Monday, December 17, 2007

Today's college women more accepting of pornography: it's all men's fault

The purpose of this entry is to continue a discussion from another blog which it was not possible to continue there, and to illustrate to my fellow traditionalists who are not as familiar with the evangelical world the kind of liberal thinking that often occurs among evangelicals.

At Boundless Line, the blog of Focus on the Family's webzine for young single Christians, Steve Watters commented on a study finding that today's college women are more accepting of pornography. He wrote the following:

My hunch is that the mainstreaming of pornography is making it easier for both men and women to cover over their hunch that something's inherently wrong with porn with the fig leaf that it's just entertainment. For every problem we'll come across in life, there will be two camps -- one camp that says we just don't know how bad the problem really is and another camp that says the problem is really not a big deal and in fact the real problem is those prudish people who think it's a problem.

It's my perspective that the "porn is not a big deal camp" is clearly beginning to win the day -- and we just don't know how bad that problem really is. No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance of material that "educates" men to treat her like an object of their self-centered fantasies. It might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment, but it's a lot like saying, "oh, it's just a cute little kitty" while letting a fox into your house.

I submitted this comment:

Ah, the view of women as innately good rears its ugly head again. Unlike Loris, I'm going to make the case that those women really were okay with it.

Steve Watters wrote the following:

"No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance of material that 'educates' men to treat her like an object of their self-centered fantasies. It might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment, but it's a lot like saying, 'oh, it's just a cute little kitty' while letting a fox into your house."

What makes Mr. Watters think that these women's primary goal is to experience meaningful sexual intimacy, as opposed to physical pleasure? What makes him think that they are merely trying to seem sophisticated, instead of genuinely seeing pornography as benign or even empowering to women? The fact is that women's sexual attractiveness to men gives them enormous bargaining power with us. The sexual revolution didn't just "liberate" men, it also unleashed this power of women in a radically new way. When men are slaves to their lust for women--and relations between men and women are not tempered by pre-sexual revolution traditional morality, in which sex was considered inextricably linked to marriage and childbearing--men will go to great lengths go obtain women's sexual favor. Thus, modern feminists are right to view pornography as empowering to women. Women are out becoming doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, and elected office-holders, while men are sitting at home in front of their computers masturbating. Those same men are willing to go to any lengths, including disavowal of traditional morality and manhood, to get modern liberal women to allow them access to sex. How is that not "empowering" to women?
Another commenter named Carrie Lea then responded to me:

Jacob M.,

"Ah, the view of women as innately good rears its ugly head again."

On the contrary, Jacob. I wish that my opposition to porn were motivated purely by the fact that it is wrong and harmful. However, I realize that my strong reaction against it occurs largely because of my very human need to feel secure in my desirability as a woman (to my husband, in particular).

"What makes Mr. Watters think that these women's primary goal is to experience meaningful sexual intimacy, as opposed to physical pleasure?"

Obviously, Mr. Watters understands the female psyche better than you do. Here's a hint: Don't assume that women are driven by the same things that drive men.

"Women are out becoming doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, and elected office-holders, while men are sitting at home in front of their computers masturbating."

I'm sure that you love the idea of porn being "liberating" to women, since that seems to justify your own acceptance of porn (and, I would venture to guess, your own use of porn). Nevertheless, your above statement is ridiculous. You imply that the widespread acceptance of porn has led to women's ability to obtain certain careers, but this is nonsense. In fact, it is insulting. I did not obtain two degrees and a career in engineering because my male counterparts were too busy watching porn.

Also, you further betray your misunderstanding of the female psyche. Different women feel differently about their careers, but from my perspective as a woman (even in a male-dominated career field), your above statement is like saying, "Women are out being overworked, overstressed, and struggling to keep their families intact, while their husbands are sitting at home having affairs with the next-door neighbor."

"Those same men are willing to go to any lengths ... to get modern liberal women to allow them access to sex."

To what lengths did my husband go to get access to sex with his beloved? He married me and continues to reject pornography. Your argument in the above statement is incoherent at best.

For your sake, I hope that you will one day look past the phony justifications that you give yourself for using porn, and start spending your time focusing on what makes a woman truly happy. You wouldn't believe what you're missing out on.


After several more replies, including some in which other commenters came to my defense, I attempted to submit the following response. I was informed that the comment was not accepted because it had been determined by Typepad's anti-spam filter to be potential spam. (Of course, the software does not tell you why your post is considered spam or give you the opportunity to fix it. I suppose that would defeat the purpose of the filter.) That is why I am posting it here.

Oh, boy. A lot has been said for me to respond to, and I really don't have time to respond to everything. I think Adam T. did a good initial job of answering Carrie's criticisms of me; I wouldn't change much of what he wrote. There are, however, a few of Carrie's misunderstandings I need to correct.

First, when I used the word "women" here, I was referring not to evangelical Christian women who believe that pornography is morally wrong, but to the women in the study who say that they find pornography acceptable. Presumably those two groups don't overlap.

Second, I want to clarify that I do not look at pornography, nor think that it is good or morally neutral, nor want it to be legal or even exist at all.

This would appear to confuse Carrie, since I said that pornography (and the sexual revolution in general) is "empowering to women." That this should cause confusion highlights the essentially liberal nature of our entire society, and the fact that even most people today who are considered "conservative" (e.g., evangelical Christians) are really liberal. Conservatives today are always trying to appeal to liberals by saying that they agree with liberals' goals, they just don't agree that the methods proposed by liberals to reach those goals are the most effective. For example, you'd be hard pressed to find a conservative or evangelical Christian today who would argue that women's "empowerment" is a good thing. The only difference between the liberal and "conservative" points of view on the subject is that liberals believe that women are best empowered by being made totally independent from men and being free from the bonds of traditional sexual morality, while "conservatives" think women are best empowered by having lasting marriages, maybe staying home with the children while they're young if their financial situation allows it, but otherwise pursuing careers and advanced degrees just as liberal feminists advocate that women should.

The problem stems from the fact that modern liberal society separates men and women into discrete groups with competing interests. I, as a traditionalist, believe that we should not view these issues in the light of "men's interests," vs. "women's interests," but rather that the family, not the individual, should be considered the basic unit of society, with men's and women's interests unified under the banner of the interests of the family. And in those families, women would occupy a generally subordinate role to men. So I do not regard the "empowerment" of women as a good thing.

I could have been more clear on the issue of women being innately good. It's not that women's acceptance of porn means that they're innately good; it's that women's acceptance of porn is explained away by the supposition that they're innately good, a supposition that often crops up on Boundless and among modern Christians in general. My point wasn't obvious perhaps because the belief is stated only implicitly in this entry, but I was referring to Mr. Watter's statements that "No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance" of porn and that "it might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment." I take this to mean that even among women who accept porn, their goal is still to experience meaningful sexual intimacy and they are accepting porn only because it makes them seem sophisticated to do so. Mr. Watters seems to be saying that when men say they like porn, it's because they do, because they're lustful and tainted by sin (a true statement, don't get me wrong.) But when women say they like porn, well, they don't really like it, they're just saying they like it to gain the acceptance of porn-loving men so that men will marry them, because deep down the true desire of their pure innocent hearts is to be stay-at-home-moms and enjoy the life of domestic tranquility God intended them for.

When you look at the world realistically, and you see a survey finding that 49% of college women find porn acceptable, this interpretation is laughable. Why not take women at their word? We know that all people, men and women, are stained by original sin. Why not simply assume that if women say they find porn acceptable, they are saying it because they really mean it? Then we can work to understand the reasons and implications of that, and try to deal with it realistically, instead of trying to explain it away with our premises of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails vs. sugar and spice and everything nice.

If you would like to continue this discussion at a different venue, feel free to visit my blog, which should be linked to my name in this comment's header. There you will find a link to email me, and I'll create a new blog entry for the discussion.

1 comment:

Jacob Douvier said...

I think you make several good points and I agree that you were mischaracterized in some of the boundless comments. There does indeed seem to be a double standard at times when it comes to moral issues of sexual nature. Nevertheless, more and more conservative evangelicals are starting to address the emotional pornography that women get caught up in, the best example being the "romance novel" (even within Christian publishing). On a side note, too many Christian men are compared to unrealistic fantasies, one in particular who goes by the name of "Mr. Darcy."