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”)—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?
For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women.
Mostly, when I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike.
They know they are lonely together, even when conjoined, and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness.
The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographized.
Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training—and this is having a huge effect on how they interact.
For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value.
When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman.
Thirty years ago, simple lovemaking was considered erotic in the pornography that entered mainstream consciousness: When Behind the Green Door first opened, clumsy, earnest, missionary-position intercourse was still considered to be a huge turn-on.
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!
All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices. I’m Logging On.: Internet porn is everywhere; even “nice” guys are hooked. By David Amsden (October 20, 2003)The New Position on Casual Sex: The rise of Internet dating has brought a sexual openness (not to mention one-night stands) to the younger generation not seen since the seventies heyday of Maxwell’s Plum. By Vanessa Grigoriadis (January 13, 2003) The porn loop is de rigueur, no longer outside the pale; starlets in tabloids boast of learning to strip from professionals; the “cool girls” go with guys to the strip clubs, and even ask for lap dances; college girls are expected to tease guys at keg parties with lesbian kisses à la Britney and Madonna.
But does all this sexual imagery in the air mean that sex has been liberated—or is it the case that the relationship between the multi-billion-dollar porn industry, compulsiveness, and sexual appetite has become like the relationship between agribusiness, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity?
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The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy.