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Hard Core: What Porn's Ubiquity Says About Men and Women (theatlantic.com)
242 points by wallacrw on Jan 6, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments



"While sexual aggression and the desire to debase women may not be what arouse all men, they are certainly an animating force of male sexuality. They may be unattractive and even, if taken to extremes, dangerous, but they’re not, perhaps alas, deviant."

That's a pretty ugly thing to say and requires a bit more evidence than just the pervasiveness of online hard-code porn.

Inexplicably the author seems unaware of the contradiction in her article in pointing out (correctly) that the various porn sites online are dominated by mundane amateur content (housewives, random teenagers etc.) while claiming that online porn demonstrates how the male psyche is fueled by the need to hurt and humiliate women sexually (for example the double anal porn she cites about 15 times.)


The author(ess in this case), while a good writer in form has some very strange ideas about the world and sweeping generalisations that border on misandry (at least IMHO). For example:

MEN, SO THE CONVENTIONAL wisdom goes, tend to desire more than women are willing to give them sexually. The granting of sex is the most powerful weapon women possess in their struggle with men.

I would certainly say that western women these days are more sexually adventurous and willing to initiate than say a decade or two ago. There is much broader recognition that women get horny too, and some women hornier than some men. I'm actually pretty offended about the use of sex as a weapon. If you're in a relationship where you're using sex as a weapon, that relationship is inherently unhealthy. Sex should be something that's fun, that's shared with someone/thing/people/animals, not used as a weapon.

Yet in each new sexual negotiation a woman has with a man, she not only spends down that capital, she begins at a disadvantage, because the potential losses are always greater for her.

I'm not entirely sure what she means by capital although I imply that the 'weapon' has inherent value, and that by presumably imitating acts seen in pornography (I don't know, I'm clutching at straws to parse her comment) that she's somehow reducing that capital?

A failed or even successful single encounter can be life-altering.

For either sex and for either partner if not both, surely?

Whatever “social construct” you might impose upon the whole matter, nature imposes much more rigorous consequences on women than on men.

And the legal system (and society in general) imposes much more rigorous consequences on men than on women. I'm not saying that one way is worse than another but it affects both in different ways.

In conclusion I perceive the author as either a woman with generalised views that are incorrect, a feminist or a downright misandrist. It's an interesting article, but much of the opinion spouted is not applicable in many cases.


While I agree with you in general, a couple of points:

  > that by presumably imitating acts seen in pornography (I don't
  > know, I'm clutching at straws to parse her comment) that
  > she's somehow reducing that capital?
I don't think that she's talking about reduction of capital when she's talking about losses. She's more likely referring to the downsides of imitating porn acts (e.g. vaginal penetration immediately after anal penetration, which could result in a vaginal -- or urinary tract -- infection).

  > And the legal system (and society in general) imposes
  > much more rigorous consequences on men than on women.
Depends on which legal system/society.


As a woman myself I am pretty sure she is talking more about the possibility of getting pregnant.


I'm also a woman and like iuguy (above) had difficulty figuring out what she meant. My best guess: By 'spending down capital', I think she means that if sex is used as a weapon, then every time you put out, you lose some of your power because the power you have comes from withholding rather than from satisfying -- which is a pretty grim view of the whole situation but I have known at least a couple of women who did apparently withhold sex in their marriage, which is partly what I am basing this inference on.

I did think she meant pregnancy and the myriad consequences tied to it when she talked about women being at a disadvantage to begin with and at risk of greater loss.


Certainly in the west, I think there's a world of difference between now and say 10-15 years ago. Within that timeframe of porn ubiquity (although I'm implying correlation not causation here) there's been massive changes in womens' rights and dealing with deadbeat dads, to the point where women can put themselves in a bad situation by getting pregnant, but can also put men in a bad situation too.

At the same time the rights of men have not changed with this, and in many legal systems there's an imbalance (e.g. the father has to make payments but does not have the same rights of access, that there are female DV shelters, but there's nothing I'm aware of in the UK for male DV victims, which is more common than you think).

I'm not saying this applies to all people in all cases, but just as the biological skew against women exist, there's a counter skew on the legal and societal side against men (for various values of $legal_system and $society).


I don't think it needs to have anything to do with deadbeat dads or the possibility of raising a child alone. Pregnancy is and will always be different for the woman. For one, she has to actually be pregnant for nine months and deal with the sickness and pains that brings. Then she actually has to give birth. Getting pregnant when you are not ready is a terrifying and a loss of your life and plans as you know them. Yes, when you have the baby you adjust and are happy for it and yes in the future you can pick up your career again and try to juggle both. But when you are not wanting a kid yet, it's hard to think about it that way. And abortion is not exactly an enjoyable alternative either.


I should add also though that if she does mean pregnancy, she is wrong. I would say AIDS pretty much leveled the playing field as far as sexual risk goes. Definitely scarier than giving birth.


I remember watching, IIRC, pornucopia with Katie Morgan. In one of the scenes she's talking about how mainstream pornography came to a start. The black and white silent-film clip showed is of a man stealing three women's clothes as they skinny dip and blackmails them demanding sex. They agree on condition that it's through a glory hole. He agrees and goes to do his thing. The girls grab a stray donkey off the beach and back it up against the glory hole.

I saw women exploiting a man for his stupidity when he's horny. I saw glory hole sex from like the 1910's. I saw beastiality and the debasement of the man.

You can still see all these things today in porn. Given that the internet basically created the Clothed-Female-Naked-Male genre, I'd contend that the author of the article really has no clue about porn.

For all the violence against women, there's equal amounts of violent porn against men. For every one debasing a woman, there's on debasing a man. For one humiliating a woman, there's one humiliating a man (I mean there's actually porn videos where there's a guy tied up and blind folded naked and a group of women laugh at his junk).

The Internet has done for porn what the printing press did for the written word. You went from only the elitist males in society being able to write a book to virtually anyone from any background being able to become world famous. I mean look at J.K. Rowlings backstory for when she wrote Harry Potter and you can hardly say she had any of the elitist connections of early writers. Similarly we've gone from only big studios producing porn, to anyone with a half-decent video camera... or even just a cell phone.


> For all the violence against women, there's equal amounts of violent porn against men. For every one debasing a woman, there's on debasing a man. For one humiliating a woman, there's one humiliating a man (I mean there's actually porn videos where there's a guy tied up and blind folded naked and a group of women laugh at his junk).

Do you have numbers on this? Because it is a quantitative claim you're making.


I did a quick xnxx search for "humiliated". It's 36 vids per page. The first page had one male victim and the rest female. The second page had seven male. The third page fourteen. I stopped at that.

So it doesn't look like true numerical parity. On the other hand, there is clearly enough of both that you could watch either exclusively and never run out. So they are both effectively infinite, which is kind of like being equal.


This is more what I meant. I think my wording sounded way too much like I was saying there was a true parity between the two, which at present I don't think there is. However, given the quantity of pornography out there, I think it's nigh on impossible that a single user would ever grow bored of a preference.

I simply meant was that while some men get off on the humiliation/violence/etc of women there are also men who get off on the humiliation/violence/etc of men. I'd say the vast majority just get off on watching plain old sex, hence amateur porn being the biggest niche on the internet, which means that the vast majority who watch porn are likely watching it solely for the reason of being horny and they're watching that particular video because of "Oh she's hot and I'd want to do her".


i think you'd run into difficulties getting agreement on what's debasing.

you could always go to the hun and decide for yourself on a week, month, or year's worth of data.


I think quantifying debasement would run into big problems as it's entirely subjective to observational bias. I find more debasement in your average national commercials than I see in your average commercial or amateur pornography, which is what I find most disturbing about society.


"But I’m tired of seeing men and women buy into the lie that male sexuality is inherently violent and sadistic. My experience as sex worker has taught me the opposite." A prostitute talks of her experience. - http://goodmenproject.com/2010/11/22/the-professional/


"This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality"

The fact that the author chooses to generalise a 'proof' from a single personal encounter shows what sort of low standard she has for evidence.


The feminist script she describes is 1990's notion that a couple can obtain a satisfactory sex life through a process in which the woman overcomes the mans negative sexist conditioning by using a verbal contract to stipulate her limits. There some provisions made about people with no respect for women like date rapists and people with the "frat boy" mentality.

The example she gives is of a man who is by external measures an enlightened guy - wealthy, polite, and educated. We are given no reason to believe he is disrespectful of women generally speaking. But when it comes to sex he is unable to get it up unless he is explicitly pushing a woman beyond what she feels comfortable doing. For emphasis: this is a part of his sexual experience and not a part of his general attitude to women.

The fact that this single event occurred is sufficient to demonstrate that the 'How to have a mutually enjoyable sex life' script does not work universally and so requires revision for a full explanation of the world. It proves the unpleasant fact that dominance beyond enthusiastic consent can form an integral part of a mans sexual identity.

In this section she establishes that a breach in this perception of sex has occurred. In the rest of her article she uses online pornography to argue the size of the breach.

tldr; lolz bitches hate logic right bro?


> The fact that this single event occurred is sufficient to demonstrate that the 'How to have a mutually enjoyable sex life' script does not work universally

I'm sure there are wealthy, polite, and educated necrophiliacs also and single instances of sexual fetishes and requirements so strange as to be unimaginable by most of us. Does his mean that we need to adjust our entire model of human sexuality for each of these? Maybe for people so limited of thinking as to believe that any one model of sex could achieve 100% coverage, this could actually be useful information. But to automatically assume anything about 'ordinary' sexuality is ridiculous.


This shows that all female authors secretly want to set a low standard for evidence!


I like the article - I think there's generally a lack of discussion about sexuality in society, to our detriment. The article works around an assumption that pornography is acting as a feedback loop, expressing and evolving deeply held male desires; but I'd argue that the article might buy into its own myth by holding up pornography as a true mirror reflection of what men really want.

Perhaps the ubiquity of male domination in porn, might be more due to cultural hegemony and market-led assumption, rather than a true reflection of sexual mores.

If the bare structure of a purely sexual relationship is examined - pretty soon, two classic archetypes emerge; the dominant and the submissive. The roles might not be very clearly defined; but even if there isn't any explicit acknowledgement, I think there's usually an underlying tacit acknowledgement.

When it comes to who will fit which role - I don't think gender necessarily creates a predisposition. I think, to a degree, personality-type determines who fills which role; and in that respect, I think that people's desires are often quite deeply embedded in their psyches.

I suppose it could be argued that people consciously try to attain socially lauded ideals; and that a person's desire to live up to gender stereotypes might affect what they might strive for - but personally, I think there are a lot of competing factors that make the process of examining sexual identity much more complex.

Pornography isn't an interesting examination of sexuality - its a cheap shot, designed for cheap thrills. Perhaps, in much the same way that constant swearing reduces the impact of cuss-words, pornography's increasing need to trump itself, will eventually lead to it's downfall. Once this impact is lost - what will happen then?

Maybe honest personally-drawn narratives and characterisations will take the place of clichéd story lines and hackneyed acting - but then it wouldn't be porn, it would be on the road to becoming art.


claiming that online porn demonstrates how the male psyche is fueled by the need to hurt and humiliate women sexually

I don't see a contradiction, since I don't think she is making this claim. This would be hard to determine by textual analysis, though, since I'm sure my own context for the article is just as subjective. I'll write her and ask if she'd be willing to comment, but of course then we're into postmodernism, and the intent of the author being irrelevant to your interpretation.

In the meantime, I think that Vargas-Cooper is coming more from a 90's feminist-backlash position than the earlier 70's 'men are evil' view. Or maybe it's slash-backlash: "He answered, almost without thought, 'Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.' This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation, I complied. This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes."

I think her point is that we need to acknowledge the forces that exist (including a desire to degrade) without giving up or pretending they don't exist. But I don't think she feels that this is exclusive to males, nor that this is the primary fuel of the male psyche. And I think her point is that two players are needed to maintain the illusions, and that not all illusions should be thrown out. She didn't smack him across the face and pay for her own cab ride home, rather she took the honesty as a compliment and stayed.


I disagree, I think the article is very clearly making that point.

The premise of the article is that the attempt to attack/suppress violent porn is wrongheaded because it's based on the notion that violent porn warps men's sexuality. The author claims it's wrongheaded because men's sexuality is inherently violent.

It's a pretty nasty piece of work.


Reading it again in that view, you do have a point. I don't think it's intended to that clear cut, though. There's a lot of cross-play going on:

Source: The Atlantic - Respectable, liberal.

Title: Hard Core - Low brow, sensationalist.

Subtitle: The new world of porn is revealing eternal truths about men and women - Reactionary or defensive?

Author: Doesn't seem afraid of sex-positive imagery - http://www.natashavc.com/

Image: Art porn by an expert - http://www.google.com/images?q=Sølve+Sundsbø

Text: As you say, but also mixed in places.

I think one needs to consider the piece as a whole, and it's likely effect of making porn a more acceptable mainstream topic for discussion in the future. But I'm comfortable with interpretations that are contradicted by different levels of the text, and think that we should judge by final effect rather than intermediate argument. I think the apparent contradictions are more likely intentional (at some level) rather than oversight.

Any chance you've seen Slavoj Zizek's argument that The Sound of Music is actually pro-Nazi: http://benatlas.com/2010/02/zizek-on-crossdressing-to-the-so...


The article talks a lot about how male sexuality has a darker side and violence and coercion come in to play and perhaps is exemplified by porn. One of the examples she uses is the scene from Last Tango in Paris where Marlon Brando forces Maria Schneider's character to have anal sex... It gets a little meta when you look up that film on Wikipedia:

"I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can't force someone to do something that isn't in the script, but at the time, I didn't know that. Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take."


Just a passing mention : the scene is much rougher in the book, because he actually convinces her to fist-fuck him IIRC, so that they are both "raped".


TL; DR: Woman with baggage projects her negative experiences onto the entire world. (XXX) Film at 11.

My reason for saying this:

Armed with a “Take Back the Night” pamphlet, we were led to believe that, as long as we avoided the hordes of date rapists, sex was an egalitarian endeavor.

<SNIP>

This is an intellectual swindle that leads women to misjudge male sexuality, which they do at their own emotional and physical peril.

<SNIP>

At the heart of human sexuality, at least human sexuality involving men, lies what Freud identified in Totem and Taboo as “emotional ambivalence”—the simultaneous love and hate of the object of one’s sexual affection. From that ambivalence springs the aggressive, hostile, and humiliating components of male sexual arousal.

Never was this made plainer to me than during a one-night stand

<SNIP>

in a moment of exasperation, he asked if we could have anal sex. I asked why, seeing as how any straight man who has had experience with anal sex knows that it’s a big production and usually has a lot of false starts and abrupt stops. He answered, almost without thought, “Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.” This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation, I complied. This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes.

(Before I am accused of misogyny, please note I am female.)


As a male who was raised by a feminist and in an all-female household, including the pets, I have a lot of things to say about this matter.

First off I find that a lot of feminism in the 80s was implicitly anti-male. Take back the night is great for women, but what is the message you are sending to young boys who are often there? It's a subtle message and may not be a big influence on all males.

Or the anti-rape messages? The more extreme is the mis-attributed quote "all men are potential rapists". This is a horrible message to be sending to young men, not as bad as "women are things", but if our goal is to raise fully formed males, "you are a rapist" is not a good one to give.

Bringing it back to the subject at hand, this author reminds me a lot of the kinds of messages, rhetoric and material that was common in the mid to late 80s feminism. The material I grew up suffused in. I think it is very harmful for the normalization of male-female relations. Are there differences between male and female sexuality? Yes. Does this article overplay them? Yes absolutely.

As long as we have articles describing male sexuality as a negative force that must be controlled and tempered I don't think the goal of a better society will be reached. The implicit message of "female sexuality is normal and healthy" and "male sexuality is dark and evil" is really disturbing to me.

In the end this article is completely and utterly sexist. If we reversed the genders we'd just have tripe from the 1800s about how female sexuality needs to be controlled and how women are evil. If that isn't acceptable, then why is this?


"One of the most punishing realities women face when they reach sexual maturity is that their maturity is (at least to many men) unsexy. Indeed, we now have an entire genre of online smut politely called “Lolita Porn.” This is not actual child pornography, a genre still blessedly beyond the reach of the casual Web browser."

Ok, but for any X, X is (at least to many men) unsexy, as there's a lot of porn based on the opposite of X. Young age and beauty included, as evidenced by "mature" and "ugly" porn categories.

So the above statement does not really add much information, except maybe some indication of the author's bias. Picking this particular fetish of some men, associates the whole group with socially unacceptable behaviour. Moral panic, anyone?


It's particularly silly given that the author also talks about "aging moms in shabby corsets" to make porn seem unappealing.

Which is it? Are those evil sex crazy men chasing lolitas or milfs?


The latter.


Sometimes I fantasize about strangling my boss. Do I want to actually strangle my boss? No. Not because I'm worried about the repercussions, but because there is a fundamental difference in the way we process fantasy and reality. In almost all cases, porn is about fantasy and should not be considered indicative of what men actually want.

(disclaimer: I don't actually have a boss)


If you are your own boss then it would be autoerotic asphyxiation, which would likely increase your enjoyment of porn.


Now, now, it might not necessarily be an erotic thing. He could simply have self-loathing issues mixed with dominance issues. Strangling is considered to be one of the most dominant ways to kill someone (due to the proximity). I wish... it would be such an interesting psychological study to read.

Alas, I believe he was simply illustrating a point.


Oh god, not this old chestnut again (admittedly wrapped in some stylish writing).

The horrid fallacy is that pornography doesn't really tell you all that much about male sexuality and how they act in the real world.

Take another example; how people act in anonymous online forums. Often pretty douchy right? Does that tell us anything dark about how they are in the real world; well, probably a little, I could guess that a really awkward guy on a forum is likely a bit awkward in the real world.

But not as bad as he is when arguing random nonsense over the latest and best video game.

The internet emphasises those darker aspects of our personality; do men watch porn that humiliates women - sure. Do they want to humiliate their lovers in real life? Probably not.

It gets even worse because the assumption is that the style of porn created and posted on the internet is representative of the desires of most men.

Of course, it isn't really. It represents the desires of a subset of men - for whom internet porn is often their sex life. Other men may use the content, but is it about convenience and fantasy, not a critique of their bedroom desires.

Look at it another way; lots of people adore fantasy films - say Lord of the Rings. Would you actually, in reality, want to live a fantasy epic? Probably not, the reality wouldn't be all that fulfilling (no internet for one thing! :)). Same applies to porn, I think.

And what of female sexuality? When I'm poking about in peoples computers (legally, for work) women's computers don't usually contain porn. They contain idealised erotic stories about alpha males who also have a soft sensitive side. Their internet history is usually crammed with hunks with their tops off. It's still "pornography" (in how it is used); it's just that some people prefer the sexuality of the unknown (i.e. clothed). There are dark fantasy aspects to female pornography too; the male is often a love slave, dominated by his desire for the woman.

Bottom line is: Sexuality is not simple. And the internet is not a good way to make broad judgements about male or female sexuality.


Does that tell us anything dark about how they are in the real world; well, probably a little, I could guess that a really awkward guy on a forum is likely a bit awkward in the real world.

How people act when they're completely anonymous is, in some sense, how they really are. Once you tie some traceability or accountability to their words or actions, words and actions change to manage image and status.


There's this thing in game design called the "magic circle": the "barrier" between what is socially understood to happen inside a game, vs. outside. It's entirely a social construction, and therefore entirely a voluntary agreement entered into by the players, for the explicit purpose of detaching consequences inside a game from those outside.

The reason people seek to create such a construct, is that, when you don't have to worry about consequences "leaking" from the game, you're free to adopt an entirely different utility function within the circle, or even a variety of different utility functions, to explore the game rules' (and the other players') reaction to the particular mode of play. Through this, we can learn, in a safe environment, what the consequences are to adopting various roles (such as that of the "griefer" or the "twinker".)

We evolved in an environment where there was no separation between the ideas of "action stripped of identity" (i.e. anonymous interaction) and "action stripped of consequence" (i.e. game-play). Thus, most socially-adjusted humans learn to see all anonymous interactions as game-play, and thus to apply their knowledge of in-game interactions: agents who seem sociopathic are really just Playing to Win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw), agents who keep repeating the same stupid actions over and over are likely looking for exploitable bugs in the game rules, etc.

This even crosses over into what most would term "real life": children on a playground who haven't integrated the idea that they're playing a semi-consequenceless social game 100% of the time they're at school, will usually report being bullied (by someone who does understand the concept, and is exploring the position-space in the game.)


This even crosses over into what most would term "real life": children on a playground who haven't integrated the idea that they're playing a semi-consequenceless social game 100% of the time they're at school, will usually report being bullied (by someone who does understand the concept, and is exploring the position-space in the game.)

I do not know how I can politely convey the depth of my feelings about what you have said, here.


Let me try.

Real human beings are scarred for life by this "game". If that's not a consequence then I don't know what is.


I meant that it was consequenceless for the bullies ("consequence" being a term from decision theory, where you can compare a consequenceless Prisoner's Dilemma—where everyone should defect—to an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma—where people can take revenge for slights in past rounds, and so everyone should cooperate.) The problem is really that we throw a bunch of kids together who aren't yet socialized, have one another far outside their monkeyspheres, and likely won't see the same faces next year (let alone after graduation), and expect them to play this game without role-models (i.e. mixed-age play) or useful/just arbitration. The bullies are just a symptom of a broken system.

(And, if you're wondering, I was on the receiving end of this. The internalization of the idea that, for them, it was truly just a game, actually somewhat reversed any sort of scarring that could have occurred, although I do admit feeling quite suicidal in sixth grade.)


Once you tie some traceability or accountability to their words or actions, words and actions change to manage image and status.

I argue this is not a trivial aspect to the matter :) Sure; if real world had a social structure similar to the internet people would interact very differently.

But we don't.

It doesn't necessarily mean that someone who acts the idiot online is simply an idiot in real life, but hides it well :) It just means people are reacting to two different social environments.

HN is a classic case in point; people here are friendly and polite in interactions. We all try to be a bit more intellectually stimulating, because that is the social structure.


From the article: The granting of sex is the most powerful weapon women possess in their struggle with men.

I'm pretty sure I don't want to be having sex with any woman who views "granting" me sex as a weapon in her struggle with me. That's just wrong on a number of different levels.


For what I've seen of countless couples (including some past relationships of mine) this is the way it works for many people.


I could never understand why guys put up with it. I'd rather be alone than be with a woman like that.


This is a really good article, and just the fact that it's published in a mainstream publication like The Atlantic shows how much internet pornography has changed American sexual mores in the last few years. And I think the author makes a good case that it indeed is technology that has changed the thinking:

"When a 13-year-old girl can sit in math class, hide her Hello Kitty smart phone behind her textbook, and pull up such an extreme video in less time than it would take her to text a vote for her favorite American Idol contestant, we’ve certainly reached some kind of new societal landmark."

The writing is solid and bold. I'm impressed. Author's website is here: http://www.natashavc.com/?page_id=62


Given the subtitle, "The new world of porn is revealing eternal truths about men and women", I'm not sure that your interpretation is complete - as far as I can see, the author is arguing that porn reveals (and partially legitimizes) male... appetites.

I must admit to being somewhat taken aback by the "males are aggressively, dangerously sexual" undertone. Is this a common (female) attitude?

(For context: I'm male, living with my wonderful girlfriend.)


It's not really a common attitude, but many vocal feminists/leftists have that attitude. It plays well into the gender/class struggle ideology and the culture of victimhood. The article is mostly trash using opinions unfounded in data, but supported by mainstream society.

If you look at the popular videos it's all pretty benign and standard fare, the author was right in her economic analysis that decreased distribution costs have increased variety but if you look at whats being viewed its still all standard fare. It's like indie film, yes the internet has caused some indie films to do very well and increased the variety of films available, but the vast majority of people are still going to blockbuster major releases such as Avatar.

Also, if you look at what the Victorians (a notoriously conservative period of western history) had access to, or what was made by the likes of Betty Page in the 50s you can see the the internet didn't really change anything. All the internet really tells us is that lowering barriers to consumption increases demand. Hardly a revolution in economic thought.

No one seriously quotes Freud in regards to sex, Freud's opinions date to a time in psychology before statistical analysis was prevalent. They also date to a different time and culture. Freud said a lot of things and like most people, he was mostly wrong. Even Kinsey which was the definitive study with regard to male sexuality for many years has many holes in it. It's very difficult for sociologists / psychologists to tease apart nature from nurture and know what is eternally 'true'.

If porn was really causing aggressive and dangerous sexual behaviors you'd see it reflected in a variety of stats. Since there are no facts to support such a conclusion, opinion and anecdote are substituted.


I presume that subtitles in pieces like this aren't usually written by the author, so I'm not to worried if they actually agree with the sentiment of the piece.

For the "males are dangerously sexual" undertone, I think this is true but intended as historical background. My ultra-summary from an American perspective would be something like:

1960's: Males are dangerous and women must defend their honor. Betty Friedan writes about trapped women.

1970's: Males still dangerous, but women can take control of this. Feminism on the rise: Our Bodies Our Selves.

1980's: Women and males be equally dangerous, equally pro-sex. Aids causes concern all around. Anti-porn.

1990's: Feminist backlash. OK to be an effeminate metrosexual. Read Katie Roiphe and Bitch Magazine. Move toward pro-porn.

2000's: Decade is over, and now the history is being written by people like Natasha Vargas-Cooper. Porn is passe.


I too don't buy the argument that the aggressive, degrading sex you see in lots of internet porn is what every male secretly wants. My theory is that the reason lots of internet porn is extreme is the same reason as why movies revolve around unusual situations: it's good drama. It's something most people don't experience, and so they're curious about it. Here's a testable hypothesis using anal sex as an example:

In a longitudinal study, ask a group of men who watch internet porn about what sorts of videos they watch every six months for several years. Also, ask them about what kinds of sex they have had in the previous six months. From the results, pick those men who first have anal sex during the time period, and compare their porn habits six months before to six months after they report having anal sex. I predict you would find that, as a group, they will watch fewer videos involving anal sex after than before they do it themselves. It's no longer as novel, so it's not so interesting.


I must admit to being somewhat taken aback by the "males are aggressively, dangerously sexual" undertone. Is this a common (female) attitude?

Are you thinking there is no aggression whatsoever in your sex life? Aggression and power are complex things. The way they play out can be quite subtle. Many things men consider to be "human" or "neutral" are in fact norms that exist to reinforce male hegemony. And those things play out in the bedroom.


I don't see how this is relevant. In my experience, women are sexually aggressive on occasion as well. The presence of some minute level of "aggression" (which is a pretty large brush by itself) is not enough to say that male sexuality is characterized by it and therefore dangerous.


Many things men consider to be "human" or "neutral" are in fact norms that exist to reinforce male hegemony.

Can you explain what this means, and tell us some non-bedroom "human" or "neutral" activities which really reinforce male hegemony?


Generally, in the context of gender studies anything that results in another person to making an economic decision will be regarded as 'aggressive' and reinforcing male 'hegemony', especially if the group in question is known to make really poor decisions when confronted with that question.

For example, lets say men are known to take more risk in their investment portfolios. Investments that have high risk and hence create higher returning male portfolios would then be regarded as reinforcing male hegemony.


As part of the societal trend towards equality of the genders, there's a tendency to take the standard or model for men, say that women are now allowed that standard or model, and declare equality to have been achieved. Saying these standards "exist to reinforce male hegemony" is an exaggeration, for the most part men aren't actively trying to oppress women, they're just not succeeding in achieving true equality. From a women's perspective, it's the same result, although sensationalizing doesn't really help their cause.

As a somewhat abstract example, when women are compared to men in the workplace, they're usually seen as cautious or passive. Now, this is true, that the average female is more cautious or passive than the average male (leaving aside nature vs nurture for a second). But that bolded part is critical--most people, when making the observation that women are more passive, don't realize that they're using a male standard as a basis for judgment.

It's important to note, that the differences attributed to women are not necessarily bad ones. One could just as easily say, men are rash and compulsive. And, this would also be true, in exactly the same fashion: the average male is rash and compulsive compared to the average female. But, because of historical male hegemony, the average male is taken as the ideal or the standard. Difference from this standard, even when neutral or situationally advantageous, tends to be perceived first as a deficiency.

Here's a slightly more concrete example, which I don't know if it's true but it could be: until recently, men drove cars and women were mostly passengers (this is still true in other countries). Cars were physically designed around the average male body. When women started driving, that meant that they were allowed in the driver's seats, but those seats were still designed for men. The pedal and mirror placements were sub-optimal for their generally smaller bodies. Even though women have achieved nominal equality in the area of driving, until car makers update their design constraints, women operate cars at a disadvantage because they must conform to a standard that was designed without them and that does not fit them. On the one hand it's unfortunate, but on the other hand it's inevitable, because it's not a good business decision to design a car for people who don't drive (until they do).


But that bolded part is critical--most people, when making the observation that women are more passive, don't realize that they're using a male standard as a basis for judgment.

Thist is an important insight, but one should be careful with it. Taking it too far leads to the exact same kind of backwards thinking where (taking race instead of gender) reading books is "acting white". If one group in society (men, whites, etc.) is dominant, and society continues to function, then obviously the dominant group is doing something right, and forcing or pressuring the oppressed group into doing something wrong. In the racial case, that "something" is education. Whites oppressed blacks; whites were educated while blacks weren't. The answer is to educate blacks and stop oppressing them; it isn't to tear down education itself as an artifact of white oppression.

Back to your example, sometimes someone in a traditionally male occupation has to be assertive. It's hard to imagine a passive salesperson or a passive Prime Minister being very effective, male or female; agree or disagree with them, Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir were not passive women by any stretch of the imagination.

(Thatcher and Meir may have certainly been bad PM's in the sense of doing bad things, depending on your political views; I don't want to argue it either way. But they were certainly effective; if one agreed with and wanted to pursue Thatcher's agenda in the UK 30 years ago, Thatcher would undoubtedly be the best candidate for PM. Likewise, one can be an extremely effective salesperson while selling useless crap no one really needs.)


Not sure myself. But it might involve the TV remote control.


The only problem is, I am not aware of an actual Hello Kitty smartphone; otherwise my wife would have asked me to buy it for her. Perhaps this is a regular phone with a plastic skin or a themed download?


I believe the normal use case is to stick a Hello Kitty sticker to any smartphone.


If I wanted to be cynical and/or pretentious, I might draw a parallel between the infant-like nature of Hello Kitty products, the Freudian childhood wish that might indicate, and the fact that her asking you to buy something rather than buying it herself portrays an interesting father/daughter dynamic. But that would be truly weird, and wait, are we still on HN? OK I'm disoriented now.


Funny ... however Freud was a fraud :-)

Seeing as my wife and I share all funds, it would not be "me" buying "her" something, as us having a discussion as to whether this was an acceptable purchase.

HK is huge in Asian countries especially, which is where my wife is from- I readily admit to confusion over HKs appeal.

BTW did you know that HK is the weight of 3 apples and the height of 5 apples?




She can also swing a string of solid double entendres, "The difficulty of acquiring this material may have hinted at a great, and therefore pent-up, demand. Then, technology produced the Second Coming: the Inter­net. And then the Rapture itself: broadband."


It's really well written in the sense of flowing well and constructing narratives, and as an exposition of the author's point of view it's pretty well constructed.

Unfortunately, the quality of ideas is a lot more uneven; while I can readily accept the idea that male sexuality is typically dominating and aggressive, the article is otherwise filled with the type of crap you'd write in school to make a banal thought about The Great Gatsby stretch out to ten pages.

Sometimes the article reveals more about the author than about the purported topic:

Hard-core porn...is undoubtedly extreme. But how is sex, as a human experience, anything less than extreme? ...the sex that occurs in between relationships—or overlaps with relationships—where the buffers of intimacy or familiarity do not exist: the raw, unpracticed sort. If a woman thinks of the best sex she’s had in her life, she’s often thinking of this kind of sex, and while it may be the best sex in her life, it’s not the sex she wants to have throughout her life—or more accurately, it’s not the sex she’d have with the man with whom she’d like to spend her life.

...

Never was this made plainer to me than during a one-night stand.... He couldn’t stay aroused. Over the course of the tryst, I trotted out every parlor trick and sexual persona I knew....in a moment of exasperation, he asked if we could have anal sex. I asked why.... He answered, almost without thought, “Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.” This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation, I complied. This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes.

And it gets even worse when she starts talking about male desires:

ONE OF THE most punishing realities women face when they reach sexual maturity is that their maturity is (at least to many men) unsexy. Indeed, we now have an entire genre of online smut politely called “Lolita Porn.”

...

Indeed, porn stars no longer look like porn stars. The image of Jenna Jameson, America’s most famous professional porn star (and a best-selling author)—with her comically huge breasts, overextended blond extensions, and artificially tanned skin—has been supplanted by the new face of pornography: a pale, naughty, 19-year-old with A-cups and a bad haircut, her face illuminated only by the bluish glow of her Mac.

If you actually look at the most viewed or top rated videos on a porn aggregator site, the actual evidence doesn't bear out her assumption here. Yes, there's a wider variety of porn available. There's a wider variety of everything available; it's remarkable enough to write about that, even though the subject has been thoroughly covered by now. But the minute you've hinged your article on the argument that men don't like big tits anymore, you've disengaged from reality entirely.


I think the writing is quite bad--pretentious and essentially sensationalistic. She manages to pack in pseudo-science, pseudo-psychology, AND pseudo-sociology. This is an example of a uniquely pathetic style of rhetoric that only an intelligent person is capable of.

It's basically intellectual pornography for people who are predisposed to her prejudices.

Ugh, wish I could unread.


Ugh. Slightly interesting for the first third, then a random swerve into misandrist bullshit.


Whilst I won't attack it quite so strongly(!), I must admit I got bored and didn't finish reading the last third.

The writing style was a bit too full on and did verge off into ranting.


> He answered, almost without thought, “Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.

I think this article is well written, albeit a little extreme with some of it's points. The behavior of the man the author had anal sex with is obviously not the norm, and yet she uses the event as a way to describe the norm.


Her anecdote doesn't support her case. It seems clear that the guy was taking out his post-breakup frustrations on Ms. Vargas-Cooper. He may normally be a decent, caring person who just tried to get back in the dating pool too soon. Punishing a rebound girl/boy for the sins of the previous girl/boy is not something that either gender has a monopoly on.


She described his behavior, asking to make her uncomfortable, as uncommonly honest, so she agrees with you it's not the norm. I think her point is that the underlying desire is the norm, while the open and respectful request for consent as not.


I think that's his point.

I feel like the author is so caught up in the view of male sexuality being motivated by a desire to debase women (which would be well supported if we consider the extremes of pornography to be normal), that she fails to make a convincing argument that that underlying desire is in fact the norm.

> While sexual aggression and the desire to debase women may not be what arouse all men, they are certainly an animating force of male sexuality.

I think it's kind of a jump, when looking at how something plays out in the bedroom, to make statements about the motivations (e.g. enforcing male hegemony), particularly when applying it broadly to a large and varying group.

Under her assumption that sexuality isn't egalitarian, and that pornography is an "unvarnished view of male sexuality" in general, she makes some good points, but I think the author fails to substantiate the validity of these assumptions.

As much as the debasement of women in pornography offends me, we need to keep in mind that it's a product, and as such it doesn't necessarily provide deep insight on the consumer or the producer - both of whom are just negotiating to find something that more or less suits their needs at the moment.


I just don't think that the underlying desire, to make women uncomfortable, is the norm.


It seems more like the author wants to be debased as much as men want to debase her--note how she describes aggressive, debasing, apparently non-committed sex as "the best sex [a woman's] had in her life", and describes her own reaction to that particular encounter as complying "without hesitation".


I think her compliance is simpler than that. If I believe something for a long time, and finally someone admits it, I cut them some slack, partly because it's funny.


How can you, or anyone else, profess to know what's normal in bedrooms?


That's actually a really easy question. We look at people's bedroom behavior. There's a whole scientific field on this sort of thing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexology

Alfred Kinsey, for example, got his fame by scientifically studying what's normal in bedrooms, and publishing this information.


My point exactly. She does exactly that.


What she doesn't mention is that the guy was Charlie Sheen.


I believe she suffer from the typical mind fallacy, thinking all males have overly aggressive/violent sexual desire.

Note: I am a male.


This whole discussion is suffering from a crippling lack of statistics. Contrary to what the author of the article may think, you really can't build an indictment of male sexuality based entirely on personal anecdotes and cherry-picked internet porn.


Yet, if you watched any porn these days, the males are always agressive and the females almost always take the submissive role. The advent of "gonzo" porn hasn't helped matters.

This material is training a generation, from puberty, how to act sexually.


> Yet, if you watched any porn these days, the males are always agressive and the females almost always take the submissive role.

There is tons of male submissive porn. Google "femdom", "mistress porn", and so on.

There are several genres, including male-sub BDSM, cuckolding, tease and denial, and so on.

People sexualize everything, so saying "there's no {x} porn" is false for almost all values of x. (Google "balloon porn" and "clown porn" for examples.)


> There is tons of male submissive porn. Google "femdom", "mistress porn", and so on.

Especially Japanese.

> People sexualize everything, so saying "there's no {x} porn" is false for almost all values of x. (Google "balloon porn" and "clown porn" for examples.)

True, there's even Lego porn.


The males are usually aggressive because in general both women and men are turned off by the presence of weak men. Related: The actors are almost never horribly disfigured.


Yes, you hit on the edge of my complaint about this article, and a lot of the feminist writing I've seen.

This article was just a long laundry list of complaints about the way things are without any attempt to suggest a better alternative, or even any questionings about why things are the way they are.

Also, I never trust anything written about sex that isn't personal or intimate. What does the author like? What does she think would be better? Is this all conjecture?

To make this real, she would have had to get her hands and mind dirty, and that is one thing complainers hate to do.


Just as Call of Duty and other violent games are teaching a generation to act violently?


Yes, if the player happens to be called to war and has to engage in battle. They are being shown what to expect, including the points where CoD doesn't simulate real life war situations.

By my original point the watching of modern porn has trained young men to expect 100% willing partners, shaved body parts, intense libidos, and guaranteed orgasms with little to no reciprocity. That's going to lead to a lot of failed sexual relationships.


Actually, I think most people are able to realize that games don't portray reality.


So do they think the same thing about internet porn?


I don't know, but if I had to hazard a guess I'd say yes, based on the same general idea: if someone is smart enough to figure out that the (most) scenarios depicted in computer games are fantasy [1], I don't see any reason for her to not think the same about porn, science fiction, painting, poetry..

[1] Of course, art often draws its themes from life and experience - sometimes exaggerated, others downplayed. Whether any of those themes depict the norm, I'm not able to say.


It does not mesh well with how I would act in the real world.


"This material is training a generation, from puberty, how to act sexually."

Exactly so, and that isn't a good thing at all.


Thinking that the flood of badly made, poorly scripted porn on the Internet reveals the secret darkness of male sexuality, is like thinking that an endless succession of awful movies from Hollywood reveals that people secretly want a poorly scripted sequel to the last blockbuster. What it reveals is that making good movies is difficult. It's like thinking that a flood of nitwit Web startups reveals that the economy really wants nitwit Web startups. If you're a venture capitalist, you may want better, but you'll have trouble finding it. Likewise if you're a movie viewer. And likewise if you're a man.

If you look at what the Internet has done to written pornography, you see exactly the reverse effect as what the article describes. I once picked up a book of published erotica that wasn't online, and holy crap was the quality vastly worse than what I now expect. Tawdry, pointless, plotless, emotionless, needlessly violent encounters - because, I presume, that is what the publishers think men want, because the publishers conceive of pornography as a sordid dirty thing and imagine themselves as exploiting it. But if you look at what men write, and what men want, when they are free to produce their own written erotica, then you find that the rise of the Internet has created, from scratch, the genre which I think is now known as the "erotic romance novel" and means, roughly, "well-written sex stories with plots and emotions in them". Publishers of erotica are only now just beginning to think about trying to sell books like that, after the Internet showed them there was a huge pent-up demand.

"Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex and it commands the higher price," said Jean Baudrillard. In the days when written erotica was produced by publishers who looked down on it, no publisher knew how to write seduction. And today, when visual erotica is still seen as a tawdry and exploitive affair by the people who produce it, who still see themselves as pandering to the base desires of men, who still see plot as the domain only of real movies, there is no seduction in that visual erotica. You cannot find it, no matter how hard you look online. There are big-budget porn productions but not productions that spend more than five dollars on the script.

But in the domain of written erotica where getting started is as simple as owning a keyboard, and people don't bother writing if they're not having fun writing, and the producer is a lot like the consumer - people who like erotic literature - there you find plot. You find seduction. You find the "erotic romance novel".

That's not what all men want, I suppose; not what all men want all of the time. But it's what I demand as a matter of routine in my written erotica, and what I can't find in online movies (even if it's advertised as big-budget or woman-made, it just doesn't seem to exist).

And before anyone writes the obvious dumb reply, yes I have a girlfriend and no I do not apologize for consuming the form of art known as erotica anymore than I apologize for writing Harry Potter fanfiction.


"But if you look at what men write, and what men want, when they are free to produce their own written erotica, then you find that the rise of the Internet has created, from scratch, the genre which I think is now known as the "erotic romance novel" and means, roughly, "well-written sex stories with plots and emotions in them". Publishers of erotica are only now just beginning to think about trying to sell books like that, after the Internet showed them there was a huge pent-up demand."

But men didn't invent the erotic romance novel. Women did. The vast majority of erotica writers AND readers are female. (http://www.ehow.com/way_5192600_tips-writing-sensual-books.h...)

You are an unusual example of your gender. You must know that.

Maybe the fact that most men prefer the plotless hardcore scenes found on the various you- and -tube sites, and its the women that are writing and reading erotica, is a coincidence.

But I tend to think it does indicate something about a difference in male and female sexuality, innate or otherwise. The fact that you are an exception to the rule doesn't make it true that men, in general, are consuming written erotica.

P.S. Obviously men do write and read some erotica, but even here there are differences. My favorite erotica writer, Morgan Hawke, wrote a blog post about the differences: http://www.darkerotica.net/WhatGuysWant.html

P.P.S. Would you be willing to read the second draft of my first novel, a sci-fi erotica with plot lines around programming? :D


> "The vast majority of erotica writers AND readers are female."

In the dead tree form, yes. In the online form? I'd beg to differ. Take a look at the popular erotic literature aggregators on the internet, look at the most popular authors (or hell, just all authors) and you will find the vast majority of them to be male (or at least, reportedly male).

Admittedly, this is a self-selected population, and doesn't indicate the preferences of all men, but the image of the erotica scene as mostly women with a few male stragglers is incredibly out of touch. And since when is ehow an authoritative source about anything? ;)

> "Maybe the fact that most men prefer the plotless hardcore scenes found on the various you- and -tube sites"

Look at the -tube sites again. And also look at the porn torrent aggregators. They're dominated by amateur porn, which by a landslide excludes the extremely exploitative/degrading stuff that the article concentrates on.

Now that the production, distribution, and consumption of pornography has been taken out of the hands of the old Porn Kings, and democratized to a large extent, IMHO we have found the real preferences of people, and it indicates that by and large we don't want the exploitative, degrading porn.


> _Look at the -tube sites again... They're dominated by amateur porn, which by a landslide excludes the extremely exploitative/degrading stuff that the article concentrates on._

3 amateur videos out of 20 on the front page of redtube.com. .. hardly _dominating_.

(That's a generous count, as well. "Professional" porn has gone down in production value for various reasons, and they now produce films and market them as "amateur". For that reason, it's hard to get a good count without looking at more than the thumbnails, and I'm not in the mood at the moment.)


And redtube.com out of N is representative? Not to justify the grandparent's probably biased view (which I share btw), but arguing with ambiguous statements doesn't offer much to the discussion or our comprehension of the matter.


Presumably the professionals who have a financial stake in the matter have the time to submit their videos again and again and again, while actual amateurs don't. At least, thats what seems to happen on craigslist in many catagories so I presume the same dynamic holds on "user-created" porn sites.


The only form of literature that women ever invented was the erotic romance novel, and they're even trying to take that away from us. Will wonders never cease?

In dead tree form, yes. In electronic book publishing, yes. In fan fiction, yes. That's the "high quality" stuff he was talking about. Sure, men write some of the graphic and romance-less stuff on the internet, but not the erotic romance novel- at least not as much.

I looked at the tube sites again, and sure there's a lot of amateur, but the popular stuff is the most graphic stuff, as far as I can tell. I don't know about "degrading" since I don't find any pornography particularly degrading, but it is in fact hardcore.


> "Maybe the fact that most men prefer the plotless hardcore scenes found on the various you- and -tube sites, and its the women that are writing and reading erotica, is a coincidence."

Or it's just an artifact of how society dealt with historical pornography that the different genders had access to over time.

There's no shortage of textual porn for men, nor has there been as far back as I've seen porn. Penthouse Letters wouldn't be legendary and universally beloved memory if men went only to the pictures.

It seems to me that that men looking at dirty pictures is just something that society grudgingly accepted. And women reading romance novels is something that society grudgingly accepted. And the rest is selective reporting of what fit the stereotypes, and reinforcing by marketers and porn purveyors who had to carefully aim their productions and so followed 'conventional wisdom'.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd pin the whole mess on the larger social push to posit women as the fairer, more evolved gender. Thus women are cast, taught and expected to need more than 'crude' pictures; to be better than 'simple' men.

Anecdotes being what they are, I've never seen any evidence that 'women don't like graphic porn' anymore than I've seen evidence for 'women don't like videogames' or 'women don't like sport'.

And feeding my theory above, I also note that the adjusted positions of those who have accepted women gaming and women sport is that women are, again, better, more advanced and more pure than men. 'Women want more from a game than shooting aliens', 'Women athletes have better fundamentals', etc.


Apparently you didn't read my post carefully, because I said "innate or otherwise." Your point would be about the otherwise bit.

However, since you wanted to argue this when I was specifically avoiding it, I would point out that females are the sex more reluctant to mate in almost all species, with the exception of a few species that prove the rule. It has to do with the expected costs of mating. Females bear most of the cost of child bearing in almost all species, so they are also a bit more choosy as to how often and to whom they mate with.


I wasn't trying to contradict. I was trying to flesh out a potential 'otherwise' with my own observations and theories.

Not every reply is an argument.


I would point out that females are the sex more reluctant to mate in almost all species

I always have difficulty with people making points such as this; because we have such drastic differences from all other species that make much of the argument moot.

I think the real reason Women read porn and men watch it is simply because of past gender inequality that still persists. Men could look at porn, it was "dirty" and "naughty", but it was a male world so it got accepted. Women "hacked" around it by reading/writing romance and erotica.

I guess society has just persisted that social structure into the modern day.


To the contrary, anyone who's seen a herd of bulls when the cows are in heat knows there's a big difference between boys and girls -- and that the difference is principally nature, not nurture. Testosterone is powerful stuff.


But you're also comparing animals to humans. Sometimes you can't even compare humans to humans. There are matriarchal societies out there (albiet few).


Humans ARE animals. The only thing humans do that animals don't is abstract reasoning. But the whole span of love and sex are covered pretty well by other animals, and the physiological and even psychological mechanisms are pretty much the same across the bored.


Maybe I should have been more clear. You're comparing between species.

  > But the whole span of love and sex are covered
  > pretty well by other animals, and the physiological
  > and even psychological mechanisms are pretty much
  > the same across the bored.
I think that different things are covered by different animals. You can aggregate the whole body of 'non-human animals' to say that 'animals in general are the same as humans with respect to how they approach their sex lives.'


Humans are far more like bonobos than bovine. And there... not so much difference between male and female.


Thank you. I was already writing something along these lines in my head before I read this.

I'd just like to add: analyzing anything, especially social taboos, without socio-historical context is an exercise in futility.


Wow is that WhatGuysWant thing way out of date. This is someone looking at the early days of a story site in the early days of the Internet and being horrified at the bad grammar, and from this she decides what guys really want? Give me a break. She's just looking at bad amateur writing, that's all. She didn't even find the Usenet erotica groups which had already developed to a far higher level of sophistication by that point. (Raise your hand if you remember the Celestial Reviews!)

Seriously, you sound like you're working on some really bad data here. I recall the data being that sex stories, as distinct from romance novels, are read by more men than women - though I don't know about the gender ratio of authors, certainly a lot of them have female pen names at least.


Sure, I'd buy that sex stories, like all sexually explicit material on the internet, is read more by men.

But you didn't say sex stories. You said the erotic romance novel. And that is just decidedly wrong.

My point about the essay, which I think it absolutely true, is that the men get off on the more detailed description of visual information. Whereas most women couldn't give two shits about how veiny some guy's dick was.


You are an unusual example of your gender. You must know that.

I'm not sure this is true. What men say and do in public doesn't indicate a lot about what they'd say and do if the media didn't tell them they had to be violent to be a man. Always framing it as a war between the sexes is probably not the best way to stop it being a war between the sexes.

PPS: I'd be willing.


I'm a guy, and I like both hardcore porn and erotic stories with plots and emotions ... really depends on my mood.

And about Internet porn: those people can barely have sex properly (does anyone believe the "screams" of those women?), making them act (something other than sucking, pumping and taking it) would be a disaster.

IMHO that's why the state of the art is the way it is ... it's cheaper and it gives you a piece of reality (i.e. people with imperfections, instead of models that can't act).


Eliezer is, indeed an unusual human. But, speaking as a male human who knows other male humans, not an unusual male in his erotica tastes.


Not a word about Hentai? I'm surprised.

But if there is a genre which fulfills everything you speak of and more, it's the japanese erotic Visual Novel. I never thought I'd ever treat any form of porn with reverence until http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate/stay_night

I wonder if it's a lesson in this. If people can make so successfully animated movies, why so few live ones? Is there an inherent limit? I'd venture to say we're very turned off by any form of pretense in sex. The most successful forms of live porn seem to be either pure amateur, or porn actresses who are basically acting as themselves. If that's the cause, no amount of money or skill will fix it...


I edited the original comment to note that hentai manga (not so much video, though, for some very odd reason) is often of high plot quality, I would guess because in manga the scriptwriter often also is the one who draws it, and when you're putting in all that work to draw something line by line, you won't be able to avoid wanting to make it beautiful and wanting to add plot.

Then I noticed that people were no longer voting up the comment, and edited back out - I would guess that mentioning manga made it seem lower-prestige.

But (he quibbled) I'm not sure I'd classify F/SN as erotica in the first place, even if it's technically in the erogame genre; it's a novel with some sex scenes.


  for writing Harry Potter fanfiction
Well, in fairness, it is extremely high-quality fanfiction.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/Harry_Potter_and_the_M...


Read that, consider the characterisation of a 10-11 year old boy and then reconsider it's quality please.


I think you miss the point of the series.

Also, consider that some children are incredibly intelligent and may in fact act this way.


I think the evidence speaks for itself: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/category/Top/Adult. This is what is mostly visited and the vast majority of that is incredibly tame by the standards of the article.


> ...is like thinking that an endless succession of awful movies from Hollywood reveals that people secretly want a poorly scripted sequel to the last blockbuster. What it reveals is that making good movies is difficult.

I can't see how this squares with box office returns. There are many bad sequels each year, a few great movies (as defined by critics or whichever elite), and lots in between. And the bad sequels tend to make orders of magnitude more money because way, way more people want to see them.

Further, from movie studio's cost perspective, isn't it easier to produce a good movie? For the cost of a single vapid summer blockbuster, they could hire several dozen acclaimed directors to each make their own dream film. But they don't do this because those films would not be nearly as good as an investment.


A lot of bad sequels make orders of magnitude more money than critically acclaimed films, but the films that make the most money are rarely bad. The highest grossing films of the last three years have been Avatar, The Dark Knight, and Toy Story 3, which were all critical darlings to various degrees. People really want great movies but are willing to settle for mediocre ones that have some of the things they're looking for (e.g., exceptional visuals, or characters in which they're already invested).


I think it would be more accurate to say they are rarely horrible. But what does that prove? The highest selling cars rarely have less than 100hp, but that doesn't mean the public really wants to buy the car with the most power yet, by mistake, keeps buying reliable cars with high resale value.

Even if it were difficult to make a good movie (which I dispute, more or less), that doesn't explain why once the good movie is made the public would still avoid it in favor of "Clash of the Titans". The reviews are widely available.

How exactly should we determine what the public really wants than by what they go out and purchase? I just don't get what you and Eliezer are arguing from.


<b>but the films that make the most money are rarely bad. The highest grossing films of the last three years have been Avatar, The Dark Knight, and Toy Story 3</b>

Which, even if praised by whoring critics, are all quite bad , formulaic, shit.

They aren't gonna be near (random selection of quality stuff): Citizen Kane, On the Waterfront, Arsenic and Old Lace, Apocalypse Now, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Vertigo et al in any cinephiles list...


The financial structure of making a Hollywood movie is very strange. It's an accounting nightmare with thousands of moving parts built over decades of favors, trades, and union negotiations. The few blockbuster movies of the year sustain the whole system. It's a very difficult business to make money in. I don't understand it all myself, and neither does the screenwriter who tried to explain parts of it to me.

Everyone involved wants to make a good movie, and everyone most of all wants to make a movie that sells, but it's not always possible to tell what will turn out well and what people will like. So we get a lot of bad movies and a few good ones. A lot of flops and a few blockbusters.


Are you disagreeing with my claim that the public doesn't want good movies, or that making good movies (though maybe not great movies) isn't that hard?

If the former, why would we need the opinion of a single screenwriter, when we can just look at what the public chooses to watch?

If the latter, I was claiming that it's easy for the movie studios to come up with a few good movies (just hire directors with good track records to make many movies for the price of a single big-budget shoot-em-up; statistically, you should get a decent film), not that it's easy on any given set to make a single good movie.


I'm certain you know best what you like. I'm also certain that you're in a distinct minority.


Certain, eh? Hm. How would we settle that bet?


Given that if he's right, the vast majority of men would lie about what they want, it's hard to say. We could do a survey of porn, but you've already announced that you think the market for porn is consistently producing a product that most viewers don't want.


HN poll?


You are referring to the quality of porn but the point of the article was the variety of porn (implying there is an active demand of such varied tastes)


>the Internet porn aesthetic verges on unvarnished realism.

I'm thinking she doesn't know much about Internet porn.


It's about 50/50, depending on what sites you view, between the gritty and the professional.


The most interesting writing I've seen on this subject came from McSweeneys: "The Conflicted Existence of a Female Porn Writer". You can find her first column here: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/pornwriter/column1.html


Some people look at sex-drive as something like a God-given gift, whereas others see it as basically a (fun) evolutionary side-effect. Varying degrees of sanctimony ensue.


Noticing all the hidden assumptions - if a woman does amateur porn and puts it up on xtube, she's trying to please her husband - can't be that she's turned on by it.

Somehow, even cuckoldry fantasies are about the male being dominant.

Paul in Last Tango is a brute, but no mention of Jeanne being a status-climbing bitch for abandoning him when she finds out he's poor - she may have pointed it out obliquely, but all judgment-loaded language is pointed firmly toward the y-chromosoned.


Does anyone else just not grok the idea that sex is about all these terribly negative things? I have never in my life desired to degrade or debase women through sex or any other means.

I know it's hard for women these days, and there are probably more screwed up guys out there than normal ones, but I feel like the latter are getting tarred with the same brush as the former.

I can't think of any guy in my immediate social circle that's not a true gentleman inside and out, not even a suppressed, closeted woman-hater.

Reading feminist articles like this usually makes me go WTF. On the hand I'm very sympathetic to the fact that it's not easy being a woman, but on the other I can't help but suspect the author has been a victim of bad luck with men and is projecting on the entire sex.


That woman is ignorant to everything that I have observed my male sexuality to be.


The article isn't about you dear.


No, it's about the author. The sad thing is that the author fails to realize this.


Girls watch porn too. That fact apparently eludes the author.


I agree with the author's characterization of rhetoric in the 1990's, though I wonder if the reexamining of the whole "communicating boundaries" thing is a result of these women now raising boys of their own, or a more general societal trend that emphasizes aggression.


>...or a more general societal trend that emphasizes aggression

Eh? I don't see it - from what I can tell the trend has been going the other direction since at least the '80s.


I wouldn't describe this article as misandrist. In many cases the author hints at female desires being worse.

"...the sex that occurs in between relationships or overlaps with relationships where the buffers of intimacy or familiarity do not exist: the raw, unpracticed sort. If a woman thinks of the best sex she’s had in her life, she’s often thinking of this kind of sex, and while it may be the best sex in her life, it’s not the sex she wants to have throughout her life or more accurately, it’s not the sex she’d have with the man with whom she’d like to spend her life."

So debasing sex is great so long as it's not with someone you care about? Sounds like men and women aren't that different.


Literary and artistic fashions are quite different across cultures and across time. They're a poor data source to come up with an essentialist view of gender, if you pick one time and place. If you look at how, say, romanticism was gendered at first, it was described as essentially masculine -- tempestuous and powerful. Over time that perception changed and the very same material was described as something essentially womanly that reflected how women "are". While I have plenty of other criticisms of this article, this is the most basic one that I don't think has been expressed here yet.


> at the heart of human sexuality, at least human sexuality involving men, lies what Freud

And I'm done with this steaming pile of misanthropy. An essay on sexuality that falls back on Freudian ideas is beyond redemption.


I wonder if Mz. Vargas-Cooper is related to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Vargas .


Why exactly is this on Hacker News?


oops, accidentally upvoted

From the submission guidelines: http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.


Banning links to The Atlantic would greatly improve the quality of the site.


I'm not sure what the author is trying to say. Just because porn is easier to get now than before (as has been since day 0 of porn), so what? Yet another jee-whiz look at what the internets have done to us article.


Do you seriously think there are no effects at all? How can you be so naive as to think this hasn't and won't change anything when such a giant portion of the population is experiencing sights/sounds/shows that no other generation ever has?

Whether you see that change as good or bad, this will change personal relationships, and societies are nothing more than the sum total of all personal relationships.


Other generations in history probably had more chance of the real thing.




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