porn tastes like chicken
April 20, 2004 02:31 PM

I feel inclined to both agree and disagree with Naomi Wolf's 'Porn Myth' article.

I've said before that I don't think pornography is exploitative or inherently demeaning to women, but that doesn't mean it does no damage. Feministe called out the bits I really agree with. Namely, yes, I do think the sexification of products and the productification of sex (both of which are forms of pornography) desensitizes us in certain ways. And, undoubtedly, both of these things contribute to the impossible beauty ideal women - much more than men - feel constantly reminded of their failure to meet.

Wolf goes a bit over the top, though. Her article tells us we have a whole generation of messed up kids who can't relate to each other sexually, but she relies on college kids as her evidence of this. And she doesn't consider the generational shift that created what college kids are today (delayed adolescents, mostly). The fact that a college student is essentially a kid today, while s/he may not have been in the 60s or 70s, accounts for some of the fixation on a fairly shallow idea of sexuality in her subject - their developmental stage can be blamed, if not entirely, at least in conjunction with our porn culture, for a college kid thinking of partners in terms of parts instead of a whole.

Yes, of course, the rise of porn helped to make that thinking possible, but I don't think it sucked all the mystery and magic out of sex. Demystifying sex, for that matter, isn't such a bad thing.

And hey, sexy images can be as much of a turn-on as actual sex, after all; it's different ways to the same satisfaction - it all tastes like chicken. There's no rule codifying the real thing as sacred. Talking about how sad it is that younger folk are skipping the pre-sex tension as if they're necessarily missing out also sounds suspisciously like "back in the old days" talk. Annoying.

That said, I have seen women in my cohort, self included, not only feeling the body image pressure (porn didn't create that, but it reinforces it at every turn) but also feeling that there's some sexual secret they don't know, or something they don't do that reduces their sexual credentials. While the prevalence of sexual images helped open us up to talk about sex, it also created so many opportunities for pornographic comparison that it's hard not to feel lacking - both in body and in action - sexually. Porn makes it seem like everyone else is doing something you're not - including, for example, consuming more porn.

It's hard to differentiate the fantasy of images from the reality of one's own life - or rather, hard not to compare the two and come up short. I think that's the real damage inflicted by pornography - it helps to establish these standards of being, this fiction of normal, that many (if not most) people feel they're outside of.

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your wicked thoughts

I'm with you. I don't know how to make these posts without coming off like an anti-porn prude, but at the same time taking into account what potential damage they do to gender relations and individual psyche.

I do agree that Wolf tends to go over the top with her analyses. She tends to take my generation's dramatic analysis at face value - big mistake on her part.

these are the thoughts of Lauren on April 21, 2004 12:56 AM

Here's the comment I was gonna make but bad guys prevented. :)

And hey, ... it all tastes like chicken.

I find that suggestion rather horrifying, but that is more a representation of my personal value system than a political/social critique of pornography. Sorry, porn does not taste like sex to me, it tastes like sickness. For the reasons you describe above as well as my personal inability to compare strangers on a screen with actual people.

In a way I never talk about this despite my important political/social convictions and theories because it's necessary for me to have the other members of the discussion acknowledge the emotional side of the issue. I think that's the same problem many anti-porn feminists have, but I don't want to speak for them.

I don't think Wolf takes the argument too far at all, although I think college students is an awfully small demographic to look at. It doesn't have anything to do with tension and mystery; those things have always been pretty fake to me. I think by closing her article that way she distracts from the real meat of her point.

these are the thoughts of Kim on April 21, 2004 10:02 AM

Porn is degrading to women and it steals who they are and it should be alegal. Why should women put themselves through that for any man to masterbait to?

these are the thoughts of Andrew Marlowe on April 10, 2005 11:12 PM

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