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10 of Hannah Sternberg’s Greatest Hits

Check out these thoughtful reviews, fun lists, and engaging critiques from one of the next generation's most promising writers. Volume 1.

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Hannah Sternberg

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April 27, 2014 - 9:50 am
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5. May 5, 2013: Likes Long Walks on the Beach, and Porn Goddesses

What happens when husbands demand their wives meet the XXX-rated style in the bedroom?

Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column is a social barometer of sorts, so when columnist Emily Yoffe pivots on a major issue my ears twitch, because change must be afoot. This week’s chat with advice-seekers revealed a shocking reversal: Prudie is actually advising readers to cut back on the porn:

When I started writing this column I had a very laissez-faire attitude toward porn, but it’s irrefutable that excess consumption can interfere with normal sexual expectations. It’s one thing if your husband made a reasonable request. … It’s another thing if he’s withdrawn from you sexually, has refused to address this, then announces he can’t get turned on by you if you don’t look like the people on YouPorn. …you two need to talk about how hurtful his behavior has been over the past year, and that you hope he understands that putting his demands in such a demeaning way is not likely to turn you on.

What was the husband of this letter-writer requesting? That the woman shave down under or he wouldn’t get intimate with her. The bald eagle (aherm) look has grown so immensely popular this year it’s actually made headlines, and most commentators agree it was popularized by porn’s hairless superstars.

Okay. So porn is as standard (and standardized) in American males’ homes as sliced bread. Old news. What’s new news is that someone besides the ultra-feminist anti-porn crusaders and the ultra-Christian anti-porn crusaders is saying in a major public forum that maybe porn is not so healthy for relationships. Well, excess porn.

For what it’s worth, I don’t support the censorship of porn that’s performed (and consumed) by consenting adults. But I do object to the tacitly ubiquitous attitude that “porn is okay, and if you object to it you’re a prude, because everybody watches it.” It’s another form of political correctness. Let’s see a healthy dose of skepticism.

What if the letter-writer’s husband’s request was demeaning because porn is demeaning? Not just of women, but demeaning of sex. There’s no mystery, no curiosity, no concealment, no effort. Just spoon-feeding the viewer his or her chosen fantasy, organized by aisle. No wonder advice columns are flooded with letters from the significant others of porn addicts — addicts whose appetite for the screen is insatiable but who lose all interest in the real deal.

Contrast the porn of today — the unique style of porn pioneered by the sexual revolution — with the cabarets and pin-up girls of the generation before. One was wrapped in the idea that what you were about to view was illicit, dangerous, adult, edgy. The other is wrapped in plastic and sold in bulk so you don’t have to wait an extra moment before self-indulgence.

For a movement that embraced sexual freedom, the sexual revolution sure made porn unsexy. And real-person sex unsexy, if the letter writer above is any indication.

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image courtesty shutterstock /  prodakszyn

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