What Planet does Naomi Wolf Live On?

Naomi Wolf’s essay The Porn Myth strongly suggests that she lives on some other planet. It has been pretty well fisked over at Haight Speech and elsewhere. But so far, all of the people I’ve seen shredding it are women.

Perhaps this is because it’s politically incorrect for us panting, grunting persons-of-testicle to trash-talk a feminist icon like Ms. Wolf or say anything nice about porn. But here at Armed and Dangerous, we are fearless — and, more to the point, we have cleverly prepared our ground by having previously written an essay entitled Why does porn got to hurt so bad? in which we analyzed in detail why most porn is so intensely ugly.

So I’m going to say a few words about Ms. Wolf’s viewing-with-alarm, speaking as a man. A man who is quite in touch with his own desires, thank you, and has studied (yes, I mean studied) the effects of porn on his libido with some care.

In brief, my response to Ms. Wolf is: Haw haw haw har har hee hee hyuck *snort* giggle. Ma’am, you clearly have no freaking idea what you are talking about.

You show a young woman who makes herself sexually available but has trouble attracting the interest of a young man away from porn, and I’ll show you a young man who is either homosexual or stone dead.

Well, OK, I can imagine one exception. If the young woman in question is hideously deformed, the can’t-compete-with-porn insecurity you describe might be justified. But in general, it’s safe to predict that an offer of pussy from any woman who is not aggressively ugly will easily outbid the young man’s hand for the attention of his penis.

This is so not because young men are in any way enlightened, but because they are fizzing with hormones and instincts that are designed for the express purpose of inducing them to fuck…you know…women. Lots of them. Young men are not noted for being excessively discriminating in this regard. A biologist would explain this as r-type strategy — since his energy investment in reproduction is low, promiscuity is optimal.

Show me a young woman who thinks she can’t compete with porn for a man’s attention and I’ll show you one of two things. Either (a), she’s having galloping insecurity for some other reason and doesn’t notice that the man enjoys having sex with real women a hell of a lot more than he enjoys porn, or (b) she’s not having sex with that man.

There is one truth buried, oblique and nearly invisible, in Ms. Wolf’s informants’ reports. Sex with a real woman trumps porn, but porn trumps women who dangle sex in front of men and don’t deliver. Again, this has nothing to do with enlightenment, and whether the dangling is a deliberate tease, a product of inhibition, or simple ineptness at the courtship dance doesn’t matter much either. The most relevant causal fact is that young men get erections a lot, and when they get erections, having an orgasm tends to move to the top of the to-do-list and stay there.

Ms. Wolf, here is some simple advice you can give any woman who thinks she can’t compete with porn. First item on the checklist: is she fucking him? If the answer is “no”, then I regret to inform you that her grounds for complaint against the fact that he likes to jack off while looking at or thinking about pictures of porn babes are nil. Zip. Zero. You might as well try resenting water for flowing downhill.

On the other hand, if she is fucking him, he is not going to swap that for feelthy pixels. Trust me on this. I have a penis. I’ve been fucking women for nearly thirty years, and not once was I even remotely tempted to trade an actual roll in the hay for a fantasy image and my hand. Not even as a confused adolescent, and not even with the ones who were, relatively speaking, lousy in bed.

Any woman who thinks this is happening is evading a problem with the relationship, not with his sexual response. By pointing at porn, she is giving herself leave to ignore real issues. Like: am I joyful in bed? This has nothing to do with facials or Brazilian wax jobs — and, actually, as much to do with the capacity to receive pleasure from that man’s touch as the capacity to give him pleasure.

Here’s another secret about most men, most of the time: given a choice between a buff “porn-worthy” chick with a drawerful of sex toys who’s grudging or unresponsive in bed, or a plain jane with rudimentary technique who orgasms easily and generously, plain jane is the one we’re going to go back to. Again, this has a sound basis in evolutionary bio; orgasm is a sperm-retention behavior that increases the probability of conception, so an orgasming woman is saying pre-verbally “I want your child!”.

Having delivered a smackdown on Ms. Wolf’s silly thesis, I will now thump a number of her critics. Pretty much all of them report this exchange:

“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.”

Several of the fiskings I’ve read avoid Ms. Wolf’s dim-bulbed ascription of that response to the insidious effects of porn only by writing off the kid as a callow, ignorant doofus. By doing so, they miss his point as completely as she did.

In fact, the kid is right. There is no mystery to sex. The mystery is in the stuff that is modulated onto sex like a signal onto a carrier wave, Relationships. Love. Intimacy. Mysticism. What this wise child is saying is that he wants to get the purely sexual tension out of the way so that he can get to the mystery.

Shame on Ms. Wolf for being in such a swivet about porn that she failed to notice this. But a greater shame on her fiskers, who had no single axe to grind and time for reflection — and thus, not even a bad excuse for their lack of perception.

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18 thoughts on “What Planet does Naomi Wolf Live On?

  1. you’re both right, and both wrong. two points stick out in your rebuttal.

    “On the other hand, if she is fucking him, he is not going to swap that for feelthy pixels.”

    i think a lot of people actually would prefer to masturbate than to spend time with a lousy sex partner. the simple feeling of certain body parts inside of other parts can’t be isolated from the social and interpersonal contexts which get people into bed. the feeling of actual sex is complicated by thousands of day to day minutiae. some people would prefer to please themselves instead of dealing with those minutiae, or a partner who thinks she’s a pornstar when she is actually just making an idiot out of herself.

    also, while men may actually choose to engage in sex over looking at girls on computer screens, that is not the only qualifier that you need to refute Naomi Wolf’s claims completely. again, just because you’re having sex, doesn’t mean you’re having good sex. just because you’re having a sexual interaction with another person doesn’t mean you are noticing things about the other person that you wish were different. i don’t think anyone is completely satisfied with every aspect of their partner’s body (just as they are probably not completely satisfied with anything else about their partner). people have imaginations, they can wish things to be different. watching porn raises expectations to unrealistic levels. if people don’t have expectations, they can’t be let down.

    i more or less agree with Naomi Wolf’s article because what she is describing is not limited to sex. it has to do with the media. the things people see on billboards, display terminals, and in print inevitably affect them. people think advertising doesn’t affect them, but look, advertising is an enormous industry that makes a lot of money. the people behind Nike or Apple are not idiots, and they’re not throwing their money into the garbage when they hire these ad agencies. likewise, the purveyors of porn are setting people up for disappointment, for a life that doesn’t exist. if porn was just like real life, nobody would watch it or look at it. it necessarily HAS to be “better” than real life or the people who make porn (the companies, not the actors) would not make any money. people don’t buy plain things, they buy things that they think will elevate their mundane lives to new heights. watching porn is the same thing. meanwhile, back here in the real world, both men and women are dealing with real life, real bodies, real problems.

    so basically, i don’t think your rebuttal of the article was very effective.

  2. Um, I didn’t see you refute Ms. Wolf’s article at all. All you did was describe your sex life. I’m glad for you that you prefer a real, live female over pixels and your hand. That has nothing to do with people in the article who feel and act in the oposite way.

  3. If you’ve been having sex for 30 years, you’re already too old to understand the consequences for young people born into a “pornified” culture – they have no other frame of reference.

    Now 30, raised by conservative no-sex-before-marriage strict Greek parents that were kind enough to explain that All Men Are Dogs, i nonetheless feel ridiculously embarassed if a man catches me BETWEEN brazilian waxes… not that it makes a difference, since I cant fully enjoy sex (unless i am drunk or high) because I am too self-conscious about my body, my performance and HIS expectations to be in the moment anyway.

    Men are no longer taught or encouraged to have good manners or even serious relationships; women are told that only squares/prudes want sex with feelings. And younger women are even worse off; at least my generation didn’t feel pressured to add butt-sex to their arsenal…

    After all of this… how can we expect young people raised in a world that promotes immediate sexual gratification to bother having serious relationships, which require sexual commitment and actual hard WORK?

    I think our problems are just beginning. Young women seem not only to equate beauty with power, I am increasingly realizing that they understand it to be the ONLY kind of power worth having. What DID happen to our dreams of the next woman president??

  4. You *really* think that things have “changed”? No. Sex doesn’t change at all. Circumstances change; taboos change.

    Men are no longer taught or encouraged to have good manners or even serious relationships. This is bullshit; men were NEVER ‘taught’ this. It was an instinctive response to the emotional needs of women. Now that sex is commoditized, why bother?
    women are told that only squares/prudes want sex with feelings. Again, I have to cry bull. Women are, in reality, just as horny as guys; the difference? Female sexuality was oppressed for centuries, and, in the grand scheme, are just coming off the cusp of a “sexual revolution” that told women it was ok to like sex! THIS is why women act like that.And younger women are even worse off
    at least my generation didn’t feel pressured to add butt-sex to their arsenal… No, it’s not pressure, in my experience, and I’m 19 years old, a member of this ‘younger generation’. It’s *not* pressure now; it’s a removal of a taboo; it’s no longer ‘fucked up’ to have “butt-sex” as you so eloquently put it. Get used to it, lady. The Sexual Revolution may have officially ended decades ago, but its repercussions will be felt for decades to come.

  5. Naomi Wolf is batshit insane. Her recent hysterical meltdown at the Huffington Post is Exhibit A. Any student of abnormal psychology will recognize the telltale signs of paranoid schizophrenia immediately.

  6. You sir, are a grade A asshole. It’s blaringly obvious. Unfortunately, you seem to be the only one who doesn’t realize it.

  7. Man you hit the nail on the head. Naomi got herself a nicely marketable thesis there, to bad it’s bs. Speaking as a man, if I didn’t want to hook up with old girl on the weekend, it’s cause I didn’t want to hang out with her at the time. Trust me, it wasn’t about porn.

  8. Marianne makes some interesting points. You ARE too old to comment on this article (as am I). The idiot that expects to have sex before getting to know the first thing about the girl proves Naomi’s point not yours. He wants a nameless porn body, not a human lover.

  9. Naomi is wrong, but so are you. I won’t hang with a chick with hang ups. If she’s not up to speed, if she doesn’t shave, if she won’t engage in a full range of acts, positions, and fantasy play, she’s outta there. I don’t expect physical perfection. Naomi is wrong about porn; it’s nothing new historically, hell, the Roman’s were infinitely more outrageous, more porn driven and more perverse. And she’s wrong about women having to compete with porn. No, it’s women competing with other women. And you too are wrong. Plenty of of guys won’t maintain a relationship with a sexually repressed woman who’ll only have straight sex, missionary position. It’s not that we prefere pron, it’s that we prefere other REAL women, who aren’t hung up.

    So as far as I’m concerned, you’re both wrong. You think to speak for all or most men. There is no way that you do. Naomi is apparently wholly ignorant of the sexual decadence, and male driven perversity of MOST ancient cultures, and has projected her school-girl romantic ideals onto men. Most of us are beasts, and more and more of us today are becoming less apologetic about it.

  10. I like my porn. I’ve got 15,000+ pornographic, erotic, or just femininely appealing images saved to my hard drive. But I’ll be damned, that’s not nearly enough to make me stop wanting a real woman. It’s that “mystery” stuff I want. I want to interact with a living breathing young woman who cares how she looks and enjoys sex. I want to succeed at sex, which means I can’t be the only one having an orgasm. When I look at my porn I’m the only person getting off, and it’s a bit lonely in the end. I can say though that porn has helped me to refine my idea of what interests me sexually. It’s nice to know ahead of time what turns you off. I hope I meet a woman who knows what she wants, and is willing to ask for it.

    I’d also say that things like Brazilian waxes have more to do with perceptions of hygiene than sex. I actually equate it pretty closely to all the people who judge me because I sport a full beard. The only difference is how many people see the groomed hair.

    And the idea that “most of us are beasts” is insulting and specious. It’s an excuse to pretend that being an asshole isn’t your fault. And I’m pretty sure ESR admits to being an asshole sometimes, I know I do. It’s part of the whole concept of personal responsibility and freedom.

  11. I’m a male. I won’t have sex with girls if it’s just sex, because sex just for the sake of sex is worthless and pointless (and the men and women who have it are worthless and pointless).

    Also, the “all men are beasts” spiel is plain wrong. Plenty of dudes aren’t beasts. And the beastly guys aren’t worth sleeping with anyway. They’re a brainless waste of space. Girls – hold onto your romantic ideals and find yourself a real sweetie. :P

  12. The author of the thread is not an a$$ but an idiot. Must be under 30 years of age. I would like to make a comment of my own, tho. Everyone seems to agree: Two individuals, a man and a woman having sex, whether porn or after date – this is degrading the woman. Even if the man had to pay, for what in every other way is an equal exchange, this too is seen as an even greater degradation, of the the woman. This can’t be too healthy of an attitude towards men. Can’t help but notice Naomi Wolf in her article only seems to care about women’s experience – even as she presents herself as fighting sexism. Also I wonder about her assumption that most men would prefer a submissive woman, as opposed to one who would chase them. I do agree with nearly everything Naomi says in the article (but can’t help noticing her underlying viewpoint). . . In a way her complaint is both an admission women have ‘the power’ over men and yet the same time she’s saying it’s all unfair to women. Further protecting women is no advance, and does it really require all that much bravery?

  13. Porn? that involves the degradation or humiliation of anyone is hugely damaging. There’s porn out there, and not even non-mainstream porn but porn watched by many, with women being spit on, told to lick the floor, getting cum in the eyes intentionally, called fuck pigs, whores, stupid sluts, worthless fuck toys. There was this video with Sasha Gray told “it’s anal, it’s supposed to hurt.” What the fuck does this say about the people watching it?

  14. Not to mention people who actually enjoy degradation and humiliation have internalized their shame to where it actually turns them on. I believe in sexual freedom and revolution. This is not it. This has made sex even less appealing.

  15. And you can bet your last dollar that every man saying Naomi is mad enjoys a lot of time in pornoland with his pornbabes
    Until you guys experience life where your entire gender is routine categorised by body part , where your partner will compare your body after four kids mind you with the twenty year old porn chick , the. You best go lock yourselves in your bedrooms with your porn

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