« Rebels Marry Young | Main | A Life of Imperfection »

May 24, 2010


Sarah M

Great post, I have never thought about it that way, but I agree with you.
I think our culture's response to your question of why one woman and not another is: "If you've got it, flaunt it", which is not only wrong to begin with, but completely insulting to boot.
Sarah M


Oh, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I can't tell you how many times I've heard male acquaintances recite with utmost sincerity, "You can't turn a h*e into a housewife." (Said woman/garden tool being anyone he deems as unworthy). This is why I somewhat advocate all-female exercise pole dancing classes, because it completely flips on its head the notion that women belong to different camps of (sexual) worthiness. What happens when your cousin takes a pole dancing class; does she then fit the mold of someone to be objectified? From my experience, men are greatly uncomfortable with that arbitrary line being erased by "ordinary" women twirling on poles.

Cady Driver

It is also interesting to note that pornography is one of the major causes of divorce....it ranks up there with infidelity as one of the two top leading factors contributing to the breakup of a marriage.

It's funny b/c a lot of women label themselves as liberated and say it's okay for their husbands to view porn. Yet, we have a friend who works in a urologist's office and she states that the leading cause of ED in their office is men viewing porn so much that they lose the ability to be intimate with their wives b/c their wives don't measure up to the images they've seen.


I still think it's possible to enjoy porn without damaging ones view on women or relationships. The catch is you have to have a healthy mindset to begin with. A man who views women being sexual as "lesser" is only going to mess himself up more. We need to change as a culture to rid ourselves of this mindset. A female is more then what she does with her body. And until this message is learned, men will continue to think it's okay to objectify some women because of their sexuality.


Shanna-No matter how healthy the mind-set one is going in with, I think its only takes so long before an individual becomes desensitized to the images he has seen and forgets his healthy mindset that he had originally started with. After spending so much time viewing nude women and conjuring up these distorted perceptions of them and their role in society, I think this would now create a problem where the guy now must struggle to force himself to not view all women that way-he has just created a problem for himself that didn't exist before. The pornographic images will always come out as the stronger and more dominant images in a guy's mind because nude women are more exciting than clothed ones!


Julie-I think that's a rather poor view of men. this is like the tv violence and violent video game debates. A healthy person is able to maintain a disconnect and realize porn isn't real. The unhealthy person thinks it's real and then tries to emulate it. While the easy fix is getting rid of porn (and thats only somewhat easier, outright banning porn would just move it underground where it would get worse) the proper fix is getting people to having a healthy mindset about sex and women.

Lisa Nash

Shanna, just two points for debate/discussion:

-What steps would you advocate in order to encourage people to have a healthy mindset about sex and women?

-I am interested by the idea that "porn isn't real" -- it is true that there is an element of theatricality to it, in the way that a character on a movie screen isn't "real," per se, but isn't the woman being depicted in the pornographic image a "real" person? This is the point that I was trying to get to -- not focusing on the idea that pornography harms the viewer, but rather that it depends on a certain idea about the "viewee" as somehow being exempt from the normal views of human dignity. It seems to me that sincerely believing that porn isn't real requires a suspension of belief in the humanity of the person whose body is being displayed. What do you think?


Some distinctions to clarify the debate:

It does seem that those who use pornography want real people in it, not computer-generated images or composites of images of real people to make an unreal person. If this were not so, there'd be no market for illegal child pornography, as I'm pretty sure composites of adult genitals and child heads are not illegal (Whether they should be is a matter even the usual enemies of modesty debate.). Ms. Nash's point is, however, that pornography looks at only one aspect of the real people it depicts, namely, their sexuality. In looking at only one aspect of a person, it makes that person less of a person, or not a person. This is in contrast to the characters in regular films, which we want to be "well-rounded" with intelligence, consciences, problems, virtues, vices, etc. In other words, fictional, but imitating full, real people.

I have read accounts by enforcers of the indecency laws, those charged with making the "Is it obscene or is it not?" decisions. (Ultimately, it can be juries, that is, common citizens, that must make such decisions.) These people, presumably, had a healthy mindset about sex and women going into their jobs and retained that healthy mindset in doing their jobs, though in at least one account it was a serious struggle. The difference between these law enforcement people and those who use pornography is that law enforcement is there to remember and protect the full humanity of those depicted, whereas the images are designed to suppress all but the one aspect of their humanity.


I'd refer readers of this post to one archived in April 2010, "The Social Costs of Porn," with a link to an academically researched article. The idea of pornography not being "real" is addressed in the article, with the idea that for the participants it is real--the consequences such as STDs are very real to them.


Well, I don't necessarily want to come out as defending, entirely at least, mainstream porn. As an industry it really needs reform. Perhaps instead of "not real" a better distinction would be "fantasy" I'd also argue that amateur porn, or consensual-acts-between-a-couple-one-or-both-of-whom-get-off-on-the-exhibitionism-of-it to be a much better alternative. And a good many porn-stars maintain websites and personal blogs, which may help them seem more human to their fans that follow them. Porn is acting. Just like I can't jump off buildings like Angelina Jolie without extensive training, I can't re-enact scenes of most porn without somehow preparing my body for it. They are paid to do a scene like an actor, they just focus on different parts of the body. If it's possible to maintain disconnect of a movie not being real, or fantasy, why not porn?

As for encouraging a healthy mind set, well. Women are human. They are always human. No matter how she is dressed, what her job is or any other superficial reason is any reason to treat her as anything besides a human being. All human beings deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Regardless of if she's dressed like a nun or if her skirt is so short her butt is showing, she is to be treated as a human being. No more allowing guys to get away with saying things like "She was asking for it dressed like that" No, she wasn't. No more double standards about sexuality. Having sex doesn't make a woman any less of a human being, having sex doesn't make a man anymore deserving of respect. Healthy relationships are built on communication and trust. You have to be able to talk through problems, negotiate, compromise. As for encouraging this? I've been a firm believer of leading by example. A positive example will do more then any class or ad campaign, though both of those would be a good option as well.

Quite honestly, I'm always kind of confused by how people don't realize the actors are real people. I don't understand why explicit sexuality is dehumanizing. We are all human, and (with the exception of asexual) we all have sexual sides to ourselves as well. I understand how when aroused such thoughts are not right there, but for it to affect behavior afterwards is just, odd.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Don't forget the "Pornography for Women" of Romance novels, soap operas, and *sparkling* Hawt Vampires. That is to women what mainstream porn is to men, with similar side effects and collateral damage.

Yitzhak Klein

1. Why is it that a person would be shocked to find a close female friend or relative engaged in porn? Alright, let's go for the core shocker: Why would someone be shocked to find his mother engaged in sex for pay?

My answer: Because it would say worlds about that mother's ability to have a sacred space in her soul for her relationship with one's father. And that relationship shapes one's own soul. A million hours with a shrink might build scar tissue on the damage but wouldn't make it go away.

By extension, to find that a close relative or friend is engaged in sex for pay creates that shock at one or two or more removes. And to observe anyone in such a situation creates such a shock.

At bottom, this is being judgmental (I'm judgmental! I think people are, and have to be). I disagree with comments here that people's worth is not dependent on their lifestyle. I don't mean the worth of their lives, but their worth as friends, companions, mentors. As people you'd want to know. One judges people in part by their choices; not all choices are equal.

2. As a man, I find it very difficult to credit that men who become desensitized to their wives through exposure to porn become so because their wives cannot compete in appearance with the young women pornographers pay. They become desensitized because their personality shrinks. Sex becomes orgasm without love. (Prostitution is worse because it involves doing orgasm-without-love to a real live person. Yes, it's something one does to someone, like a knifing. Try rolling this phrase over in your mouth--consensual adult knifing!)

3. Contemporary life is about "self-realization." The world is full of people who flee making commitments to another person because they're afraid of being "trapped," of not being free to realize themselves. I grant it is not good for a person to define his or herself in terms of his or her relation with a spouse at the expense of work, career, personality. But one defines oneself by one's choices and, more significantly, by one's capacity to make choices. A soul unable to define itself by commitment to one other is stunted. Purveyors and consumers of pornography are stunted in this way.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Yet, we have a friend who works in a urologist's office and she states that the leading cause of ED in their office is men viewing porn so much that they lose the ability to be intimate with their wives b/c their wives don't measure up to the images they've seen. -- Cady Driver

AKA "Perfect Pornstar Syndrome".

Which has a female equivalent in Edward Cullen (sparkle sparkle) and other soap-opera and Romance heroes. The ideal of perfection that in comparison a RL mortal will always fall short. Why settle for reality when you can see Utter Perfection (with or without the bishie-sparkles)?

According to one of my contacts, a lot of Goddess cults in real-life were male-supremacist because of this dynamic elevated to a cosmic level -- the Goddess embodied such Perfect Femininity (and Perfect Sexuality in a fertility cult) that in comparison RL mortal women were rancid piles of dung.


Viewing porn with a "healthy mindset"? Absurd. The medial pre-optic nucleus, which is the part of the brain engaged when viewing porn (this part of the brain is twice as large in males as in females), is easily trained. Think Pavlov's dog, the repeated behavior, in this case, viewing porn and arousal, become linked. The man unknowingly trains his brain to associate sexual pleasure and arousal with multiple short lived fantasies and illicit material. A great way for a man to shoot his marriage or future marriage in the head. This is biology. Scientific research. To say one simply needs to begin with a healthy mindset is similar to the logic in saying "It's okay if I drink this poison because I'm starting off with a healthy body." It's absurd.
Healthy wholesome relationships and marriage begin with individuals training themselves in faithfulness, temperance, and viewing other individuals with love and respect. Purposeful habitual viewing of pornography is a detriment to that practice.


Dude. Porn is like video games. half an hour a week isn't going to damage you. 4 - 10 hours a day? That will mess a person up. Happiness lies in moderation.

Looking at porn, in moderation, does not make me or any other well-adjusted individual any less likely to be faithful, temperament or capable of viewing and treating other individuals with love and respect. The problem is our society encourages an unhealthy mindset towards female sexuality, before people (sadly, usually children) even start watching porn. Getting rid of porn won't fix the warped view of sex, worse, it would push it underground, making it unsafe for the workers in it.

As far as conditioning goes, variety is the spice of life. :P


Yes, and porn is such a safe industry to work in currently! How old are you Shanna? If you don't mind my asking. You seem very idealistic about pornography and very unaware of what the industry is actually like.


I'm 23, and please note upthread where I said the industry needed reform. I am not actively defending the industry or it's current practices, I'm defending the average person that uses porn. I'm not even defending the porn addict that neglects his wife or feels all women should look and preform as those in porn do. I'm saying that the average person who looks at porn isn't going to be adversely affected. Porn does not influence society as much as society influences porn. Porn doesn't generate bad thoughts and attitudes towards women, female sexuality or sexuality in general the way society does. The problems of porn are not the cause, they are a side-effect of the problems of society.

I'd think it be common sense that if porn were deregulated and went underground it would get worse. We all know how well prohibition turned out.


I think people that think there is a moderate or healthy way to look at porn need to take a step back and really think about what they are viewing for their pleasure, for entertainment. First of all, women involved in pornography have a very high death rate. Chastity speaker Jason Evert received a letter from the grandfather of a prostitute who also did some porn before she died of a drug overdose and he said, you know what, I'm pretty sure her pictures are still out there floating around on the internet. What a morbid thought! That men could be staring at and lusting after the bodies of women who are no longer even living, but buried six feet under. A man my husband works with said that his girlfriend found this porn out-take and showed it to him, where a female was doing a scene with multiple males and suddenly broke down crying, saying she was a worthless person. The crew on set assured her "No. No no, that's not true, and uh.. remember, you have a contract." What then, take 2? Is this an industry that should receive viewing support, even in "healthy moderation"? People who view porn and don't see it as a problem should really take a step back and ask themselves "What am I really looking at?"
Would gladiators be morally acceptable so long as they were volunteering to brutally fight to the death for the sake of entertainment? Certain practices undoubtedly violate the dignity of the human person.


Stacy I pointed out that the industry needs reform, and that there's a growing number of amateur porn, couples filming themselves (and usually obscuring their faces, posting online for their enjoyment) which bypasses many negatives of the porn industry.

Is it morbid to watch the films of Charlie Chaplin or Marilyn Monroe? They are both dead and underground as well. Is it wrong to laugh at their antics, hope for them to prosper in the end?

Also prostitution and porn, while with similar definitions, are entirely two separate issues and are not comparable. The acting in porn part is probably unrelated to the drug overdose part. The average prostitute leads a much different life then the average porn actor. The porn outtake if real, and sadly thats possible, is sad. I am not condoning such actions. And like all sex, consent can be withdrawn at any time, in that case the scene should have stopped, and they should've found a new actor.
Aside from amateur, there is some more, ethically viable porn, usually directed by women. Perhaps promoting this over the mainstream porn industry, which is very problematic in it's practices and how it treats female sexuality, would be more effective then completely trying to eradicate porn. Outlawing said vice doesn't make the vice go away. It drives it underground where it becomes more dangerous. Look at prohibition, outlawing alcohol didn't get rid of it, and ended up giving more power to organized crime. Prostitution has been outlawed for centuries, and yet the worlds oldest profession keeps getting older.
Getting rid of porn isn't going to change societies skewed view of sexuality. The idea that a sexual woman cannot be a good woman is reenforced everywhere from literature to television to music and our laws. Look at rape cases where the verdict came back not guilty in part because of what the victim was wearing. We have a society where people believe clothing gives more consent then actual women. Society isn't going to change just because porn goes away.


Legal or illegal, my point is that it is not something to which the idea of "only in healthy moderation" can be applied. It is not wholesome or healthy. The idea that pornography can be viewed "moderately" or with a "healthy mindset" is a testament to a skewed view of sexuality and it is a sad failure of the intellect to lack the discernment between selling sex as a commodity and indulging something such as chocolate or even alcohol. I wasn't specifically saying that porn should be illegal, simply that it is immoral.

Lisa Nash

Stacy, how shocking of you to argue in favor of an objective morality! Could there indeed be such a thing? Egads! Somebody get me my smelling salts ;)

The comments to this entry are closed.