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.