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Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families Paperback – August 8, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having already carved out a major niche among 20-to-30-somethings with The Starter Marriage, Paul takes on another bane of postfeminism: the Internet-enabled "all pornography, all the time" mentality of many younger men and its ripple effect on the culture. For this pornograph, Paul interviewed more than 100 people—80 of them young, straight men. Some findings are predictable: porn allows men "to enjoy the fantasy of endless variety," but can distract men from their partners, detract from their sexual skills and harm relationships. More valuably, Paul finds women caught under new forms of social pressure—from men and women—not to disdain porn: to do so, now, is (among other things) to be seen as limiting women's sexual self-expression. Paul also sees porn seeping ever sooner into preteen life and sensibly observes that there's no reason for porn to be limitless on the Net when it's regulated elsewhere. Still, a critique that aims to avoid religious conservatism's invocation of sin and radical feminism's emphasis on civil rights violations can get fuzzy. Like Potter Stewart ("I know it when I see it"), Paul can't always distinguish sex-related art from pornography other than on a case-by-case basis; things get especially thorny regarding the torture and pain that, she asserts, "many, perhaps most men, find alluring." She ends up arguing that pornography, like alcohol or cigarettes, should be "discouraged," and proposes an effort by the government and private sector to quell consumer demand. Paul's outlines and analyses can seem simplistic, and her prose rarely rises above the level of the Time magazine feature on which the book is based. But she covers a lot of territory, and there's plenty to unnerve the knee-jerk "free speech" crowd. This will be a major watercooler book this season.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It's beyond argument that pornography in America today has achieved a certain respectability: think of porn star Ron Jeremy's reputation in the 1980s and his reputation today. Paul details how the ubiquity of pornography impacts our personal lives. She discusses studies on the subject--in one, 77 percent of respondents said they had looked at pornography at least once in a 30-day period--and shares interviews with many who watch it regularly. Paul's analysis is wide-ranging: why men look at porn and how porn affects them, how women see pornography, how porn affects sexual relationships, the effects of porn on children. If Paul is far less polemical than, say, Andrea Dworkin, her book reveals a sadness about it all, reflected in one user's comment: "I don't see how any male who likes porn can think actual sex is better, at least if it involves all the crap that comes with having a real live female in your life." Certain to generate discussion, as did Paul's previous book, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony (2002). Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805081321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805081329
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review. She is an award-winning author and journalist who has written for The Economist, The Atlantic, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Vogue, The National Post, Salon, and many other national publications.
Her first book, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, was named one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post; her second book, Pornified, was named one of the best books of 2005 by The San Francisco Chronicle. Her third book, Parenting, Inc., an investigation of the childrearing business and the commercialization of early childhood, was published in April 2008.
A graduate of Brown University, Paul began her writing career as a London- and New York-based correspondent for The Economist, where for four years she wrote a monthly column on world arts trends, and contributed film, theatre, and book reviews between 1997 and 2003. She was previously a senior editor for American Demographics magazine, where she wrote about political opinion, and social, media and demographic trends.
Paul has been a guest on Oprah, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Early Show, and Politically Incorrect, and has made regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. She also speaks frequently on National Public Radio. She has testified about her work before Congress and presented her research to Parliament, and is a frequent public speaker at universities, conferences and other venues. Paul has lived in London, Paris, and Chiang Mai, and currently lives with her family in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Paul Grant on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Paul feels that the debate about porn in the civic arena is stuck in the 1970s, oblivious to the rapidly deteriorating landscape around us. Most Americans now view pornography on a regular basis, and most of those viewers do not consider Playboy to be porn. Clearly something wild is afoot, something akin to a social earthquake or a drug epidemic.

Porn today is far more intense, far more accessible, far more violent, and, yes, far more chauvinistic than anything we've had before, and we as a society are in denial. Pornography is now cool, and nobody dares transgress almighty cool. Somehow porn has progressed from the domain of dark-sunglasses-and trenchcoat-wearing loners to movie stars and A-list entertainers. Today it is cool for the male mind to gorge on the objectification of women, and decidedly uncool for women to complain.

Paul's solution - "censure not censor" is a good one. For reasons from free speech to globalism in commerce, any large-scale prohibition of pornography is highly unlikely to have an impact on production or consumption. What is really needed, Paul argues, is good old-fashioned shame. As a culture we can regress in our crudeness. It has happened before.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Josiah Kirby White on September 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
OK, she exaggerates, sometimes wildly. And OK, being a woman, she doesn't really understand what makes men tick (though she's certainly no man-hater). Nevertheless, her main argument is undoubtedly right.

If your sex life is real sex with a real woman, then unexpected things are always happening. Especially if you're spontaneous and can laugh at yourself and be yourself and encourage your partner to be herself, too, then sex rarely gets boring. You're never sure what's going to happen, because you're not really in control (sex is best when you're completely out of control); instead, life is in control of whatever happens. Not that it ever works out perfectly, but when you both end up feeling so good and so grateful, who cares? When these great times are shared, there's nothing else like it.

Porn is the opposite. Or haven't you been using it long enough to see that it gets old pretty quickly? When the same images start to bore you, you try something a little more "edgy." At first, you'll say to yourself, "I'd never consider THAT repulsive stuff." But eventually, you wind up in precisely that gutter yourself.

I'm sure she's right that well over half of US men use porn at least monthly. But since she exaggerates, it's hard to know just bad the problem really is. Porn might resemble alcohol: terribly corrosive for some, but relatively harmless for most. So if you're a woman, and you catch your hubby using porn some night, it's not necessarily any worse than his having a couple of beers. But if he also does other things that are starting to "really creep you out," then it's probably gotten worse than "just a couple of beers.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Aragon VINE VOICE on July 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is worth purchasing and reading or at the very least leafing through at the library.

The author does an interesting job of presenting controversial material. Today if you're not supportive of the Porn Industrial Complex, somehow you're either a puritan or another woman with an axe to grind!

Paul is on to something with this well-read (read not another dry academic polemic) and so-so researched book. I don't think her "study" meets the requirements of an acceptable social science inquiry, but that is another issue.

The quotes and observations from people who view porn are the most telling and allow her to make her point easily.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Williams on January 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Most people have a gut level opinion about pornography. Mine is the same as Pamela Paul, pornography "Damages our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families." I was excited to pick up a book that I hoped would offer some strong evidence toward confirming my suspicions. Disappointment ensues.

Here is how "Pornified" is structured: cite three of four examples from personal interviews about the effects of porn, make a broad statement about the effects of porn in general, then move on to the next set of personal interview examples, ad nauseum.

Although the anecdotes were helpful in deglamorizing porn (often stories of men who seemed pretty loser like), they were often redundant and had me begging for something more concrete. As I look back through the book, I realize that I underlined nearly every statistical figure given. Disappointingly, these statistics were few and far between and were often heavily qualified by phrases like "this was not a national representative sample."

One positive thing is the rawness of some of the descriptions. For the naive reader, this book is a good introduction to the underbelly of the industry. Pornography includes more than the glitzy images from "The Girls Next Door" and Paul does a good job introducing the reader to things like beastiality, child pornography, and a host of other weird stuff.

In all, if you agreed with Paul before reading the book, you'll probably enjoy reading it. If you are a fan of pornography, you will find plenty of holes in Paul's arguments and will find very little concrete evidence toward proving the author's main contention that pornography damages our lives, relationships, and families.
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