Porn: Pro & Con

Comments

1
One sleeve-of-wizard tightening can cost as much as a full year's worth of anal bleachings. Yet both are fundamental. It's an outrage that in these tough economic times, families are having to choose one or the other.
2
Rape is something in which the victim has no choice in the matter.

While genital cosmetic surgery is pretty fucked up, it is something done by choice.

3
Porn stars are chosen for their small labias?
4
That's not a trade-off. We can easily change cultural stereotypes of beautiful, and we do (see 80s centerfolds with miles of pubic hair). As the internet expands access to porn, it also provides more diversity in porn, and (in my personal experience) that means lots of kinds of vaginas.

In fact, as I think about it, I don't buy this hypothesis, entirely. If it IS true, I suspect it generally will be a transient effect, or that it's not truly associated with access to porn. Honestly, it doesn't quite make sense. It seems that most people in porn are picked because they're pretty, not because they have a certain kind of vulva. And (as Savage Love may have discussed once or twice) who the FUCK says to a person "I can't date you, your major labs are too hefty."

Who is getting these surgeries, and how does it relate to pron?
5
If a grown woman wants to have her vagina cosmetically altered, that should be perfectly fine. I can't see anything wrong with that. And this notion that porn does something to women is bull. There are at least as many men in porn. And if that's what they want to do, they're adults. They can decide that for themselves.
6
@4, I can't find the link, but the Australian censors only allow pornography that features particular kinds of vulvas (ones with small, tucked-away labias). If you Google around a bit I'm sure you'll find the report I'm thinking of. I don't think the government exerts the same kind of pressure in the U.S., but I would guess that pornography is nonetheless unrepresentative.
7
@5: you don't see the harm in making a lot of women feel ugly because of their body type? No surgery is riskless, by the way, so if people have to get surgery in order to feel attractive, then they are bearing risks that I think most reasonable people don't think they should have to bear.
8
The internet and the proliferation of digital cameras is undercutting the market for professional porn - Time Warner has already seen its pay-per-view profits crushed. We can hope that the focus on the professional "ideal" will be similarly reduced. http://www.dailytech.com/Time+Warner+Goe…
9
I read the linked article. First of all, the study was 33 women. Second of all, there was no mention in the description of the study or the reasons given by the women that had anything to do with porn.

"Women were "bombarded with images suggesting they were not normal", including websites advertising female genital cosmetic surgery which presented idealised images of the perfect vagina." No mention of porn anywhere except by the writer of the piece. If I hadn't read this comparison, I would have come away thinking, "yes, plastic surgery is quite fucked up, isn't it?"

Dan, I'm not entirely sure what point you thought you were trying to make, but what you've presented is a pretty ridiculous false dichotomy.
10
(Not to mention the pain, expense, and side-effects of surgery, above and beyond the risk that something will go wrong. And of course there are all the women who don't get surgery but still feel ugly and can't enjoy being naked with a partner because of it, or enjoy it less. Christ, I don't understand you people - haven't you ever felt insecure about something in a way that makes sex awkward or less enjoyable?)
11
@6, Australia has some really twisted censorship practices. They recently put the stop on images of women with small breasts, because it resembles child porn. They put the stop on female ejaculation, because urination is not allowed on film.
12
It's similar with violent movies. Crime rates actually go down when violent blockbusters debut because all the sociopaths are watching the movies.

Similarly, this is kind of why I get sick of hearing from people who complain about folks on welfare having cable TV. These are the folks at the bottom of our socioeconomic ladder with the most reason for discontentment - their options for stimulation are limited. Cable TV isn't going to keep someone determined to get out of their rut from polishing their resume, but it might keep someone who's resigned to their current situation from holding up a liquor store. Fuck religion. Television is the new opiate of the masses (just ask Calvin & Hobbes), and I'm not sure that's an entirely bad thing in certain scenarios. God - I feel like a villain from Fahrenheit 451.
13
I guess it proves the old addage, all you need to become successful in porn is a small labia and a bad childhood.
14
@11: I know. There's a video that I can't find that really makes the issue hit home. Sometimes I think the best argument against censorship is not that it is an abstract violation of human rights, but that in practice it is, at best, perverse and stupid. What do the Australians think they are accomplishing?
15
Should pedophiles be given access to fake child porn to reduce the likelihood they'll seek out the real thing? Seems logical based on the argument.
16
@5 - i'm with vince. i don't understand why an adult woman seeking cosmetic surgery (even of a type we think is weird/creepy) would be considered "genital mutilation" by anyone. if she is an adult who understands the risks of the procedure, there isn't any reason for us to stop her from doing what she wants. even if we think it's stupid. and it does a great disservice to real victims of FGM, i think, to lump together a voluntary cosmetic procedure with ACTUAL genital mutilation, which is forced on young girls with horrifying results.
17
@12 that's a good point.
18
I'm glad we are finally placing the blame for our fucked up culture where it belongs - with Australia! You know what else those twisted fucks do? Spread some awful brown salty paste on bread and call it "food." Then they go surfing! Sometimes they do both things AT THE SAME TIME!! I say: "Less rape! More big pussies! Down with Australia!" Who's with me?!?
19
@16: All right, so. Imagine you can push a button, and immediately men will feel deep shame about the appearance of their genitals. This shame will manifest itself in a variety of pathologies: inability to enjoy sex, general insecurity about appearance, expensive and dangerous surgical procedures, etc. Now bear in mind, no one is forcing these men to avoid sex, to hate their own bodies, to get unnecessary surgery, etc. It's all voluntary, except for the feelings of shame that give rise to all of it. I take it you are indifferent as to whether someone pushes the button? It's an equally good society whether or not this shame exists?
20
@4,7--I see no significant moral distinction between a freely consenting adult human female getting a qualified medical professional to trim her labia (or even a juvenile having said proceedure done with parental consent) and someone getting a nose job.

I see no moral distinction between purely cosmetic genital sculpting and having it done therapeutically as part of gender reassignment. In both cases, if a friend asked me if he or she should have it done, I'd say that I loved him or her just the way he or she is but that if he or she feels he or she needs it to feel attractive, if it's affordable, why the hell not?

There's a line there. If a friend told me he or she felt the therapeutic amputation of an otherwise healthy limb was needed, I'd tell that friend that I wouldn't trust any doctor who was willing to do that.
21
Guys, "labia" is already plural. The singular is "labium".
22
Hey Minder, have you ever seen a porn? There are often men in it, too. Usually been with great big throbbing cocks. Very few men with small or even average cocks, or not-very-hard cocks, or cocks that curve in interesting ways. Mostly just big, wide, long, hard cocks.

Based on your argument, those cocks ARE the "magic button" that should supposedly make men feel all kinds of involuntary shame about their shape/size/color/level of hardness, and make them run out to seek supposedly dangerous surgical procedures and/or not enjoy sex as much. Are you arguing that's the case?

I'm not saying porn doesn't alter a person's perception of "ideal beauty." But so does ALL media. And so do ALL interactions with other people.
23
What AmyC said @ 16, about lumping them together. While it may be somewhat tragic in its own right that some women feel inadequate after watching porn, to the extent that they seek out plastic surgery, it is nowhere near the same as FGM.

p.s. why are we just now having this conversation? women have been getting boob jobs to look like porn stars for decades.
24
@20: see my comment at 19. To isolate the decision to have surgery from the overall context of shame is to miss the point. If you could push a button and beam into every woman's head the thought, "I should feel bad about my labia," would you do it? And if not, why not? After all, women's response to that thought would be entirely voluntary. I'm not proposing that you go point a gun at their head and force them to get surgery. Just make them feel bad about their bodies. What could be wrong with that? Right?
25
Is this an argument about what kind of porn to watch, or one about the wisdom of having any porn at all?

@15
There are some countries where the standards are fairly permissive about images of kids. It does seem to help the statistics. People of all stripes have a funny way of not being able abstain. Do we really need to criminalize cartoons of fictional characters?
26
@22, as a matter of fact, lots of men do feel bad about their cocks, and are willing to do a variety of things to address the resulting insecurity. Do you have an email account?
27
Minder --

The existence of attractive women makes me feel bad about my appearance.

We should thus get rid of all attractive women.

Same argument you are making.
28
every single site i've visited has ads surrounding it offering some kind of formula/pump/pill whatever to grow your cock. big flashing pictures, "embarrassing" befores and insane afters. i do believe porn feeds insecurities in men as well as women. i've read again and again that men have body issues very similar to women, but i think they are less likely to seek out solutions to their perceived, ahem, shortcomings, because it is less socially acceptable/encouraged to do so.
29
@26 Why yes, I am aware that lots of men feel badly about their cocks. My husband used to feel quite bad about his larger-than-average cock because kids made fun of him in gym class during shows. They called him horse-cock. He felt like a freak of nature. We probably should ban men from ever seeing other men naked so that they don't feel bad about themselves.
30
@20 - I don't disagree with you at all. It's their choice. That' doesn't mean that the reasons for their choice aren't disturbing.

ACTUALLY, EVERYONE READ THAT. nothing Dan said advocated limiting or preventing female genital cosmetic surgery.

And back to 20, I am not clear how your response was a response to me. Where does porn fit into getting cosmetic surgery?

31
I read somewhere of a study that claimed to show that straight men who are into facial cumshots (which I thought was all of us, but apparently not) are actually LESS likely to hold misogynistic views or think of women as objects. Fascinating if true, but I'm instinctively suspicious of all research that so perfectly tells me what I want to hear...
32
@11--On the issue of censorship, I personally draw the line at actual harm to actual non-consenting individuals.

A child cannot personally give consent and there are things that a responsible parent cannot consent to in that child's behalf. But I don't see anything wrong in the photography of Lewis Carroll. Creepy, yes. Censurable? Not if the parents were okay with the shoot.

In fact, I see something wrong in the shrill moralizing voice of public outrage damning as child pornography the naked back of then fifteen year old Miley Cyrus or the photographs of ten year old Thylene Blondeau not wearing very much at all.

For it to cross that clear bright line, there has to be actual, verifiable harm occurring. Otherwise, it's no worse than existing in a state of questionable taste.
33
@27 - I don't think I've made the argument that we should get rid of pornography. I'm trying to highlight the trade-offs that seem to come with it, at least as it is practiced in the English-speaking world. Everyone wants to exonerate pornography by pointing out that surgery is voluntary. That doesn't work, because you can't exonerate pornography of the shame that led to the unnecessary surgery in the first place. When people are made to feel that they are unattractive because they have protrusive labia, that is a goddamn shame, and nothing about the voluntariness of surgery can fix that.

Now, trade-offs are called trade-offs for a reason. You have to consider the costs if we were to exterminate all attractive women. Those costs greatly outweigh the putative benefits. But you shouldn't shy away from thinking about trade-offs, particularly if those trade-offs are not inherent but are imposed by the current structure of the market or the law. Maybe none of this would be a problem if pornography were more diverse. But you'll never fix society until you confront the issues raised by things like pornography.
34
@33, if there's one thing the internet has taught me, it's that pornography actually IS pretty diverse :-)
35
It's not even true that porn particularly shows women with small labia. WTH, Dan? You of all people shouldn't be repeating this silly myth/speculation.

Porn is not what is making these women insecure, though people who spread that rumor might be.

Ladies, we like your lips. We are happy with them. We like them much, much more than most (straight) women do. Do not mess with them.
36
@34 and @35: I think that porn is increasingly diverse, and I imagine that is a good thing all around. I do think that a variety of pressures have kept pornography restricted over the years, from legal restrictions (Australia) to market conventions (the U.S.). Playboy's refusal to "go pink" was tantamount to a refusal to show vulvas with protrusive labia, right? Or am I misunderstanding Playboy's policy? (Quite possible since I've seen exactly one Playboy ever.)
37
@36, i don't know about playboy's policy about pink because i haven't seen one in years - is it even considered pornography anymore? but i do know that not everybody likes seeing too much pink and it's nothing to do with sexism or idealizing womens' bodies or an aversion to certain types of labia. it's all just what you want to see vs. what you don't.

boob jobs, full brazilians, anal bleaching, labial sculpting ... i don't like seeing any of it. but i don't want to see a whole lot of pink, either. i don't know what that says about me based on this conversation, it just is what it is.
38
minder, people are disagreeing with you because porn shows unrealistic, self image shattering portrayals* of both men's and women's bodies. You're just focusing on the TERRIBLE HARM this does to women's psyches without acknowledging men at all. That's sexist, yo.

*I don't actually believe this.
39
I would go with yes. People should be allowed to do what they want with their own bodies, even if the things they want are stupid.
40
@37: right, it's entirely possible that pure market forces would result in non-representative pornography (or perhaps, pornography that is representative of men's desires instead of women's bodies). And it's also entirely possible that for women to feel good about their bodies, we would have to engage in a certain amount of pretense, just as for men to feel good about their bodies we have to say that "size doesn't matter," even though it does to some people. All of this just makes the trade-off all the more stark and tragic. (For the record, I am not at all sure that men's tastes actually tend toward less-protrusive labia - I bet plenty of men have the opposite reaction.)

@38: not everything can be about everything.
41
personally, i think that womens' body issues start in early childhood and are reinforced and encouraged every single step of the way, and are firmly established well before they ever see their first images of pornography or pair up with a guy who has. i blame barbie and gender-role hyping parents and a host of other things. pornography really needs to take a number.
42
@ 36 - I'm old enough to remember that their argument was that Playboy was "a gentlemen's magazine", and showing labia would be in bad taste. (Not labia itself: showing it. Those were different times. Discretion was still a widespread value.)

Was the argument true? Can't say, but since no other big magazine was showing labia at the time - which is why Penthouse became so popular when it started doing so - I think they simply were afraid of the potential backlash if they did.
43
@41: right, but something - maybe not pornography - seems to be accelerating the problem, at least with respect to labia. I mean, I guess it could just be increased access to surgery, but that seems unlikely.
44
@ 41 - So true.

Most women I know (in their 40's) would not have looked at porn until the Internet came along and they could do it in private without anyone seeing them go into a moviehouse or buy a magazine (I don't know if they do now, but they wouldn't have before). Porn was the tool of the oppressor blah blah blah, you know.

Yet, these same women are the ones who made breast surgery and all those other elective body-image-enhancing surgeries widespread.

So, Minderbender, please tell me: where the fuck did they get their body issues from, then?
45
I inherited a straight porn collection spanning the 1940s to early 2000s (why couldn't he have been gay!?).Tastes have changed so much in such a short amount of time that I can't fathom choosing irreversible, genital-altering surgery based on a trend. Utterly unfamiliar with ladypartys though I may be, my understanding of straight guys is that they dwell more on body size than labia preference. I mean if the stuck-together pages of 60 years of magazines are any indication, the former owner of my home would fap to everything from fur bikini to Playboyesque tiny-labia vulvas.

TLDR: This matters to straight guys?
46
@41 - what i'm saying is that while pornography may provide some of the fuel, it is not the spark. the insecurities took root long before. TV and my own mother had decimated my self image before i even got into first grade. (mr. herriman's a girl, in case you didn't know).

pornography may reinforce what girls already think about themselves, but no more than something like baywatch or the miss america pageant would.
47
sorry, that was @ 43.
48
Worth it. Totally.
49
Personally, I think men and women have equal opportunities to develop body issues, at least if porn is the culprit.

But in my experience (which may relate to my generation and those before, and no longer be valid), men are usually brought up with a lot of positive reaffirmation from their parents, no matter how stupid they act etc., and girls are told to be modest, that they are more at risk of basically everything and that they are always meant to be more mature and let the boys win the argument even when they're wrong. (I am speaking VERY generally here - hey, I was one of the exceptions, so you don't need to tell me about them.)

Consequently, guys grow up with an inflated sense of self-worth, totally unrelated to reality, and girls grow up with a sense of inadequacy, no matter how perfect they are.

My point: Women with great bodies still constantly criticize them, and men with small penises think that they're Long Dong Silver (and behave accordingly).

50
@ 46 - I would say that Baywatch has done a lot more damage. For years, this was the most popular TV show in the world. Pamela Anderson (not exactly anyone's definition of a genius or anything else worthwhile), became the world's most prominent sex symbol - and therefore model for what women should look like - after she'd turned herself into a plastic doll.

And the worse part is that she was actually a lot more attractive before the operations, in my humble opinion as a gay man who can only appreciate the beauty of women on an esthetic level, not a sexual one.

(Mark the date, everyone, I just said I had an HUMBLE opinion. Doesn't happen too often.)
51
I see way more spam adds for penis enlargement than vaginal or labial reduction.... Porn created the craze for breast enhancement and the penis enlargement/hardener ads
52
Many people seem to completely ignore this part:
"It is important to note that these associations are just that—associations. They do not prove that pornography is the cause of the observed crime reductions. "
While this does very strongly suggest that porn doesn't cause rape, there are many, many other things that happened during the same time that could explain the downward trend (overall lower crime rates, feminism, social awareness, better policing etc.)
In other words - there might very well not be a trade-off.
53
@19: If I'm following your analogy, you are suggesting that women are insecure, weak-minded puppets who can't help but feel shame because their pussies don't look like those of (some) porn actresses? I don't think I know a single woman who fits this description, but it's an "interesting" perspective nonetheless.

You realize men spend loads of money on penis enlargement because of all the giant porn dicks they've seen, right? Are they helpless victims. Or fools?
54
@15, that argument has been made in other spots and is worth serious consideration. But before society would consider that, there would have to be far more empirical proof that porn is an outlet rather than an instigation. And the big problem I see off the top of my head is that pedophiles often use child porn to normalize molestation with their victims - so the ones who do that would just have some legal tools with which to do what they do, possibly further legitimizing it in the eyes of their potential victims.
55
@49 (Ricardo), I think your reasoning hit the bull's eye. Further to what you wrote, boys have so many opportunities to see other male genitals from their early years on – that the experience becomes a normal part of their lives, so they don't necessarily learn to obsess about any differences or alleged shortcomings in equipment. Because ... they're guys and that's that.

OTOH, I'm sure girls are still getting the message that they shouldn't touch themselves down there because it's dirty. What a damaging message that is, one that can't be easily discarded even when one becomes older. To add to the absurdity, the state of sex education in many jurisdictions is either non-existent or perfunctory and girls still don't know what variations exist in genital form and function. [I know, because I belong to an online community whose purpose is to educate and comfort women who otherwise believe they're damaged or ugly down there. And don't get me started on how many women have never experienced an orgasm. Arrgghh! Oops, OT.]

There ARE affirming websites now that show a a dizzying range of vulval shapes and sizes. And let's not forget Judy Chicago's amazing dinner party plates. But – sadly – most women aren't exposed to these images (because they're dirty and prudish paranoia rules), hence their insecurities override logic. I believe this would be true even if a woman had never seen one second of porn.

My reply to commenters who say why not undergo the surgery (beyond the normal risks), it's because a woman is reducing the size of a sexual organ that contains precious nerve endings (separate from the clitoris). Scarring and loss of sensation are only two possible horrifying results. So much more serious than a nose job, then.
56
@46: I'm perfectly willing to believe that most body-image issues stem from non-pornographic sources. But that seems less plausible with protrusive labia than with things like weight. How many mothers make snide remarks about their daughters' labia?

@53: I don't think I'm making an argument about the relative suggestibility of men and women. I'm simply observing that to the extent pornography makes women feel bad about their labia - and I think it's plausible that this happens to a non-negligible extent - it is a problem whether or not the resulting surgical procedures are voluntary.
57
@ 54 - I remember about 20-25 years ago seeing "Jung und Frei" on sale on every street corner in German cities. It's a nudist magazine specializing in photos of children. I was appalled, but nobody else seemed to mind. In fact, the first time I saw that mag was at a newsagent just in front of the courthouse in Munich.

I don't know if it's still on sale nowadays, or restricted to cvertain outlets or whatever, but I'd say there's a whole lot of empirical evidence that could be gathered right there.
58
@55: What do you think accounts for the increase in cosmetic labia surgery, if not porn? I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm genuinely curious. Is it just that the surgery is aggressively marketed? It's a fucking shame that surgeons can convince women their labia are ugly in order to induce them to pay for unnecessary surgery, assuming that to be the case.
59
@Ricardo: "Jung & Frei" was on the market since 1987. Youth services did mind and went to court against it and finally won (in 1997).
60
@ 55 - Even when the vagina is not specifically called dirty, it's still not treated as something to be proud of. As I was reading all those feminist books we had at my house, when I was a preteen, I never heard my mother talk about my older sisters' bits as anything but a source of "problems": periods, pregnancy, etc. (and we did talk very openly in my family). Strange, considering that SHE had bought those feminists books and placed them where we could easily find them and read them, in spite of the somewhat strong language.

Guys, on the other hand, are expected to be proud of their dick and to brag about it. My brother is always happy to mention that his son's penis is growing well (his son is 8). I always need to remind him that nobody cares about that but him and his son.

Women get the Vagina Monologues. Men get Puppetry of the Penis. I think that says it all.

61
56/minderbender: I'm simply observing that to the extent pornography makes women feel bad about their labia - and I think it's plausible that this happens to a non-negligible extent - it is a problem whether or not the resulting surgical procedures are voluntary.

Let's assume that pornography does make women feel bad about their labia, to an extent that is significant.

What do you propose should be done?

49/Ricardo: My point: Women with great bodies still constantly criticize them...

Women with great bodies (and pretty faces) may indeed always find some flaws in those physical parts but that doesn't mean they don't realize they have great bodies and pretty faces. Women who are hot and/or pretty know very well how attractive they are.
62
@ 59 - Glad to hear that. It still makes me feel sick to think it ever existed.

I first saw it in 88 (that's close to 25 years, no?)

Still, that means we have 10 years of data there to analyze.
63
@ 58 - If the message is that it's "dirty", then the corrolary is that it should be "cleaned up".
64
As long as people look at the fantasies sold and bought in the media as judgments on their own appearance, there will be insecurity and there will be cosmetic surgery. I don't blame porn for it, just as I don't blame advertising for all the other insecurities that women (and now also men, it seems) have about themselves. Maybe if we could simply learn to like each other more obviously, so that people wouldn't believe that the only way to be liked is to look like whatever statistically successful bodily form is found in media fantasies!...

But insecurity is difficult to get rid of, especially as a social phenomenon. I don't think it'll be leaving us any time soon.
65
@56: i'm sure you're right that most mothers do not teach their daughters to be ashamed of the appearance of their labia. but, at the risk of revealing WAYYYY too much about my own experiences, i vividly recall an incident where my sister and i were in the bath together as young children and my sister telling me that hers was cute and mine was "gross" because it didn't look like hers, and my mother didn't say anything corrective, she just agreed that yeah we were totally different looking. so ... do i have labia-related insecurity? no, not at all! but is it hard for me to imagine it fomenting in a young girl based on similar experiences? no, not at all.

even if things like this never happen to most girls, the idea that all bodies are not created equal is pervasive and deeply entrenched by a young age. some women will carry that to the extreme and elect for genital plastic surgery. that's the connection i'm making.
66
And (as Savage Love may have discussed once or twice) who the FUCK says to a person "I can't date you, your major labs are too hefty."

There are people who think like this. Remember the endless discussion, 'should pussies be shaved or not?' I suppose if porn really goes mainstream, labia aesthetics will become just like fashion -- and we'll have all the stupidity associated with fashion as a derivative.

What is sad is that a woman should think, for whatever reason, that the form and shape of her labia will really matter soooo terribly much that her chances at happiness or her self-esteem should be affected by it. We're a society of damn insecure people, is all.
67
Vince, who said above: "If a grown woman wants to have her vagina cosmetically altered, that should be perfectly fine. I can't see anything wrong with that. And this notion that porn does something to women is bull. There are at least as many men in porn. And if that's what they want to do, they're adults. They can decide that for themselves."

In principle I agree. Altering one's body is a private decision, and a person is damn well entitled to it. But... so many of these things are done because of someone's insecurity, someone's belief that happiness and love are just around the corner if only one's boobs were bigger, or if one's vagina looked more like Tera Patrick's.

And I disagree that men immune to such influences. True, men have always worried about the size of their penises; but I think the huge cocks in porn may have made more than one shy adolescent feel, ahn, inadequate. (I wonder if there are statistics about penis enlargment operations and their correlations with porn? Judging by all the penis enhancement e-mails I used to get, there's a lot of attention to that.)
68
@61: In Australia, I think the censors should stop favoring one kind of vulva over others. In the US, there are two approaches. One is to try to change the pornography. There are a variety of ways of doing this - isn't Hump coming up? I suspect that some distribution channels are better than others - those could be favored.

The other approach is to try to ameliorate the situation by doing what @55 does, or similar efforts. Most people know, on a rational level, that pornography is not a realistic depiction of sexual practices or body types. Many people nevertheless let it, and other obviously fake cultural products, affect their self-image. So maybe it would go a long way for men to show enthusiasm for their partners' labia? I don't know, it's hard to know how to do it without going all after-school-special.
69
@58
Why? Mostly lack of knowledge and exposure, as I mentioned. And, then, if a woman's only source of images is either porn or aggressive marketing campaigns, what's she going to believe - that there's nothing wrong with her bits that don't look anything like either depiction?

It take a strong woman to not be influenced otherwise. And, unfortunately, women are still raised to NOT be strong.
70
@ 61 - Yes, and I know that I don't have a 13-inch dick, and never acted as if I did. As I said in the same post, I was speaking VERY generally.

But to be more precise: I have known women with impossibly great bodies who think of themselves as "so-so", and even some who thought they needed surgery (and even worse, a few who actually got it). So how does the average-looking woman perceive herself in that sort of cultural context?

From an external point of view, it sometimes would seem that women in general can only feel secure in their insecurity (please note: I said "would seem"). There's often just no way to convince them that they are wonderful just as they are, not even when their S.O. looks like a drooling leotard in their presence.

But we know that the problem is not that they wallow in their lack of self-esteem, or that they use their imaginary faults to force people to constantly compliment them - that sort of things happen, but not that often. The problem lies in reasons such as those mentioned by Helenka @ 55.

From birth, they are taught not to be proud of the sexual parts of their bodies, whereas men are constantly told that they should be, even when they are indeed... under average, let's say - at least in my experience, but as I've stated before, I've seen an awful lot of cocks (and the men attached to them).

(A similar thing happens with the weight issue. A woman gains 2 kilos and thinks she's fat. A man has to be obese before he realizes he's no longer an athlete.)

This is a mindset we acquire long before we get to see any porn.

71
Give it time. As xtube and the like continue to overtake "professional" porn, and thereby displace the plastic-perfect pornstar with happy, unsculpted amateurs, the body insecurity driven by porn will diminish.

It'll never entirely disappear, but it will normalize, and, like the more mainstream body insecurity driven by the likes of Cosmo and the modeling industry, it will gradually reach an irreducible minimum.

Meanwhile, we'll all still get to enjoy porn and reduced rates of sexual assault. Yay!
72
Thanks, minderbender.

Nothing wrong with trying to change pornography (just like there's nothing wrong with trying to change the level of violence in movies or video games.) How successful this would be is, of course, open to question.

Also nothing wrong with trying to teach people to be happy with themselves the way they are physically. Again though, I'm not sure this is going to have a great impact on the amount of cosmetic surgery that's being performed.

73
@60
Interesting to hear about growing up in a house where there were reading materials around to try to get around the old-fashioned way of thinking (of women's sexual bits being a source of "problems").

I guess your mother was hoping the books would override her own unease when she herself could not provide a sense of security and pride in her daughters. I can see her protesting, "Don't look at me that way. After all, I gave them books to read." Better than nothing, I suppose.
74
For the love of God, where does this end? People who seek cosmetic surgery because of the images in porn are fucked up, and no amount of censorship can prevent them from being fucked up.

Nobody tells us not to fill up our gas tanks with water from the garden hose because it is reasonable to expect reasonable people won't do it. That some idiots may choose to do this doesn't mean that we need warning stickers about it, let alone ban garden hoses.

You can't protect idiots at the expense of everyone.
75
@65: Yikes, I had not contemplated that scenario. But anyway I think it is possible for two things to be true: 1. A lot of insecurities stem from pervasive, non-pornographic sources; and 2. Pornography exacerbates certain insecurities in an unfortunate way.

I hope @71 is right that we are fighting the last war, and that in the future pornography will be less and less harmful.
76
@7: It's not porn that makes women feel ugly because of their body type, it's social factors that put pressure on some women (not all: I know plenty of women who feel no pressure to look like porn stars) to modify their bodies to look more like the women in some porn (not all porn: "porn" also includes amateur/self-made porn, which represents a wide range of body types, and there are, of course, sub-genres of pornography that specifically feature women with all sorts of different body types and genital configurations). Basically, while porn may establish or reinforce an unrealistic ideal about e.g. genital configuration, social pressures beyond pornography itself are necessary for establishing that ideal as a coercive social norm that motivates women to get cosmetic genital surgery. People telling women they're ugly if they don't match the ideal, people making women feel that their only worth is in their body configuration, people who shame men for finding anything other than female beauty ideal X attractive: these are the forces responsible. Pornography, and specifically the way mainstream pornography is implemented, is more of a symptom (though I won't dispute the likelihood that there is a reinforcing effect) of body-image issues than a cause.

"Porn is bad" is an absurd generalization, as the broad definition of what constitutes "porn" means one is including all sorts of instances of porn that aren't actually related to the problem at hand. While there may very well be problems with unrealistic beauty ideals and while a significant percentage of mainstream pornography may serve to reinforce those unrealistic beauty ideals, it doesn't follow from those that porn qua porn is intrinsically problematic. As usual, the tendency toward inaccurate generalization and essentialism clouds and misframes the debate.

Also, being a big fan of bodily autonomy, I don't view women getting plastic surgery as inherently problematic, whatever the cause. It certainly might be part of a problematic constellation of behaviors, but I don't view it as convincing primary evidence of a problem.

@43: Actually, I think technology changes are exactly what's behind this. Before the development of near-transparent genital plastic surgery techniques for things like reconstructive surgery and gender reassignment, one didn't have a particularly marketable product. I also think the trend toward vulval shaving may have intensified normative pressures around vulval appearance, as things like labial protrusion are simply less-visible when the pubic mound is covered in hair.

@58: Ditto on the capitalization of biopolitics being a shame.

@69: Ditto.
77
70/Ricardo: As I said in the same post, I was speaking VERY generally. But to be more precise: I have known women with impossibly great bodies who think of themselves as "so-so", and even some who thought they needed surgery

I don't doubt that there are some women with impossibly great bodies who think of themselves as only "so-so." But I was speaking generally too, although I neglected to specifically include that in my sentence. So let me restate: In general, women who are hot and/or pretty know very well how attractive they are.
78
@65
even if things like this never happen to most girls, the idea that all bodies are not created equal is pervasive and deeply entrenched by a young age.
And the most horrid part about that is that value and societal ranking are still measured solely on physical perfection.

After all, it's a lot harder to SEE a beautiful mind. ::sighs::
79
@68
I would so love to watch THAT after school special!
80
NSFW: http://fleshbot.com/5834675/the-myth-of-… (It's a good discussion, with a range of porn star vulvas on display showing the diversity that exists in porn itself)

Lux Alptraum, who knows more about porn than anyone quoted in that story, has found a more likely culprit than porn, where such uniformity is lacking:

"And though the media likes to discuss how porn is everywhere, warping the minds of young people, there is, in fact, one vastly more prevalent source of sexual education that's far more likely to create a lasting impression of one "proper" way for a vulva to look: the diagram found in a biology textbook. Search for vagina on Google image search and you'll see this long before you find any porn."
81
@ 78: agreed. :-(
82
78/Helenka: After all, it's a lot harder to SEE a beautiful mind. ::sighs::

If a guy has a beautiful mind (and soul) but a woman he's interested in doesn't find him physically attractive she may be cool with him as a friend but she's not going to want to fuck him, date him or marry him.

Men have no patent on "judging" others based on their looks.
83
@ 78: agreed :-(
84
curse you, double post!!
85
@ 73 - That's the conclusion I came to as well.
86
This isn't really the way data works. I mean, Dan, porn is great and I think you make an interesting point, but ecological (country-level) data actually does not translate into individual-level data. Definitely a good idea to get science behind this, but these two studies are not one-to-one comparisons.
87
So Dan quotes an article suggesting that porn could have caused a decrease in rape, but, in the same quotation, researchers admit that there's no proven causation whatsoever. So, Dan, of course, concludes that porn decreases rape.

Credulous. Fucking. Hack.
88
Ricardo, I tend to agree with John Horstman (#76 above): the media (including porn) are not really responsible for the low self-esteem / feelings of shame that women (and nowadays also men) feel with respect to their bodies. There are other social factors involved, person-to-person interactions, other ideas and ideals (such as that there's something wrong with you if you didn't manage to 'catch' a partner). Oftentimes the media don't influence but are influenced by ideas and ideals of beauty and 'what you should look like'; one often has a chicken-and-egg problem here.

Also, idea(l)s of beauty and attractiveness have always existed, long before our post-modern mediatic world; and people (especially women) classified as 'unattractive' felt just as bad then as they feel today, and the number of practices and 'remedies' they would try to make themselves feel closer to whatever idea(l)s of beauty and attractiveness they happened to live under was, then as now, not small. (I work with South American indigenous groups, some of which have a number of body modification practices; some of them are 'religious', but some are really 'aesthetic' in that those that undergo them believe they will become more attractive to the opposite sex.)
89
@keshmesh (87), what you're saying is also not what the article says: they point out that the possibility of a negative correlation (more porn = less rape) cannot be excluded and should be researched. There are other articles defending the same idea, or at least the weaker viewpoint that porn doesn't make it worse, despite the ideas propagated by some feminist schools of thought (always presented without statistical evidence, by the way).

The jury is still out, but the evidence in favor of at least the weaker version ('porn doesn't stimulate rape'), and also for the stronger version ('porn tends to inhibits rape') , is growing.
90
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
-Oscar Wilde
91
@55 Helenka, would you post the link to that online educational community for women? I'd be interested in knowing more about that resource.

@80 excellent point.
93
@82/Roma
... but she's not going to want to fuck him, date him or marry him.

Men have no patent on "judging" others based on their looks.
Ah ... but that's where Ricardo's observations about boys being raised to be self-confident comes into play. Self-confidence IS sexy and a woman may overlook physical imperfections if a man is so assured of himself. Of course, on a one-to-one basis, a woman may reject a man because she's not turned on by him ... but her lack of responsiveness is not necessarily due to what she may consider to be a lack in his physical attributes.

As for the "judging", well, how many ::coughs uncontrollably:: beauty pageants are there for men vs women? And body-building doesn't count. Because, for some women, winning a beauty crown is a validation of their existence; and there are many who will continue to prop up that fantasy.
94
Yeah. If guys need to get our genitals chopped up to conform to ret... er... leotarded norms, women should get a taste of that medicine too.
95
A couple thoughts I didn't catch while scanning the thread.

Some pussies are prettier than others, just as some dicks are prettier than others. Big dicks make me feel a little insecure, but so what? I deal with it as an individual.

A 'five-fold increase' from a tiny base many not amount to much. If previously 0.008% of women had cosmetic genital surgery and it has 'surged' to 0.04% of the population, it hardly represents a major phenomenon. The statistical significance (or not) of small numbers is something to consider.

In the past, I bet it was extremely common for ladies to have never closely inspected other lady's private parts; many of them never even closely inspected themselves. Porn's proliferation has changed that, so it seems reasonable to correlate porn to overall lady awareness of vulva appearances, which in turn would correlate with an increase in lady genital cosmetic surgery.

But so what? As others have said, if these are adults making their own choices, so be it. Just because a correlation perhaps or even probably exists is no reason to make any changes in public policy. We deal with it as individuals, just as we deal with all other issues regarding our own bodies and our own insecurities.

96
Someone already mentioned this, but I think women have such hangups about their bodies because they never see other women naked in real life. The dudes I grew up with constantly saw each other naked (partially or fully); nakedness was just sooooooo hilarious! (maybe some of them got off on it, but who knows)

Us girls were supposed to hide ourselves - turned away while changing out shirts, went into the bathroom if we needed to change our underwear, etc. Still haven't seen labia up close and personal, but I don't really care. Go to http://www.the-clitoris.com/ and you may come to realize that your labia looks juuuuust fine.

I assume so many women have yet to see another naked woman in real life, especially when it comes to tits, labia and ass. Many of those woman would probably be pleasantly surprised to see that her labia, breasts, ass, etc. look a lot like another woman's - maybe even better!

I worked as a bra fitter for two years, and damn did it put things in perspective - it made me realize how lucky I am in the body department. But also that women truly do come in all shapes and sizes, and it often doesn't look like what Hollywood or porn is throwing at us.

This is not to say that men are not insecure about their bodies, too. It goes way beyond the dick.

97
Sorry for typo: "...from a tiny base many" should be "...from a tiny base MAY not amount to much...".

That is all.
98
@92 thanks!
99
90% of these so-called duplicitous anti-porn "arguments" are basically sheeps clothing for demonizing sexuality—specifically MALE sexuality.

And when one get's disproven as horse shit another pile of horse shit plops right in it's place.

Anti-porn people: Give it up already. You've lost.
100
Maybe we just need to get more realistic porn out there, eh?