Archives for posts with tag: pornography

Imagine imagining having basic, vanilla sex. Now imagine seeing that basic, vanilla sex performed in front of you, and what the sight of that sex would create in your brain space. It’s pretty much the same mental image. If I look at a dog, it makes me think of a dog. Visual cues simply lead to thoughts that we might normally have on our own anyway if we had the time or inclination. The visuals merely help to keep focus. Broadly denouncing pornography as immoral or oppressive then essentially brands the thoughts of sex as the same. If one considers the health benefits of masturbation, such as a boosted immune system, stress relief, improved sleep, etc., then condemning pornography as the means to which most men masturbate is not only demonizing their sexuality but also creating barriers to their overall well-being (especially given the shame that can develop when confronted with a society’s hostility). That’s it, blog over, right? Wellllllllll……

Many see pornography as objectifying to women. This is a nonsensical statement, and I’ve already explained why. However, I’m going to look at it again. Why is pornography objectifying women, but sport is not objectifying men? Professional athletes create body images impossible to match through normal means with the help of drugs and hormonal supplements, and engage in impossible lifestyles given the permanent damage their bodies endure in the process. These athletes are only ever considered in relation to their sport, save when scandal strikes, in which case news coverage explodes with how this will affect their team’s season. This wouldn’t be a problem if male physical prowess wasn’t overly saturated in all other depictions of masculinity. Oh wait, it is. However, when people discuss the demerits of sport and its potentially unhealthy impact on the psyche of men, it is the zeitgeist of masculinity within sports that is addressed and not sports themselves. Sport in its purest form is the honing of skill and self using the whetstone of competition to achieve extraordinary feats of physical prowess, either for personal fulfillment or for the amazement of others. I’ve always found the Olympics to be the perfect example, as most athletes maintain unflinching respect for their competitors, knowing first-hand the hardships and sacrifices they’ve made on their own path to Olympic glory.

This leads to the logical conclusion that it is the culture that is infused in modern pornography, and not pornography itself, that is culpable for things like teenage boys seeking sex and nudes before they seek intimacy and kissing. Part of this particular problem stems from a lack of role models displaying proper intimacy in other areas of a youth’s life, and the improper teaching of sexual education, but the type of pornography a young boy is going to consume is also, quite predictably, going to lead him to make unhealthy assumptions regarding sexuality given no other determining factors. This is not new, as the media one consumes in any medium, be it explicit or otherwise, informs the worldview of the person consuming it.

So why not create a worldview espoused through pornography that is beneficial to the sexuality of everyone involved? Feminist porn is a revolutionary idea that would exemplify the women in pornography as collaborators in sexuality rather than its conquest. This practice would incorporate not only healthier social attitudes toward sex, but also toward women in general. While I do not agree with everything the linked article suggests (I disagree that being able to import one’s self into the fantasy is detrimental to that fantasy; sexual fantasy typically is an expression of that individual’s sexuality, not a voyeuristic inquiry into the sexuality of others), whereas some objections, such as violence being committed against women within the realm of dominative sexuality without explicit consent and respect, are obvious to anyone with a sense of decency. Regardless of what I think, dialogues surrounding the damage that pornography most definitely inflicts onto the minds and bodies of both men and women should centre on the distinct changes that would need to occur within porn, rather than simply and ignorantly calling for its abolition.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the blog either, as how one consumes porn is now found to be as destructive as the typically misogynistic content of contemporary porn. A Nielsen study cited in The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein describes the way the majority of the population reads on the internet. In short, they don’t. Text is typically scanned with one’s eyes glossing over the page in an F shape, with headlines and keywords being the only information that is consumed. The illiteracy of web users leads to the success of listicles, as anything more difficult or complex is simply passed over. Beyond this, websites are viewed in a flow. People click in and out, back and forward, through their browsing instead of finishing a website in a single sitting. For those reading this, how many times have you clicked back into your Facebook page or some other site since you started reading this blog? A normal attention span is non-existent when browsing the web, and the same pattern carries over into porn.

Gary Wilson delivers a Ted Talk wherein he describes this phenomenon as it relates to porn, and describes how it hinders us even further than the degradation of literacy that online browsing delivers on its own. Wilson describes the biological effect of seeing potentially new genetic partners in several different windows and tabs, clicking in and out and masturbating to a flow of pornography rather than a still image or single film, consuming more beautiful women in an hour than our horny ancestors would see in several lifetimes, all in an unending search for novelty. Unending novelty, of course, creates tolerance levels, leading to a dependency on further expansion and exploration in a binging cycle akin to traditional drug addiction. Addiction never ends well for anyone, and erectile problems related to excessive porn use is becoming more and more common. Interestingly, older men who give up pornography recover their libido more quickly than their younger counterparts, and this is almost certainly due to their relatively new access to high speed internet pornography compared to the young who have grown up with it. Again though, this is not due to the intrinsic nature of pornography, but the method through which one consumes it.

Pornography by itself is not a great evil nor a threat to the moral standing of a society that allows it. It benefits the mental and physical wellness of those who consume it as it relates to masturbation, as well as contains the potential for proliferating healthier attitudes toward sex and women as an addition to the feminist revolution rather than its obstacle. That isn’t to say its current incarnation is benign, as content and practice are crucial issues that need to be addressed. Is body-positivity and consent-based analog pornography the utopian ideal to which all pornography should strive to emulate? Who’s to say. This is a conversation that is just beginning, as too often the dialogues of the past have hinged on the equally ignorant poles of the moral binary between of abolition and lascivious infatuation.

There was a video I watched a few months ago (that I can’t find, otherwise I’d link to it) of a woman giving a lecture about women and objectification. She spoke at length about the perils of sexual body imagery, and how the cultural trend of the sexualization of women is destroying the psyche of women and girls everywhere. At the end of the lecture, she removed the make-up she was wearing as a final statement against contemporary beauty standards.

But if dressing “sexily” turns someone into a sex object, then how come dressing stylishly doesn’t make someone a “stylish” object? Or someone who dresses in skinny jeans and plaid a “hipster” object? Or someone who removes their make-up at the end of a lecture a “feminist” object? There is a discrepancy in there somewhere that concludes that only when someone exudes sexuality does it make them an object.

Jean-Paul Sartre suggests that we can only ever relate to people as objects, so to consider one aspect objectifying over another is moot. I tend to agree with him. Have you ever ran into a professor while you were in a grocery store? Did it seem a little… weird? Or your doctor, or maybe an employee from the butcher shop that you routinely frequent? When you see someone outside of the context that you’re used to them in, it tends to make people uncomfortable. The reason is because you’ve objectified them in relation to their profession: the teacher object, the doctor object, the butcher object; when they don’t coincide with the object into which you’ve made them, it weirds you out a little bit.

Maybe you think this only relates to the simple relationships in our lives, but think of your dad. Imagine running into him at a strip club. Or your sister being at a strip club in a slightly different context. This obviously doesn’t work if your family is very open about their relationship with the peelers, but say they aren’t. You would feel uneasy, and part of the reason would be because you can’t grasp your relationship with those people outside of the context that you’re used to them in. Being at a strip club does not coincide with how you have defined the Dad object. You can say your dad would never do such a thing, but how can you actually know that?

It’s impossible to grasp the consciousness of another human being, so all we really do is just guess based on the evidence of that person’s actions, come up with a little box that we assume that person fits into, and presto chango, that person is now an object that we can comprehend. That’s how it works.

So the problem isn’t objectification, and the problem isn’t objectifying a person down to the simplest of terms because we do that with our teachers and doctors and butchers. So all that seems to remain is the sex. Awful, dirty sex.

The biggest targets of controversy when it comes to the objectification of women are pornography and prostitution. These are women (and some men) that get paid to have that awful, dirty sex, and that’s apparently terrible. When one adult purchases a service from another consenting adult, money exchanges hands, and then both of them leave happy, that is the greatest sin of all. I’m talking of course about capitalism, which is a horrible economic system and should be abolished to make way for glorious communism. Selling sex is peanuts in comparison.

So outside of the inherently flawed nature of capitalism, these two acts are unhealthy because some guy is getting his rocks off. Which is… actually considered very healthy. And so long as he can separate fantasy from reality, his perception of women shouldn’t change. Most people don’t actually freak the fuck out when they discover their teacher doesn’t sleep in the school, neither would somebody be so surprised that the acts going on in pornography or in an escort’s bedroom don’t exactly line up with reality.

Or is the problem that prostitutes and porn stars degrade the very nature of sex by keeping it out of the realm of harmonious love? They’re not melding two souls to become one in the most physically intimate act that love and passion can create. And if that’s your idea of how sex should be, that’s fantastic. Honestly. But when you impose your own beliefs of how sexuality should be practiced on an entire culture, doesn’t that seem a little… phobic? Their sex doesn’t affect you in the slightest, and you should get over it.

So objectification is normal, selling things I will grudgingly admit to being fine, sexual release is healthy, and non-intimate sexy times is a-okay. So what’s the problem?

The problem is when sexual objectification occurs outside the realm of sexuality. When it’s used to sell cars, or beer, or things that have absolutely nothing to do with getting a hard-on and doing something with it. When it is literally everywhere you look. When the world is swamped with the image of the sexualized woman, when you have to go out of your way to find a woman in the media that isn’t sexualized to some degree, *THAT* is the problem. The world needs a variety of imagery so that people can see that there is more to being a woman than just a vagina on display, but we don’t need to devolve to puritanical dogma to achieve it. You certainly don’t need to throw out the heels and nylons. Even birds flaunt their plumage from time to time, but they’ve got amazing singing voices too.