Friday, April 5, 2013

Let's Talk About Porn


Originally posted on LiveAction




When I was a teenager and well into my 20s, Kurt Vonnegut was my favorite writer. I still appreciate his work, although now when I revisit it, I find things that bother me.
One particular passage (I forget in which novel) found Vonnegut describing a porno shop. For those of you who are significantly younger than I and/or don’t read ancient history, this was a place that existed before the internet, when in order to acquire pornographic materials one had to go out in public and purchase them. Withmoney. Dark, scary times.
Anyway, Vonnegut described the shop as “a silly place, all about love and babies.” (I am relying on memory, but I believe this is far more accurate than not.)
I remember being blown away by that. I was struck by how enlightened and how true it was. How Vonnegutian. He was right, I thought. Porn wasn’t about shame or hurting people. It was a natural consequence of the fact that men found women desirable and lovely. It meant that men loved women and wanted to participate in baby-making acts with them. That was what porn was about.
I felt a smug sense of righteousness that I was so enlightened now. I understood porn, while most people grossly misunderstood it. It wasn’t porn that was perverse; the real perverts were the people who didn’t realize that it was, deep down, “all about love and babies.” – those who, instead of indulging their natural, healthy, loving, lusty natures, twisted something beautiful and simple into something negative and mysterious and even ugly.
“Porn keeps families together,” I used to say, half because I believed it and half to shock people. I would explain that pornography kept people’s marriages alive. Couples could watch porn together and get turned on and then have healthy consensual sex. Men could watch porn and indulge fantasies without “actually” cheating. Meanwhile, the people acting in the pornos could make a living and do something fun and healthy and not at all perverse.
Porn was natural. Porn was necessary. Porn was, in a way, wholesome. I believed all this.
Then I saw some porn.
You have to remember that the internet, around this time, was dial-up. It consisted of AOL Instant Messenger and e-mail, and a fraction of what we now call at the internet. Each page was delivered to you at roughly the speed at which water boils at medium heat. And it was difficult to log on secretly in the middle of the night because the sound of the modem dialing up (don’t worry about what this means) was a cacophony of screeches, blips, and hisses, sometimes lasting several minutes, guaranteed to wake everyone in your home, and possibly your neighbor’s home.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, you still had to pay for porn back then. With money.
So I was about nineteen years old when I first saw actual porn. And that whole business about porn being all about love and babies? Yeah, not so much.
I was with a bunch of friends at my boyfriend’s house when someone put in a VHS tape (you can google that if you need to) of some porno. There was a time not so long ago when a young man could never have imagined playing a pornographic video in a room full of young ladies. Those days are gone. Because FEMINISM. Because women are no different from men, right? And we are expected to look at the porn and shrug and be “cool” with it.
This is the new thing. This is what is expected of post-feminist women. We must be “cool” with porn, or, at the very least, “okay” with it. To be anything else would be hypocritical as feminists. We want “equality,” right? Well, there it is: women behaving just like men. Namely, by wantonly having sex with whoever. And by finding nothing at all disgusting about watching another woman be assailed by unfamiliar genitals for money.
So I sat there and I looked at the porn. I didn’t see love or babies. I didn’t really even see sex, not as I understood it. I saw violence.
I immediately thought back to the pornographic magazines I’d found in my friend’s dad’s closet when I was a kid. I remembered the violent imagery, the disgusting jokes, the little cartoon that made light of rape. I thought I’d stumbled upon something from the fringe, something dark and out of the ordinary. And I was surprised when, years later, I found out that the magazine – Hustler – was considered pretty mainstream and had about a zillion subscribers.
Later, I put it out of my mind. I was enlightened and Vonnegutian now.
Except the reality – the actual porn – was proving Vonnegut wrong. These weren’t beautiful ladies being caressed lovingly by men with passion in their smoldering eyes. These were 19-year-old girls with fake breasts and zero body hair being pummeled like desirable pieces of willing meat.
You know that saying, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”? This looked like humiliation. It quacked like humiliation.

What does abortion have to do with porn? They are both the end game.
Abortion and pornography are, in different ways, the extreme of what we get when we stop treating sex like something sacred or important. The dictionary definition of the verb “pervert” means to “alter (something) from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.”
Porn perverts sex. When you pervert sex – when you make it about using other people, making money, or titillating the masses – you distort and corrupt it. Creating life and bringing two married people closer together – that’s the intended purpose of sex. Not profit. Not recreation.
I’m old enough now to know I was wrong when I said “Porn saves families.” I’ve literally seen it do the opposite to families. I’ve watched women I know struggle on two fronts: one, they’re devastated to learn that their boyfriends or husbands are addicted to porn, and literally can’t stop watching and lusting after other women, and two, they’re not supposed to mind. It’s supposed to be no big deal.
It’s almost de rigeur for comedians to talk about men watching porn and how all men do it and all men lie about it and this is reality and women should accept it.
Well, sorry. I don’t accept it. I don’t care if he knows her name or not – if my husband lusts after another woman, that’s infidelity, be it ever so humble. And when young men become hooked on porn before they’re even old enough to have relationships, it gives them dangerous, violent ideas about sex, and some seriously disturbing ideas about what women are supposed to look like and how they are supposed to behave.
I am one of those women who is not okay with porn, and that includes live soft-core porn – i.e., strip clubs. Yes, I’m that wife. I’m the annoying bee eye tee see aytch who won’t let my husband go to your bachelor party if I know you’re going to have a stripper. (And, yes, I can, within reason, tell my husband he can’t do things, just as he can tell me I can’t do things. Marriage is a contract.)
And in case you’re wondering, I won’t go to bachelorette parties if they involve male strippers. For one, respect is a two-way street. I don’t want to objectify a dude, even if he likes it. And for two, gross.
My home is a porn-free zone. You can roll your eyes and think I’m deluded, but I trust my husband, and moreover, I married a guy who shares my values, and who is concerned that what was once thrilling – Betty Grable in a short skirt and tight top – is now not enough.
Where soldiers used to pin up photos of scantily-clad, smiling, wholesome, Marilyn Monroe-type gals, they now go for silicone-enhanced, spread-eagled, air-brushed hoochies with hair extensions and false eyelashes and three pounds of eyeliner, replete with strategic bleaching and waxing, all splayed out, nothing left to the imagination. It’s more than offensive; it’s also aesthetically troublesome. It says not only that we are amoral, but that we are just, well, trashy.
I accept that I live in a postmodern freak show of a land where I can see things walking through the mall that would not even have been shown on late night television thirty years ago. I accept that my husband is going to inadvertently see what would once have been called soft-core porn just because we happen to have cable. And I’m not going to freak out every time he does.
But, ladies, we need to make a stand. We need to refuse to accept the menace of pornography in our lives. No matter what the fauxminists say, the sex trades do prey on women. They do hurt women.
And we need to stop buying the idea that being “cool” with porn means we’re enlightened and liberated. It means just the opposite. It means we’ve bought a patriarchal lie that selling our bodies, taking pills that subvert our bodies, and allowing our children to be ripped out of our bodies is somehow good for us.
It isn’t. We should know better.
Make your home a porn-free zone. Make your life a porn-free experience. Don’t give in to the temptation to objectify other people, and don’t believe the lie that when your significant other or husband or wife looks at porn, it doesn’t affect you. It does. The viewer of porn disrespects the people he watches, himself, and his significant other.
As women, if we’re going to demand respect, we need to give it. A culture of life starts with respecting human beings enough to say no – not only to their killing as unborn children, but to their degradation as adults. We need to recognize and reject the perversion of sex and the objectification of humans that leads to abortion.
To build a culture of life, we have to say NO – unapologetically – to pornography.
*********************************************************





Post by Kristen Hatten

17 comments:

  1. Both my husband and I agree 100%. Great post!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My issue with feminism: Women trying to fix a world of gender inequality issues by only focusing on solely the issues of women... I find this to be slightly biased in her view regarding the struggles men deal with, which are not necessarily greater in magnitude than that of women, but do exist nonetheless and are often never addressed. She does this in order to play on the "Be strong and stand up to men" idea feminism has created which seems to captivate women to the point of marital abuse in some cases. Gender equality is a subject you can get a PhD in, and is not a simple topic. "if my husband lusts after another woman, that’s infidelity" says to me that she seriously lacks an understanding of human nature. If lusting is cheating, everyone's a cheater, because what's unnatural is forcing yourself to not find others attractive rather than learning to accept and deal with it appropriately. Besides that, I think there are some good points made regarding porn's ever changing effect on our perception of what the ideal women AND MAN should look like, or even act like, especially at a young age. Regardless, there is an argument to be had to say porn is negative, demeaning and it's use CAN, but not always effect relationships negatively, depending on the security and beliefs of both parties. Nonetheless, I think this writer overlooked some important considerations. One good argument is whether porn is an outlet for desires and fantasies, or does it perpetuate inappropriate desires for those things artificial?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...what's unnatural is forcing yourself to not find others attractive rather than learning to accept and deal with it appropriately."
      And porn is a way to "deal with it"? I'm not sure if that's what you're saying, but it suuuuure sounds like it.
      Quite frankly, that's like saying nicotine is a good 'solution' for smoking addicts.

      There is absolutely nothing natural or wholesome about porn.
      *Desire* is natural.
      *Sex* is natural.
      Desiring sex is natural.
      Sex on demand (1st or 2nd hand), however, is completely unnatural. We're literally the only species who sells the life-making process as a toy.

      Delete
    2. How do you know there's absolutely nothing natural or wholesome about porn? I'm going to bet you've never actually interacted with any variation of porn. Not all porn is full of rough sex and women being treated like a "piece of meat". Sure there is plenty of shitty porn that treats women like crap and perpetuates negative ideals. But there are as many variations of porn as there are people.
      Women love porn! I've seen women bullshit about how terrible porn is, then pull out book that is just as pornographic.
      There is soft gentle porn. There is loving spouses porn. There is video porn, photographic porn, audio porn, erotic literature porn. We may call it other things, but it's all porn.
      It's easy to just write off the word porn as "bad, terrible, nothing good", but when it comes down to it you're more than likely not being honest or you're just ignorant about the subject.

      Also, what did that comment have to do with porn anyway? He was talking about the authors comment on how apparently her husband lusting after anyone is cheating, which is ridiculous. We lust after everything all the time. I lusted after a steak last night. Women lust after men, men lust after women. It's normal, it's natural, it's why conservatives get married. So they can act on their lustful desires while sticking to the social and cultural constructs they have been indoctrinated to believe. Just because you get married doesn't mean you stop lusting after others. You just make a conscious choice to not act on those desires.

      Delete
  3. Eric, all of your objections to this piece are motivated by your desire to defend porn (and perhaps even your own porn use). It won't make you happy and it won't make your relationships better. It doesn't take a woman to figure that out, just an honest human being who isn't attached to this cultural vampire.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aaaaaaaaaaannnddd....SHARE! Well posted, well written and exclaimed what so many people need to hear, or fail in words to express!
    Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with every word, except the statement that marriage is a contract. It's so much more than that. Marriage is a covenant. A covenant differs from a contract about as much as marriage differs from prostitution. I think a good husband would not only not want to go to the bachelor party if he knows a stripper will be there, but he'd get up and leave once he found out one was performing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed!! My hubby & I view a strip joint to be one of the last places on earth we want to be!

      Delete
  6. I think it's only the, what I call, "fun feminists" that are OK with porn, who even watch it. Most of the feminists I know, myself included, do not watch porn, nor do we support it. Just the opposite! Radical feminists are also very much anti-porn. More so than any other group I've encountered.

    Otherwise, I agree with everything else. My home, my marriage, my life, etc., is devoid of porn. I also do not attend parties that have male strippers. My husband avoids bachelor parties that contain visits to strip clubs. We do this, mainly, out of respect for one another and our selves. But, also, because it's a damaging industry all around.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think this article was very well written and touched on many good points. I will say this (and this is a guy's perspective): one of the either intentional or unintentional byproducts of the feminist/women's liberation movement is that it empowered a whole generation of women to take charge of their lives sexually. This has resulted in a net increase in premarital sexual activity, marital infedility, abortion, teenage sex, and yes, female viewing of pornography, which is on the rise. These things have, in turn, contributed to the increased sexualification of society, of which pornography is a byproduct. The issue then is so much larger than just what men are looking at on their computers. It encompasses a whole society that now has an extremely twisted view of sex (as mentioned in the article), and an industry that is happy to meet the growing demand for more. Women have clearly had an important role to play in this. So, in addition to making it a male problem that women need to police in their homes, we desperately need a generation of men AND women who will stand up and say NO, offer grace to those who have been caught in the clutches of pornography (because it is very much an addiction), and are willing to promote traditional values that, though they seem outdated, actually have a direct role in protecting children, preserving families, and empowering women.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love reading about women who have respect for themselves, who have higher standards than to be some guy's lust toy. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post/blog!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kristen, if you do not already have a best friend, consider me! You are absolutely hilarious while speaking very difficult TRUTH. I love it! I try to talk to others about the dangers of porn but it is incredibly awkward and uncomfortable but TOTALLY NECESSARY. A priest told me that porn is taking over money as the main cause of marriages failing. It is a silent destroyer. Thank you for bringing it to light! I love the phrase "quacks like humiliation" and "fauxminism." The only thing I would like to remark on is the use of the term "patriarchal." I do not have a problem with patriarchy, for many men are virtuous and lead their wives/families on the true path. It is the men who refuse to rise to the highest meaning of Man, who drag women to the depths of depravity, who are at issue. Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete