Porn – Harmless Fun or Negative Culture Shaper?

We’ve always been torn by porn. We’re not fans ourselves, but we’re not comfortable dictating where to draw the line for other people’s fantasies either. So it was with great interest that we read this Guardian interview with Gail Dines, author of the new book “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality,” along with the critical Publisher’s Weekly review of it:

As pornography has become both more extreme and more commercial, antiporn activist Dines argues, it has dehumanized our sexual relationships. The radical objectification and often brutal denigration of women in porn, she holds, leaks into other aspects of our lives. Dines’s argument rests on a compelling, close reading of the imagery and narrative content of magazines, videos, and marketing materials; what is missing, however, is a similarly compelling body of research on how these images are used by viewers, aside from Dines’s own anecdotal evidence. The author’s appropriation of addiction terminology—viewers are called users, habitual viewing is an addiction, and pornography featuring teenagers is called Pseudo-Child Pornography or PCP—is distracting and suggests that rhetorical tricks are needed because solid argumentation is lacking. Likewise, Dines’s opponents are unlikely to be swayed by her speculation tying porn viewing to rape and child molestation, nor by the selective sources she draws on to support her point (convicted sex offenders). The book does raise important questions about the commoditization of sexual desires and the extent to which pornography has become part of our economy (with hotel chains and cable and satellite companies among the largest distributors). (July)

We know the majority of readers of EMandLO.com are probably pro-porn, but figured many of you also have reservations about a lot of it. How it both positively and negatively affects our desires, our expectations and our relationships. Rarely is any issue just black and white, and porn’s no exception (despite this post’s title). So we wanted to hear from you about the gray areas. Let’s us know all your thoughts on porn — the good, the bad, the ugly — in the comments below.


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18 Comments on "Porn – Harmless Fun or Negative Culture Shaper?"


CINDY
4 years 11 months ago

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!

Johnny
5 years 30 days ago

^ Ooooooo, you shouldn’t have snooped, or harangued him while he’s at work.

But that’s not actually why I’m replying. I’d like to give you a dude pass here.

Your BF is one of those “gone-too-far” guys. If a man were reprimanded at work for being drunk in the middle of the day, you might be justified in fearing an alcohol problem, right? Especially if he were drunk lots of other times too? Same thing. He should not be whacking off at work. Which he has, even if he swears he hasn’t.

See in my mind, problems are defined by… well, the problems they cause. Whacking off to porn in the privacy of your bedroom once in a while? No problem. Using the majority of your sex drive on porn, to one’s GF’s dismay? Bigger problem. Nearly fired for jerking off at work? Very big problem.

Your bad-feeling about being a nagging controlling girlfriend is admirable given the stimulus. Kudos to you for making an effort to be chill about this. But I gotta say, I see where you’re coming from. His porn habit is way out of control.

Diz
5 years 30 days ago

Some really interesting points coming up here. Yesterday my boyfriend and I had some quite heavy conflict regarding his porn or internet sex habits. He told me when we first started going out that he’d had a disciplinary at work as a result of them finding out he’d been spending 5 hours a day having sex chat with women on his work computer (pretty dumb if you ask me)… He also used to meet up with women he met on online sex dating websites, some of whom still contact him as they are now friends.

All this stuff is behind us, or behind him, and since we’ve been a couple I have only got a little bit annoyed at times when these ladies have been getting in touch with him, but I see his response and he doesn’t hide it from me so I’ve felt assured that I can trust him and that our relationship is secure.

However, yesterday I did a bad thing. I looked at his computer history. I kinda wish I hadn’t now as it brought up an uncomfortable subject that we had to talk through, rather… um.. uncomfortably. I found lots of porn sites, very normal for him, but I really stopped in my tracks when I saw one of these dating sites. He had entered ‘man’ seeking ‘woman’ in ‘London’, and there followed a series of porn profiles of dirty women in London, gagging for it with their amateur porn videos for his viewing pleasure, of which he viewed some and surely found pleasure. I called him immediately (he was at work), didn’t totally freak out but quite directly asked him what the hell this is all about? Have you been sex chatting etc. He came home that evening and we talked it through.

After going round and round in circles, my end feeling is that this is actually a very sad and strange issue for me now. I have watched porn a lot, and do every now and again, but his mentality is so different from mine. He gets really into the individuals. He follows certain pornstars and likes their style. He views this sex dating website and all the ladies profiles as another pornsite and is adamant he is just looking at videos and ‘needs’ a profile so he can get the best video reccomendations… ‘just like youtube’. I don’t want to argue with him, I can’t bear the thought of being a controlling girlfriend and to be honest I never thought I had a problem with porn until now. Shit. I kinda see now how porn in a relationship can actually be a problem. I suggested to him that he might have a problem, or a rather extreme habit (seeing as our sex life is fucking fantastic!)… He kinda mulled that over and retorted that it’s $40billion industry, just like acting or films… Justified? I think not, seeing as sex trafficking and child prostitution are also pretty big industries! I reminded him that porn was not intially my beef with him, it’s because he’s looking up sexy single girls in London, a bit too close to home, and this for me has highlighted that his hobby might be crossing some very important lines if he cares about our relationship. This morning things seemed a bit frosty. Oo-er. Don’t know if we’ve seen the end of this one.

johnny
5 years 1 month ago

I hear ya. But I’ve observed that for the most part women love to do all that male-oriented stuff.

I think that many women publicly put up a feminist “ew-that’s-degrading” front, because that’s what’s expected of them in this day and age. But the opporutunity to enter a state of abject submission and degredation in private is wildly erotic to them, based on what I’ve seen. They go crazy for it, sometimes wanting me to do such seemingly mean things to them that I’m not immediately comfortable with it.

And that’s been the majority of my sexual partners in recent years – not a couple isolated incidents. These women are bright, professional, strong… yet just dying to be dominated like in male-oriented hardcore porn.

I understand that that’s not everyone. Believe it or not, not all men are into that stuff either. But I see it as so prevalent that I can’t help but be thankful to porn for opening those floodgates.

Men who put sexual pressure on women are assholes. Women who put sexual pressure on themselves… well, hey. Don’t blame porn. At the end of the day we’re all responsible for our own choices.

Black Iris
5 years 1 month ago

@Johnny – I didn’t mean to imply that you would push a woman to do anything. I was thinking more about the effect on the overall culture when so many people watch so much male-oriented porn.

My concern is that after a while people assume that if you don’t want to do things, you’re not cool. What makes it especially worrisome is that porn is so male-oriented. So I’m worried that guys will expect that girls will shave, have anal sex, etc. and will go for another girlfriend if they don’t But do girls have the power to drop guys who laugh at their vibrator or don’t want to use it during sex? Are girls being empowered to feel more comfortable with their unique clitoris and labia? Is porn making men spend more time on foreplay and do their Kegels so they can last longer during intercourse?