Naomi Wolf has penned a rather humorous analysis of how pornography has affected relations between the sexes. She doesn’t intend to be humorous, but that just makes it funnier.

Just the idea of someone writing yet another essay on “how pornography has destroyed civilization” made me check the date on this current essay. October 20th, 2003. Hmm. Should I laugh or cry?

Pornography happens to be one of my hot buttons (no pun intended) in the context of relations between the sexes and its relationship to human sexuality and sexual politics (if there is such a thing).

Normally I don’t comment on specious trash like this, but Wolf makes a number of claims and assertions that she doesn’t back up with any meaningful evidence, and which directly contradict my own experience as a woman and a consumer of pornography.

I encourage reading Wolf’s entire essay, but here I will excerpt portions of it for discussion.

But the effect 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.

I feel stupid even pointing this out, but I don’t think it’s especially flattering for a man to comment that a woman is “porn-worthy”. Among other things, a lot of women (and men) are extremely turned off by the pencil-thin, ribs showing, boobs-defying-gravity kinds of women that typically show up in porn aimed at straight men.

Speaking for myself, I’m not interested in trying to hold the attention of a man who is so shallow that he would rather stay home with a magazine and his own hand than go on a date with me.

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?

The assumptions being made here are interesting. 1) Young women want to compete with porn women. 2) All men want women who say ridiculous things like “More, more, you big stud!” all the time. 3) All men want a woman who will arrive and vanish at their least whim. 4) All men like “utterly submissive” women and prefer it to other dispositions. 5) All men would prefer a woman who is physically to their taste, regardless of her other qualities, over a real woman who may have other traits.

The reader may wish to digest this information for a while.

I can say from experience with many men I’ve met (and the one I married) that there are lots of men who hate submissive women. They want a partner who can challenge them intellectually and/or physically. They don’t want a servant. They want an equal.

I can also say with a fair degree of certainty that the vast number of men I have encountered truly enjoy women who have their own sexual needs. It’s a turn-on for most men to have a woman enjoy herself at their hands, to be able to give a woman pleasure. Even to have her demand more is, at least, an ego boost.

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women.

I dispute the claim of “substitute” here. Specifically, I think that erotic images have a role of their own as objects of admiration and pleasure. Are there not many famous paintings and sculptures of nude women (and men) that are magnificent in their own right, and for which a real human being would not be an acceptable substitute?

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.

You mean they have a lousy soundtrack and grainy production quality? Obviously you are unfamiliar with the many niches of pornography that feed into the desires of real men and women consumers. There is a significant market for “fat chicks” (aka “gonzo”), “average lookers”, “amateurs” (aka “home movies”), “mature” actors, and other non-Playboy-like material.

When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market. If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up. Your boyfriend may have seen Playboy, but hey, you could move, you were warm, you were real.

Um, yeah. That’s a really positive, women-empowering, feminist ideal to look up to. “Hey boys, look over here. I’m naked and I’m willing to fuck any of you who asks. No previous relationship required.”

Thirty years ago, simple lovemaking was considered erotic in the pornography that entered mainstream consciousness: When Behind the Green Door first opened, clumsy, earnest, missionary-position intercourse was still considered to be a huge turn-on.

Is it not still? And anyway, I think a lot of you folks were pretty stoned a lot of the time back then. That may sound like a flippant remark, but your comments above suggest that you were into that whole “hippie flower child free love” scene, and the moral benchmark there was pretty skewed.

Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer.

That’s a rather insulting thing to say, considering that you know nothing about my generation. I have the innate certainty that I am entitled to be a sexual creature. Unlike previous generations of women in the 20th century, I didn’t have to fight for it. I was born enjoying the fruits of the labor of real feminists who made society a place where I can work on my car, get a job, own guns, vote, wear pants, take the lead in bed, cut my hair short, speak my mind at a conference table, and not have anyone think it’s unusual.

Our younger sisters had to compete with video porn in the eighties and nineties, when intercourse was not hot enough.

I never felt the need to compete with porn when I was dating boys and young men in the 80′s and early 90′s. The kinds of boys who interested me (and who were attracted to me) were more enthralled by real femininity than the hollow shell of porn.

Now you have to offer—or flirtatiously suggest—the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene.

We do? First I’ve heard of that. A woman with any self-respect won’t stoop to such tactics just to get a man’s attention, nor does she have to. And what about the non-sexual period of courtship, anyway? That still exists, you know.

Being naked is not enough; you have to be buff, be tan with no tan lines, have the surgically hoisted breasts and the Brazilian bikini wax—just like porn stars.

I’m not buff. I’m not tan. I don’t have surgically altered breasts, nor do I have a Brazilian wax. The most you could say for me is that I trim my pubic hair, but that’s for my own comfort and not anyone else’s. I didn’t have trouble getting dates.

(In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.)

You spend a lot of time looking at the pubic hair of women in the locker room? Sorry, cheap shot. You were saying?

Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up. By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale. All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices.

What exactly is your point here? That other orifices are inappropriate? That a vagina is a form of currency in a sexual barter economy? Theoretically the entire thrust (again, no pun intended) of your position is that women are not commodities, and yet you persist in referring to them as such and lamenting the “off the lot” depreciation of their body parts.

And I feel compelled to remind the reader that porn is not addictive. That issue is settled and I don’t beat dead horses (much).

The porn loop is de rigueur, no longer outside the pale; starlets in tabloids boast of learning to strip from professionals; the “cool girls” go with guys to the strip clubs, and even ask for lap dances; college girls are expected to tease guys at keg parties with lesbian kisses à la Britney and Madonna.

Most of the men and women I know consider Britney and Madonna to be vulgar, trashy, attention whores. Girls who try to be like them are similarly viewed. Perhaps like attracts like, and such girls draw exactly the kinds of men they deserve. A girl does not go looking for a serious life partner at a strip club or a keg party.

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.

What kinds of modern, liberated women are these, anyway? What a bunch of whining losers! “I can’t get a man, I’m not sexy, I’m not allowed to ask for what I want in a relationship.” Bah! I thought the point of the feminist movement was to give women power, not take it away!

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.

They could, you know, read (or maybe not, considering the state of public education these days). There are a zillion and a half books on this subject that men could turn to. Talking to a real women might also prove enlightening. What woman would turn down the chance to educate a man this way, even if purely platonically?

Mostly, when I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike. They know they are lonely together, even when conjoined, and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out, how to find each other again erotically, face-to-face.

Boo-frickin’-hoo. Welcome to college. College kids are lonely. They’re scared. They’re idealistic, ambitious, and poorly prepared for the real world (largely because of people like you). Does it occur to you that the people who attend your lectures are a highly self-selecting, biased group?

. . .a conversation I had at Northwestern, after I had talked about the effect of porn on relationships. “Why have sex right away?” a boy with tousled hair and Bambi eyes was explaining. “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone,” he said. “I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it’s going to happen anyway, and it gets rid of the tension.”

“Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” I asked. “Doesn’t that also get rid of the mystery?”

“Mystery?” He looked at me blankly. And then, without hesitating, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.”

You talk to one doe-eyed, ignorant bozo at a lecture and suddenly he’s the embodiment of his whole generation? Supports your thesis nicely, but it isn’t valid or relevant. This boy is obviously missing out on a lot of the fun of courtship, and that’s his loss. But can we blame pornography for this? That is the equivocation you are trying to make, right?

If this is the best that Naomi Wolf can do, I remember now why I don’t usually pay any attention to her or her colleagues.

Find something new to talk about, Naomi. This horse has been dead for two decades.

47 Responses to “Naomi Wolf Beats the Dead Pornography Horse”
  1. pduggie says:

    Hey instapundit said there was a fisking here, not some personal observations that don’t really undercut Wolfe much.

  2. Counterprotester says:

    Since Wolf’s original article is really nothing but some personal observations that don’t really conclude anything scientifically or otherwise, then this particular Haight Speech entry is perfectly justified and successful in undercutting Wolf using her own personal observations.

  3. Duque says:

    As a college-aged male I found Wolf’s piece to ring poignantly true. Her take that the proliferation of pornography desensitizes men to “real” sex, based on my personal experience and observation, is accurate. I’ll even go so far as to say that pornography may even destroy a man’s ability to relate on a higher-level sexually with a woman. In other words, a man inundated and/or addicted to porn can physically have sex, but may lose the ability to associate the physical with the emotional. Its virtual-reality sex.

    I was surprised to read your point-by-point analysis of wolf’s essay and to find nothing arguing against the notion that porn desensitizes men to “real” sex. Any thoughts?

  4. Gary says:

    Well written. I think Naomi has spent too much time lecturing at colleges. I notice that a lot of the “feminist” spokewomen find the idea of blaming a man for being masculine is a common thread, so of course you can assume that pornography is going to debase men.

    Frankly, I think you did overlook one thing — pornography is boring. If you have a relationship, as long as it’s going along pornography is dull. Only when you’re lacking something — like a sex life — do you look for images to replace the real thing. Or suplement it, if you lacking something.

    But you’re certainly right, people who imagine that a real woman is going to be found “lacking” pornability has strange ideas about what actual men and women are looking for in one another. Possibly caused by being excited by porn…and not by the people around them…

  5. Phi says:

    Duque et al.

    It’s been 20 years since I was in college and there were plenty of men then who didn’t think much about women except when they were trying to get laid. Even then they were essentially just using another body. If you read about college life in the 50s and 60s it seems it was true then too. Or, even ask someone, as I did when I encountered this. There are seasons of life, and for whatever reason, a significant number of young adult males just cannot or will not be able to deal with women as human beings who are somewhat different. They can only deal with them as “fuckable”/”not fuckable”.Those in the first category are exposed to pressure, deceit, lies, offered or are slipped drugs, etc. in addition to the normal moves. Those in the second are ignored.

    Do they grow out of this? Most do. Just as many women regret some of their hurtful cattiness, clanishness and other superificiality in their youth, many men regret their superficial attitide towards women.

    Porn has, as far as I can see, nothing to do with it. It’s exactly a symptom instead of a cause. If a man is watching porn beyond the amount of time it take him to masturbate, it’s because he’s already not dealing with women as people, and porn helps him reinforce that notion. Once his self-esteem gets a bit higher he won’t need to mentally hold women down to feel good about himself. That takes a few years past 19.

  6. The Bitch Girls says:

    Random Ass Quote

    “I was born enjoying the fruits of the labor of real feminists who made society a place where I can work on my car, get a job, own guns, vote, wear pants, take the lead in bed, cut my hair

  7. shell says:

    I read the article before coming here and reached the same conclusion you do: Wolf misses a major point by focusing on college age kids.

    Boo-frickin’-hoo. Welcome to college. College kids are lonely. They’re scared. They’re idealistic, ambitious, and poorly prepared for the real world

    And highly insecure about sex and relationships. And scared of rejection. Does she really think it was different for college kids 10, 20, or 30 years ago? That before internet porn, young women never felt insecure about their attractiveness and young men never were confused about how to approach women?

    And what about people in committed relationships who use porn for fun? I didn’t see any of those people in her article. Yes, sometimes we see something and me or my partner says “hey, let’s try that”, but I’m not being pressured into performing like a porn star, nor am I being neglected because his libido is numb from overstimulation.

  8. Deoxy says:

    Overall, rather good, and yes, the comment about symptom rather than cause has some merit, but I would like to point something out:

    “And I feel compelled to remind the reader that porn is not addictive. That issue is settled and I don’t beat dead horses (much).”

    Yes, oh Mighty Omniscient One! Proof to back up raw assertions is extraneous!

    Basically, what you are saying there goes against the experience of myself and every other male I have ever had a discussion on that topic with, just so you know. You may now proceed to beat a dead horse, if you like. Or you could tell where you get that ridiculous idea, which would be better.

  9. matt says:

    So what she’s saying is that the average college guy will refuse sex with a college woman (or any woman) who is naked and asking for it if she doesn’t measure up to Jenna Jamison? Has she tested this hypothesis on any college guys? My college experience (from about 10 years ago) would suggest otherwise.

  10. Cyn says:

    Wolf’s article is pretty funny. Usually, a generation compares it’s sexual performance with that of its predecessors and concludes that it is the first to discover good sex. Wolf is nothing if not original: she turns 40 and decides that her generation was the last to enjoy great sex.

  11. the Limey Brit says:

    Links

    There’s all kinds of good stuff out there today. Hopefully I’ll have time this evening to add my two bits,

  12. Anne Haight says:

    Deoxy,

    I don’t have enough hours in the day to produce a discourse on why pornography is not addictive. I have done an enormous amount of reading on both sides of the subject, including material from Stanton Samenow and John Douglas, and frankly the argument for addiction is not persuasive.

    I suggest that you do some reading on your own rather than looking to me for an easily-digested summary that you would merely pick apart because it doesn’t include all the background information.

  13. busy sara says:

    “Wolf is nothing if not original: she turns 40 and decides that her generation was the last to enjoy great sex.”

    The sadly curious thing is that she just may well be correct. It has become – or is becoming – just another product to consume, ala the orgasmtron in Woody Allen’s “Sleeper”.

  14. Dave Argh! says:

    What bugs me is that, back in my college days 20 years ago, the chicks weren’t interested in me.

    I didn’t have money.
    I wasn’t a “face man.”

    Since I now kind of have money and kept in good shape… The chicks still aren’t interested – unless *I* lower *my* standards – mostly with simple girls who are easily won and have excellent cooking abilities. Hmmm… A woman I can do just about anything (that, of course, I learned from watching porn, Christy Canyon’s my favorite…) to and who cooks for me…

    Sounds like the babe I married a couple of years ago!

    Never mind…

    “Song of Solomon” anyone?

  15. au currant: politics, media & lowbrow culture says:

    At least I’m not defending “roasting” again…

    If you haven’t read Naomi Wolf’s criticism of pornography, well, you’re probably still clueless about the significance of porn and…

  16. Tom Yum says:

    I’m a 32 year old male. I’m average looking, and in decent shape. I’m not afraid of women, and flirt quite a lot. I’m exclusively attracted to intelligent, non-submissive, and non-traditional females. I don’t like silicone breasts or bad porn cliches.

    However, personally I know that pornography has had a deadening effect on my relationships with real live naked females.

    During droughts, internet porn becomes a habit of mine — several times a week at least. The first weeks or months of a new relationship, I find myself very unattuned to a real woman’s body and have to think about pornography to even get aroused. And to some degree I never *quite* achieve that arousal level that I had before our culture became porn-saturated.

    I have a great nostalgia for the days when mere naked breasts could be arousing. I have often thought I should just try resensitizing myself by taking a break from pornography, but I still have a high sex drive, and I can never go for very long. I’ll cop to being weak, I don’t blame anyone else for this. But I’m just saying here’s one guy who is living the reality Wolf is talking about.

    Being 32, I am well positioned to see the effect that porn-saturation is having on the culture.

    My older friends, scraping 40, often have liberal attitudes towards pornography and use it in their sex lives. My younger friends, in their mid-20s, are quite different. Porn, and even sex work generally is their *model* of sex. They explore their own sexuality according to the standard escalation of orifices in a porn film. While they may be more experienced than I ever was, I can’t help feeling it’s all a bit scripted for them.

    You have come to some informed conclusions about pornography, but I don’t think you’re really addressing Wolf’s main point. Maybe it’s not technically addictive — I don’t know what the medical definition is — but the point is, it’s somewhat numbing and therefore raises the stakes of what counts as a good sexual experience. (I admit, that is not always bad either — one would tolerate less *bad* sex.)

    I agree that her anecdotes are not all on point, and the closing “no mystery” remark could have been said by some males at any time in history.

  17. Jefe says:

    Either I’ve been desensitized by porn from the start, and thus can cry about how Porn Never Gave Me A Chance To Enjoy Sex, or this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard today (and it’s been a weird day). How can you possibly prefer an image on a screen (or on a page) to a real woman? Unless, of course, this woman just isn’t attractive to you, in which case I think it’s kind of far fetched to blame said image-on-screen.

    I will say that frequent masturbation desensitizes me to actual (ie physical) intercourse, but in effect this is good for the woman. Essentially it “makes it last longer,” which I think everyone agrees is a good thing. But diminishing attraction? Everyone’s different, but I have a hard time believing this is a widespread problem.

  18. Spamalamadingdong says:

    Deoxy wrote:

    …. what you are saying there goes against the experience of myself and
    …. every other male I have ever had a discussion on that topic with, just
    …. so you know…

    Okay, Deoxy, consider me a very contrary data point. I’ve been looking at porn off and on since I was a pre-teen. It has NEVER made me prefer images over flesh. I may not have been interested in the flesh that was on offer (too risky, or felt too much like using someone rather than loving someone), but images, whether on paper or screen, have never been any threat.

    If you and your friends find otherwise, look for the faults in yourselves rather than your environment.

  19. Matt says:

    While I have no difficulty at all believing in an epidemic of women with sexual inferiority complexes (a woman with a realistic level of confidence in her own sexual desirability is a vanishingly rare thing, tragically), I take issue not only with the notion that porn is responsible for this, but with any research methodology which treats women’s beliefs about male attitudes toward them as intrinsically and unassailably accurate, as Wolf seems to.

    The way men feel about women has no relationship whatsoever to the way most women seem to think that men feel about them.

    And just for the record, I for one find at least 95% of the women (within +/- 15 years of my own age, anyway) I pass on the street every day significantly more sexually attractive than the stereotypical porn starlet. Were I not in a monogamous relationship, I’d have difficulty even contemplating the concept of passing up an opportunity for in-the-flesh sex with any of them, despite having had a rather prodigious exposure to porn.

    Every conversation I’ve ever had with a man of my own generation about this subject has revealed similar facts. (And, of course, the male experience of repeatedly encountering wonderfully attractive women convinced that their real or imagined faults are desire-killing is common enough to have become the subject of standup comedy routines.)

  20. Simon Jester says:

    Spamalama, Deoxy was addressing whether porn is addictive, not whether it turns men off women.

    My personal datapoint is: it is, it doesn’t.

  21. WilliamTheConqueror says:

    I think Naomi Wolf’s thoughts about sex are so convoluted that little sense can be made of her essay. I also think that pornography’s addictive qualities are there, but only for addictive personalities that are just as likely to have some other obsession.
    I will tell you the affect porn has on me personally, it makes me much more risk averse in persuing relationships with women. Why take a chance of a disease, some sort of mental instability on the part of the prospective sex partner, or the risk of unwanted procreation when you can just go home and masturbate to images on the screen or in a magazine? Yes, sex with a willing, enthusiastic woman is FAR better than any session of masturbation, but the potential problems a new relationship, either just sexual or a more loving one, outweigh the potential benefits of starting one.
    There is also, for many men, the problem of lack of partners, either because they have neither the looks, financial stability, or personality to attract a woman, or simply that there are few potential partners available for them. Pornography and masturbation are for many the only sex life they have.

  22. ralph phelan says:

    “When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman.”

    I can’t help wondering if the real impulse behind this essay mightn’t be the displacement and denial of unexamined feelings related to the fact that the “actual presence of a naked, willing Naomi Wolf” no longer has the effect it once did.

  23. Ralph Phelan says:

    Somehow I suspect that what that article is really about is the displacement and denial of unexamined feelings brought up by the fact that the presence of a “naked and willing” Naomi Wolf no longer has the effect it once did.

  24. Low-Tech Redneck says:

    She’s not only beating the “evils of pornography” horse, she’s also beating the “Sex has become meaningless, men and women no longer know how to relate” horse too….

    Heck, she’s beating a stagecoach-load of dead horses here

  25. E says:

    Pornography addictive? Bah! Porn, in my experience, is rather a pathetic alternative to real women; men like myself only turn to it when we have no other options. Masturbation is strictly a move of desperation. I find that I lose ALL interest in it pretty much immediately after even as little as asking a girl out, even if the sex is still a long way off. Just a tiny bit of kindness and willingness from women and the entire industry could be shut down, easy as that!

  26. ComputerMommy says:

    Pornography addictive? Who can really say if it is or isn’t. Maybe it’s a habit. One thing I do know is, it is distroying my marriage. I have been married for eight plus years and have had to do without sex because my husband masturbates all the time. I am 38 years old but look like I am in my 20′s. I am 5′ 6″ and weigh 125 lbs. There absolutly nothing wrong with the way I look.

    The difference between men and women plays a huge role in the distruction pornography causes. Pornography decreases a persons need for intimacy. Intimacy is the glue that holds a relationship together. Intimacy is knowing someone completely, the good and the bad.

    When a man chooses images over his wife, as some do, it tears a family apart. We have 2 small children and think about how they will feel when they find out why mommy and daddy can’t live together anymore. No one will have to tell them, they will figure it out on thier own. Getting pregnant with them was a miracle. With the oldest we had sex twice the month I got pregnant and the second child only once.

    There is security in a home where mom and dad love each other. Intimacy allows the trust needed to bond with one another.

    I understand why there is such an attraction to pornography especially for men but is a few minutes of fantasy worth losing your potential in reality. I don’t think it is worth breaking up the one thing designed to make you and your children feel secure and safe. You will never have a happy spouse if you turn to pornography this also means you will not be happy. I say spouse because I know a woman that claims she was addicted to pornography. I also know many people who are divorced because of it.

    The reality of porn is……it kills relationships! Don’t let it kill yours.

  27. Anne Haight says:

    ComputerMommy,

    The problem in your marriage is not pornography — it’s your husband. Blaming porn for your terrible situation is barking up the wrong tree, and ultimately will not help you or your family.

    You need to see a marriage counselor who specializes in pornography. The issue here isn’t really how you look. There’s some other reason your husband feels he cannot come to you for intimacy. Perhaps he feels intimidated by some aspect of your non-sexual relationship — how you interact in regular daily life.

    Over time, as your resentment grows, he will be less and less willing to go to you for intimacy and joy. It’s a vicious cycle that you have to talk about with him to overcome. You may find out that he wants intimacy with you but is afraid. It may be his perception that you are the cause of your marital problems, and he views pornography as a hollow escape.

    I’m not a counselor, nor am I saying any of this is true, but I have done an awful lot of reading on issues like this. Pornography is not the disease, it is a symptom. You need to dig deeper for the truth.

    I highly recommend a book by Bernie Zilbergeld called “The New Male Sexuality”. He is a martial therapist and he discusses issues like this, as well as the male perspective in relationships.

    But read whatever you can get your hands on about this subject. I’m willing to be you and your husband can work it out.

  28. Rebecca says:

    It is not merely pornography that has made society trashier than it was 2 generations ago. If anything, porn is only a small bit of it. To me, its the the lack of emphasis we put on morality and old values. 2 generations ago, sex before marriage was considered immoral. Today, it’s gay marriage (although, respectively, not all people have been against.) Little by little, society is loosening its grip on traditional values.

  29. Jason11 says:

    It’s true porn does desensitize guys. Plus, you get so used to the feel of your own hand masturbating to internet porn every day that a real vagina offers no stimulation. That is one reason guys want anal these days. They need the tighter grip of the anus to feel stimulated. The other reason is that it’s hard to find a porn movie these days that isn’t all-anal-all-the-time and guys want to do what they are seeing on the computer screen.

    Some guys get so used to porn that the real thing is so understimualting that he starts losing his erection in the middle of having sex or he cannot ejaculate because it’s just not the same sensory input that he gets watches porn. Women have a hard time understanding this because for them it is the intimacy that is the turn on. But men are stimulated visually and with so much porn around reality just can’t match the fantasy.

    Finally, autosexuality is becoming more and more the prefered sexual orientation of older men in long term relationships who cannot get turned on anymore by their partners. Their wives have grown old and are perhaps a bit overweight. They just don’t measure up to the porno girls.

  30. Chris says:

    Coming next from Naomi: How TV cookery programmes desensitised me to eating.

  31. Chris says:

    Furthermore, if pornography is going to cause anyone to feel they don’t “measure up” surely it is men?

  32. propecia says:

    I agree with what you say – makes sense to me.
    Looking for some propecia?

  33. wren says:

    “Coming next from Naomi: How TV cookery programmes desensitised me to eating.”

    that’s right. people see food on TV and think they deserve it. advertised food doesn’t look like anything you could cook, besides. so you give your money to restaurants, and when you get home, you wonder why all you have to eat is regular fruit, vegetables, rice… honey, maybe we should hire a personal chef…

    porn necessarily has to be better than real life, or nobody would pay for it. it’s a business model designed around your very own sexual impulses. you get temporary, exaggerated stimulation, the porn companies get rich. more porn is sold each year than the sales of all non-erotic films and popular music combined. do the research yourself. also, my system administrator friends says that 60% of the traffic coming through his network is to porn sites. amazing.

    i like how everyone who posted a personal story here said that porn can be addictive, that it’s bad for both men and women, etc. the rest of the comments are from people who only wrote about things on a theoretical level, saying said Naomi Wolf’s article was dumb, old-fashioned, etc. that pretty much says it all. armchair psychologists, meet the real world.

  34. Jake the Snake says:

    I’m not a Wolf fan by any means but as a long time porn user I can tell you she’s bang on when she says heavy porn users tend to end up preferring the porn over the real thing. Women especially have a hard time understanding this. Can’t blame them as the interpersonal aspects of sex are so important to females. But women should understand that men’s primary arousal sense is the visual and a man’s ability to get totally lost in a porn fantasy, so much so that’s it’s almost real, should not be underestimated.

    One aspect of all this that Naomi didn’t mention, and something that would have boosted her argument further, is the sexual dysfunctions suffered by many men who are heavy porn users. Both problems in getting and keeping an erection and a once rare dysfunction now becoming more common especially in young men who have had a steady diet of high quality video and internet porn since puberty—ihibited ejaculaion during intercourse.

    Both these disorders are caused by the real thing not measuring up to the porn fantasy these men have grown so used to. That and the completely different feel of a soft mouth or vagina compared to the hard grip and lighting speed of masturbation. The body and brain gets so used to a certain kind of sensory input where sexual arousal is concerned, that intercourse isn’t stimulating enough to reach a high level of arousal.

    Bad enough this happens to young men with testosterone fueled sex drives. Imagine the middle aged married man who’s sexual peak has long past. He grows bored of sex with his wife and turns to porn. The more heavily he gets into it the less sex he has with his wife until he gets to the point where he can’t get it up with her anymore or, if he can get a reasonable hard-on, he never gets aroused enough to ejaculate.

    I like porn, I like the variety and the thrill of real heardcore. But like many men these days I pay a heavy price by no longer being able to perform with a real live woman.

  35. cn says:

    Add another data point

    addicitve: yes
    reduced interest in real woman: yes
    altered erotic interest: yes
    depressive: yes

    “actual presence of a naked, willing Naomi Wolf”: good joke
    How TV cookery programmes desensitised me to eating.: good joke

    My fealing is that Wolf has some good points.

    My Joke:
    I came across this aritcle while looking for porn my starting google search was “crack whores” sad isnt it.

    Remember: “you must have some other problem its not the porn” probably has some truth but so does my data point.

  36. belfast says:

    Reality in every high school in the U.S. defeats Haight’s speech. Girls dress up as ten-dollar hookers in order to get boys’ attention, and no Anne, they didn’t do that back in the 50s. There is most definitely a sense of desperation, and girls are obliging many a young boy with oral satisfaction in the bathroom, just like “the stars on the net.”

    Want a real shocker? This isn’t high school, honey, it’s SECOND GRADE. Ask any elementary school teacher – they’ll tell you real quick. Today’s kids are hyper-sexualized beyond belief. Please pay a visit to your local public elementary school for a lesson in reality, Anne.

  37. beckmesser says:

    I suspect what “cn” and others say about the potentially deadening, libido-deflating effects of pornography is broadly true. But do you know what INTELLIGENT MEN do when faced with the possibility that their acquaintence with porn might compromise their performance with REAL WOMEN? That’s right, you geniuses, they stop watching it, or at least limit theur exposure to it. Duh! Simply because they’ve grasped the truism that successful relations with women (whether as casual sexual partners or within marriage) are vastly more important than wallowing in sensual pleasure for its own sake. If you’ve given yourself over to the latter, well and good: you’ve removed yourself from the gene pool and have thereby contributed to the forward march of the species. God bless you!

  38. kate says:

    It doesn’t sound like you’re from the generation Wolf is talking about. I’m in the 18-25 yr old generation and the article rings true to me.

  39. hope2stop2day says:

    In response to the last few comments, and in particular to those of beckmesser, I am 24 and have been married for close to three years. I have also been addicted to porn since I was about 14 years old. I have been trying to stop looking at porn since I was about 17 years old, and I can’t. Sure, I’ve slowed down quite a bit and can even go a few weeks without looking at it, but I can’t stop. I don’t masturbate to it as much now that I am married, but I still look at it and hate myself afterwords. Porn is a poison that destroys the sacredness of marriage and true intimicy. I wish I never would have seen it, and I know my marriage would be richly blessed if I would committ to not partaking in porn.

    I don’t know if my situation is unique, but I felt I had to comment on this topic. I love my wife and find her very attractive, and luckily am still able to get aroused and ejaculate properly when I am with her. But every few weeks, porn rears its ugly head and overcomes me. I tell myself (after looking at it) that today is the last day, and this article has inspired in me a renewed committment to stop today.

  40. Lillian says:

    Anne,
    You ar emissing the whole point. That is great that you feel that way about yourself and your sexuality, but you are idealizing the reality of most women’s expereinces, as well as most men’s expereinces. Lot’s of women also get sucked into bad expereinces and relationships with horrible guys and that does not mean that the deserve it. No one deserves to be sexually abused or exploited and your assertions are not only arrogant but ignorant oif the complx psycho-social dynamics that play into the sexualization of women in ways that are counrary to a sexuality they may express if in another society. It is true that many men would love to see a women ahve pleasure, but the reality is that their assertions about what is pleasurable is often based on a phallocentric system where by men think that pleasure comesf from the intercourse itself, when in effect it is clitoral stimulation often acompanied by other stimulation that results, physiologiclly in orgasima nd extreem pleasure. That is not to say that one must be orgasmiclly centered, but for men it is rare that their actions are not centered around orgasmic pleasure being that intercourse almost always results in that, they in effect do not take consideration of the women’s desires or assume that what gives him pleasure also gives her pleasure. It is about missinformation, and pornmograpghy often teaches us these lessons furhter. Maybe it is for some women, exciting for a man to come on a women’s face with out her even getting anything back, but I can speak on behalf of many women who would like guys to take a little more time to go down and but his face in her so she can feel the same. If your husband does that for you, great. Many men never learn about women’s pleasure outside of their own perceptions of desire and many women are brought up to percieve themselves only through the gaze of ,masculine ddesire. You are missing crucial data.

  41. berl says:

    The comments get better and better here as time passes. I’m an older man who has looked at porn for over a decade. Now I find that I can’t function normally with a loving woman. I worry that I can never get it back.

  42. deremarc says:

    I have been looking for some insight into this very problem and can’t find much help on the net.

    I have been in a relationship for 1 1/2 years. My boyfriend has an extremely high sex drive and in the beginning we had sex several times a day (and coming off of an 18 yr marriage with missionary style, plain-vanilla, seldom sex) (and being 38 and in “my prime”) I was thrilled.

    But then I found out about my boyfriends cyber sex and internet activities and asked him to drop his membership to hookup sites (where he says he just looked) and to not chat up people on the internet anymore. And he quit.

    But, he still masturbates 3 or 4 times a day and no longer has sex with me. My looks have not changed in 1 1/2 years. It is not that. And I have tried to satisfy his desires with role play, sexy clothes, semi-public sex,talking really dirty, anal sex, frequent blowjobs, completely shaved pubic hair, mild domination (rougher sex, pulling my hair, ordering me what to do) allowing him to cum on me, my face etc (although I am not willing to have a 3 sum or have sex with another guy for him). And, I ENJOY all of the things we do, but…

    Now, we seldom have sex. He is tired, or overworked, or (if he spends the night) has to get home to do things.

    Well, I have access to his prepaid porn account. And what he has to go home and do is jackoff.

    I couldn’t understand why any redblooded man would prefer to wank than to have sex with a naked woman lying next to him willing to do anything he wants.

    He does last forever (now I am hearing it is because I can’t compete with the tight grip and furious fast jerking of his hand).

    I have asked to watch him masturbate and I do enjoy that *(I masturbate in front of him as well). I have asked him to “teach” me how to give him a handjob and I can’t grip it hard enough for him (never can get the damn pickle jar open either).

    I am about to the point of leaving him or just finding a sex life of my own.

    Going from sex every day to sex once or twice a month, where I feel as if he is having to “force” himself, and is probably fantasizing about the women in the pornos. Yuck..totally feel not into it when it is by rote.

    I am slightly chubby (I have a tummy from having kids, but great legs and a great ass as well…but only have 36c boobs)

    The point of what I look like is the women HE watches are plumpers: big butts, thick thighs, monster boobs…seriously monster boobs…like 40FFF kind of thing. I don’t look like that at all. No big butt or big thighs or big boobs.

    It affects my self-esteem and is just plain pissing me off!

  43. Wake up sheeple says:

    We have not made “progress” and we are not better off than 3 decades ago.
    A lot of women posters on here are like sheep and I pity you. You’ve been brainwashed by the media. But the really sad thing is that you can’t understand how a feminist such as Klein has to be so radically disenchanted with the “progress” women have made to literally be calling for a return to older values.
    Face it, society today lacks leaders, morals, values, and long-lasting relationships.
    If you can’t “get” that a feminist is stating progress has been a trap you’re not aware of much. Women are worse off today than they were a few decades ago. And kids are worse off too.
    You’ll all be crying buckets one day because you can’t see into the future. You haven’t seen the effects on your marriages and children yet. But you will.
    You’ve been sold down the river and you can’t even see it.

  44. Sex sheep says:

    To the poster before me…. just another example of stories I hear from female friends. All very attractive women but thick as two socks about the fact men need a little mystery, a little holding back from women.
    Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you need to hold something back from a man to keep his interest? What made you decide to become a sex sheep and try everything you see on a porno screen to satisfy the man?
    What lack of confidence to turn yourself into a no-holds barred buffet? Don’t you realise it’s far more enticing to go for dinner at an expensive gourmet restaurant and choose the dish you’d like most than to have it all on offer like a food whore?
    Sure variety is great. But there’s such a thing as personality and preferences and intimacy and communication. Didn’t you sex sheep ever think that throwing sex at a man in place of keeping your individuality clear would perhaps reduce the intimacy between you?
    Did you ever hear of the notion: be true to yourself?
    Did you ever understand what it meant?

    Now do you realise that by doing everything and giving everything you may have lost your feminine integrity and along with that your essential individuality?

    Nowadays dating involves throwing everything in a guy’s face on the 2nd date. How boring. How desperate. How sad. Who told you that offering yourself as easily as a MacDonald’s burger would build love?

    Wake up! Hold something back. Stop conforming! Stop cheapening yourselves – whether you’re wives or girlfriends.

    If a man stops having sex with you and you’ve thrown everything onto the plate, move on. He is bored as hell because you overdid it!!

  45. monitor301 says:

    “I can say from experience with many men I’ve met (and the one I married) that there are lots of men who hate submissive women. They want a partner who can challenge them intellectually and/or physically. They don’t want a servant. They want an equal.”

    These are actually the psychometrically abnormal ones, if you’re thinking in terms of biological normality. They’re the ones predisposed to nasty paraphilias in early-middle age and more likely to have issues over pornography (and various other things which we won’t mention here).

    The properly testosteronised brain seeks partners who are *biologically feminine*, displaying traits which we might refer to as “obedient” and “submissive”, and these are the people associated with greater outcomes in terms of life satisfaction and revenue/income bracket. Likewise women who are, by psychometric standards, biologically normal (Euler’s criteria “obedient”, “yielding”, “submissive”), have been demonstrated as having superior outcomes in terms of physical/mental health, and various “objective” indices of female physical attractiveness.

    50 years of feminist indoctrination can’t do away with biologically determined traits which are as intrinsic to us oxygen metabolism and protein synthesis. If you want a truly “equal” partnership between genders, you need to start from scratch with a new species.

  46. monitor301 says:

    Pardon, it shouldn’t be “Euler’s criteria” above. It should be “Bem Sex Role Inventory” (BSRI) and “Sex Role Behaviour Scale” (SRBS), as well as Cattell’s Personality Traits.

  47. Kirsten says:

    Thank you, Tom Yum, for your comments. I’m a 47 yo woman and I agree with Naomi Wolf.

Leave a Reply