends. Despite the presence of up to seven comely young
women in his bed at a time, he uses porn for sexual satisfaction. Think about

Internet pornography truly is, as one researcher put it, "a hidden
public health hazard." It isn't cute or funny. Relationships are crashing, women
are suffering in silence, and men and boys are becoming entrapped by it. The
Witherspoon Institute has done a valuable thing by starting a more public
conversation about this cultural poison.

I'd have no problem, assuming credible evidence, if pornography were declared a public health problem. Of course, it has taken, what, 35 years and more to see alcoholism and binge drinking as a public health problem. And obesity and diabetes are beginning to be viewed that way. But pornography is protected as free speech so it will be much harder to deal with. It cannot effectively be banned and I don't think we are far from porn becoming completely mainstream. Charen's observations about Victoria's Secret and the racy ads for pajamagrams are exactly right.

I wonder, however, if a saturation might eventually occur. Porn is new for the US. Yeah, it has always been around, but the seeming privacy and anonymity of the internet has let it explode. What about societies where porn has been more readily available like the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries? I don't know if relationships are ruined, but I do have to admit, their birth rates are very instead of real sex?

I'm not sure there is any way to stop porn. Sexuality education (as opposed to sex education) in our schools might help, but I don;t see that happening anytime soon.

No comments:

Blog Directory - Blogged The Steiger Counter at Blogged