Naomi Wolf seems to have zero understanding of the male gender. She contends the proliferation of access to soft core pornography via cable and the Internet has somehow made men not want to have sex.

Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman–with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”–possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

For one thing, this is an empirically testable hypothesis. Is there any evidence whatsoever that American men are abstaining from sex in record numbers? None of which I’ve heard.

Furthermore, she has it precisely backwards as to how most men are wired. Erotic imagery in the two-dimensional realm, much like drugs, is itself desensitizing. Watching beautiful movie stars with silicon-enhanced breasts romping around naked is interesting. For a while. And then it becomes, while not exactly boring, at least mundane. Seeing a good looking but famous woman nude in a movie or on a computer screen is, for those of us past adolescence, interesting in the way that the Blog Chicks Pix is: it’s a curiousity. And, frankly, “More, more, you big stud!” isn’t exactly the height of stimulation.

Real women, unlike those on a screen, are, to use a techological term, interactive. They have personalities. Plus, they’re, well, corporeal. They’re warm. They smell good. They taste good. They laugh at your jokes. And that’s not to mention emotional attachment, the ability to share our lives, have babies, and all those other reasons why heterosexual men are drawn to women. Until fantasy gains those qualities, real women have no competition.

(Hat tip: Judson Frondorf)

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. You’re absolutely right. However, if scientists ever perfect the “holodeck” from Star Trek, the human species is in big trouble…

  2. colson says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. Eric Scheie says:

    Obviously, this means Andrea Dworkin was the Paul Ehrlich of the anti-pornography movement.

  4. Excellent critique of a fatuous set of ideas.

  5. Steven says:

    I think you posted this just so you would get hits from having the word “porn” on your site. 😉

  6. hln says:

    Where’s the appropriate .wav file? 70s style wah chicka…