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Watching Sex: How Men Really Respond to Pornography

Overview

The gulf between critics of pornography and those who use it seems unbridgeable. Not only do the two sides disagree about its effect on society and individual men and women, they cannot even agree on what it is. Where one finds objectification, subordination, degradation, and violence against women, the other sees beauty, fun, pleasure, female power and assertiveness, and fantasy. Freud never asked, "What do men want?" but Katherine MacKinnon asserts, "Pornography provides an answer. Pornography permits men to ...

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Overview

The gulf between critics of pornography and those who use it seems unbridgeable. Not only do the two sides disagree about its effect on society and individual men and women, they cannot even agree on what it is. Where one finds objectification, subordination, degradation, and violence against women, the other sees beauty, fun, pleasure, female power and assertiveness, and fantasy. Freud never asked, "What do men want?" but Katherine MacKinnon asserts, "Pornography provides an answer. Pornography permits men to have whatever they want sexually. It is their 'truth about sex'." Is this true? Dozens of books have been published on pornography, yet almost none feature the voices of the men who use it. Indeed, most of our ideas about men and pornography are theoretical, and most are entirely derived from women. Watching Sex explores pornography through the eyes of men who use it. The interviews with nearly 150 men—between the ages of 19 and 67, single, married, divorced and widowed, of straight, gay, and bisexual—are telling and provocative accounts of what they think, feel, and do in response to pornography. Their answers confound the now conventional wisdom promulgated by anti-pornography feminists, who would have us believe, in the words of Robin Morgan, "Pornography is the theory; rape the practice." Watching Sex provides a window on the true nature of men's sexuality that will prove of enduring importance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his quest to debunk the widely held assumption that pornography warps its users' views of sexuality, journalist Loftus interviewed nearly 150 men about their relationships with pornographic materials. He admits that his set of interviews are not a truly random representation of society: a relatively high percentage are gay or bisexual, for instance, and many hold advanced degrees or have above-average incomes. The men are forthcoming and reflectve as they recount their first exposures to erotic materials and analyze how pornography has affected their lives, revealing emotional responses ranging from pleasure to indifference and disgust. However, the book stumbles when interviewees move from speaking aspornography consumers to sociological pundits and respond to more topical concerns. When asked about the possible link between pornography and violence or the supposed prevalence of sexual abuse among porn performers, their responses are understandably subjective and lacking in depth. Loftus's own arguments are at times simplistic as well. In an attempt to refute the feminist claim that pornography treats women as objects, for instance, he argues that the interviewees are not objectifying women because they do not explicitly say that they are doing so, not allowing for the possibility that the interviewees may not be aware of their own murky motives or responses. The lack of nuanced interpretation on Loftus's part and the limited cross-section of interviewees make some of the book's claims, such as the idea that a high percentage of men would prefer plot-driven, less explicit pornography, ring somewhat false. Yet the book opens a fascinating window on sub-kinks such as furry erotica (fantasy narratives involving human-like animals) and MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) role-playing. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560253600
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: 2002 First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Unveilings: Men's First Exposures to Pornography 1
2 Growing Up: The Social Context 21
3 I Know What Boys Like 29
4 The Appeal of "Lesbian" Pornography 49
5 The Image of Men in Pornography 61
6 How Men Use Pornography 73
7 Sharing Porn with Others 85
8 Off the Beaten Track 107
9 The "Slippery Slope" and the Question of Addiction 129
10 Reality versus Fantasy 137
11 Pornography as Hell, Pornography as Therapy 149
12 Public Policy: Should Society Control the Use of Pornography? 181
13 Pornography and Violence 207
14 The 75% Problem: Child Sex Abuse and the Porn Industry 229
15 The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Men Who Use Pornography? 245
16 The Public Debate: What Did Everyone Get Wrong About Pornography? 285
17 Toward a New Theory of Men and Pornography 303
Notes 313
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