Why Most Academics Dislike Porn
Derek Thompson wrote an article for The Atlantic entitled, “What Is Pornography Doing to Our Sex Lives?” This is a thoughtful piece about whether “porn is good or bad,” and I’d like to expand upon some of the points it covered.
First of all, yes, it’s true that most academics are aligned against porn, but that’s because most of them don’t know anything about it. It’s like Southern Baptists being against “sin” in Corinth, Mississippi. They allegedly haven’t seen that much of it, but they’re pretty sure they wouldn’t like it if they did.
What effect does porn have on behaviour? Well, it provides both positive and negative consequences depending on the ages of those who are watching porn.
Perhaps the most concern extends to the effect that viewing porn may have on teenagers. Certainly, there are porn scripts that you don’t really want 17-year-olds to be enacting on the first date.
Then again, that probably won’t happen, anyway. Teenagers go to movies that feature car chases, and they don’t necessarily imitate what they saw by participating in car chases of their own. So whatever fantasies are aroused in adolescent minds aren’t necessarily transformed into behaviour.
Expanding the Sexual Imagination
But how about the fantasies in adult minds? Here, I think, porn shows its value. All the talk about porn encouraging “violence” is nonsense. Even the pseudo-violence of bdsm is, in the bedroom, totally consensual. Lots of people like fantasies where one partner tops another. I don’t really have a problem with this.
But the larger point is that porn encourages the expansion of all types of fantasy lives. People use porn to masturbate, and the act of masturbating expands the sexual imagination. Is this something we want?
In my opinion, it is. It’s much better than the alternative, which is to have people doing the missionary position forever, with the man on top.
Therefore, I think the expansion of fantasy life is very positive. And men and women alike benefit from this. Many people have lives that are not a lot of fun.
Fantasize about new things, and you’re already halfway toward experiencing something better than what you have.