We've been hearing for decades--nay, eons--about the evils of pornography from the religious right. They've told us that pornography is evil, that it erodes the sacred bonds between one man and one woman. Many feminists don't much care for the porn, either. They say it degrades women and encourages violence.
And now we're being told by yet another group about the dangers of pornography, and that group is...men who like porn?
Now, one wouldn't usually think that a man who watches a lot of pornography would find himself in bed with the religious right and Gloria Steinem. The good news is, though, that once he finds himself in that bed, he won't be able to seal the deal anyway. Why? Because we're in the middle of an epidemic. The availability of porn on the internet has basically made it impossible for the modern male to do anything but jack off to pictures of women with surgically enhanced waist-to-hip ratios that are never found in nature, and all this jacking off has in turn made it impossible for men to want to have sex with real women.
Oh, and we're supposed to feel sorry for these men because the big bad pornography grabbed them by the balls and is refusing to let go.
I don't want to talk about whether or not porn is evil, though. I want to talk about the article by Davy Rothbart at New York Magazine. Specifically, I want to talk about why men still don't ever feel the need to take responsibility for their sexual issues. According to this piece, it's porn's fault (and therefore the fault of the women found in the porn)! It's their girlfriend's/wive's fault! As usual, all sexual evils are the fault of the women. Men would love to control themselves, you see, but all these sexy womens! They will not let thems!
I can break down my problem with this piece by simply dissecting this little bit at the end:
Men, oversaturated by porn, secretly hunger for the variety that porn offers. Women, noticing a decline in their partners’ libidos, try to reenact the kinds of scenes that men watch on their computer screens. Men, as a result, get really freaked out. They don’t want their real women and their fantasy women to inhabit the same body.
Essentially, the men we're talking about here would rather watch porn than have sex with their real-life partners. This is causing a huge problem, as one might imagine, both for the men themselves and the women who want to eff them. But when the women try to act like porn stars, the men freak out! What we see in the language used here is the tired old saw about Madonnas and whores. "There are women men want to marry and women men want to eff, and they are not the same women!" I remember hearing this in college. Talk about a no-win situation. That statement above, though, pretty much lays the blame for this conundrum on the women. Girlfriends and wives should not act sexy--it spooks their men. Men won't be able to get turned on by anything other than strange, unattainable women who wear crazy outfits and let you stick it in their poopers! So deal, ladies. Deal, but don't try to compete. And certainly don't try to operate anywhere outside of the cultural framework for relationships that says that good women are loving, understanding, and not sexual while men are dogs and only want to have sex with strangers.
Sex is a feelings thing. Whether those feelings are loving or lusting or a little of both, it's always about feelings. Feelings are volatile things. We don't want to mess with them sometimes. We cast women as the seat of emotions and then throw them to the hounds. Let them pay for our inability to be constant and disciplined. Let them pay for our feelings. All of us, even women, blame women for all the evils of not feeling as we should. Can't control yourself? You must be having a feeling, and we all know who is associated with feelings.
All I wanted to hear was that this man recognized his part in this whole problem. He kind of does...right at the end. He unplugs for a week and, ta-dah--he gets it on with a real flesh-and-blood lady! But everything leading up to that moment is whiney, poor me bullshit. Three pages worth of a different dudes saying, "I want to watch a woman get it on with farm animals, but I don't want that woman to be my girlfirend! Feel sorry for ME!"
And you know what? I kind of do.