From Publishers Weekly
As pornography has become both more extreme and more commercial, antiporn activist Dines argues, it has dehumanized our sexual relationships. The radical objectification and often brutal denigration of women in porn, she holds, leaks into other aspects of our lives. Dines's argument rests on a compelling, close reading of the imagery and narrative content of magazines, videos, and marketing materials; what is missing, however, is a similarly compelling body of research on how these images are used by viewers, aside from Dines's own anecdotal evidence. The author's appropriation of addiction terminology—viewers are called users, habitual viewing is an addiction, and pornography featuring teenagers is called Pseudo-Child Pornography or PCP—is distracting and suggests that rhetorical tricks are needed because solid argumentation is lacking. Likewise, Dines's opponents are unlikely to be swayed by her speculation tying porn viewing to rape and child molestation, nor by the selective sources she draws on to support her point (convicted sex offenders). The book does raise important questions about the commoditization of sexual desires and the extent to which pornography has become part of our economy (with hotel chains and cable and satellite companies among the largest distributors). (July)
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Dines takes on the scourge of pornography and its permeation of all facets of culture in this history and call to action: “We are in the midst of a massive social experiment, and nobody really knows how living in Pornland will shape our culture. What we do know is that we are surrounded by images that degrade and debase women and that for this the entire culture pays a price.” Generously referenced, Dines' screed carefully builds her case that pornography's pernicious influence is a factor in the rise in brutishness and sexual violence, focusing specifically on how heterosexual pornography negatively impacts women. She has no time for arguments that so-called softer genres might be acceptable, and she goes into detail in explaining her reasoning. Perhaps she imputes too much significance to current flavors in the never-ending commodification of porn, but her purpose is to offer a compelling explanation of an issue that often makes Americans uneasy. A good, provocative title, but it should be remembered that to adequately discuss porn, one must adequately describe it. --Mike Tribby
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