Monthly Archives: November 2008

Pornography Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Sex

The title refers to a Facebook group I half-jokingly started a few years back. The whole thing was intended as a parody of the much larger “Disney Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Love,” though it never achieved a comparable level of Facebook notoriety. Aside from provoking a few lewd jokes, I’m not sure it had any lasting effect, though it may have convinced a few wayward cyber-stalkers that my friends and I were even more perverted than your run-of-the-mill undergraduate.

Other than a dopey inside joke, the group also suggests that many of us are intuitively wary of porn. Which happens to be the subject of this excellent Naomi Wolf article:

But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

There’s some hope for mankind, however, as the porn industry’s declining sales figures suggest we’ve belatedly realized that airbrushed tits and impeccably shaved pubic hair are less attractive than something a bit more authentic. The ever inventive free market has responded by increasing its output of amateur smut (creative destruction, baby!), which – for me at least – only emphasizes the fact that nothing in an adult video will ever approach real physical intimacy.

And yet – you knew this was coming, didn’t you? – it would be tough to give up porn completely for more than a few days. It’s not that I’m an addict or even a particularly enthusiastic consumer. It’s just that I’ve become habituated to letting off steam every once in awhile with the help of some dirty pictures. Would I be better off if I quit porn cold turkey? Or would I need to find a new outlet for pent-up sexual frustration? Morgan Spurlock ought to try life without porn for 30 days and get back to us. I’d watch that documentary.

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Not Impressed

The new BSG trailer looks weak. Which makes sense, because the show has been maddeningly inconsistent since the insurgency on New Caprica. Ah, well – two and a half seasons of really good sci fi are all that one can reasonably hope for.

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Filed under Culture, Science Fiction

Giant Killers?

What a demoralizing start . . . Go Skins!

UPDATE: That reverse was the sickest.

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The Benefit of the Doubt

Andrew Sullivan fisks Kristol’s latest on torture and presidential pardons. Obviously, I don’t want to see anyone implicated in torture get away scot free, but focusing on lower-level implementers – rather than the policymakers who implicitly or explicitly authorized their actions – strikes me as a bad idea. CIA agents who participated in waterboarding were probably operating under the assumption that what they were doing was both legal and necessary. The same goes for the NSA analysts who wiretapped phone calls without prior judicial authorization. Given the climate of political urgency immediately following 9/11, I think most low-level implementers should benefit from some legal latitude.

So in one sense, at least, Kristol is right. A public witch-hunt that hones in on a few hapless CIA agents misses the larger issue of the Administration’s complicity. As a matter of pragmatic politics, I also think going after a few big fish would be less divisive than the alternative. Low level bureaucrats following orders in the wake of an unprecedented national tragedy are actually pretty sympathetic figures. Bush Administration flacks who had access to the requisite legal background and were responsible for implementing an abusive interrogation policy, on the other hand, are not only more guilty, they’re also easier targets. Going after low level scapegoats is usually the path of least resistance, but Bush’s legacy of incompetence has laid the groundwork for holding people accountable. After eight years of disastrous mismanagement, an unforgiving public is a lot less likely to extend the benefit of the doubt to Administration higher ups.

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Filed under Morality, Terrorism, The Courts

Upstaged!

Yeah, I cobbled together a chart on American foreign policy a few days back. At the time, I thought it was a pretty original idea. But it seems American Scenester Noah Millman went ahead and made a better chart over a year ago. Curse you Noah Millman!

Anyway, his original post is really good. Once I’ve recovered from my post-holiday stupor, I hope to have more to say on the subject.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, The Media

Boot Up His Ass

Daniel Larison has the definitive Max Boot takedown.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Blogging won’t be light per se – I enjoy writing, so it makes sense to blog intermittently over the holiday – but it will be sporadic. I hope everyone is enjoying themselves; Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday.

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