Bagg: Pornography is everywhere

American parents worry constantly about the implications of their children watching R-rated, or even PG-13–rated, movies. They won’t let their kids view countless films, made mostly for good, clean entertainment, because of a sexually suggestive scene here and there, or maybe — God forbid — the occasional shot of breasts. What would they think of those same children viewing X-rated films, with full sexual contact, often of a shockingly violent or abusive nature?

Yet this is exactly what many of their children do every day. It’s time for our society to wake up to the reality that is pornography in the digital age.

There has always been erotic art, and there always will be, as long as humans remain human; pornography, too, has long been a particularly explicit variant of that. But even as recently as 20 years ago, pornography was the domain of the secluded, the hushed and, most significantly, the adult.

One of the most important and least discussed innovations of the Internet was the explosion of pornography that followed. The problems feminists had with it beforehand are now intensely magnified as rape, bestiality and underage porn continue to be widely available. With hundreds of thousands of small pornography companies flourishing around the world with almost no legal or cultural oversight, the lines are blurred between amateur and professional; between consent and coercion. Who better to illustrate this than Casper Desfeux, that ghost in Yale’s own closet?

But for me, all of these problems aside, the most disturbing thing of all is that the young men of America are now raised on a steady diet of pornography. It was bound to happen, given the ingredients: Take kids who are far more adept with technology than their parents, mix in the eruption of internet porn, add a dash of parental neglect to boot, and you have an entire generation of boys addicted to pornography from puberty.

Yes, girls, it’s true. Most boys of our generation watch pornography, at least sometimes, and yet this unsettling fact has been acknowledged by practically no one in our society. The boys themselves are afraid of talking about it, except in furtive conversations with close friends. Their parents, for the most part, are ignorant of the situation, and mainstream politicians and media outlets don’t care. In fact, the only people that seem to have written about it at all are your typical “family-focused” advocacy groups, the kinds whose other campaigns include homophobia and misogyny.

But unlike love between men, the prevalence of pornography among our nation’s youth is a serious problem. Boys will always be boys. They will always want to know more about sex and sexuality. They will always experiment with their developing bodies and have a desire to see naked women. But that doesn’t mean that their every teenage whim requires satisfaction, or that pornography might a reasonable outlet for those desires.

When a teenager sees pornography, he does so in secret and with absolutely no knowledge of what is normal or acceptable. All pornography is equally forbidden from the perspective of his parents and — so he thinks — his society, so the most brutal and misogynistic sexual acts might strike him as simply par for the course. The fact is that most teenage boys today receive their primary sexual education from pornography. And for anyone who has ever witnessed the breadth and depth of internet porn, that’s a scary thought.

Lest I sound like a moralizing Puritan, I should say, of course, that erotic art isn’t inherently bad, and even explicit pornography can be acceptable. In any case, I’m certainly not one to limit free speech — if filming sex acts does indeed count as “speech.” But we face a serious problem if a nation of boys is taught about sexual health by teenage forays into the unregulated and frequently damaging world of cyberspace.

The only solution, since we don’t want to make it illegal, is to bring it into the open. It’s time we had a frank discussion in our culture about what, exactly, is going on with pornography, and whether that needs to change. I think it does, and I expect most people would agree with me. But if no one aside from the most conservative Christians is willing to speak out, then nothing will change. Twenty years from now, the 11-year-old boy watching rape porn will be yours.

Sam Bagg is a senior in Silliman College.


  • Yale '11

    It doesn't matter if you're religious or feminist, pornography still degrades. It creates unrealistic expectations of sex, and like you pointed out, there are types of porn which promote immoral forms of sexual behavior not permitted in society. Pornography is wrong.

  • carmenjones

    I am so pleased to read this article. We have just found out that our 13-year-old son has regularly been looking at hardcore porn on the internet. To my knowledge, he has never so much as held a girl's hand - and yet has watched graphic footage of adult women having anal sex (among other things).

    I am deeply troubled at the impact this exposure will have on him, in terms of how he looks at and thinks about women and/or girls his age.

    We have done what we can to prevent him accessing material again and he is very contrite (or appears to be). But he cannot 'un-see' what he's seen - and that does worry me an awful lot.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, teenage boys talk about it quite a bit, though generally in the context of sharing something they found and liked.

  • Hieronymus

    To #1: But… but… but… this is a FREE SOCIETY! A LIBERAL Campus! Oh. My. Goodness. How can you POSSIBLY say, without relativistic couchings, that something--anything--is…


    Keep your patriarchal, moralistic, Christ-based preachings off of my freedoms! Eek!


  • Anonymous

    In many societies it is considered appropriate for a father to take his teenage son with him to a brothel to initiate and instruct him into the world of sexuality. Internet porn is clearly the modern-day equivalent of this. Most people don't get off on rape and violence. The stuff that most people watch is harmless entertainment that if anything provides a helpful outlet for the frustrations of young men. Is it any wonder that violent crime goes down as porn consumption goes up?

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with the article on several points.

    First of all there is nothing wrong with the internet or human nature. There is something wrong with parents who are concerned with what their children might see online but don’t do anything to fix it. Downloading filters is not enough. If parents don’t put computers in open areas of the home then a lot more than pornography is right at their kid’s fingertips.

    Secondly to pretend that the internet is responsible for children’s newfound access to pornography is almost laughable. Their access is not nearly as recent as we might like to pretend. Pornographic magazines and videos have managed to find their way into children’s hands ever since their creation. If a child is getting most of their sexual education from the internet or any other medium it’s because their parents have failed them.

    The internet has made it impossible for society to create a false “normal”. I see this as one of the internet’s greatest virtues. The truth is that people have strange interests, especially when it comes to the sex. As long as participants aren’t hurt and are enjoying themselves what is wrong with this? There was a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Only by showing that regular, happy, well-adjusted people can enjoy different kinds of sex (or anything else) can we overcome the idea that these differences are a problem. The internet is a great place to realize you are not alone, not weird, and there are others who feel the same way you do about all kinds of things, sex included.

    Finally I would argue the opposite of the notion that internet pornography sets up unrealistic sexual expectations. Rather it was prior to the internet where participants in pornography were from a select anatomical demographic. Online anyone can play a part. Online pornography displays a much more accurate representation of human reality than ever before. On the internet no corporation can tell us who is attractive and gets to be shown off and who doesn’t make the cut.

    I think it goes without saying in all of this the child pornography is a different story altogether. It is illegal on or offline and should stay that way because it hurts people who cannot fully understand what is going on. If it’s discovered online it should be immediately reported to police lest its discoverer take the fall for the real criminals.

    To the parents above, making your child feel guilty about his interest is really a bad way to make sure he turns into a well adjusted adult. Why not instead talk them about what they saw and find out their real feelings about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found it disturbing, especially at age 13. But making them feel guilty is not a great idea. Everyone stumbles onto disturbing stuff on the internet. Don’t assume they enjoyed it or would choose to watch it again. Keep in mind it’s also unlikely that they’ll stop looking for porn online forever. Now your best bet is to educate them on what’s out there and hope that they make good choices.

  • Anonymous

    Great, an op-ed about pornography that engages with none of the relevant scholarship on the topic. That is profoundly irresponsible.

    You've also approached this topic under the delusion that a.) all pornography is heterosexual in orientation and b.) all consumers of pornographic material are men seeking to acquire images of women; both of these claims are patently false and you've not made so much as a gesture toward exploring how those conditions complicate your assertion that [pornography is bad].

    This article fails to make the case that pornography itself is the problem; rather, it only reveals something plainly obvious: that conflict results from divergent attitudes about sexuality.

  • mb

    "Most boys of our generation watch pornography, at least sometimes"

    [[citation needed]]

    "Boys will always be boys. They will always want to know more about sex and sexuality."

    And girls won't?

    #2, did you miss Sam's last paragraph, in which he wrote, "The only solution, since we don’t want to make it illegal, is to bring it into the open"? Trying to deny access is /not/ a successful strategy. If your son is becoming interested in his sexuality, I'd say the healthiest thing you can do for him is to help him find the answers he needs. Give him a /substitute/ for porn, don't just prohibit it.

    #1, "[All] pornography is wrong" does not follow from "there are types of porn which promote immoral forms of sexual behavior." You have to substantiate a moral claim like that. Is porn wrong because it lets people enjoy sexuality outside of the context of procreation? The argument that it's wrong because it degrades its subjects is a contested issue, /especially/ in feminist thought.

  • Bim

    Please watch your children and don't expect society to watch them for you!

    Once censorship begins, where does it stop? Scared parents won't stop with porn and will move on to political opinions, different religous opinions, fashions they don't like, books they don't like until the internet is an empty shell.

  • Gaius Lucilius ('10)

    Sam, thank you for your article. I am happy to know that there are people like you who consider the wider repercussions of your actions. Not everyone in our generation has acquiesced to the degrading material that is porn.

    #6--I appreciate your courteous, thoughtful rebuttal to the article. When I clicked on comments, I expected a bunch of "but we gots to haz pornos!" one-liners, with no critical engagement. These are well-considered responses. That being said, several of your arguments don't hold up under further examination--for instance, you write that :

    "I would argue the opposite of the notion that internet pornography sets up unrealistic sexual expectations. Rather it was prior to the internet where participants in pornography were from a select anatomical demographic."

    Actually, everything from sites like "HotOrNot" to magazine portals to online weight-loss sites promote conformity in terms of what is hot. Rapid advances in airbrushing strategies and Photoshopping bolster norms of beauty. An expanded repertoire of attractive features? I don't think so--when's the last time you saw a model Photoshopped to have a *larger* waist or more "ethnic" features? Sure, there are a few outposts where some people express non-traditional preferences (as with those who are attracted to amputees), but overall the Web seems to confirm normative ideas of attractiveness rather than to challenge them. At the same time, HD and other technologies provide improved resolution of images and thus greater scrutiny of features, making everyone feel pressure to measure up--even porn stars have expressed anxiety about this. See this article:
    "In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real"--link:

    Also, you write that parents should supervise children, and that Net porn isn't so bad because there were porno magazines before. The magazines, though, weren't nearly as ubiquitous as Net access. Many parents, working as hard as they are or just plain tuned out, provide inadequate supervision or none at all. I go to the local library a lot, and let's put it this way: if I had ten bucks for every young boy (<14 y.o) whom I've seen looking at porn/risque photos at the NHFPL (and in SML before 6), I could afford a tryst with one of Eliot Spitzer's high-end prostitutes. Biographical accounts of serial rapists and murderers tend to show that their background often includes exposure to sexual content and/or situtations at an inappropriately young age (for instance, Aileen Wuornos and Ted Bundy).

    Am not sure what the solution is, because outlawing porn is not the solution; a ban on porn would fail as other attempts at prohibition have. And free speech is far to precious to sacrifice for an unknown result.

    At the same time, I have yet to read a peer-reviewed study offering conclusive proof that porn consumption *lowers* rates of sexual violence or gender bias. In contrast, a study came out in the last few months showing that looking at a picture of a bikini-clad woman that you don't know is more like looking at a 'tool" [their words, not mine] than another person (it would be interesting to see the same study done for gay men and lesbians, perhaps it already has been):

    "Skin Mags Really Do Make Men Objectify Women:
    Researchers hit on bona fide proof that when men see sexy pictures of women, they don't register them as human"


  • Anonymous

    Thanks, all, for the thoughtful comments. You've raised some interesting points, and I see fit to respond to some of them.

    I want to make it clear to #5, #6, and #7 that I don't think all pornography is bad or wrong, or even the main problem; and that I'm fine with adults consuming most types of pornography. Finally, I fully realize that not all pornography is heterosexual and not all consumers of it are young boys. I didn't write the article about girls, though they too, of course, are curious about their sexuality, because the girl's experience is not as familiar to me as the boy's.

    However, I wrote this article with the limited and distinct intention of pointing out a particular problem with the explosion of internet porn: that boys of a shockingly young age begin to find it and view it, and see the actions it depicts as normal. This is different from the sporadic and massively commercial porn that boys used to get their hands on - rather, it's ubiquitous and often dangerous.

    Re: engaging with the scholarship on the issue - I fully admit that this column is based mostly on the ethos surrounding porn that I have observed throughout my life, but I don't think that makes it worthless. #7 pointed out two things that I have left out of the article, but they are not things that are necessary to make my limited point.

    In any case, I that point still stands - not that porn is bad, or even that it's necessarily bad for boys - but rather, that there's a huge gap between what actually goes on and what is acknowledged by the larger society. This creates some troubling situations, because porn culture among teenagers develops without any sort of broader culture checks, and can lead to vast misunderstandings about what sex is. My proposal is not that porn should be banned, but that it should be talked about. I want to close that gap in understanding and awareness, not make it wider.

  • Elizabeth Moore '09

    While I don't agree with 100% of your approaches or arguments, overall I am really glad that you wrote an editorial concerning this all too important topic. Too many people in our society these days are quick to ignore the detriments of pornography and label it as acceptable simply because it is accessible. People's silence (women's, a lot of the time) and failure to readily and openly speak out against pornography creates a "tolerance" for it that makes users think it's normal and okay. Thank you again for openly writing an editorial that condemns pornography for the evil that it is and showing other men (especially) that it is perfectly okay to consider pornography loathsome and unacceptable.

    To Gaius Lucilius: What a wonderfully written comment. Bravo. Thank you for your eloquent response.

  • Anonymous

    From #6 to Gaius

    Products like Photoshop and Adobe Aftereffects are prohibitively expensive and a look at the vast majority of online porn will show that most people are not using these. In regards to the HD argument, this just shows that even with professional editing we cannot hide all human imperfection.

    Hot or Not is an extension of a favorite activity people have participated in forever. The internet has not really changed anything here. I’m not saying if it’s good or bad, but it will never go away in one form or another.

    “Biographical accounts of serial rapists and murderers tend to show that their background often includes exposure to sexual content and/or situtations at an inappropriately young age.”

    Case studies looking for this kind of thing are only done on the people who have committed these terrible crimes. I can’t prove it but I’m confident that there is a large body of people who saw sexual material at the same young ages who turned out fine. I like to think it takes more than a peek at people having sex to turn someone into a serial rapist/murderer.

    The same researcher suggests “Asked if women were likely to view half-dressed men in the same way, she said that women tended to rate age and bank balance over looks.” here:

    If we look at people in lowest common denominator terms we are all going to look pretty bad. Ultimately we’re a product of our evolution: a species bent on survival and reproduction. However I think that most people are able to overcome their basest instincts and interact with each other in meaningful ways despite what the brain’s immediate reaction is upon seeing a photograph designed to have a specific effect. One study does not equal “bona fide proof”, especially on a condition that was not tested in the study (that being any interaction beyond seeing a photograph).

    And let me thank you for not suggesting internet censorship. This is my real concern and pornography is usually the segway people use to move into a conversation about censoring the internet.

    Being more open and learning about the internet and life in general is the only way to protect children and ourselves. We can discuss, as a society, pornography as long as we want, and even outlaw it, but the ideas that some people find disturbing are not going away. Education and the accepting differences is the only solution. I think the internet is a great asset in beginning to foster an acceptance of each other than it is a danger to children.

  • Anonymous

    I'm a queer, feminist woman who admittedly watched pornography on the internet as a teenager.

    What did it do?

    Well, it allowed me to satisfy some curiosities. I learned that there are a range of normal human bodies, and that how I looked naked was perfectly normal and healthy. I got off on some stuff.

    I learned that a lot of people do a lot of weird thing in bed… some of which grossed me out, some of which made me laugh, and some of which was so degrading and horrible that I felt politicized after learning of its existence.

    But as it turns out, I have a pretty "vanilla" sensibility after everything I've seen. I wasn't warped, and I don't have terribly "unrealistic expectations" about the human body, or sexual performance, after having viewed a wide variety of porn. My experiences were mostly positive, but I wouldn't be dismayed if for some reason I woke up tomorrow and the world had no porn.

    I'm not one to say "porn is great" because for the most part, it isn't. It's usually shot with bad lighting and most of it is probably boring or icky to most people. Mostly, I just don't understand the fuss either way, unless we're discussing pornography produced under nonconsensual conditions.

  • Anonymous

    "see the actions it depicts as normal"
    Samuel B.

    What is normal?

    Nothing and everything.

    To pretend otherwise is dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    "condemns pornography for the evil that it is"
    Elizabeth Moore

    Exactly the kind of person that could benefit from learning something about accepting others. There's is a big difference between evil and unpleasant and calling one the other shuts down meaningful conversation.

  • Jacque

    In some strange way the internet has helped diminish the traditional adult film industry. Who pays when it can be had for free? To the mother posting in #2 your son will grow up unaffected because he has a caring family. Looking at porn is probably just a phase he is going through.

  • Alum '77 Med '84

    The most important of this piece's fundamental flaws is best addressed by comment #14: Even children viewing pornography don't just uncritically internalize what they see online as normal behavior to be emulated. Just as our generation didn't sneak into porno theaters or Dad's sock drawer with the assumption that we should expect our sexual experiences to play out like a "Penthouse" letter, your generation seems by and large to be more mature than Chicken Littles like Mr. Bagg.

  • Anonymous

    I can't believe the number of people who jumped in here and shouted "I AGREE PORN IS EVIL"

    Did you not read the article?

  • Hieronymus

    Okay, Gaius: thoughts on the neural affects of repeated, prolonged "use" of pornography?

    Does this "harmless" activity (let us say that one substitutes internet porn for TV viewing, so, 1-2 hours per day) have any long-term physical effect on the brain? If so, how do you think those effects manifest themselves in everyday perception and social relations?

    I would argue: not good.

    Dr. Judith Reisman, for example, in "The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial
    Pornography: Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech" notes that "pornography is perceived by the brain as reality and stored in the brain as memory." If true, is this a good thing? I would bet that it is not even "neutral."

    Research cited in the article includes:

    "[A]s far as the brain is concerned, a reward's a reward, regardless of whether it comes from a chemical or an experience. And where there's a reward, there's the risk of the vulnerable brain getting trapped in a compulsion."

    "Howard Shaffer, head of Harvard‘s Division on Addictions says:
    [I]t's become clear that neuroadaptation--that is, changes in neural circuitry that help perpetuate the behavior--occurs even in the absence of drug-taking.
    [A]s far as the brain is concerned, a reward's a reward, regardless of whether it
    comes from a chemical or an experience. And where there's a reward, there's the
    risk of the vulnerable brain getting trapped in a compulsion.
    Howard Shaffer, head of Harvard‘s Division on Addictions says:
    I had great difficulty with my own colleagues when I suggested that a lot of addiction is the result of experience … repetitive, high-emotion, high-frequency
    experience… But it's become clear that neuroadaptation--that is, changes in neural circuitry that help perpetuate the behavior--occurs even in the absence of drug-taking.

    "Anna Rose Childress, a University of Pennsylvania brain image researcher states that sex addicts and cocaine addicts lose their inhibitions and appear to have an "inhibitory circuitry" defect.

    "Vanderbilt University psychiatrist Peter Martin's research on "normal subjects" finds the brain activity experienced in sexual arousal of his normal subjects "looks like that accompanying drug consumption."

    A world without moral order will look upon the resultant shallowness, callowness, crassness, and crudeness as simply and expression of freedom of choice. "Girls Gone Wild" is to be celebrated as "liberation," not the humiliation that it is.

  • Elizabeth Moore '09

    To anonymous (so kind of you to be accusatory towards me and not even sign your name!):

    Viewing pornography as an evil THING has absolutely nothing to do with accepting anybody. It makes no comment about those who produce porn, act in it, or use it. It's merely an opinion that says porn THE OBJECT is a terrible thing. This is a perfectly legitimate, normal, non-offensive opinion even if you personally do not believe that porn as an object/thing/concept/noun is evil.

    And to the second anonymous:
    Mr. Bagg's clarifications in his comment (#11) helped to better elucidate his opinion further, though his original editorial was somewhat more ambiguous (and thus I read it as more condemning than it probably actually was). Further, I (as well as other commenters you chide) don't necessarily believe that porn should be banned, so in fact we did read the article and agree with one of Mr. Bagg's main points even if we initially misinterpreted the level of his dislike.

    However, Mr. Bagg still brings up very good points about the potential detrimental effects of porn, even if he himself is more okay with its usage than initially interpreted.

  • # 6,13,15,16

    "This is a perfectly legitimate, normal, non-offensive opinion…"
    --Elizabeth Moore

    I find declarations of evil to anything, especially a form of creative expression, to be offensive. Is my opinion equally legitimate, normal, and non-offensive even though it is defending “evil”? Or is only one opinion legitimate, normal, and non-offensive?

    “Viewing pornography as an evil THING has absolutely nothing to do with accepting anybody.”
    --Elizabeth Moore

    “However, Mr. Bagg still brings up very good points about the potential detrimental effects of porn, even if he himself is more okay with its usage than initially interpreted.”
    --Elizabeth Moore

    The second sentence seems to indicate that you believe pornography users may be something less than ok.

    You’ve used the words “evil”, “loathsome”, and most notably “unacceptable”. Surely anyone who enjoys such an evil, loathsome, and unacceptable medium must have some deficiency, some problem that could perhaps be fixed.

    And there are plenty of people willing to do the fixing. Very often these elitists would deny the masses the very things they themselves hold dear out of some misguided idea that they are better than the rest of us.

    Despite the protest your words continue to show that you cling to an old-fashioned concept of what is “normal”. Normal is gone and it never really existed anyway.

    The debate about pornography on the internet is only symptomatic of people’s fear of differing opinions and lifestyles. Please don’t try to fix us. There’s really nothing wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone, chill out. Pornography is not "evil," but nor is it "creative expression." It's simply a way of exploring sexual curiosity and of testing the limits of sexual convention. There are benefits and there are dangers. Just because there are dangers doesn't mean we should ban it, and just because there are benefits doesn't mean we should celebrate it. I happen to believe that pornography in our culture does more harm than good, but there is nothing about the idea of depicting a sex act on film that makes me think that porn is inherently harmful.

  • Devil's Advocate

    I'm curious, in the honest-question sort of way, where one draws the line? I know that coming off a long winter, seeing a cute girl in a skirt gives me a rush. Is that pornography, or do I need to see genitals or sex acts? Because in terms of addiction, surely we can get just as addicted to clothed visual sights, no? The reward is still there, biologically, even if not as strong as it is in pornography.

    So where is the line drawn? Some would argue that skirts are not for women, and some cultures prefer to keep women covered as much as possible - yet many of us, perhaps some of the same who are feeling that pornography is evil, feel that THAT is evil.

    I'm honestly interested in what people think. What's normal human behavior? Sure, in some ways, it'd be nice if we were all blind, since then we couldn't be stimulated visually. But chances are we'd replace that with touch or hearing, and enjoy the same vices.

  • Anonymous

    ‘nor is it "creative expression." ‘
    Care to define creative expression? It’s harder than one might think.

    “It's simply a way of exploring sexual curiosity and of testing the limits of sexual convention.”
    Doesn’t sound too harmful if you ask me.

    The real issue for me is not so much pornography but people’s right to use the internet and express themselves however they wish. I will argue endlessly to defend the internet and its freedom. I am certain that people’s curiosity will not be quelled by these frank discussions on the dangers of pornography or uncensored internet, nor should participants in pornography and other activities be publically shamed into stopping.

    The danger I see is that Bagg’s discussion would quickly become one of stopping what a few see as “evil” rather than an open forum for all to share their views without fear of persecution. Disagree? Please refer to Elizabeth Moore for the “loathsome and unacceptable” comment.

  • Elizabeth Moore '09

    To "6,13,15,16":

    Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Love the sinner, hate the sin"? Take it out of the religious context for a moment and decode what it means: it means, people sometimes engage in activities that are inherently bad. This, however, does not necessarily make the people themselves inherently bad. Saying an activity or thing is bad does not in any way imply that those associated with the activity or thing are necessarily bad.

    Second, I don't necessarily see how you can say this sentence
    “However, Mr. Bagg still brings up very good points about the potential detrimental effects of porn, even if he himself is more okay with its usage than initially interpreted.”
    contains any implication that users of pornography are bad. The sentence was written to make the point that even if the author was not completely condemning porn, he still discusses potential detrimental effects. That's just a fact about his editorial, and nothing else. Where is this implication you speak of?

    Again, just because people choose to engage in an activity I find loathsome (that also likely happens to have some very real psychological, sexual, and emotional consequences; do the research yourself or reference the commenters that have done some for you) does not make them bad people. It may however put them at risk for bad consequences.

    I think in fact this is what the author is trying to get at somewhat; that porn is widely available, very extensive, in some cases depicting very awful situations (example, rape), and not talked about. These aspects of porn basically help people "fall into" its usage without a lot of knowledge about it, what it may do, or even what it means. See the commenter whose 13 year old son has not held hands with a girl but yet has seen graphic depictions of anal sex. Clearly this boy is in no way evil, but rather has fallen into a tendency of looking at porn (for whatever reason), potentially without a lot of knowledge of what he is doing or seeing. The author's piece suggests that porn and sexuality need to be talked about and brought more out into the open to avoid the detrimental consequences that many people are victims to or may have just fallen into due to porn's widespread availability. Again, this point says nothing about the users of porn being evil or loathsome.

    And, to address one of your final comments, I am proud to say that I possess such an "old fashioned" concept of normalcy. I value sex, my sexuality, and my dignity as a woman (in NOT supporting the image of my sex as objects of sexual subjugation). In fact, I view myself, other women, and other people as more than just writhing bodies of pent up sexual heat and thus so much more valuable than the images porn portrays. It's sad that apparently anybody who holds this viewpoint is just an old fashioned prude.

  • Eli

    Ms. Moore strikes me as among the most thoughtful feminists (in the truest sense) on this campus.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously Ms. Moore doesn't have a mirror above her bed.

  • Anonymous

    “where one draws the line?”
    This is an excellent question. I don’t think a line needs to be drawn between what is pornography and what isn’t. Only between what is acceptable and what is not in human interactions. I think it is wrong to hurt emotionally or physically whether in pornography or just walking down the street. In your example is it acceptable to look, obviously. Ogle to the point of making her uncomfortable? Absolutely not. Is it pornography? Who cares? Thankfully there are laws that enforce appropriate boundaries.

    I’d be very curious to hear what Elizabeth thinks.

    “…likely happens to have some very real psychological, sexual, and emotional consequences”
    “…detrimental consequences that many people are victims to…”
    You cannot help but judge us. We must be damaged somehow. Despite your initial insistence that there is nothing wrong with us, only the materials, you continually give yourself away.

    Sadly it is not the pornography that damages. It is the guilt mongering from people such as yourself who feel the need to make everyone conform to the same mould. By doing this you justify your own decisions. You leave more impressionable people confused about what is right and wrong and feeling guilty for what is appropriate, healthy behavior.

    I have no problem with the choices you make in your life. I do not enjoy being judged for mine however. Stay as old fashioned as you want, but once you start throwing around the idea that something is normal, realize that you have insulted everyone outside of the normal you just created. This I have a problem with.

    Please step off of the pedestal of normalcy and realize we’re all ok down here.

  • Elizabeth Moore '09

    To Anonymous:

    Please reference the comments (#10, #20 ) containing examples of research that supports the neurological effects that pornography (especially excessive or addictive use) may have on people. These potential effects have little to do with the personalities or characters of people, but rather they are reactions caused by a THING (ie pornography). Pornography itself does have the potential to damage. This is merely a statement of fact supported by some research. It is NOT a judgment of character, nor is it guilt tripping. It is just a statement of cause and potential effect.

    It is not saying that all people who use/have seen/have come in contact with porn have problems. It is not saying these people need fixing. It isn't even necessarily saying these people WILL have problems.

    Rather, it is saying that pornography use MAY cause problems for some people. Here is a similar analogy. Saying that smoking may cause lung cancer in some smokers is not passing judgment on smokers or said in the attempt to guilt smokers into feeling like bad people. Similarly, as research supports, pornography use may cause certain detrimental things to happen in certain people or situations, and speaking of this possibility in no way makes any comment about the people who these things may happen to.

    Again, it is not about guilt. It is about creating a more open dialogue about porn, what porn really is, why people feel they might need it, whether or not its use is ever acceptable and for what reasons, and what it MIGHT do in the worst cases. This is an issue of discussing the potential repercussions of the widespread availability of a possibly damaging media, becoming increasingly available to people who may not know the consequences their actions could have.

    If anything, talking more openly about all aspects of pornography (and yes, that includes talking about the potential detrimental effects supported by research) to "impressionable people" (as you say) could HELP them make their decisions about what is right and wrong. This is partly the author's point. Why cloud everything in secrecy? Why not bring ALL the information out into the open? Knowledge about a situation (example, sexuality) or decision (example, whether or not to use porn) can make people more confident that they are making the right choices. People are always going to choose to smoke even if they know they could be at risk for lung cancer. Similarly, people are probably always going to use porn even if they know they could be at higher risk for potential addictive behaviors. Even so, if they are given this knowledge, they are making more informed and autonomous choices. In my mind, informed, autonomous choices are not things to shy away from.

    If you're so concerned about people feeling guilty, why not comment about all those young boys skulking around in the dark corners of libraries secretly flipping the pages of XXX magazines? Does this not show evidence of guilt as brought upon by the failure to open up the discussion about sexuality and specifically pornography? Is this current status quo "appropriate, healthy behavior" and the ideal we should hope and help our children strive for as they sexually mature? Is this helping them to grow up with the most information, cultivate the most informed opinions, or make the most informed choices?

    We apparently both agree that there is some particular behavior that should be the desired baseline when it comes to issues surrounding this particular aspect of sexuality (porn use). My opinion however is in line with the author's and says that regarding whatever pornography may be, it is essential to discuss its parameters and potential repercussions openly along with those of sexuality in general so that people can be making decisions about their sexual lives with a greater knowledge base and a greater degree of confidence.

  • Anonymous

    I don't really care about this issue one way or the other, but as a scientist, I had to point out that the above comparison of the body of research alleging deleterious or addictive properties of pornography to the body of research linking cigarettes and lung cancer is just laughable.

  • ???!

    to #31

    yah, cuz porn addiction is a figment, like gender and orientation, right?

  • Anonymous

    Yalees advocate paedophilia. Who would of thought ? Can't say I'm surprised.

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