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Porn

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Published by: srajguru on Jul 24, 2008
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miling over a John Belushi-like paunch and through a thick mustache, Ron Jeremy

looks more like a Super Mario Brother than the world\u2019s biggest porn star. His
mane of black hair billows back from a squat face and dark, tweaked eyes that
leave you with the impression that he has just cracked the punch line to a very
dirty joke. At 5 feet, 7 inches, and a hedgehog-like 200 pounds, Jeremy wears his shirts
open and sports thick gold chains nestled in a dark pelt of chest hair. He is hardly the

aesthetic ideal of a sexual icon, but at 53 Ron Jeremyis porn.

Back in the 1970s, Jeremy was just a regular guy. A special education teacher with
a master\u2019s degree from Queens College, his stage career started rather innocuously in
the Catskills where he tried his hand at stand-up comedy. But when a girlfriend sent his
picture toPlaygirl magazine in 1978, Ron Jeremy (formerly Ron Hyatt) shifted gears. Mov-
ing to \ufb01lm, Jeremy went on to act in more than 1,600 pornographic movies. Transcending
the genre, he soon began to play himself (the comically repugnant male porn superhero)
in music videos and mainstream television shows. As pornography\u2014once the quiet stuff
of R-rated magazines\u2014ascended to its place as a more than $12 billion US industry, Ron
Jeremy rose with it; and the result is a mainstream cultural icon who\u2019s both the spokesman
for our hyper-sexualized society and the proof of its bloated, dark underbelly.

So how did we get here? Only 40 years ago Elvis Presley made rock history with a
few well-placed pelvic thrusts, and Marilyn Monroe shocked our sexual sensibilities with
modest bathing suits and demure glances. Now Carmen Electra\u2019s stripper workouts are a
staple of household aerobics, and 12 percent of the worldwide web is devoted to porno-
graphic sites. Pornography is in our living rooms, on our computers and television screens,
and buried deep in the experiences of our spouses, children, and siblings. And, by all ac-
counts, it\u2019s here to stay.

S
DISPATCHES
PORN
intheUSA
Examining Our
National Addiction
by John Coleman
salvo issue 2
20
Recent History
Pornography is nothing new\u2014it\u2019s just never been as pervasive
or readily available as it is now. Derived from two Greek words,
porneand graphein, pornography\u2019s component parts mean,

literally, to \u201cwrite about prostitutes.\u201d In ancient civilizations
this drive to represent sex and sexuality bled into an af\ufb01nity
for nude sculpture, painting, and the theatrical representation
of sexual acts. In modern Europe, it took a more literary bent.
UKTV\u2019s Pornography: A Secret History of Civilisation traces the ori-
gins of European pornographic writing on a line that stretches
from Pietro Aretino\u2019s 1535 dialogue School of Whoredom to the
eighteenth-century works of the remarkably violent Marquis de
Sade; but pornography has always been limited by technology\u2019s
ability to simulate true sexuality. Wood carvings and erotic
novels are poor substitutes for real sex, and it wasn\u2019t until
the twentieth century that technology caught up with human
desire.

From dirty theaters to Masonic
lodges, soft-core pornographic mov-
ies were an integral part of the mo-
tion-picture movement that brought
silent \ufb01lms to the Western world,
and photography put the likenesses
of naked ladies (and, one might
assume, naked men) on everything
from playing cards to matchbooks.
For decades, this was an undercover
enterprise, but in 1953 Hugh Hefner
launchedPlayboy magazine with the inimitable Marilyn Monroe
as its primary attraction, and\u2014almost immediately\u2014American
pornography was a mainstream phenomenon. By 1972Playboy
was reaching one quarter of all college-age men, and a plethora
of harder and softer knockoffs\u2014fromHustler toMaxim\u2014fol-
lowed. Porn stars like Ron Jeremy and John Holmes became
household names, and centerfolds like Pamela Anderson became
reputable national celebrities. By 1986 two different presidents
had set up special commissions to investigate the social rami\ufb01-
cations of pornography; and if all this hoopla convinced everyday
Americans that they had seen and heard it all, no one was ready
for the rise of the internet. VHS technology had taken porno
movies out of shady theaters and into the bedrooms of lonely
bachelors and adventurous couples, but the internet, perhaps
the greatest democratizing force in history, put ever more ex-
plicit pornography at every computer user\u2019s \ufb01ngertips, and the
result was revolution.

As a nation, we are addicted to porn. According to a 2004
web traf\ufb01c report published inWo r l d Wa t c h, there are 23 to
60 million unique visitors to pornography websites every day.
Fifty-one percent of all videos shared on peer-to-peer (P2P)
networks are pornographic in nature, and 73 percent of all im-
age searches on the popular P2P engine Kazaa are for pornog-
raphy\u201424 percent forc hild pornography. In 1998 there were
about 14 million pornographic web pages online. By July 2003
that number was 260 million, and by the end of 2004 there
were 420 million. Fully 70 percent of in-room movie revenues at
hotels come from the viewing of pornographic \ufb01lms, as do 25 to
30 percent of all Pay-Per-View revenues. In Western Europe, cell

phone pornography (yes, cell phone pornography) is a $1.5 billion industry. By the time you read these statistics, pornography\u2019s ex- ponential growth will have rendered them outdated; and if you think all of this consumption is harmless or the obsessive work of a small pocket of individuals, think again.

Pornography consumers are your parents, professors,
husbands, pastors, colleagues, children, and friends; and some

modern pornographic offerings makeHustler layouts look like
Norman Rockwell spreads in The Saturday Evening Post. Jerry Ro-
pelato of Top Ten Reviews notes that 40 million US adultsregularly
view pornographic websites. Twenty percent of men admit to
viewing pornographic materials at work, 53 percent of Promise
Keepers (members of the prominent Christian men\u2019s organiza-
tion) view online pornography on a weekly basis, and 37 percent
of Christian pastors identify pornography as a current struggle.
Far from being immune, women account for as much as one-
third of all pornographic consumption; and children are some of
the heaviest users online. The average child is 11 years old at the
time of his or her \ufb01rst exposure. Twenty percent of all children
have been sexually solicited on the web; more than 90 percent
of 8 to 16-year-olds have viewed pornography online, and 80
percent of 15 to 17-year-olds have had multiple exposures to
hardcore pornography.

Not sure what \u201chardcore\u201d means? In the 1970s it may
have indicated the full-frontal nudity ofHustler magazine. Now
it often means gang rape, multiple penetration, violence, child
pornography, group sex, Bukkake, and bestiality. As of December
2005, child pornography was estimated to be a $3 billion indus-
try; and users lured in by traditional pornography often progress

It\u2019s not hard to see why porn is popular. Sex is fun but hard
for some people to get, and it\u2019s tangled up with all sorts of
real-world complications, like emotional attachment, lengthy
dating rituals, love, sexually transmitted disease, performance
problems, regret, and Marvin Gaye music.

salvo spring 07
21
hen Tim (not his real name) was 16, his mother al-

lowed him to subscribe toPlayboy. \u201cMy mom\u2019s got
some issues of her own,\u201d he says. He kept renewing until he
met his future wife in 1991 and presumed that real sex in
marriage would curb his desire for pornography. It did\u2014for
about six months. Then he was back to soft-core magazines.

He observed some self-imposed lines: no hard-core or
child porn or anything like that. But in 1996 he got internet
access for his graduate program in social work at a DC
university. \u201cThat opened up a Pandora\u2019s box,\u201d he recalls. For
the next eight years he crossed one line after another, unable
to stop even as his training as a therapist told him he was
addicted. He thought he could treat himself.

His wife\u2019s family owned a business, and while employed there after grad school, he was, uh, using pornography three times daily: when he got up (\u201cMy cup of coffee,\u201d Tim says), at

work, and again in the evening.

His wife had discovered his secret obsession after about
a year of marriage. She just got \u201cslammed,\u201d he says, each time
she discovered another magazine, website, or movie. She
stayed with him, hoping he\u2019d change, but in March of 2004 he
made a pass at his sister-in-law. That was the end. \u201cIt was like a

W

quickly to these ever more intense forms. The very de\ufb01nition
of pornography adopted by the US Supreme Court in 1966
declares pornography to be material that \u201cappeals to a prurient
interest,\u201d implying what Professor T. Walter Herbert has called
\u201can itch that gets worse when it is scratched.\u201d And in many
ways, itis addictive. As one hardcore pornography user put it,
\u201cOnce you become addicted to it . . . you look for more potent,
more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addic-

tion, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far.\u201d

Of course, that quote came in 1989 from a man who
would not see the never-ending fetishism of the internet and so
couldn\u2019t even imagine the mind-blowing range of offerings that

would someday be available at the click of a mouse. It was his
last message to the public. His name was Ted Bundy.
The Problem of Porn

It\u2019s not hard to see why porn is popular. Sex is fun but hard for
some people to get, and it\u2019s tangled up with all sorts of real-
world complications, like emotional attachment, lengthy dating

rituals, love, sexually trans-
mitted disease, performance
problems, regret, and Marvin

Gaye music. Porn eliminates
the middleman and connects
a consumer directly to his or
her deepest fantasies without
the possibility of failure or
rejection and with seemingly
little real-world impact. But

porn consumption isn\u2019t as devoid of consequences as it seems.
It doesn\u2019t just satiate our sexual appetites in a safe and ef\ufb01cient
way. It expands those appetites and brings with it a different
basket of problems\u2014dangerous because they are subtle.

Some of porn\u2019s problems are straightforward. Child pornog-
raphy is bad because it depicts children in sex acts\u2014something
Passion Victims
b y L e s l i e Si l l a r s

Children exposed to porn are more likely to engage in sexual intercourse at an earlier age, develop addictive or compulsive sexual behaviors, devalue marriage and monogamy, and over- estimate the prevalence of such sexual behaviors as group sex, bestiality, and sadomasochism.

salvo issue 2
22

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