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Chastity, sexuality and the ‘lovely’ murkiness porn creates

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I was once told that leading a chaste life takes so much energy it’s almost impossible. He was referring to chastity in the broader sense of the word, i.e. not only not having sex outside marriage, but also not dressing in a provocative way & controlling one’s urges and thoughts.

If you talk to people about this touchy subject, you will notice that most are fed up with the overly sexual world we live in. As one woman told me: “Sex isn’t mysterious or special anymore; it’s become so bland a commodity that most can’t identify subtly sexuality anymore.” Another woman compared sex to salt: “A moderate amount is essential; but our society is over-salted; we now have to add more and more salt, and yet we barely taste it and only enjoy its negative effects on our health.”

I never thought of sex as salt, but the analogy fits pretty well. And, lucky me, I was able to find a great article by Heather Mallick on the CBC website.

Porn is in the air that we breathe (http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/11/28/f-vp-mallick.html)

By Heather Mallick

Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008

Porn has gone mainstream.

It’s all around us in advertising, movies, video games, DVDs, pay-per-view TV, subscription websites, cellphone downloads, newspaper and online classified ads, hotel rooms, doll costumes, those weird erotica shops in suburban malls and many odder places.

It influences the way we dress, how we talk and what we will put under the tree this Christmas.

Porn is our “cultural wallpaper,” say two sensible Pennsylvania English professors who have written The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go From Here, a new book that has received far too little media attention (…).

Porn is so much with us in our daily lives that we don’t notice it; this must be why the U.S. culture wars are being fought over gay marriage rather than the fact that pornography has made its way into the language, media visuals and even our sexual behaviour at office parties and in bed.

Yearly porn profits worldwide are estimated at $97 billion. But porn has intruded into so many parts of our day that the dollars can’t even be counted. (…)

Erotic imagery has been with us since we stood on two legs, the authors point out, although the history of how the West created its own pornography is fascinating.

American porn had its start with bored soldiers during the Civil War. It modernized itself with dirty (and extremely violent) horror comics after the Second World War, was gentrified by Playboy magazine and then achieved what the authors call “the normalizing of the marginal.” (…)

Hard-core porn went mainstream in the U.S. in 1972 with Deep Throat. Shot for $24,000, it earned more than $600 million worldwide. (…) Once the movie-going middle classes were giggling over butter as a lubricant, there was no stopping porn.

From then on, mainstream culture became increasingly sexually explicit and misogynistic.

We knew early on what Madonna’s crotch looked like up close, even before she produced an entire coffee table book about it. Snoop Dogg popularized hard-core rap, daughters started demanding Bratz dolls (dressed like hookers) and glittery abbreviated stripper clothes, sons began rapping and killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto.

And then ordinary homely adults, far from pornworld, changed the way they looked at themselves.(…)

Breast implants are one thing. “Your breasts feel weird,” Steve Martin told a childlike Sarah Jessica Parker in L.A. Story. “That’s because they’re real,” she replied.

That was in 1991, practically pre-history. But implants grew huge, as did the demand for tummy tucks, thong underwear, fake orange tans, and heads of hair so heavy they swing like gongs. (…)

We have been sexualized full-time.

“A person, female or male, young or old, is divested of all other qualities, intelligence, spirituality, a sense of humour, athleticism, compassion, talent, and reduced to an outward husk,” Sarracino and Scott say in this book.(…)

Porn has broken down notions of privacy, so that civil liberties’ advocates now argue that women in skirts shouldn’t complain when men secretly photograph their crotches on the subway and post these photos online. In public, you have no expectation of privacy, they say.

What they are really saying is that there is no time and place when we are not sexual.

But here’s the puzzler. Our lives are so much better in this sexed-up era. Men and women are friendlier; we are on each other’s side more; we have better sex; we hate real-life violence as much as we ever did.

What bothers me is that this massive and rapid change in how we view our bodies — containers, art, weapons, tools — has gone so unremarked.

There are magazine articles about kids’ sexy Halloween costumes. There are toneless columns about museum exhibits of Gunther von Hagens’ plastinated corpses. We see a thousand photos of the new flappers, Paris Hilton et al, and we can read, if we choose, about their labia.

(…)

Journalists, if not sociologists, should have been putting these bits of derangement in context as they happened, as we learned to yawn. Instead it was left to these two worthy academics to tell us that sexuality is changing at impossible speed, 0 to 60 in a split-second, making their book almost out of date the month it was published.

The professors are right. Porn is in the air we breathe. It isn’t right or wrong but it is a fact and attention should be paid.

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3 thoughts on “Chastity, sexuality and the ‘lovely’ murkiness porn creates

  1. As an aspiring graphic novel artist surrounded by comics overflowing with nudity and insane pornographic insinuations … I couldn’t agree more.

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