The Problem With Porn

Vanessa Valenti: Naomi Wolf's <i>New York Magazine</i> cover story on pornography makes the mistake of focusing predominately on the effect of porn on men.
This post, written by Vanessa Valenti, originally appeared on Feministing

Naomi Wolf had the cover story in New York Magazine on Saturday titled, "The Porn Myth," which largely discussed how porn today basically kills people's sex lives; or in other words, men's.

With mainstream porn's fake breasts, tiny vaginas and perpetually tan bodies, the unrealistic expectations it puts on straight men and what sex is "supposed" to look like is evident, which Wolf points out. But her extreme oversimplification of the issue is evident as well.

She claims that all porn this day and age does is demolish straight women's sex lives because they can't live up to porn's image of the "perfect body" and satisfy their more-or-less bored partners. In fact, the entire piece discusses the issue from the perspective of men, seeming to say that a satisfying sex life is defined based on what a man wants.

Her solution seems to be to regress back to a more modest sexuality, and possibly mimic the sexual habits of more "traditional cultures":
I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.
Her example of this is her Orthodox Jewish friend who covers her body and hair in public, and the apparent erotic nature in the the fact that only her husband can see her hair. What exactly is she trying to posit by using this example? That we'd be better off covered up? She seems to be cloaking the idea of putting sex back into the private sphere with the concept of "sexual mystery." Wouldn't it be more practical (and fun) to simply promote the realistic images of women (and men) in sex culture than simply repress it altogether?

Continue reading "Promiscuities my ass."
Vanessa Valenti is an editor for Feministing. She is a graduate of the BA program in Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She has worked with the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Girls for Gender Equity
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