Naomi Wolf had the cover story in New York Magazine on Saturday titled, â€œThe Porn Myth,â€? which largely discussed how porn today basically kills peopleâ€™s sex lives; or in other words, menâ€™s.
With mainstream pornâ€™s fake breasts, tiny vaginas and perpetually tan bodies, the unrealistic expectations it puts on straight men and what sex is â€œsupposedâ€? to look like is evident, which Wolf points out. But her extreme oversimplification of the issue is evident as well.
She claims that all porn this day and age does is demolish straight womenâ€™s sex lives because they canâ€™t live up to pornâ€™s image of the â€œperfect bodyâ€? and satisfy their more-or-less bored partners. In fact, the entire piece discusses the issue from the perspective of men, seeming to say that a satisfying sex life is defined based on what a man wants.
Her solution seems to be to regress back to a more modest sexuality, and possibly mimic the sexual habits of more â€œtraditional culturesâ€?:
I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.
Her example of this is her Orthodox Jewish friend who covers her body and hair in public, and the apparent erotic nature in the the fact that only her husband can see her hair. What exactly is she trying to posit by using this example? That we’d be better off covered up? She seems to be cloaking the idea of putting sex back into the private sphere with the concept of â€œsexual mystery.â€? Wouldnâ€™t it be more practical (and fun) to simply promote the realistic images of women (and men) in sex culture than simply repress it altogether?
At another point, she says:
Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer.
Now thatâ€™s just insulting. While our generation obviously has work to do in terms of promoting realistic (and sexually reciprocal) depictions of sex, to presume that young women today donâ€™t have sexual confidence or security is an extreme generalization and totally invalidating many of our happy and healthy sex lives. Not to mention that, once again, itâ€™s about â€œwhat we have to offer.â€? What about what sex has to offer us? Why is, once again, our sexual satisfaction based on menâ€™s approval of our sexuality?
There are many problems with mainstream porn and the ways it affects peopleâ€™s perceptions of sex and of women, without a doubt. But besides the obvious fact that the piece is talking primarily about a heterosexual, white, mainstream college sex culture more than anything else, the passive-aggressive finger-wagging to young women is apparent, and all it does is fuel the slut-shaming fire. (And this was surprising considering this is coming from the author of Promiscuities, a book that inspired me when I was younger.) I was almost anticipating the last sentence to be the old, â€œIf you give away the milk for free…”