Is Pornography Harmless Fun?

지난달

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Despite my better judgment, I got into a "debate" about whether pornography is bad for you -- forgetting Wilde's wise counsel that: 'it is only the intellectually lost who ever argue."

In view of the sexual harassment scandals that seem to be unfolding daily, and the moment of cultural reckoning we are having, re: what constitutes permissible behavior,
I marvel at how little the connection seems to be made among pornography, addiction, misogyny and violence.

The person who took exception to my post works in the sex industry and tried, as best she could (English is not her first language), to convince me that I took too narrow a view of pornography. Men are natural predators, she argued (in more graphic terms) and women are quite alright being sex objects. It would be worrying, she added, if she were not seen as one.

In response, I was forced to take the deeply unfashionable position that, despite ‘liberal’ protestations, pornography actually does us/our relationships harm and, in turn, is responsible for societal ills . I cited a Buddhist principle that I thought apt -- namely, that sex divorced from love or spiritual connection, was like licking honey from a very sharp blade. Further, I propose that porn erodes our moral compass, until we are left at sea, without bearings. In the dramatic formulation of I.B. Singer, "a morally neutral human being is a monster."

'Well, then, half of Western culture is bleeding' retorted the porn advocate, informing me she was a Buddhist herself, and that I was being naive.

Maybe so, but I do maintain that we are more than sensual apes, rubbing our private parts for pleasure. Nothing is without its price, short-term gratifications do have long-term consequences and one need not be a porn addict to realize how it can be ruinous for mind, body and spirit.

But, we live in contrarian times, where self evident virtues, such as restraint, ethics, integrity , are contemptuously overlooked, in favor of self-defeating, self-indulgence. Sex sells, we are told (and shown) everywhere we turn. If it feels good, go for it; you first, you deserve it; and so on and so forth...


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A poem of mine that explores these timeless spiritual truths:

The Opposite of Virtue

One might say, a vice is a vise
never mind if metal or moral,
it’s basically the same device

with cunning moveable jaws
designed to fix us in place
and cheat us of a chance at grace

Impervious to all advice, habit
hotly whispers false reassurance
while tightening its iron grip

It takes no effort to slip into vice,
but virtue is trickier to stick to
like the back of a bucking bronco.

©Yahia Lababidi


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