My first attempt at doing this writeup was getting mixed voting, and in my opinion was not very well-written. So, I'm making a second attempt.

There are three things I would like to say about pornography. The first is that in our culture anything associated with sex has acquired a sort of mysticism, due to the way we talk (or don't talk) to our children about sex. Ordinary people, and I include myself in this, are brought up to believe that sex is scary, forbidden, dirty, wrong, etc etc. These beliefs are strongly imprinted, remaining perhaps for a lifetime; even though as an adult one is expected to have sex if one wishes, the injunctions against it from childhood remain.

Whether it is right or wrong, avoidable or unavoidable to do this is beyond the scope of this writeup. The fact is that people have strong feelings about sex due to their upbringing, and these feelings tend to heavily influence discussions about sex and sex-related subjects such as pornography.

That is why I do not subscribe to many of the assertions being made in this node about porn. It can hopefully be agreed on by reasonable people that the main assertion -- "It's just sick" -- is based in taught attitudes rather than some inherent property of sex or pornography. Similarly, many of the other assertions follow from that very basic first one. If there were not something special and scary about sex, then it would not seem reasonable to state that "pornographic fantasies negatively warp people's views of reality," or "porn is an unhealthy substitute for real sex." All of the arguments along those lines also apply to accepted parts of our society, and yet they do not elicit the ire that porn does. For example, your average science-fiction novel is an unrealistic fantasy, a bit of escapism that warps our young people's minds. Another example: professional sports represents an ideal that the average person cannot reach, just as people say about porn, and televised sports make a poor substitute for actual sport and exercise. And yet, only the most uptight moralists are willing to argue against sports and fiction.

Another point that has been brought up along different lines from the above is that of addiction. It has been stated that viewing porn will lead someone to move on to "harder and harder" stuff, and furthermore that masturbating to porn is a compulsive and unhealthy activity.

It is true that some people masturbate compulsively. It is also true that some people seek out wilder and wilder varieties of porn to acheive arousal. However, this behavior does not manifest itself in the average person. These things are signs of sexual addiction, a condition which occurs in people who are biologically predisposed to addiction, whether it be to alcohol, gambling, sex, or other drugs. The fact some people are alcoholics does not mean that it is bad to have a beer, or that everyone displays alcoholic tendencies. Similarly, sex addiction is not an argument as to why porn is bad for anyone.

Thirdly, it is often said that pornography is the oppression of women, that it encourages bad attitudes in this respect. In part, I agree. However, there is nothing specific to porn about this argument. If you believe that societal attitudes about women are guided by media, then Mademoiselle, Maxim, Newsweek, Playboy -- all these magazines represent the cultural status quo and are more guilty of what you speak of than pornography. Of course, as above, ingrained attitudes towards sex make people focus on Hustler and not Time.

Furthermore, to argue about Hustler is to argue about a specific instance of porn. Many people talk about porn being a particular way: airhead models, photo retouching, etc. As such, you are not arguing about porn in general, but rather expressing dislike for how a particular kind of porn is presented. From this you are not excluding that you may like some porn, and you are not arguing that porn in general is bad.

That sums up what I wanted to say earlier, but failed to do satisfactorily. I have one last thing to say, which is to respond to the notion expressed above that porn is "a waste of time." What constitutes a waste of time? It is a peculiar notion of some people that an hour spent in disagreeable labor is a good use of time, while an hour spent in some physically pleasurable activity is a waste of time, on no more basis than that. I disagree.

So you think it's a waste of time anyway. Well, I think what *you're* doing is a waste of time. Still, it being your time, you are free to spend it how you want. And if you are doing no harm to others, then I have better things to worry about than what you're doing.