Schwyzer on Porn: “The pursuit of everlasting novelty is the enemy of actual relationship”

Gender studies professor Hugo Schwyzer digs deep to reveal the subtle and lasting harm of porn to the viewer. Here he responds to Ethan of Crucial Minutiae. Ethan argues that porn is a harmless outlet for men who, craving variety, would otherwise “bug their girlfriends/wives for more sex” or “seek it elsewhere from strangers, prostitutes, or mistresses”. Schwyzer responds:

That’s as good an articulation of absolutely everything I disagree with as I’ve read in a while! The “discourse of uncontrollable male sexual desire” is a foundation stone of anti-feminist thought… not every desire, no matter how powerful, requires a concomitant outlet. Ethan listed three options above, and conveniently leaves out at least two others:

D. Masturbate without pornography, focusing the fantasy on the absent partner

E. Refrain from masturbating altogether until he can be with his partner again, a seemingly impossible task that I see lived out regularly by men I know well and trust profoundly.

E is surely a level of self-denial and commitment that goes beyond what most folks, male or female, might be willing to offer. I’ve argued that it’s perhaps the best of all possible options, but a great deal of compassion and charity is needed here. Option D seems perfectly reasonable to me, however. If I were to concede that in singleness or a long-distance relationship, masturbation was a positive good, it still wouldn’t follow that porn was necessary in order to achieve arousal and satisfaction…

Ultimately, the great tragedy of porn is that it teaches the men who use it to pursue “everlasting novelty…”

The pursuit of everlasting novelty is the enemy of actual relationship. Real relationships are built on a very different premise from porn — the notion that what is really sexy is not “new skin” but radical connection with one other person. Porn says that happiness is found by having the same experience over and over again with lots of different women; true eros says that happiness is found by having different experiences over and over again with the same person.

no one, no one, no one, can just “compartmentalize, disconnect, and come back.” Many men think they do so with impunity, but it’s the consensus of both the theologians and the marriage and family therapists that no good life can be lived well in compartments. We are called to wholeness, Ethan; men — all men, even in their late teens in the throes of lust — are capable of matching their desires, their behavior, their hearts. Is it easy? Heck no. But is it possible? Yes. Is it desirable? You bet it is…

I could make the choice to be the same man alone in front of the computer as I was in front of the classroom. It wasn’t easy, but I did it, inspired by other men who made the same decision.

See also:

Voice Male: “Intimacy and Porn: A Contradiction in Terms”
“I am not suggesting that porn be outlawed. I am advocating that men examine our relationship with porn more seriously. I stopped using porn because I’m committed to being the best lover I can, and porn doesn’t support that. There is better sexual software in my own imagination, as well as in enlightened approaches to sex found in Tantra, Taoism, and every male heart. It’s ironic: throwing away that milk crate full of magazines ended up being a giant step toward my true sexual liberation.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: “All are deeply destructive images that erode male respect for women”
Pornography depicts women not only as sleazy and vulgar, but as greedy and parasitical. The porn watcher never forgets that the women who are stripping for him are doing so for cash. He concludes, therefore, that there is nothing women aren’t prepared to do for money…

For married men, excessive exposure to a variety of naked, female bodies contributes to the penchant of men to feel permanently dissatisfied with their wives…

When compared to the porn ‘stars,’ their own wives become ordinary. When a man sees his wife’s naked body, the trained eye that he has cultivated will be immediately drawn to her flaws rather then her beauty. Not only does this lead to the degradation of his wife, but it also hinders his ability to find satisfaction…

Writer’s Digest…What Erotica Is
Today more erotica is being released, and the term is more freely used.
But the spirit of the work—sexual journeys ripe with character
development—is largely the same…

 …[A]ll these writers see a clear distinction between erotica and pornography. “To me, pornography’s chief purpose is masturbatory,” Campion says. “I’m not judging it. I’m simply arguing that this is its sole function. It’s graphic for the immediate payoff. There’s no art to it because there’s no need. Erotica can end at arousal but doesn’t have to, and because it tries to speak to us on multiple levels, recognizing that arousal can be mental as much as physical; it can aspire to art.”

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