WATCHING SEX: How Men Really Respond to Pornography

David Loftus, Author . Thunder's Mouth $17.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-56025-360-0

In his quest to debunk the widely held assumption that pornography warps its users' views of sexuality, journalist Loftus interviewed nearly 150 men about their relationships with pornographic materials. He admits that his set of interviews are not a truly random representation of society: a relatively high percentage are gay or bisexual, for instance, and many hold advanced degrees or have above-average incomes. The men are forthcoming and reflectve as they recount their first exposures to erotic materials and analyze how pornography has affected their lives, revealing emotional responses ranging from pleasure to indifference and disgust. However, the book stumbles when interviewees move from speaking aspornography consumers to sociological pundits and respond to more topical concerns. When asked about the possible link between pornography and violence or the supposed prevalence of sexual abuse among porn performers, their responses are understandably subjective and lacking in depth. Loftus's own arguments are at times simplistic as well. In an attempt to refute the feminist claim that pornography treats women as objects, for instance, he argues that the interviewees are not objectifying women because they do not explicitly say that they are doing so, not allowing for the possibility that the interviewees may not be aware of their own murky motives or responses. The lack of nuanced interpretation on Loftus's part and the limited cross-section of interviewees make some of the book's claims, such as the idea that a high percentage of men would prefer plot-driven, less explicit pornography, ring somewhat false. Yet the book opens a fascinating window on sub-kinks such as furry erotica (fantasy narratives involving human-like animals) and MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) role-playing. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
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