Sorry, CBC, porn actually is turning us into damaged losers

By Jonathon Van Maren

“The idea that we should all feel ashamed of ourselves, that we’re all damaged losers is really preposterous,” announced the CBC post on Facebook, featuring an article titled, “Why Pamela Anderson is wrong to shame porn when denouncing Anthony Weiner.”

The statement comes from Kristen Gilbert, director of education at Options for Sexual Health, who “says shaming the people who watch pornography needs to end.”

Huh. I wasn’t aware that “shaming the people who watch pornography” was a thing that was particularly common, my own feeble efforts notwithstanding. Gilbert is angry that Pamela Anderson, former Playboy pinup, co-wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal condemning porn, and is trotting out the same tired tropes that porn defenders always do when defending it. Unfortunately, Gilbert seems to be utterly unaware that a non-stop stream of research is revealing devastating connections between porn and divorce, porn and sexual assault, porn and sexual impotence, and porn and poisoned relationships. She lazily accuses those who oppose porn of being religious, since that accusation can now somehow be perceived as an actual argument.

She then spouts out one of the most ignorant statements on porn I’ve read in a long time:

What about if we taught people that sex is natural and human and beautiful and pleasurable and satisfying? How would we feel about watching porn then? Maybe we would be more inclined to see it as fantasy or a release.

Um, huh? It’s precisely because we think that sex is natural and human and beautiful and pleasurable and satisfying that those of us sounding the alarm on porn’s impact have been highlighting how poisonous it is. And it isn’t even religious people who are leading the charge on the war against porn, either—it’s feminist sociologists like Dr. Gail Dines who point out that porn is literally fueling rape culture.

Gilbert goes on:

We know what you’re thinking — the porn industry isn’t exactly a glowing bastion for equality, fairness, and women’s rights. And isn’t it also ruining the way young boys interact with young girls? 

Gilbert wouldn’t dispute the industry is lacking in ethics, but in her view that does not excuse people from having the tough, and often very awkward conversations about sex that often drive kids to seek porn out.

So if you’re freaking out about your son or daughter looking at porn, Gilbert says it’s vital to think of sexual curiosity as natural in a child’s development, not as the “debasement” that Anderson paints it to be. 

Okay, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that Gilbert’s arguments are stupid and woefully uninformed. She has obviously not acquainted herself with the enormous body of research on pornography, and anyone who isn’t worried about children seeing hardcore pornography that includes women being called the c-word, referred to as sluts, and routinely degraded is not someone parents should be taking seriously as someone with advice or insight worth following.

I think the quote CBC decided to post above the article on Facebook is indicative of why they decided to interview her and why they chose to ignore actual experts in the field of porn’s impact and interview Ms. Gilbert: “The idea that we should all feel ashamed of ourselves, that we’re all damaged losers is really preposterous.” See the defensiveness there? Ms. Gilbert and others obviously feel called out and more than a little irate by the assertions of Pamela Anderson and others that porn does just that.

And is that idea really so preposterous?

Should we feel ashamed of ourselves for watching material in which women are called sluts and whores and so much worse?

Should we feel ashamed of ourselves for watching material that routinely features women being physically abused in appalling ways?

Should we feel ashamed of ourselves when watching women and girls in pain physically arouses us?

Should we feel ashamed of ourselves when we prioritize porn over our relationships, and refuse to acknowledge the hurt and pain that many partners feel when they discover that their husbands and boyfriends are sexually satisfying themselves with thousands of other faceless women?

I could go on. But I’ll leave it with this: Ms. Gilbert is wrong. Porn is turning us into damaged losers who get off by watching women and girls subjected to horrifying and degrading things, and that’s not even niche anymore. That’s mainstream porn. As one porn producer put it, “The future of American porn is pain.”

That is what Ms. Gilbert is defending.

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One thought on “Sorry, CBC, porn actually is turning us into damaged losers

  1. Andrea says:

    Funny that we should get a woman defending a largely male addiction.

    I imagine she fails to mention one of the biggest problems with porn – the actual real life abuse of the people involved. It’s a shame to get off to footage of people being abused.

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