2014 New York Magazine Holdings LLC. I saw Andrea Dworkin, the anti-porn activist most famous in the eighties for her conviction that opening the floodgates of pornography would lead men to see real women in sexually debased ways. If we did not limit pornography, she argued—before Internet technology made that prospect a technical impossibility—most men would come to objectify women as they changing fashion trends essay porn stars, and treat them accordingly.
In a kind of domino theory, she predicted, rape and other kinds of sexual mayhem would surely follow. The feminist warrior looked gentle and almost frail. So was she right or wrong? So where does that leave their girlfriends? But can there be too much of a good thing? She was right about the warning, wrong about the outcome. As she foretold, pornography did breach the dike that separated a marginal, adult, private pursuit from the mainstream public arena.
The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographized. Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training—and this is having a huge effect on how they interact. But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention. Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it.
More, more, you big stud! For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn. Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market.