Thursday, 29 July 2010

Poor Weak Male Eyes

Update: And a big HELLO to whoever's been reading from the "Our Sunday Visitor" offices. Got any column space going? Need someone to write amusing articles? "Saint of the Day"? Handle the junk emails? Sell advertising...? <:-D

I found this in the online Telegraph today.

The bad news is that, according to researchers at the University of Montreal, all men in their twenties have seen porn.

The good news is that they still seem to have "normal" sex lives--at least, by University of Montreal standards.

I hope I have not just, like, totally ruined your day. If so, I will try to come up with some warm and witty consolation to put it all into persepective. There will be generalisations.

Men are famously weak about sexual temptation; they have gone on about this at great lengths for all of human history. Women are not so weak about sexual temptation, although this may be partly because we get into much bigger trouble than men do if we give in. This is not just society; our minds and bodies simply can't handle promiscuity in the long run. It can actually give us cancer. I am not making that up. Go read Natalie Angier's, Woman: An Intimate Geography.

Men are also famously visual about their sexuality. Incidentally, am I the only person in the world who has noticed that all Leonardo da Vinci's women look like men, often men with breasts just stuck on? Mona Lisa is NOT the beauty of the ages. Can I say that? This has always niggled at me, and then I saw a Da Vinci Madonna in the National Art Gallery of Scotand, and she had the top of a man's bald chest instead of breasts, so I am more sure than ever that this is true. Titian, however, makes me blush because he was so obviously into women, especially women who looked somewhat like me. Where was I?

Men are famously visual about their sexuality, which is why the world is spotty with strip joints. Their poor male eyes are so easily transfixed by even the shape of secondary sexual characteristics that strip joints don't even have to try very hard in their signage. I remember walking down a very seedy strip of Toronto's main street and feeling so sorry for men. I grew up thinking that strippers were exploited, but it struck me then that men who pay strippers are even more exploited. They have this tragi-comic hard wiring that drags them towards naked bodies, and the sex industry exploits that.

Women, less famously, have a problem with erotic fiction. If you go into a big-box bookstore, you will discover that the biggest section has been give up to romance novels, and the sweet, safe-for-modest-women romance novels are definitely in the minority. As far as I know, men do not read romance novels. (Note to self: invent male character who is addicted to romance novels. Credible? Knew man addicted to bridal magazines, so possibly.) So who is buying all that crap? Women.

A man I knew in my undergrad years told me that romance novels were "women's pornography" and, after denouncing him, I marched off in a holy huff. But that's because I had never read the romance novels he was talking about--except once, and I had temporarily forgotten that.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I once in my youth got my hands on a Regency romance (not by Georgette Heyer) my mother had borrowed from the library and put on the "adult books do not touch" shelf. I never, ever, touched anything on the "adult books do not touch" shelf (even as an adult), so this book must have been lying around somewhere in the house. Incidentally, my mother does not as a rule read books like that, and screens them out by seeing if blurb on the back cover contained the word "passion." If it does, she doesn't borrow the book. (The "adult books do not touch" rule was more to protect children from the sex scenes in the crime/sci fi/fantasy paperbacks.)

Anyway, I read parts of this erotic "Regency" romance (the heroine being saved from going the distance with her slimey suitor by her stern guardian/stepbrother), so I have to admit that I, Seraphic, have read women's pornography, and could not be in a control group for a research project on the subject, weep weep.

So that said, and keeping in mind that I loathe pornography in all its forms and think it should be stamped out and argue that Freedom of Speech and Expression should not extend to images, I think pure womanhood need not forswear male company forever just because (according to the University of Montreal) it has all looked at pornography. It's so public now, men can barely help it, especially when they are very young. So don't despise them, just tell them, when the subject comes up, that it is totally unacceptable and next door to crack. If you have enough emotional leverage/sisterly influence, tell them that they must never look at it again.


Sheila said...

I totally agree with you about the Michelangelos! There's a Holy Family where Mary looks like Rosie the Riveter, swinging a sick-looking baby Jesus in one muscled arm while a much more effeminate-looking Joseph stood by vaguely. Not much a fan of Michelangelo's women.

The Sojourner said...

When I read that article my first thought was, "Well, what do you mean by 'never used pornography.' Do they mean you've never watched a pornographic video, or do they mean you've never even seen the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated?" I could totally understand even Nice Catholic Boys not making the control group, if that was the standard.

Of course, the average was quite a bit higher than "I saw a magazine once when I was 12", but the question remains, since the above scenario might be balanced out by guys who watch 3 hours every day or something.

Sheila said...

Very true, Sojourner. I was thinking the same thing. Of course it's almost impossible for a man NEVER to have seen any porn in his life, living in the world we do nowadays. (In fact, I would add that most WOMEN have seen at least some porn as well, if unintentionally. I know I have ... from email spam and pop-ups. :P) The question is more whether they try to live a pure life, whether they know viewing porn is wrong and try to avoid it, whether they have learned to avert their eyes as fast as they can when they spot something inappropriate -- and most men I know do all those things. Sure, I expect they have all seen a picture of a naked women sometime in their life (though I'm sure they wish they hadn't), but that doesn't make them porn addicts.