Recently, an unexpected duo wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal of all places to decry porn as the death of civilization. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Pamela Anderson, ambassador of the sexy decorative person profession, collaborated on this missive and used Anthony Weiner as an example of a man destroyed by porn. Now, before I move on to agree with much of this piece, let me assault its newsjacking practices.
Anthony Weiner and his wife are separating this week because Weiner, who was exposed as a habitual sexter of strangers a few years ago, did not actually stop sending photos of his penis to strangers. As perpetual bringer of embarrassment to his family, Weiner is now out with the entire world. He was not undone because of a porn habit. He was undone because his incredible need for sexual validation was executed in a careless way bringing negative attention to everybody around him because it involved other non-discreet participants. If Anthony Weiner’s problem was porn, we wouldn’t hear about it as the consumption of porn is usually done in private. Sure, we’re all aware of that guy at work who got caught watching or downloading porn… But generally, most people do not get into career-ending trouble for porn. Weiner’s sexting habits are different than the issues Boteach and Anderson wanted to address in the WSJ piece and they should not have newsjacked Anthony Weiner to get their point across.
That being said. Yes, porn is the end of civilization!
I for one am glad to read Anderson’s thought on the subject. She is, after all, a veteran of the industry of seduction. Throughout her career she has shown up on time and participated in countless media that uses her sexuality, or rather, her immense appeal as a sexy person, to market everything, but not sex directly. Anderson also dated and married men who fall under the category of the sexually jaded. Rock stars who enjoy access to a lot of sexual partners tend to develop the exact same issues we see in obsessive porn consumers. Porn is simply the democratization of the consumption of weaponized female sexuality. Porn is like candy, it stimulates the brain but contains no nutrition. It works really well, until it stops working really well. Every person will respond to this stimulus differently.
It would be wonderful if porn contained useful information about the human body, about sex and sexuality or about women. But it doesn’t. This aspect of porn is most amazing. It’s such a huge body of work that avoids ever providing useful real world insight into human relationship or sexual techniques. But then again, a t-shirt that says “POWER” won’t make you powerful. And that’s the point. Porn is meant to turn the porn user into a perpetual porn user by way of emotionally separating them from their entourage. And it is this separation that Anderson and Boteach talk about in the piece. The world certainly doesn’t need yet another porn movie, especially one that is indistinguishable from the last, but there will always be porn. Porn will always be free and available to 10 year old boys on their phone. So how do we foster a generation of people who DGAF about porn?
I happen to be someone who grew up with porn. Back then it was movies about men having sex with women or women having sex with other women for the visual enjoyment of men. Porn still had a premise. Meaning there was a semblance of a plot which would explain why the pizza delivery guy was suddenly having sex with the housewife. Sex in porn seemed like it was tied to real life. This is no longer the case. When the pornographer realized that his audience feels guilty for watching so much porn, he changed the veneer of porn, titling it to cast a negative light on the female performers. And so the sexy housewife became a nasty slut. As time passed by, this theme became part of the content as well fueling a porn market where pornographers one-up each other requiring starlets to perform various party tricks. Did somebody specifically ask for prolapse porn?! Are we going to mention that this is not a good thing?
While I have a rather encyclopedic nerdy knowledge of porn, I found that porn’s ability to push my buttons stopped once I looked into how exploitative the industry is. Once you know how the porn industry is built on misery and misogyny, porn becomes very unattractive. Of course there are a lot of women who do very well in porn and use it as an educational platform. Nina Hartley and Annie Sprinkle come to mind. There is a subset of porn which is not like the rest. The rest, however produces tens of thousands of titles per year.
Worrying about porn is a bit vintage. Right now we are moving into new areas with porn. One of these areas is non-consensual porn. That is the exploitation of women who never signed up for it and find their photos leaked online or on revenge porn sites. The consumption of this material is problematic to a new degree but normalized because it is not as explicit as porn.
On the other side of the coin is late night dramas. These cable shows are bringing back the sex scene that fit into the plot. Thank you Jesus! Can we have more of those?
In the movie Don Juan, the main protagonist develops a relationship with an older woman who asks him, bewildered: “Haven’t you even masturbated without porn?”. This question comes as a surprise to the main character. And it was enlightening for me too. It was a reminder that because porn is so ubiquitous, a lot of men have never masturbated to their own fantasies. Rather, they have outsourced this formative aspect of their personality to pornographers… Having a rich fantasy life is a great way of figuring out who you are and what you want out of life. Consuming a lot of porn hinders this ability in regards to interpersonal relationships. And that is really sad.
Comprehensive sex education can do a lot to help young people grow up into confident adults who are less confused about sexuality. It always comes back to sex ed. And that is why I am writing a book. No, I am writing THE book on sex for the modern world. Support ‘The Fucking Manual’ on Patreon so you and get it before everyone else!