Porn & the moral compass

by f

I love it when the Right discusses pornography. They don’t know what to think or say. Their moral compasses go berserk and they end up agreeing with some of their feminist sisters on this issue.

The Thinking Housewife — she’s become a bit of a bogeyman for us, it seems, but she offers us such an excellent look into the ultra-conservative moral compass — posted an email someone wrote her about how wives drive their husbands to seek pornography. As someone who is hardly sex-positive, the Thinking Housewife is emphatic when responding to this email: viewing pornography is addiction and a sin. Obviously, men who watch porn do it to fill some deep void caused by dissatisfaction in relationships.

And her solution to sexless and dysfunctional relationships?

For the man who ends up with a critical and unloving wife, or a sexually inadequate wife, no matter what he does, I would say this. He does not need her love. He does not need it to be perfect or even good. He can survive without the love of a selfish or an inadequate woman. He can function reasonably well in life even so. He can find compensations for this hardship in his involvement with his children, his work, his intellectual interests or hobbies. An unhappy marriage is not the end of the world. There are worse things. We cannot find any contentment when we throw away our integrity. That is the one thing most necessary to our happiness.

This is great. No possibility of divorce, no release from a sexless, self-defeating marriage, nothing. And this is supposed to have a man’s interest at heart?

She and Dan Savage would not get along.

The great sadness for these people is that second (and some third-wave) feminists are vehemently against pornography for its objectification of women in sexual acts, and for its perpetuation of harmful body stereotypes. The conservatives hate — loathe — any form of pornography for much the same reasons. They all fear the fantasy that porn creates, and are both made deeply insecure by what it represents for relationships.

So I’m going to open it up for discussion, and hopefully use this to jump-start a series on porn and relationships. Read the Thinking Housewife’s post and the stories she’s posted from her readers. It’s a fascinating look into what others are thinking.

I want to know: does porn make you feel inadequate or does it stimulate and energize you?  How do you handle it? Do you like/not like watching it? Hopefully in subsequent posts, I will write about what I think and what my personal experiences with porn have been. These might surprise readers; they certainly have surprised me.

7 Comments to “Porn & the moral compass”

  1. Naturally, as with anything, you can have porn that goes too far. Snuff films, anyone? But, I think for the most part when it involves women who know what they’re getting into and choose that for themselves, why can’t we consider it sexually liberating? These women have chosen to do this and they aren’t ashamed of their sexuality or their bodies. In pornography you can actually find women of any body type, because there are all manner of fetishes that people have. Some people like women with smaller boobs, and some like larger-framed women. And, the only reason anyone watches porn is for sexual entertainment. Nobody watches porn as a way to educate themselves or other people on how a woman SHOULD look. Its just something to get off to for most people. :p

    The real problem that a lot of women have with pornography is that nobody wants to think of their man getting off by looking at another woman. :p And guys can’t come out and say they’re in favor of porn because either their church looks at them like freaks or they probably aren’t going to get much sympathy from the women in their lives.

    But, most men I’ve heard talk about it just use porn as fantasy. They know it isn’t real. They know they have no chance with any of those women, even if they met them. Its not about that.

    And to answer the question of whether or not I watch porn, yes I do. Occasionally. Generally, I only watch it if I’m horny. :p And, I have a low sex drive, so that isn’t often. Plus, I have more interesting things to do with my time online. But, again, I don’t know anybody who watches it because they think its like reality or because they expect women to either look like their ideal woman or just do without their lovin. I’m sure there are some people out there like that, but you can’t judge an entire audience based on the stupidity of a few. o.O; There are always going to be weirdos, creeps, and idiots out there into everything that normal people are also into and they pervert it and make it into something its not just for them. If we judged everything by those types of people, we wouldn’t be able to leave our homes, turn on the television, read a book or magazine, turn on the computer (let alone the Internet).

    So, yeah. I don’t feel that porn actually objectifies women except in the instances where women are actually harmed and/or are participating against their will or if they’re too young to consent. And these things are illegal, anyway. With good reason! And…wow, rant much? Sorry about that!

  2. “feminists are vehemently against pornography” is news for me! Guess I need to read more.
    nice links on “Possibly related posts” thanks to WP.com 🙂

    • I don’t mean to say that all feminists are against pornography!! I only meant to say that there are strong arguments made by feminists against pornography.

  3. @bach A good portion of feminists are anti-porn because of the way it portrays women. Their bodies are unrealistic (shaved and surgically enhanced), and they are very rarely shown having fun. They’re usually at the beck and call of the men on set, and a female orgasm just isn’t the same ‘money shot’ as a male one. Porn often depicts women in horribly debasing situations.

    @V I agree that if the women involved are happy with it, it’s their prerogative. Unfortunately, I think a lot of women get involved because they feel they have run out of options. They need the money, or they don’t think they’re good enough to try anything else. I’m not sure we can say they’re participating totally of their own free will.

    Up to a point, isn’t it all just fantasy anyway, from start to finish? Power seems to be a major fetish. People like to hold it, and hand it over. We also love what’s forbidden. There wouldn’t be such a market for interracial porn (typically featuring a ‘big black cock’ laying into a virginal blonde) if racism wasn’t such a big issue. Likewise, men want to see women being debased, and they also want to be controlled by a woman–dominatrices are very popular!

    To give credit where it’s due, there are now female directors hard at work, and more pro-women porn is being produced. It’s a struggling market, though. Women typically are not as visual as men, typically have lower sex drives, and often would prefer other ways of getting off. Playgirl magazine folded for all those reasons–now it’s an online playground for gay men.

    I’ve surfed around PornoTube and its ilk, but it’s very hard to find anything that appeals to me. I really don’t care about an endless loop of humping without any other motion or sound. Amateur videos are craptastic. Even the lesbians–who I’ve always thought must have an advantage, since they have the same equipment–are acting out what turns MEN on, not women. So, I don’t bother very much.

    I’m also very picky about the erotica I read. I was set to take a class in writing erotica in college, but had to change my schedule. I kept the books. Very few of the stories in these Best American Erotica Books do much for me. Sometimes they do the complete opposite. On average, I much prefer the sex scenes in novels. It might be that whole thing about women wanting context, but Carly Phillips is crap with character and plot, but her sex scenes are -steamy-.

    Honestly, porn makes me laugh. It’s often too ridiculous for words. I’ve never felt inadequate–those women are half plastic anyway.

    I DO think there might be a case against porn when it comes to genital grooming. Porn actors shave so the camera can see more. (Though the appeal of THAT eludes me, too.)

    • Good points, D! These are things I had (for some reason) totally not thought of. Although, when I go to watch porn its because I’m in a state of mind to watch two people have sex, I’m not so interested in fluff or words, or anything else. I mostly really just want close-ups of the genitals, everything else be damned. But, I’m odd like that. I hardly go looking for porn to watch, though. Unless…does yaoi count? :p

      If I want substance in my porn, its true that I do not go anywhere near porn mags or videos or uploaded amateur or homemade porn. I go for the same things you go for. Because, in those instances its more than just nitty-gritty sex I’m looking for. Although, I can’t speak for anyone else. :p

      Most of the current and former porn stars I’ve heard speak about their time working in porn, though, don’t seem to be the women who only go into it because of the money and don’t really like what they’re doing but yet don’t seem to be able to think of a better alternative. They usually seem very confident, outgoing, and outspoken. However, these are just the ones that get interviewed or get their own shows later. Basing my opinions on these women is not a good idea, because they are probably not like the majority of porn actresses/models. This is something that is sometimes difficult to remember (but nevertheless necessary to remember), so I’m glad that you reminded me.

      Also, porn actors and actresses alike have issues with STDs, because it sells better if they don’t use protection. I believe there are statistics on how many porn actresses have STDs and the like, but I’d have to do some digging to find it I think (since the porn industry likes to say STDs are not as much of an issue as laypeople are making it out to be). But, I could certainly make a valiant attempt! It might interesting knowledge to have, anyway.

      As for what people like out of watching porn…well different strokes for different folks, I suppose. (no pun intended….okay, it was totally intended, that’s the whole reason I even included the sentence at all :p )

      • I think it’s the confident, happy ones who last and are successful. The rest tread water.

        There is an industry-sanctioned clinic called AIM (aim-med.org) that is dedicated to serving sex workers. A good number of reputable porn companies require their actors to provide negative results from recent testing. It’s a start, but until sex work is regulated by the government, there’s no universal standard. Of course, the government will never do that because, gasp, then they would be sanctioning porn! Zut alors!

  4. I just found this post and discussion now, but I’d like to jump in.

    Let me start with, my experience with/exposure to porn and its variants (romance novels, erotica, “smutt” mags, sexual Japanimation, etc) is very, very limited. This is mostly by choice: I’ve rarely felt a need for or interest in using someone else’s product to stimulate myself sexually. When I need/want to, I can come up with all the props, poses, and contexts I need in order to turn myself on mentally.
    But, for me it’s also an issue of priority: you could argue that I’m too lazy, too cheap, or too “frigid” (can we put this word in a museum, please? It’s called “a-sexual” and has nothing to do with being a cold person), to put sexual release and all of its “required” acoutriments that high on my daily, or even weekly, “to do” (hehe) list.
    From what exposure I have had, though, I tend to agree that there is a wide range of materials available, all of them placing differently on a “sexually-liberated” vs. “sexually manipulated” spectrum; and, that the majority of the material available leans towards the “sexually manipulated” end, for reasons that have already been expressed.
    *yawn* sorry, it’s late; I have more to say, but need to sleep. if this discussion gets revived, I will return and finish my rant.

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