Isn’t it ironic: more porn equals less sex

MAPA LogoYears ago – before porn had become so common – its opponents warned that if we didn’t limit pornography, men would start objectifying all women like they do porn stars, and treat them accordingly. Rape and all kinds of “sexual mayhem” would result. Naomi Wolf has a great article on the Mothers Against Pornography website where she reflects on this. It’s certainly true that pornography has become ubiquitous, and is changing how people experience sex. But Wolf makes the point that it is actually lowering libido – in relation to real people – rather than raising it. Listen to her own words, which I quote at length from the article:

“But the effect (of pornography) is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman-with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”) – possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, not substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn…

“If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.

“The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn, and how it is not helpful to them in trying to figure out how to be with a real woman…

“After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.

In another article I reference a Japanese study, recently released, where the government is expressing concern that people are not having sex often enough (and they worry about the resultant decline in birth rates). I think this is related to the issue Wolf raises in the article. Porn leads not only to less sexual satisfaction, it often leads to less sex.

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