while we’re on the subject of bad habits that can turn unwitting kids into unhappy adults, how about that other epidemic out there that is far more likely to make their future lives miserable than carrying those extra pounds ever will? That would be the emerging social phenomenon of what can appropriately be called “sexual obesity”: the widespread gorging on pornographic imagery that is also deleterious and unhealthy, though far less remarked on than that other epidemic—and nowhere near an object of universal public concern.
The data about the immersion of young Americans in pornography are startling and disturbing. One 2008 study focused on undergraduate and graduate students ages 18 to 26 across the country found that more than two-thirds of men—and one out of every ten women in the sample—viewed pornography more than once a month.
Countless men,” she summarizes from the interviews, “have described to me how, while using pornography, they have lost the ability to relate to or be close to women. They have trouble being turned on by ‘real’ women, and their sex lives with their girlfriends or wives collapse.”
Treating men in the early to mid-1990s for their pornography habits, he found it a common refrain that many were no longer able to have intercourse with their own wives. “Pornographers,” he concludes, “promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it.”
Mary Eberstadt on The Weight of Smut that is crushing our society.
She presents a summary of the social science reports on the social costs of pornography.
Bursting through the academically neutral language, the studies, the survey data, and the econometrics were the skin and bones of the very human stories that went into it all: the marriages lost or in tatters; the sexual problems among the addicted; the constant slide, on account of higher tolerance, into ever edgier circles of this hell; the children and teenagers lured into participating in various ways in this awful world in the effort to please romantic partners or exploitive adults. This report, in sum, like the conference that preceded it, answers definitively the libertarian question of “So what about pornography?” with a solid list of “Here’s what”—eight documented findings about the manifold risks of warping the sexual template with pornographic imagery
Her good suggestion
What, if anything, can be done about this other obesity epidemic? For starters, we could use a campaign that might promise to do to pornography what was ultimately done to tobacco—a restigmatization based on the evolving record of fact. What’s needed is nothing less than the kind of leadership that turned smoking, in the course of a single generation, from cool to uncool—one eventually summoning support high and low, ranging from celebrities, high-school teachers and principals, counselors, former users, and anyone else who knows they belong in the coalition of the willing on this wretched issue.
She quotes Roger Scruton
"This, it seems to me, is the real risk attached to pornography. Those who become addicted to this risk-free form of sex run a risk of another and greater kind. They risk the loss of love, in a world where only love brings happiness.”
Max, a commenter, remarks
Or, as Malcolm Muggeridge put it more succintly: "How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me.