are we less sexual today?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by D_Gunther Snotpole, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Here's a piece that expresses exactly what I've long suspected ... that the ubiquity of porn hasn't made any of us tigers, but has declawed most men ... and one wouldn't doubt, most women.

    I remember once being in a movie theatre in Morocco when a kind of preview image of Jane Fonda as Barbarella came briefly on screen.

    To a western eye, it wasn't much in the stimulus department. But there was a quick roar from all the men in the theatre -- and I realized that they had access to a quick-tripping motherlode of libido that no North American I knew still had.

    And along comes Naomi Wolf to explain why.

    Here's her fascinating piece, slightly edited. I think it's just as true for gay as straight. Tell me what you think:

    The Porn Myth

    In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing.

    · By Naomi Wolf
    At a benefit the other night, I saw Andrea Dworkin, the anti-porn activist most famous in the eighties for her conviction that opening the floodgates of pornography would lead men to see real women in sexually debased ways. If we did not limit pornography, she argued—before Internet technology made that prospect a technical impossibility—most men would come to objectify women as they objectified porn stars, and treat them accordingly. In a kind of domino theory, she predicted, rape and other kinds of sexual mayhem would surely follow.

    She was right about the warning, wrong about the outcome. As she foretold, pornography did breach the dike that separated a marginal, adult, private pursuit from the mainstream public arena. The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographized.

    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.”

    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, or 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.

    For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. 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. Thirty years ago, simple love making 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.

    Now you have to offer—or flirtatiously suggest—the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene. 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. (In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.) 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.


    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.

    But does all this sexual imagery in the air mean that sex has been liberated—or is it the case that the relationship between the multi-billion-dollar porn industry, compulsiveness, and sexual appetite has become like the relationship between agribusiness, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity?

    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. Mostly, when I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike.

    The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.

    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.

    Other cultures know this. I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.

    And feminists have misunderstood many of these prohibitions.

    I will never forget a visit I made to Ilana, an old friend who had become an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. When I saw her again, she had abandoned her jeans and T-shirts for long skirts and a head scarf. I could not get over it. Ilana has waist-length, wild and curly golden-blonde hair. “Can’t I even see your hair?” I asked, trying to find my old friend in there. “No,” she demurred quietly. “Only my husband,” she said with a calm sexual confidence, “ever gets to see my hair.”

    When she showed me her little house in a settlement on a hill, and I saw the bedroom, draped in Middle Eastern embroideries, that she shares only with her husband—the kids are not allowed—the sexual intensity in the air was archaic, overwhelming.

    She must feel, I thought, so hot.

    Compare that steaminess with 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.”
     
  2. fortiesfun

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    Fascinating. Thanks, Rubi.
     
  3. SpoiledPrincess

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    I don't think men become desexualized because porn objectifies women, it objectifies men too after all, I think they become desexualized because they become jaded and overexposed to sexual stimui.
     
  4. dong20

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    are we less sexual today?

    I'd say we're definately becoming grumpier.
     
  5. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    Humans tend to become bored with overexposure. You heard a funny joke, laughed like crazy. With each repetition, the joke becomes less interesting. The brain gets bored. I knew a guy on a diff site who was a mod. He was constantly having to search the web for photos to post. He said he became numb to them. It didn't turn him on anymore.

    Six of one, half dozen of another.
     
  6. rob_just_rob

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    Very interesting post, SR. I'm going to think on it and possibly reply, but either way, thanks for the food for thought.
     
  7. Ethyl

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    Therein lies the reason I find most pornography boring as hell. Then again, most of it isn't designed for people like me (read: women).

    I'll chew on the rest and come back.
     
  8. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    I think I'd rather live with a little less mystery than a set of raging blue balls. I'm glad I have some outlets for my crazy libido, I still enjoy sex quite a lot and real women still turn me on. If I wasn't allowed to have sex or look at porn I'd probably be strapping bombs to myself.
     
  9. basque9

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    Well, porn and the myriad of sex sites do undeniably help relieve sexual tension...at least for me! I suspect the jury is still out as to whether such inputs make us less ardent for the real McCoy...but it is stimulating food for thought Rubi!
     
  10. SteveHd

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    It was interesting to read but I'd say Ms Wolf is greatly overstating that porn is "deadening male libido" to use her words. I'd agree that it's raised the bar [my words] on how women have to appear.
     
  11. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    Talk about the ultimate blowjob. :wink:
     
  12. chico8

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    It's a bunch of crap. She isolates pornography as the only problem facing human sexuality. While porn probably plays a small part there are so many other issues that need to be addressed. She alludes to one of them on her visit to her friend's home in Israel. The house is simple and small.

    In the US, too many are caught up in complexity, quantity and size as opposed to simplicity.

    Parents and society put a huge amount of pressure on kids these days. They need to be perfect soccer players, students, volunteers, have perfect poise and get into the perfect college.

    If parents and society would just lighten up a little bit, maybe these poor kids being raised in ivory towers wouldn't feel so lonely. Their lives are so scripted and choreographed it's no wonder they're lost at sea.

    Stress is the biggest killer of desire, not pornography.
     
  13. ClaireTalon

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    Two takes on this from my side.

    I don't think we're becoming less sexual today, but the view on sexuality, public and in private, has definitely changed. Many people, especially in the younger age group, have a more liberal take on sexual orientations, sexual experimentation and definitely more knowledge on sexual terminology. Of course, that doesn't explain the increasing number of teenage pregnancies, that is why I wouldn't say that they are better educated about sex, but definitely have less inhibitions on sex talk.

    The other thing is that pornography per se isn't desensitizing men and women. Pornography has been around, traded and exchanged, ever since mass reproduction of pictures, aka photography and moving pictures, existed. What has changed is the accessibility of porn. You don't have to go to shabby movie theaters any more. Adult bookstores are also there, but you don't have to face the embarrassment to go there, and can evade the danger of being recognized by a neighbor. It's really easy now to download your porn from the net, cost-free, and nearly as quick as a trip to the bookstore or video store.

    The amateur porn from sites such as YouPorn, or private blogs with sexual subjects, adds to this.

    So, the desensitizing doesn't stem from pornography itself, but more from the fact that it's easier now to get in contact with it, at an age when I was still sexually absolutely clueless.
     
  14. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    We hear you're already carrying a missile.
     
  15. SpoiledPrincess

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    Claire I think kids are better educated about the mechanics of sex but they're not taught anything about relationships, when my kids were given sex education at school (something in their case that wasn't necessary) they were told about condoms, std's, sex itself but nothing was mentioned about actually waiting till they wanted to do it, how to deal with peer pressure to have sex or that it was actually a good idea to wait until it was with someone they at least cared about.
     
  16. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Thanks, everyone, for the replies.
    I think there's a great deal of merit in what Naomi Wolf says.
    Perhaps I could have phrased the title of the thread differently.
    Personally (and only personally), I'm feeling deadened, to a degree, not only to flesh-and-blood people, but to porn itself.
    Too much sexual imagery ... familiarity breeding (heh heh) contempt.
    But then, the conveyor belt and the year-by-year accretion of age probably has some play here, too.
    Anyway, I appreciate the comments.
    Tnx again.
     
  17. SpoiledPrincess

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    I think any time a group of people have a lot of leisure time they overindulge in sex till they develop a sort of sex ennui, the British aristocrats of the 1700's, the Roman Emperors, Victorian captains of industry, they were all a pretty pervy lot, but recently has been the first time in history that the average person has had enough leisure time to indulge their sexual side freely, sexual behaviour tends to escalate, we do something for a while and feel a need to try something else, so I don't think it's particularly linked with pornography, it's linked to normal patterns of human behaviour that have always occurred.
     
  18. dong20

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    For myself, imagination plays a major role in what I define as 'sexual' and to me pornography is pretty much the very antithesis of imagination. Relying for the most part on a few, formulaic strategies because they satisfy the of those for whom a simple, graphic visualisation is sufficient.

    Sometimes that works, but for the most part, ironically I'm much more likely to find pornography boring, or on occasion amusing, especially with the sound off. That's how it should be, porn is a business, it's about the 'quick fix' and' more importantly, the bottom line. It's not about persuing a deeper, often darker understanding of the human sexual psyche, that's a different genre. It's suprising how many confuse the two.

    Despite our aspirations to some form of nobility among species there's nothing quite like a grimacing, sweaty, red face to remind us what simple creatures we usually are.
     
  19. Bbucko

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    There's much merit to the claim that the ideal of sexual allure and the ideal of human beauty have become synonymous, and that their model is the pornstar. Gone are any innocent days when modesty had any attraction.

    In the last three years any woman I've met under 30 who hasn't had her breasts augumented has lamented her inability to pay for the procedure. If I suggest that she's beautiful on her own, I'm seen as gallant, old school, and out of touch.

    Likewise there is a percentage (albeit smaller) of men, both straight and gay, who punish their bodies with daily workouts (and steroid injections), shave their heads and wax their eyebrows in pursuit of some ideal that seems closer to pornstars than average Joe Sixpack.

    But can the fact that even average Joe Sixpack's beer of choice is a microbrewery's seasonal output be blamed on porn? Tattoos and piercings have lost much of their sexual edge not through porn as much as a deadening familiarity in real life. Except for a small quantity of specialized fetish porn, such things were never a mainstay of adult entertainment.

    I think that the bigger problem is that ideals of beauty and sexuality are marketed a la carte, piecemeal, obsessed with particulars with no understanding of the total package. As with every "stylism", it's easier to ape certain mannerisms than digest the totality of any movement or its goals.

    As to any direct influence of the porn ideal on the current aesthetic model, I'm kinda dubious. Intellectually lightweight, vapid pop princesses like Lindsay Lohan, Brittney Spears or Paris Hilton (their names even sound like pornstars, don't they?) might take their cues from porn, but what about our more durable sex symbols like Angelina Joli? I'd say that the pornmills of San Fernando Valley borrowed from her look and attitude much more than vice-versa.

    As to the actual sexual practices of real life people, I have no experience with the current generation of young women and have no way of knowing to what extent their sexual repetoire has been influenced by porn. Somehow I doubt many 20-year olds have taken to glugging noises whn sucking cock.

    But I do know that in the very limited circle of HIV+ men with whom I engage, the industry has definitely had an impact in what we do. Things that might have seemed unthinkable ten years ago are now common-place, and the first time (since the very early 80s) I was exposed to such things as "seeding parties" and ass-pissing was in the productions of Treasure Island Media and its ilk.

    But instead of deadening their libidos, I see porn as having the opposite effect, inciting them to a broader range of activities. This is, to my eyes, a good thing, not a bad thing. After 20 years of fear dictating what we do in bed, it's liberating to allow lust back in.
     
  20. SpoiledPrincess

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    What's a seeding party?
     
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