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How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families
By Pamela Paul
Times Books
HC, 320 pgs. $25.00
ISBN: 0-8050-7745-6

Off the mark

By Bernard Chapin
web posted November 28, 2005

"How did sexual difference come to be formulated as a Manichean struggle between the forces of goodness and those of badness?" Howard Schwartz, The Revolt of the Primative, p. 35.

Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our FamiliesWhen I was in college, I once told my roommate that if we really wanted to be content in life we'd put up pictures of the 10 ugliest women in the world just so we'd get used to looking at them. That way we could be joyously surprised by everyone else we ran across. Such a display would lower our standards, and hopefully decrease our egregious habit of deeming some co-eds unworthy of our attention. It was not lost to me, even then, that a regular diet of pornography would have the reverse effect.

My own caution in regards to porn has always been based upon these practical considerations, and never due to moral outrage or a desire to be self-righteousness. I always thought pornography, at least for an average guy like me, was counter-productive. Frequent examination of cellulite free bottoms, silicone inflated breasts, and soft, estrogenized faces is no way to prepare for adulthood. The only way most of us could ever run across such dazzling females is to separate $400.00 from their savings, and for most law-abiding citizens that simply is not an option.

Given my indifference, I am always surprised by the hysterical vehemence with which the anti-porn activists oppose the "wonk-wonk" flow, and "get in the car, baby" mentality of pornography. The indignation they exude reeks of contrivance. To experience outrage over low-grade movies and self-assembled love scenes seems rather silly. Such vehemence should be reserved for authentic crimes against humanity like the Nick Berg beheading or the murder of Theo van Gogh.

In keeping with the long-established tradition of sanctimoniousness regarding this subject, Pamela Paul has released Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. It purports to examine our pornified culture, but it actually is a work of feminist orthodoxy peddling a malignant view about men and erotica. Once its pages are opened, it's not long before the dogma pours forth. Despite what we see with our eyes, to Paul, porn is not about sex, it's about women being oppressed and objectified. Well, such beliefs were untrue when they were first shrieked, and they remain untrue today. When the author uncritically quotes Gloria Steinem as an authority one immediately understands that this work is nothing but polemic. How can anyone take Steinem's definition of pornography seriously? To say that porn is about "violence, dominance, and conquest" is only slightly less accurate than saying the rationale behind the MLB World Series is to justify pelicans acquiring the right to vote.

A more accurate title for this screed would be, "The Social Sicknesses of the Modern Male," or "A Feminista Deconstructs Pornography." The author does not consider pornography to be a societal problem; it's a male problem. To Paul, possessing male sexual proclivities is simply not tolerable. To do so is evidence of psychopathology. To be healthy, a man must adopt a woman's reproductive strategies.

In Pornified, women are saints and victims while men are beasts. No attempt is made to pretend equality exists between the sexes. What about those women who say they like erotica? Paul sees through their ruse. They're just pretending to like it. Her response is typical as the opinions of women only matter to feminists when they affirm and empower their mumbo-jumbo. This is yet another example of the way in which feminists are contemptuous of actual women. When one demonstrates independence of mind they quickly find themselves placed squarely on the other side of the struggle.

Paul reserves her sympathy for those women in relationships with pornophiles. She states, "Sadly and perhaps not surprisingly, women tend to blame themselves when their partners stray into pornography." Well, of course they do because women are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice; whereas, men are made of lust, violence, anger, and the incessant desire to self-stimulate in an X-rated movie house (that last clause, no doubt, feminists are trying, at this very moment, to force nursery schools to adopt as part of their standard rhyming curriculum).

Another howler, which is indicative of Pornified's slant, is when Paul declares, "For many men, there's the troublesome intrusion of dealing with another person's feelings or values…". Actually, that is a lie. Dealing with the feelings and values of others is not only possible for us, we do it every day at work or we do not remain employed. Not only that, we deal with and respect the values of others far better than feminists. They experience conniptions every time someone lives their life in a manner inconsistent with the party line. Men are also referred to, in a subchapter, as, "The Selfish Sex;" but this is also a canard– at least in relation to us. "Selfish" is, however, the perfect description for activists who engage in the totalitarian habit of insisting on what others think and do.

Paul's structure for the book is to quote interviewees, and then use them as a means to validate her own opinions. Such a procedure is not convincing as the amount of androgynous thought pervading these confessions is as embarrassing as it is unrepresentative. When one woman confides, "I would prefer he contribute to the National Organization for Women than look at Playboy", one longs to inquire if there were any individuals she talked to who were not charter members of NOW.

As for the conclusions drawn, they are voluminous and usually supported by the convictions of the journalist alone. Paul editorializes psychologically constantly even though she appears to have scant knowledge of human nature or the thought processes intrinsic to homo sapiens. The author states that some men justify gazing at pornography by citing "loosely understood" evolutionary psychology theories, but Paul appears to have even less than loose knowledge of the discipline. Nor does she even make a cursory attempt to enlighten readers about views illustrating a biological justification for the male enjoyment of erotic material.

The concluding chapter, "The Censure-Not-Censor Solution," is the low point of the work. Here, her analysis reaches the point of absurdity. It is a testament to the confusion and mendaciousness of the feminist mind. She carefully begins the section by noting that censorship is not the answer, but then quickly slips back into the pervasive, "There ought to be a law," mentality. She asserts that "real harm" is being done by porn, but we have no quantification of what this harm might be or how many people are affected. I do not doubt that a very minute percentage of the population have compulsively allowed porn to disrupt their lives, but there's no reason to regard this number as being statistically significant.

Yet, there is no hedging or caution for Paul. She astounds the reader by comparing the destructiveness of pornography with that of tobacco [!]. Porn, unlike the product we closely associate with the words "Surgeon General," is not a killer, and placing it alongside a creator of heart disease and lung cancer should alert everyone to the unsoundness of this book's central premise.

Despite eschewing censorship, Paul, like most feminists, believes that state coercion is the proper means with which to enact change. It for this reason that she flatteringly cites an argument from the New York Times about how to solve the problem via criminalization. I'm not kidding. The source is desirous of the adult industry being legally equated with prostitution. Well, this obviously will not eliminate pornography, but it will allow one important statist goal to be met as an even larger segment of our population will be relegated to the penitentiary. This would undoubtedly please feminists as men and physically gifted women would be the ones primarily targeted. Meanwhile, after arranging for these ladies to rot in jail, Paul and the rest of feminist mega-minority can lecture their sisters about the way in which they advance "women's rights."

Upon finishing Pornified, I could not help but notice another somewhat hidden reason for feminist ire. In erotic imagery, there is often the subliminal message that women like and value men. The actresses in pornography exude a, "We want you," vibe, and no implication more offends the activists of gender hate. Such insinuations make them want to pull out their last strands of spiky hair. Feminists won't rest until no woman desires men, and, based on their crazed and cheerless competition, that will be a long time coming.

Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at bchapafl@hotmail.com.

Buy Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families at Amazon.com for only $16.50 (34% off)

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    Steve Martinovich reviews Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age, which purports to tell the insider story of the kings and queens of online porn
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