WHAT ROTH BEAST?: I appreciate the link from Libertarian Samizdata. Really I do. But Natalija Radic’s quickie anti-anti-porn piece leads me to bite the blog that feeds me.

I’m not going to do an in-depth discussion of nudie mags because a) you don’t want to read it, do you? and b) this is my blog and I don’t wanna. But as far as I can tell, Radic’s argument boils down to:

1) Porn is natural because people do it and they’ve done it for a long time.

2) Porn may cause “emotional and physical damage,” but so do “most close personal relationships, or football, or being a war correspondent or riding a horse.”

3) “Conservatives” who disapprove of porn must think, arrogantly, that deep down inside everyone agrees with them. [Edited to add that this apparently comes from the article she's responding to, which I didn't read, because I'm lame.]

4) Sex can mean whatever you want it to mean. You have total control of the meaning of what you do with your body.

5) People really, really, really want sex without personalities, i.e. porn. Did I mention that people want porn? (Would Radic be so blithe about propaganda for a different kind of dehumanized, fake, lying interaction between people–one that didn’t involve sex? Would she be as chill about an industry that published magazines showing people living happily under Communism, say? Would she worry, at least a little, about the impulses that made those pictures and stories attractive? [Edited to add that I'm not saying "porn is as bad as Communism!" I'm just pointing out that if we felt impulses toward faked-up depictions of happy Commie slaves, our judgment of those impulses would be conditioned by what we thought of actual Communism. So why shouldn't our judgment of porn be conditioned by what we think about actual soulless, mate-as-appliance sex?])

6) People can separate their “fantasies” (porn) from their “real lives.” (Actually, of course, if you view porn, that is part of your real life–because it’s part of your mental furniture, and because other people out in “real reality” have to spend their workday producing porn for you to look at.)

Anyway, the main point I want to address is #4; and I don’t have an argument, just a suggestion or challenge. Anyone who wants some insight into why one might think this pro-porn claim is wrong should read Philip Roth’s great book, Sabbath’s Theater. (You should read it anyway, really.) If sex were just another leisure activity, somewhere between horseback riding and scratching an itch, that book would be simply incomprehensible. I’m not trying to be snarky here–if Radic, or anyone who basically shares her views, has read ST, I’d be interested in what she/you all thought of it. (And I note that Amazon offers “Valentine’s Day shipping” of this book, which is… disturbing.)

About Eve Tushnet

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X