May 30, 2007

Over at Yglesias, they're talking about a Naomi Wolf article from 4 years ago.

I mean, Matt thought it was new, because some other blog wrote about it as if it were new. (I picked it up via Memeorandum.) He's all concerned about Naomi's tired old whine that pornography has wrecked man's capacity to appreciate real, in-the-flesh women, or, as Naomi puts it: "The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women." (The onslaught of Naomi Wolf's prose is responsible for the deadening of this female's interest in reading in relation to third wave feminists.) Anyway, I'm so glad Matt fell for this one, because some of the comments over there are pretty funny.

31 comments:

Amanda Marcotte said...

I was unaware that there's a statute of limitations on what you could write about. Does that go double for what you can read, or are you only forbidden to read something more than a week old if it's a scary, scary novel?

MadisonMan said...

If you're going to write about yesterday's news, you should acknowledge it. Otherwise, you look sloppy and inattentive.

Ann Althouse said...

Amanda -- it's just funny to think it's new when it's old. That post that Matt responded to begins with a statement that it was a cover story in the new New York magazine, so the newness of it was featured in the post.

All these young women were supposedly so inspired by Wolf's writing... you'd think they'd notice that they were reacting to something that was 4 years old.

I've always found Wolf insipid, but I keep hearing younger women say how much she's meant to them. I'm calling bullshit on that.

amba said...

The comment thread is hilarious, and there's also some commonsense wisdom in it -- see e.g. Gabe, Benny, and steveT.

AJ Lynch said...

Amanda wakes up on the wrong side of the bed everyday? What a shame she has no sense of humor.

I view Eglesias and his young peers as very similar- Ivy educations, full of opinions, but they have very little knowledge of the real world (particularly as it relates to living, making a living and paying the bills).

I don't get why they are quoted so often and pointed out as espcially talented. I sure don't see brilliance- just same old same old big govt solutions that you learn in Sociology 101.

Zach said...

I wonder if it's possible to become so prominent for your political views that you should no longer trust your own experiences or conversations as a source of information.

In the original article, Wolf claims that college girls feel they can't attract the sexual interest of college guys.

How can you possibly think that? Ms. Wolf speaks on campuses regularly -- does she not see normal day-to-day interaction? Does she go to college bars? (actually, I doubt she does) Do any of the students she talks to?

I can only conclude that the students who voluntarily meet a minor celebrity feminist are extremely unrepresentative of students in general.

Maybe if you're the kind of person who goes out of their way to meet celebrity feminists, you see things through a more gender-politicized lens?

I could see an argument that porn could drive guys' attention to girls who seem more flashy or more likely to have sex, but I can't see anything like an argument that sexual interest has disappeared.

Judas said...

Thanks to Ms. Marcotte for providing a perfect illustration of why the following joke is so funny:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That's not funny.

J said...

"I can only conclude that the students who voluntarily meet a minor celebrity feminist are extremely unrepresentative of students in general"

I'm trying to imagine how detached from reality one must be to buy the idea that men in college are more interested in porn than real women. Maybe the increase in the percentage of women in college has tipped the competitive balance to where unattractive heterosexual women's studies majors who openly, rabidly hate men can't get laid, but for normal people her premise is just ridiculous.

Also, I'm not into porn, but have seen enough to be puzzled by this comment from the MY post:

"pornography generally features a hot man with a hot woman".

http://www.ronjeremy-themovie.com/ ?

I'd always been under the impression that physiological issues outweighed appearance in the selection of male porn stars (there are aspects of sexual interest a man really can't fake) though maybe that's changed in the era of Viagra.

J. said...

I think Wolf is correct on the harm but mistaken on the conclusion. I'd argue it has increased libido while decreasing respect, which directly leads to a mentality of use.

Take a walk through facebook and see how many college women "introduce" themselves. Sad.

Fitz said...

Its not that men don’t want to have sex with real women. Its that sex with real women now has to compete with the images one sees in pornography.

Instead of ones urges being sublimated to a world channeled toward dating and marriage; young men are acclimated to instant gratification via (continuously more graphic and exploitative) pornography and masturbation.

This competes with the real emotional and social difficulties of approaching, winning and courting young women in a competitive environment. Many men learn to avoid this environment of potential rejection and satieties there needs with pornography.

Its not that they completely abandon their desire for a mate, its that increasingly at the margins a strain develops over the pursuit and perceived need for a mate.

Combine this with the fact that the average sex life can never compete with both the ease, youth a nubile ness, numbers (threesomes and orgies) and acrobatics presented in images of porn.

It strikes me as common sense that the images we consume effect how we see the world. The real world of women will never live up to the world of porn for anything but a handful of rock stars.

Its death by a thousand cuts in relations between men & women, this particular wound is deeper than we care to admit.

Freder Frederson said...

Instead of ones urges being sublimated to a world channeled toward dating and marriage; young men are acclimated to instant gratification via (continuously more graphic and exploitative) pornography and masturbation.

Oh come on, young men have filthy minds. The availability of pornographic films only makes their imaginations a little bit lazier. What they once had to extrapolate from a picture in Playboy or imagine from a "letter" in the Penthouse forum, they now can see on a DVD. I would imagine it has been this way since the beginning of time.

Freder Frederson said...

Combine this with the fact that the average sex life can never compete with both the ease, youth a nubile ness, numbers (threesomes and orgies) and acrobatics presented in images of porn.

And masturbation is a poor substitute for sex with a partner, no matter how good the porn you are watching while you do it.

Fitz said...

Freder Frederson
“Oh come on, young men have filthy minds. The availability of pornographic films only makes their imaginations a little bit lazier. What they once had to extrapolate from a picture in Playboy or imagine from a "letter" in the Penthouse forum, they now can see on a DVD.”

Not that filthy: Especially considering the cornucopia of porn now available at the click of a mouse over the internet. The point I try to make above is one of degree. The overall environment is one that encourages instant gratification and objectification.

“I would imagine it has been this way since the beginning of time.”

Certainly images of sex have been around a long time as well as (the more prevalent) erotic fiction and so forth (the written word). I believe the advent of photography, motion pictures, home video, and the internet have led to a whole new level of pornography that colors are perceptions in a unprecedented way.

“And masturbation is a poor substitute for sex with a partner, no matter how good the porn you are watching while you do it.”

Yes it is, and I would not dispute this. Never the less, those unreasonable expectations still remain even when a real relationship is entered into. Furthermore the fantasy world of pornography still beckons when ones actual sex life grows staid.

The point is not to say that pornography will replace sex and relationships. (although for some it does) Rather that it will color (strongly) its tone & demeanor.

Pogo said...

In the middle ages, even the church tolerated brothels because they were thought to reduce violence and adultery. Dunno if that was effective or not, but the same argument can be made for pornography.

Yet precisely the opposite argument is also made: that it increases violence and, here, the avoidance of true courtship and create unmeetable expectations.

I'll admit ignorance on the topic, but both views cannot be true, except in being so for some, and not for others. But the spin to be expected is still the same:
Women: Good.
Men: Bad.

Slocum said...

I'm trying to imagine how detached from reality one must be to buy the idea that men in college are more interested in porn than real women.

Right -- that's completely delusional. I mean, everybody knows the actual problem is that college men are now much more interested in XBOX games than real women.

Palladian said...

"pornography generally features a hot man with a hot woman".

On the (ahem) other hand, good pornography generally features a hot man with a hot man.

mcg said...

I've always been mystified by the Ron Jeremy phenomenon.

lawyapalooza said...

Ann,
I'm not sure why you think that they assume the article is new. The link provided in the original blog includes the date of publication in 2003, and there is no other reference to time. Honestly, to accuse them of sloppiness when the link they provide includes the date of publication doesn't make them look sloppy...

Joan said...

Lawya, Matt says he got the link from Vaness at Feministing, who opens her post with this quote: Naomi Wolf had the cover story in New York Magazine on Saturday titled, “The Porn Myth”[...]

Vaness thought the article was new, and Matt didn't notice that it wasn't. Why Vaness thought a 4-year-old article was the cover story in NYMag last Saturday is weird, though. This In the magazine diary page, dated 5/29/07, doesn't say a word about the Wolf article.

LoafingOaf said...

Yes, Joan, it's pretty funny that the Feministfisting blogger thought the article was new considering that the first sentence of the article begins: "At a benefit the other night, I saw Andrea Dworkin...."

Dworkin has been dead for years.

peter hoh said...

I heard that male porn stars only earn 40 cents to the dollar to what their female counterparts earn.

Jacob said...

In the middle ages, even the church tolerated brothels because they were thought to reduce violence and adultery. Dunno if that was effective or not, but the same argument can be made for pornography.

I think it was Augustine who said:
"Do away with the sewer, and you will fill the palace with stench; do away with the prostitues, and you will fill the world with sodomy"

Doug said...

A comment in here made me think of something I saw written on a bathroom wall in Lansing, MI.

"Sex is like Euchre, if you have a good hand, you are better off going alone"

Not that I agree, but I thought it was funny when I read it.

Zach makes a great point, what are the odds that a college woman who is talking to a feminist author is going to be free of issues with men. Not to stereotype chicks who are women's studies majors, but I bet they assume most men are obsessed with banging only porn stars and are shallow primates.

It is possible that some of these girls are using this as an excuse as to why they can't find a man. What they can't find is a man who wants a bitter, patchouli smelling college woman. Kind of like the scornful guy who thinks he can't score because all chicks are superficial or are lesbians.

Seven Machos said...

Is the argument really that men don't want to have sex because of porn? That's truly absurd.

You could argue that men who watch porn are more interested in having sex with different women (which is something men want to do at some level anyway, all the time) or that men who watch porn want to have sex with women who are a lot hotter than, say, Naomi Wolf, but you absolutely, fudnamentally cannot say that watching porn drives men to want to have less sex.

M. Simon said...

I am reminded of what Oscar Levant said when Johnny Carson asked him what he thought about pornography.

Oscar replied, "It helps."

Ed said...

Certainly images of sex have been around a long time as well as (the more prevalent) erotic fiction and so forth (the written word).

Damn straight. How old is the epic of Gilgamesh, 4600 years? And it's filthy. :)

Finn Kristiansen said...

The availability of pornographic films only makes their imaginations a little bit lazier.

Damn straight. How old is the epic of Gilgamesh, 4600 years? And it's filthy. :)

I had no idea the epic of G. featured real live people you could see on screen (and actually meet at your local strip club during meet and greets). Or that modern porn was just another version of the Kama Sutra.

Never have so many commenters who don't touch porn been so able to articulate is effects--or non-effects-on the average male.

I particularly like the comments that suggest there is nothing new under the sun.

Somewhat true, but then I do recall in the mid seventies-pre-DVD- not being able to see any porn in the privacy of my bedroom.

I could not conceive of the concept of a dp, or gaping anything, let alone using the derriere for particularly vigorous thrustings (sans male unit).

There is no way that men can view some of the porn available today without it having some impact on either sexual appetite, interaction with women, spending of cash, or use of time. And too, it affects many young women as well.

At minimum, the impact is that you come up with a few new ideas your girlfriend certainly may not appreciate (like the popular trend of having the male unit pushing against the inner walls of the woman's mouth, as though to say, "See, it's really in there, you can see it pushing her cheeks out, and it's not a super tricky camera trick!)

Either culture can impact people, or it can't. We cannot be selective and argue, on the one hand, that positive images of women actually change attitudes and actions in the real world, while at the same time denying that watching porn has any impact on behavior.

Everything touches something, or someone. Porn reaches through men and touches women in many ways, often unpleasant.

Fitz said...

Finn Kristiansen

Excellent comment...It’s largely what I was driving at myself.

There are things I have seen on porn that I never could have imagined (or would have) without it.

The breadth, specific ness, and ease of internet pornography have created what some call a epidemic of addiction.

It’s naive to claim that technology has not raised the phenomena to a new low, and that the images we receive don’t effect our perception.

deadrody said...

It’s naive to claim that technology has not raised the phenomena to a new low, and that the images we receive don’t effect our perception.
Finn & Fitz - this seems to sum up both your feelings. While I wouldn't disagree with you, per se, you are really saying it has SOME effect, and YOU think it's bad.

That, however is a far, FAR stretch from "men want sex with real women less because of porn". I'm sorry but that premise is complete and utter horseshit.

I know of what I speak. Big time.

Blue Moon said...

Dedrody:

When you say that Finn and Fitz only think that the effect of porn is bad, are you just pointing their opinion out or are you implying that porn has good effects?

I agree that Wolf's theory is way off though, but I also think that porn has the negative effects that Finn and Fitz mentioned. It can make you see women as walking vaginas and that ain't cool.

Fitz said...

"That, however is a far, FAR stretch from "men want sex with real women less because of porn". I'm sorry but that premise is complete and utter horseshit"

I dont think it causes them to want real women less, but perhaps pursue them less, and view them more as objects of mere physical gratification.

i.e- makes them more imature about the complexities of real relationships/skews their purpose.