The Porn Myth Myth

“The onslaught of porn,” writes Naomi Wolf, “is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women.” An interesting claim, I thought. To make it responsibly in a journalistic context, one would want to see both convincing evidence that male libido in relation to real women has, in fact, deadened in recent years and then some kind of argument that porn is responsible. The article appeared in New York so I didn’t really expect statistical proof, but anecdotal evidence, sure. Wolf doesn’t have it. Instead she has this:

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!”)—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?

Now, if such feelings are genuinely widespread, this is a legitimate topic for concern. But it’s worth noting that it’s not actually the same problem. That college women may feel insecure about their ability to “compete” with pornography seems plausible to me. That college men have lost interest in having sex with real women because they could watch porn instead strikes me as wildly implausible. No doubt things have changed on campus since I graduated (more WIFI networks, etc.) but I’d be shocked if things had changed that much.

Link courtsey of Vaness at Feministing who raises some additional objections.