Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More Pornography

Some time ago, this post drew this disagreement, which I never responded to because I didn't have time to articulate my reasoning. However, I think I can tease out my position through dialogue with the much stronger argument made today by Hugo Schwyzer:

"Perhaps it is my Christian faith informing my feminism, but I am convinced that pornography is the representative art form of a woman-hating culture. In porn, women exist to fulfill men's desires -- they have no real agency of their own. To see anyone as existing only to serve you and to fulfill you is, feminists have argued, a practical form of hatred. Relatively few men who use porn are conscious of hating women. But regular use of porn inevitably desensitizes the viewer to the humanity and dignity of all of the women with whom he interacts. It defies all we know about human psychology to say that a fellow can go from masturbating to images on his TV or computer screen into interactions with real women without objectifiying them."

I have disagreements with this. First of all, I think "hatred" is far too strong here. In addition, while I am religious, I don't see my stance here as that affected by religious prohibitions. Rather, what concerns me as a Christian is a belief that all Creation is sacred, including women. On a gut emotional level, I am deeply offended by that which reduces vibrant created beings to single dimensions, especially when that dimension makes them little more than a toy for others' pleasure. And I agree with Schwyzer about the problem of desensitizing people.

Some will argue that sexuality is a legitimate area of human interest, and I would agree. However, I don't believe healthy sexuality can exist without an interest in the whole person, which does not and cannot exist in internet porn pictures or with paid performers in a strip club. Furthermore, this leads to "distorted fantasy, loneliness, and despair" because the values and attitudes one develops as a porn consumer carry over into the real world, affecting your relationships and expectations. I don't think it's coincidence that I usually have the most trouble homosocializing with guys who are proudly into porn, even if that isn't coming up when we interact.


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