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Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality Hardcover – June 29, 2010
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Top customer reviews
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This book illuminated these assertions. The author deftly outlines how male sexual understanding is shaped through observation of porn-style sex from an early age. This isn't stealing dad's nudie magazine or watching an old grainy Hustler tape; this is one image after the other, with the option to increase the violence or kink as tastes evolve over time. The porn industry itself supports this assertion through documentaries like "Hardcore" (a UK release) and "9 to 5 in the Porn Industry" which interviews heavy weight porn stars like Sasha Grey at the early stages of her career. At that early age, the stars have to be willing to do almost anything, and are violently degraded and physically hurt for hours -- so much so that 90% don't make a second film. Even those who have long careers lamented in these films how evolving tastes are forcing them to endure increasing levels of violence and humiliation if they want to prolong their careers.
And what do young male viewers learn from watching this? That if they want to up the ante in a sexual relationship, they up the violence. That female sexual response mirrors male response. That women are willing to do anything, and there's no need to stop, even if she's crying or asks you to. Similar to the articles listed above, the author reports that only 5% of women report enjoying sex on a "hook up" -- not much motivation to pursue further. She also states that men are also left vulnerable, and insecure about sexual capabilities when using porn stars as a means of measurement.
Is her evidence perfect? No. She bases a lot of her research on informal surveys of college and high school students. It is unclear what kind of racial, class, and ethnic diversity was present in the survey sample. It was also unclear how many surveys were distributed over all. It would be compelling to include data about the porn habits of sex offenders and domestic abusers, as well as female viewers of porn (an area that really needed to be addressed more thoroughly). Segments of stories from stars like Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey, both of whom radically changed the industry before ditching it, further underscores the potency of her assertions. If these women are presented and understood as objects, do their male porn counterparts suffer the same stigma? Is there any escaping the objectification? And if there isn't, isn't it plain to see that this type of media is damaging?
I can't recommend doing away with any form of media, but we should know what we're watching, and acknowledge the potential impact. And this seems to be what the author successfully encourages each reader to do.
Most recent customer reviews
One line still resonates "Do you want capitalist to determine your sexuality?"