OK, so we have this free daily paper that comes out in Boston called the Boston Metro. Its primary readership is the young (18-34), urban students and professionals, and its staff reflects that demographic as well. As you might imagine in a city like Boston, some of the opinions expressed on the opinion page are, well, interesting. For the most part, I dismiss the “interesting” ones and move on with my life.

But this one really got to me for some reason, likely because of my own experience and the experiences of many friends through the years. Below is a letter I wrote to the Metro in response, printed a few days after the column appeared.

A healthy dialogue about sexuality is needed in our country, but I vehemently disagree with Suzanne Reisman’s stance that pornography is what will get us there (“Porn: It Just Might Cure What Ails Us,” Nov. 16). My reasons are manifold, but I’ll list three here for the sake of time and space.

First, porn is a counterfeit. It’s a stage show. It is to sex what O’Doul’s is to beer. It’s scripted. Every sound is exaggerated and magnified, every angle perfected, every curve airbrushed. One minute a guy is cleaning a woman’s air ducts, the next they are showering together. This is never how it happens. It looks and sounds like sex, but it’s not sex &emdash; at least not the sex I want to be promoted in our society (for reasons I’ll address in my third point). Pornography is and will continue to be a means to quick sexual release &emdash; not to mention a $10 billion-plus dollar industry &emdash; not an advocacy campaign for positive sexual dialogue. To argue for such a thing is simply ludicrous.

My second reason is connected to the first: It creates unrealistic expectations. Men who view porn enter long-term relationships (including marriage) with expectations that their significant other simply cannot meet. Ninety-nine percent of women simply are not Jenna Jameson, will not do the things she does in the bedroom, and should not be expected to do so. If anything objectifies women (which I also oppose vehemently), it’s the expectations that porn-saturated partners bring into a relationship.

My final &emdash; and most important &emdash; point about why porn is destructive is this: It treats sex as if it means nothing. Contrary to Reisman’s opinion, it actually devalues sex rather than elevating it in society. It doesn’t create healthy dialogue at all, but instead establishes distorted social norms. Porn declares that any person with whom you come in contact at any point of the day or night is a potential sexual partner. Porn declares that people can have sex and then walk away as if no connection occurred &emdash; “casual sex.” Porn declares that sexual chemistry &emdash; not unconditional love &emdash; is the real meaning of human interaction. These assumptions are not only dead wrong, they are potentially fatal if taken to heart. Porn is sexuality’s “lowest common denominator” &emdash; does a concept’s lowest manifestation need to be its shining model?


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