Ross Douthat talks porn

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At The Atlantic. I assume regular readers will have some opinions about Ross’ opinions….

17 Comments

  1. But the attention paid to the connection between porn and infidelity doesn?t translate into anything like a consensus on what that connection is. Polls show that Americans are almost evenly divided on questions like whether porn is bad for relationships, whether it?s an inevitable feature of male existence, and whether it?s demeaning to women. This divide tends to cut along gender lines, inevitably: women are more likely to look at pornography than in the past, but they remain considerably more hostile to porn than men are, and considerably less likely to make use of it. (Even among the Internet generation, the split between the sexes remains stark. A survey of American college students last year found that 70 percent of the women in the sample never looked at pornography, compared with just 14 percent of their male peers; almost half of the men surveyed looked at porn at least once a week, versus just 3 percent of the women.)  
     
    That 86% number is in the ballpark of what I was saying in last month’s thread.

  2. I think it’s useful to conceptualize Douthat’s piece as part of a broader whole. One of the things I’ve been realizing is that the religious are more sustainably fertile because their attitudes are towards more shots on goal (“no porn”, “no prostitution”,”no homosexuality”,”no sodomy”), more goals (“no abortions” & sometimes “no birth control”), fewer offsides calls (“no sex before marriage”), and consistent teamwork (“no divorce”,”no adultery”).  
     
    (I include the modifier “sustainably” b/c out of wedlock births aren’t sustainably fertile — such families are generally wards of the state and would not persist without the influx of fedguv or UN dollars.) 
     
    Note that I am not saying that outlawing abortion would increase fertility, but rather that women whose sentiments are in that direction are probably innately more inclined to fertility than those who are not — and similarly for the other issues. You could easily study this with some regression analysis, but I think it’s pretty clear that social conservatism correlates with fertility; the question is whether it does so even when the social conservatism arises from genetic factors rather than from parental transmission.  
     
    Anyway, to continue — there was an interesting quote about Roissy’s site the other day. It said, roughly: “Roissy’s site is full of young men who are angry at women for failing to fulfill their end of the bargain as wives and mothers.” There’s definitely an element of truth to that. I think many engineering/technical/web types would have preferred to settle down right after college, but as Sailer so astutely noted, affordable family formation just isn’t possible in the areas around elite colleges. One can certainly make due with the often physically attractive but frequently personally unattractive lawyer/pharma rep/etc. types that predominate in urban areas, but this is a suboptimal solution.  
     
    Just ruminating here, but I’d bet that society would overall be much better off if it was both economically feasible and strongly encouraged to get married, settle down, and have children right after college. That requires low housing prices and strong societal signaling about “what is the best life”. It would also require annihilating the influence of feminism. When women are told that a state of mutual dependence with a man is the highest evil, it actually results in *more* patriarchy as alpha sex appeal becomes the only criterion for male selection…with predictable consequences. Alphas aren’t civilized, betas are bitter, all but the hottest women are dumped, the uglies are completely SOL, etc.  
     
    There are many 2nd order phenomena that arise from deferred marriage. One of them is the kind of widespread depression and withdrawal described in “Bowling Alone”, and another is mass porn consumption.  
     
    Anyway, not saying that early marriage is a panacea, but just some thoughts.

  3. if it was both economically feasible and strongly encouraged to get married, settle down, and have children right after college 
     
    Thing is, economic feasibility is somewhat a matter of perspective and status expectations. If you don’t mind living in a 1950s size house with kids living three in a room, a big family is a lot more practical.  
    A better question to my mind would be ‘why *after* college’? What good does college do a woman in this scenario? I am not trying to be misogynistic here. College is really expensive, and if you are in it for the career opportunities it would make more sense (for someone who was going to be out of commission, jobwise, for ten years raising kids) to defer the cost until later. For that matter, most college degrees are a poor investment in terms of income ROI. Several of the more successful women I know did in fact have kids early and then started building careers in their thirties. Makes more sense than spending five or ten years building a career and then sinking that investment to have kids. 
     
    As for Douthat, he wrote an interesting piece but spent too much time on the legalistic/semantic question of whether using porn is adultery.

  4. Several of the more successful women I know did in fact have kids early and then started building careers in their thirties.  
     
    I think that is also a good model. I meant “after college” for the male. Even more ideal would be a decent standard of living on a single income. It would be interesting for someone to do an accounting to see why that slipped away. Leaving aside all the issues associated with NAM subsidization, Is overall productivity and/or happiness really higher with both men & women working? Seems like happiness certainly isn’t. Productivity might be, though that’s an empirical question.

  5. In the name of providing a low-risk alternative for males who would otherwise be tempted by ?real? prostitutes and ?real? affairs, we?re ultimately universalizing, in a milder but not all that much milder form, the sort of degradation and betrayal that only a minority of men have traditionally been involved in.” 
     
    How very Christian of him.  
     
    Mr. Douhat apparently has an IV connection to the Bloodbag of Morality which grants him dispensation to lump untold thousands of individual acts each with its particularized motivation into his own category of “degradation and betrayal”. 
     
    Mr. Douhat, if you don’t like porn-don’t look at it. If you don’t approve of prostitutes-don’t visit them. 
     
    Why anything I do in these areas is any of your concern remains unexplained. Well, explained beyond the traditional and increasingly shopworn Christian “guilt” projection, anyway.

  6. Quick reaction before finishing the article — this shows that girls prefer a pervert over a loser, as commenter Gannon said to commenter Peter at Roissy’s once. Check out the barely legal assistant that Peter Cook was banging: 
     
    http://gutter.curbed.com/archives/2006/07/18/diana_bianchi_new_face_of_architectural_temptation.php 
     
    He was in his late 40s at the time. Dude, it’s gonna be so freakin sweet to be a dirty old man.

  7. The Swedes seem to do alright with high numbers of out of wedlock births, but they aren’t really broken homes.

  8. A better question to my mind would be ‘why *after* college’? What good does college do a woman in this scenario? I am not trying to be misogynistic here. College is really expensive, and if you are in it for the career opportunities it would make more sense (for someone who was going to be out of commission, jobwise, for ten years raising kids) to defer the cost until later.  
     
    My mother, who went to college back in the late 1940′s, remembered somewhat contemptuously the girls who were there seeking their “M.R.S.” degrees. The idea being that girls of a certain social class were more likely to meet a nice doctor, lawyer, etc. at college and thus make a good marriage, especially if there were slim pickings manwise in their hometowns. Mind you, this was in the post WWII years when there was a bona fide man shortage. It was also fairly common for the woman to drop out of college upon getting married; my aunt was in pre-med but dropped out to marry her civil engineer. I suppose the college education was regarded more as a backup, in case you didn’t find a husband while you were there.  
     
    Obviously, even back then there were financial considerations; I would imagine it was mostly girls from wealthy families or those with aspirations to marry up that went this route. My mother and her sister were daughters of immigrants; they were the two youngest and the older siblings who were already working paid for the younger ones to go to college. Can you imagine a family doing that today — expecting the older ones to finish high school and get a job so that the younger siblings could go to college?  
     
    These days, with college costing ridiculous amounts of money and being dumbed down to the point where a bachelor’s degree is required for jobs that should require a high school education at most, one could make the case that might do better with fewer people attending college.

  9. in the late 1940′s, remembered somewhat contemptuously the girls who were there seeking their “M.R.S.” degrees 
     
    I can attest to this behavior quite a bit more recently. The (now-ex) wife of one of my friends in the 1980s described a woman she met at Concordia University (in St Paul) who was very open about being there to find a husband; she apparently evaluated the prospects, made a top ten list with detailed notes, and eventually pursued and married the number four guy on her list. And then left school to become a homemaker. This would have been in the early 1980s. 
    Looking back on it now I have to admire someone who knows what they want and pursues it in such a deliberate, goal-oriented way. I’m sure I didn’t think that at the time. And I would assume many women do the same thing today, though perhaps they are less open about it given the social constraints. 
     
    Even more ideal would be a decent standard of living on a single income 
     
    Well, returning to my first comment – people always want more. I have a wife and three kids and we have (basically) one income, though my wife now has a nascent business that grosses about $20K per year. But do we have a decent standard of living? Did people have a ‘decent’ standard of living in the 1950s? You can live that way – no internet, no cable TV, very limited square feet per person, relatively old/worn clothes – for pretty cheap in most places. But your status will suffer, since this is not considered normal any more. The cost of maintaining average social status is high, let alone the cost of trying to climb to the top of the middle class.

  10. The numbers cited in that article are at odds with those cited on this site a little while back. Which kind of goes back to what myself and several others were saying then; pretty much every guy looks at porn but a bunch of them are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it, throwing off surveys that rely on self reports. 
     
    On the subject the article covers, he spends a lot of time splitting hairs and never really reaches the obvious conclusion – cheating ought to be defined as going behind your partner’s back, doing something they’d disapprove of, and then lying about it. 
     
    There’s plenty of women who view looking at porn as infidelity – none who I’d ever choose to date, but that’s beside the point. If their significant other chooses to view it anyway, then it’s dishonesty and might rightly be labeled as cheating. On the far end of the other side of the spectrum, there are people in open relationships, swingers, the polyamory community, and others for whom outright having sex with other people is done with the full knowledge and approval of the other partner – I’d be hard pressed to call that “cheating” in any real sense. 
     
    So cheating has nothing to do with individual acts and everything to do with the intent and assumptions about the boundaries of the relationship (which can conflict between the two partners if they’re not communicated)

  11. Can Douhat really believe that looking at porn is equivalent to adultery? 
     
    If so, he should immediately print and send 10,000 copies of a steak and potato jpeg to a famine zone

  12. Obviously looking at porn is not adultery. I mean, c’mon. What he’s getting at is its potential negative consequences on the stability of marriage — that’s an empirical question. Look into it, see if there’s anything. If so, that’s it — no questionable analogy with adultery is needed.  
     
    There is that one study showing that after seeing a naked female (I don’t remember if she was having sex or was solo naked), guys reported lower satisfaction in their relationship than before they saw the naked lady. Women had no such response to seeing a naked beefcake. 
     
    One thing social conservatives should do to better insulate themselves from temptation is to stop being so involved in “bettering the community” and civic life. Going to church, teaching or tutoring part-time, coaching sports, etc. — all of these drop a guy right into a pack of hormone-dripping nubile girls, and that’s a lot worse than porn: they’re better looking than your graying wife, and their personalities are more refreshing, a danger that’s not posed by porn stars. 
     
    pretty much every guy looks at porn but a bunch of them are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it, throwing off surveys that rely on self reports. 
     
    The article didn’t provide a citation, but if they studied “male college students,” they probably used self-reports. It’s not surprising that so many male college students look at porn. 
     
    It would be interesting to compare them with their counterparts who live at home, either commuting to college or not in college. The studies on binge drinking show that living at home reduces the risk of drinking, for obvious reasons of parental supervision, fear of getting caught, etc. 
     
    Same must be true for looking at porn — what if you only have one or two computers in the home, but they’re not in your private room? Ha. Or, what if your parents are always around the house? That will cut down on your porn-viewing, for the reason Chris Rock said: it’s a “somebody in the other room” jerk, that’s a bad jerk.

  13. GC: 
     
    I think you have the correct (and pretty complete) “take” on the matter, including the prescriptive bit. And you could just early it up a year or two for those who aren’t college-bound, though some time toward maturity is necessary in many cases. 
     
    I just attended a 55th HS reunion dinner and happened to reflect that, of the HS sweetheart couples that married, whether before or after college (or with or without college), every single one of which I was aware has survived intact, though some, indeed, were parted by death. 
    That was true even whether or not the two attended the same college. I guess the “early bird” certainly does “get the worm” (and maybe other goodies as well). 
     
    By the way, the phrase, properly, is “make do” (rather than “due”).

  14. agnostic: 
     
    In the “old days,” there were a couple of well-known rules applicable to such behavior. 
     
    First, there’s the “kosher” rule”: don’t get your meat where you get your bread and butter. 
     
    And, then, prudent business policy: don’t dip your pen in company ink.

  15. In porn procreative sex is increasingly relegated to the status of foreplay.Young men watching porn are going to to try what they see done on screen. http/://www.slate.com/id/2126643/  
    Ass Backwards by William Saletan on Slate

  16. Believe me agnostic, I know young girls. a lot of women would not want to overhear men discuss their charms or lack thereof. 
    –most dirty old men, most of the time, would not want to hear most of the girls discuss charms of said man, or lack thereof.  
    One thing that makes a successful d.o.m is persistance, judgment and a thick skin.

  17. “the $3,000 a month he dropped on adult Web sites,” 
     
    Doesn’t this idiot know how to get cracked passwords?

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