Are We A Generation That Is Solely Addicted To Porn?

Are We A Generation That Is Solely Addicted To Porn?

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Sex & Recreation

Naomi Wolf, the author of Vagina: A New Biography—eye catching, since it focuses on the history of her vagina—was on Strombolopolous about a while ago explaining why online porn will cause the death of the male libido and consequently all sex lives. She says porn is “rewiring the male brain” causing them to “habituate the imagery, so you need more and more extreme imagery to get aroused.” This “porn problem” will inevitably lead to a cataclysmic world-end initiated by men's inability to get it up.

Do a quick Google search of “how porn affects our sex lives” and the 80 million hits will show you how much of the population has been effected by this bad-sex-but-porn-epidemic. The first five pages of the search were an aggregation of personal stories of men and women who've had failed relationships due to sexual dysfunction, analyses of the effects of porn on the (always) male brain, and articles vilifying pornography. Everybody wants to talk about this—including Wolf—so let's talk about it some more from a new generational, less hysterical lens this time around.

Warning: the following analysis will demonstrate how a bit of hardcore pornography won't hurt you so long as you understand that the average porn is as fictional as the average romantic comedy.

Photo by SF Reporter

How is Wolf right? In an article she wrote on this topic in NYMag, she says that the stereotype of the blonde bombshell in porn is ruining the sex appeal of “real women.” In other words, seeing a lot of thin, tight attractive people having sex makes us think others are less attractive, consequently increasing our shallowness. I can get on this boat—but I can also say that being “shallow” is instinctual and that we've been dealing with glorified images of women and men for centuries. Wolf also notes that with easy access to all sort of internet porn, the “vanilla sex” model just doesn't cut it for today's man. I can also get on this boat—sort of. Conventional intercourse doesn't cut it for a lot of men, but it's never really cut it in the first place. Sexual practices that deviate from “vanilla” have been around for centuries and porn hasn't so much increased our tendency to want to screw in strange ways, rather it's given us the okay to be more honest about our desires.

Oinochoe by the Shuvalov Painter, c. 430-420 BC

How is Wolf wrong? She's wrong in saying that it's only men. In her social criticism, it's only men who are affected by the unrealistic representations of women in porn. It's only men who are watching copious amounts of fetish porn and developing more deviant sexual tendencies. If it was only men, we'd have a big problem. But, oone in three adults browsing internet porn sites are women and three quarters of women say they enjoy erotic entertainment. I'm also willing to bet that these numbers are rising. The average male porn actor weighs 14 percent less than the average American man and has a penis size of around 8 inches. Women are surrounded by unrealistic representations of male bodies in porn and any sort of media. Women are also becoming more open about their preferred sexual behaviours. Not to say that stereotyping and idealizing is a good thing, but both sexes do it.

Wolf's conclusions would be valid if men used pornography as a model of real sex. I'm not convinced they all do that, but whoever does needs to stop it. Right now.

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