Don Hazen, “Pornography and the End of Masculinity”

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I was surprised to read the beginning of this review essay. Hazen writes:

In his new book, Robert Jensen forces the reader to face the music about the effects of a porn industry gone gonzo, and the need to reassess the trappings of masculinity as the source of increased violence against and degradation of women.

I have always been part of the collective liberal progressive libertarian value system that accepts pornography as a legitimate expression of the first amendment. Part of that thinking is that women participate in porn films of their own free will, and the porn often represents fantasies — though sometimes quasi-violent or degrading — that people actually have. So as long as people are merely acting in porn films, and there is no coercion, or law-breaking, it is acceptable.

But I’ve changed my mind. No, I’m not a prude, or anti-sex. Nor do I think there should be a national campaign to snuff out all porn. In fact, I sometimes watch certain kinds of porn. But what has become clear to me is that, under the guise of the first amendment, a huge and powerful porn industrial complex has grown out of control. And a big part of its growth is fueled, not just by the Internet, but by continually upping the ante, increasing the extremes of degradation for the women in tens of thousands of films made every year. I am convinced, although it is, of course, difficult to document, that the huge audiences for porn and the pervasiveness of the themes and behaviors of degradation are having a negative impact on the way men behave and the way society treats women.

Read the entire piece, which includes an excerpt from Jensen’s new book, here. I applaud Hazen for keeping an open mind about the book.

–Ann Bartow

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