We subscribe to Direct TV for our television programming. When we moved into our house, our connections were all from AT&T. But by some vagary of local wiring, the data was so slow and the Internet so patchy we had to do something in order to placate the house of twenty-somethings that we hosted, yet would move out in a year, so we split our connections into Direct TV for programming and Comcast for the Internet.
So that’s the lead-in for what comes next. Because the programs listed in the mid-to-high 600s on DirectTV are all paid options for porn channels. Scrolling through the menu, the titles are unavoidable, and frankly quite funny. One in particular made me laugh yesterday. It was something on the order of Busty Young MILFs Ready for Action. That’s a potential contradiction in terms, but then it’s kind of not. MILF stands for Mother I’d Like to F***. But a mother could just about any woman capable of bearing a child. So a MILF could technically be 12 or 13 years old.
That’s how the world of porn tends to get twisted around a bit. Add in 24-hour access and an Internet chock full of sexual content, and one has to ask: Is there some point where the world has too much sex?
The predominant users of porn are men. There is also evidence that Christian conservative men are some of the most ardent porn fans. That would seem to be a contradiction of terms when it comes to morality. But studies have shown that supposedly moral men conveniently dismiss their so-called values when it comes to satisfying their sexual energies.
In other words, they’re hypocrites. This excerpt from an article on PsyPost.com describes it this way: “Having studied what conservative Christians think about pornography as well as their consumption habits, I started to notice a bit of a discrepancy. In every study of which I’m aware, conservative Christians are far more likely than other Americans to reject pornography on moral grounds. There is basically no justification for it whatsoever in their minds. However, I also started to notice that, despite their unequivocal rejection of pornography, conservative Christians aren’t considerably less likely than other Americans to report viewing it.”
That seems to explain a lot about America at this point in time. If people in their personal lives are so willing to subjectively dismiss (and compartmentalize) their morals for purpose of gratification, certainly it is no great leap in faith to think they will easily do the same in the realm of politics, business or inter-personal relationships. That directly explains why so many men seem to think it’s “normal” to sexually harass women. “Who is it really harming?” they ask.
That forces us to ask some difficult questions. Does the inverse standard of morals subject to desires therefore apply even to priests who molest children? That means the supposed bulwark against sin provided by religion is no match for the overwhelming lusts of carnal desire. Even Pastor Bill Hybels at Willow Creek, one of the most famous megachurches in the country, could not reconcile his supposed morals to his actual behavior.
But I’m here to say that there is a method for controlling the appetite for sex in the healthiest way possible. Those of us that swim, run and ride get quite used to the sight of half-naked, often sweaty bodies writhing through the throes of intense effort. Some might even say that a really good workout can be better than sex.
Endurance sports are literally the flipside of sex in that people grow used to sight of body parts revealed through skintight suits and sweaty clothing. And here’s the real rub: about the tenth time a man glimpses a woman’s erect nipples through a sports bra, the spell of that sight wears off a little. That’s particularly true if she’s just kicked your ass in a ten-mile run or dropped everyone midway through an eighty-mile bike ride. Suddenly she’s not a sexual object. She’s an athlete.
It comes down to independence. The idea that you somehow own or deserve to ogle that person in a gratuitous way is absurd against the reality that they are an independent, completely capable human being who happens be a given gender.
This is not to say that triathletes and other endurance athletes lack sexual instincts. There is plenty of evidence that the sport of triathlon is capable of inducing extra-marital relationships and sexual escapades. But a look behind the scenes often reveals that there was some other level of dissatisfaction going on in marriages or relationships that break up due to relationships built through associations made in triathlon.
That’s the somewhat inevitable product of social dynamics. People unhappy in their marriages will often find a way out that is either blunt, unconventional or quite conventional. I have a friend whose wife walked into their home the day their son graduated from high school and said, “I’m bored. I’m done. And I’m moving in with that guy I know who lives out on a farm four miles out of town.”
People leave for a thousand reasons. Triathlon is just another excuse to go. So the endurance sports world is not necessarily the cause of adultery. But it is a convenient portal. The emotional intimacy wrought from sharing mornings at the pool, long conversational rides and deep confessionals on the run have been known to turn casual friendships into ardent love affairs. Sometimes it’s the occasional urgent bang session in a far-flung race hotel that leads to all that too.
But that’s still quite different from pouring one’s life into porn portals with what hope of a return on investment?
What porn can teach us
Yet if pornography teaches us anything, it is the commonality of the human body, not its differences. One can only look at so many vaginas before it becomes evident that their similarities and differences are only that: slight variations in the human condition. And while men tend to be obsessed with penis size, and really large cranks can be impressive in appearance, it is also evident there are limits even to the value of that commodity.
So it is with amusement that one scrolls through the titles of all those porn channels on the way back down to the slightly less titillating world of Starz, HBO and Showtime. It’s a bit like running through a gauntlet of sex.
Despite what the Christian moralizers and creationists say about the human condition, we’re comprised of same DNA and evolved from the same curling flesh of ancient zygotes. We’ve simply grown into complex beings with brains attracted to the folds and cavities from which we all originated.
But we’ve only evolved so far. There’s a primeval instinct within all of us to crawl or jam ourselves back into the womb. We still find the fetal position after sex, and share it with our lovers be they man, woman or gender whose realm is independent of terminology. We’re all made of the same stuff. Yet the tendency remains to fetishize and at the same time resist and make a taboo out of that which bears mystery and echoes a return to oneness with the dark origins of our being. That fear of the unknown is behind the religious and creationist denial that human beings trace their ancestry back to apes, and before that, the process by which evolution brought us all up from the murk. There is a prurient fear of the dark past that translates into an obsession with owning and translating it through religion. And that constitutes the greatest pornography of them all, for it denies our true humanity by replacing it with origins based on the fantasy of simplistic imagery drawn from oral tradition.
That is a pornography of sorts as well. Because while the definition of “porn” is typically defined by explicit depiction of sexual organs or activity, and considered a ‘perversion’ in the sense that it stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings, the pornography of human ‘origins’ and ownership of that narrative is equally fetishized by those who choose to focus on the fantasy rather than the reality of evolutionary development and by proxy, the true functions of sex as they define breeding and the purposes of sexual attraction in the material world.
Denying that reality is the pornography generated by a ideologically retentive worldview.
Clamor for attention
The writhing character of human existence is a direct reflection instead of the entire history of evolution. On one hand we clamor for attention and crush ourselves into the flesh of others in hopes of feeling alive. Lacking that companionship, it is clear from the multi-billion dollar porn industry that people are trying to achieve some level of connection somehow. Evolution describes that as ‘redirected aggression.’ It also produces sexual harassment in the workplace and in politics. And it explains why so many supposedly moralistic politicians and public figures get caught in sex scandals. Quite typically they make a public show of their high morals while behind the scenes are engaged in sexual indiscretion, at least according to the moral codes they supposedly follow.
It all makes one wonder while scrolling through the porn channels on Direct TV: Doesn’t all this sexual obsession get old at some point?
The answer, we must surmise, is that no, it never does get old for some people. They would rather die than confess to themselves that they don’t somehow own the people on the other side of that screen. That explains the rest of what’s going on in America today, where some people’s selfish sense of “ownership” fetishizes the idea of what it means to be a ‘patriot,’ a true citizen or an American. Yet claiming ownership is a risky thing, because as we all know, there is more than one way to get owned in this world. We are witnesses to that every day.