According to the introduction of Pornified, Time magazine contributor Pamela Paul’s goal was to help change the way Americans view sex and pornography from all sources. As a society, she says, we are becoming increasingly desensitized by sexual images. Her book explores the notion: “How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families.”
Each argument is supported by the underlying opinion (stated as fact, most times) that pornography is the root of most problems in our country. While this may or may not be the case, much of the “evidence” trotted out is inflammatory and easy to believe. It arouses a lot of negative emotions. It is very persuasive. If an individual does not have a firm personal opinion of the subject, there is no doubt that she will pull you over to her side. The writing is shockingly manipulative and explicit - as it is most definitely intended to be. Pamela Paul wants us all to see the prevalence of pornography in the American culture as the downfall of healthy relationships.
The language used in the book floats from her own intelligent and none-too-gently prodding tone, to the often crude, raunchy commentary of the men she interviewed. It might take a little getting used to. In the narrative, Paul doesn’t shy from using both proper and popular terms for sex and porn. While slanted, it is very straightforward in presentation, without attempting to linguistically shock the general public into submission.
Pornography is defined separately in every realm it has permeated - it isn’t just on “wolf cards” snuck past the wives anymore. Male views are deeply harvested for her arguments, and women are asked for their opinions as well. Some are predictable, but more than a few are surprising.
A quote by Mark Schwartz of the Masters and Johnson’s Clinic furthers her argument as he explains, “Imagine you’re a man who has gained some weight and your wife began to subscribe to a magazine where every month she looks at six-pack abs and says, ‘Wow, check out those muscles.’ Think about how the man would feel.” Pamela Paul advises taking a look at it from other angles, not just from the viewpoints of the many, many disgruntled and hurt wives and girlfriends out there.
Statistics from online polls over the past several years are used to illustrate various points. Paul herself also interviewed roughly 100 people for the book and liberally sprinkles their quotes throughout Pornified. Men and woman from age twenty-one and up were talked to for this project. Statistics from the Kinsey Institute, MSNBC.com, Glamour magazine, and even a segment from the Today Show with Katie Couric on pornography was transcribed to back up the point that it is much more common and prevalent in today’s society.
In the eight chapters in Pornified, several aspects and view points are explored. She attempts to discover why men love porn so much and how it affects them, their lives and their relationships. Women are asked about pornography, and “Kids in a Pornified Culture” is discussed. From these areas, she moves onto the compulsions and truths about sex and porn in the American society at large. Finally, she ends with her own solution to the problem.
The bottom line of Pornified is that the pornography of today permeates every part of our society, and that these images are not even close to the downright quaint, titillating Playboy spreads of twenty or thirty years ago. Agree or disagree with the whole “porn is evil” campaign, it is difficult to argue that this is a courageous book to write. Bringing the issue into focus can only help us as a group, while keeping it stuffed in closets and under the bed without discussion can only hurt in the long run.
The idea is to take a clear and nakedly honest look at its affect on our lives, relationships and the lives and potential relationships of our children who are growing up in a world where sexuality is so public and ugly. Our families and children are at stake now and Pamela Paul asks that the issue is truly seen.