Slate on Pornification

There is a very interesting book discussion over at Slate on the pornification of scoeity, etc. The discusion centers around two books: Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families, by Pamela Paul; and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, by Ariel Levy.

Here are a few clips of the conversation so far:

Laura Kipnis:

Porn may make a convenient scapegoat for everything that’s appalling in the world these days, but new technologies or genres like Internet porn only thrive when they confirm dispositions already inherent in the culture. What I’m saying is that Paul mistakes a symptom for a cause: It’s a muddled porno-determinism. Take a deeply puritanical society that loves its sexual hypocrisy, in which gender and power dynamics are in flux. Add factors like increasing female financial independence, which ups the demands women are making on relationships. Then add the fact that feminism has put male sexual behavior under scrutiny in the workplace, where, by the way, economic anxiety and job stress are rampant. What social forms would be likely to flourish in such a context? Hey, I know: Internet porn!

Wendy Shalit:

It’s like some big cosmic joke: The people who are supposed to be “sex positive” and enjoying their cultural freedoms are actually lonely and having terrible sex, whereas studies have shown that religious marrieds are the ones enjoying themselves the most. What’s happened? Perhaps without emotions involved, sex becomes boring.

Meghan O’Rourke:

Perhaps what was most striking about reading these two books together is how different their portraits of female sexuality look at first glance. In Paul’s book, women seem squeamish about sex (oral sex sounds like a burden to many of them) and naive about male desire—shocked to discover that men might keep Penthouses around after marriage. In Levy’s book, the women embrace raunchy sex, lifting their shirts for TV cameras, making out with their girlfriends. And yet in the end, both groups of women are left emotionally bereft by contemporary sexuality—victims of a rapacious male appetite they can’t control.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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