Death of Romance III: The Sex Effect
Love and companionship aren’t the only desires a person has when pursuing or participating in a serious romantic relationship. One of the most fundamentally important elements of romantic relationships is, of course, sex. Sexual intercourse can be considered the most effective and meaningful manner by which two mates are able to physically demonstrate their affection towards one another. Not only is sex a representation of the emotions that one feels towards another person and is effective at expressing such feelings, it feels absolutely amazing! In fact, it has been said that sexual intercourse is 10 times more euphoric than getting high on certain street narcotics. Yeah, that’s intense.
Throughout history, sex has escaped from the confines of the private bedroom and has been exposed publically for anyone to see. It has been graphically depicted in a form despicably known as pornography.
Pornography is older than one might think. Sexual depictions, such as the silhouette of a woman’s body etched on ancient stone, was actually rather prevalent during prehistoric times. During the Victorian era, pornography became especially popular, both socially and culturally. Even the renowned french Impressionist Édouard Manet participated in the popularization of pornography by painting a picture (entitled Olympia)of a nude French woman in a sexually suggested pose. Though prevalent, the painting was both controversial and socially unacceptable, yet the infamy perpetuated the acclaim of pornography greatly during that time.
Although a social faux pax, producing and/or possessing pornography was never a crime. However, during the nineteenth century, the production and distribution of porn became increasingly restricted and even banned. In the 1920s, producers who distributed sexually explicit films became open to prosecution, making processing these films risky. Such works have also often been subject to censorship and other legal restraints to their publication, display, and/or possession. Therefore the distribution of pornography became strictly private during the early to mid nineteenth century.
Social attitudes towards the discussion, production, and possession of sexual intercourse have become more tolerant during the turn of the century and thereafter. During this time, the production of pornography in the form of home videos and on the internet became popularized in society worldwide and generated billions of dollars annually. In fact, commercialized pornography accounted for over $2.5 billion in the United States alone. Then, during the early part of the 21st century, pornography became even more popular when it became available at no cost to those who viewed it. Sites such as redtube.com, porn.com, and others have served as repositories for professional, semi-professional, and even home-made pornography, making sexually explicit content even more accessible and easier to obtain than it has ever been in previous history.
Having the ability to watch sex on camera has greater implications than most folks might think. The accessibility of pornography coupled with the fact that porn has become increasingly socially acceptable (and even popular) during recent years has had a significant yet unmistakable impact on the way men treat women. In fact, pornography may be partly responsible for the death and romance in America’s culture today. Here’s why.
Sex Effect on Men
During the times when watching pornography was largely unobtainable and publicly frowned upon, men pursued relationships by demonstrating their feelings through romance. Men during the early and mid 1900s understood the importance of treating a woman with respect, thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion. These values were ingrained within the culture and the social norms at the time upheld the concept of romance without much opposition.
Sexual behavior on film, however, directly contradicted with the concept of the romantic pursuits of a man for a woman. The main concept of pornography is based on instant gratification—participants who partake in brief dialogue before immediately engaging in intense lustful misdeeds. Actors reenact real-life scenario (such a plumber who comes over to fix a leak for a seductive tenant or a teacher who stops by to drop off homework for a sexy parent), then right away —within minutes—engage in sex. “Wooing” a female of interest through acts of tenderness, consideration, and flattery are rarely demonstrated by the characters that participate in porn. Romance is never demonstrated and is essentially non-existent in pornographic films, yet a lengthy sexual encounter following a brief meet and greet is commonplace.
Because society (particularly men) are so accepting of pornography and because porn is so easily accessible and frequently watched now-a-days, men have forsaken the idea of romancing a female in whom he is interested and, instead, pursue one night stands, quick sexual favors, and other means of instant sexual satisfaction and pleasure. Pornography not only portrays scenarios where it possible and even ideal to engage in sex behavior quickly (and with little acquaintance), it teaches men to only seek after such sexual relationships and, even more, doing so does not require romance. Porn may even teach society that in order for a man to successfully acquire any form on intimate relationships, he must seek out one night stands and should actually avoid romance at all cost.
Sex Effect on Women
Women too have fallen victim to the ills that pornography teaches. In previous history, a man’s initial pursuit of a woman involved and required courtship. Women would only allow men who politely and romantically asked them out on a date to get to know them. Women dated romantic men; one-night stands and quick sexual encounters were infrequent and largely unacceptable in society. In fact, the social criticism of loose sexual behavior demonstrated by women was known as slut-shamming.
In the psychology of human sexuality, slut-shaming is the act of making a person (specifically a female) feel inferior or guilty for participating in erotic sexual behavior, participating in certain sexual circumstances, sexual promiscuity, or having certain sexual desires that deviate from traditional or socially accepted gender expectations. Slut-slamming also can result from shunning such behavior that may be considered to oppose religious ideology regarding sexual conduct. Women who had premarital or casual sex, participated in sexual behavior with multiple partners, or participated in sex when the female did not know the partner for a very long time would fall victim to slut-shamming. Therefore, to avoid social rejection during that time, women made every attempt to avoid being perceived as sexually promiscuous or being a woman who deviated from feminine norms regarding sex.
During the mid to late 1990s, the feminist movement gained great momentum. The initial goal of the movement was to empower women to fight for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay, women’s suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. During the third-wave feminism, supporters fought to address cultural, financial, and social inequalities that effect women in contemporary society. One of these issues was to rebuff slut shamming in society. Feminists vehemently oppose slut shamming and consider it a harmful, irrational, and socially unequivocal. Feminist supports contend that men are socially rewarded rather than shunned for being sexually promiscuous and explorative, and, when compared to how women are treated when committing the same acts, an unfair double standard is a result. Due to the immense opposition of slut shamming in society during more recent times, women are, actually encouraged to explore their sexual curiosity, participate in sex without commitment, engage in sexual relations with more than one partner at a time, and pursue sexual relationship without lengthy temporal acquaintance or familiarity.
Because women participate in these sexual acts (or support and encourage women to participate in these sexual acts), the necessity of romance when establishing relationships is nullified. Men no longer use romance to acquire relationships with women simply because women no longer require men to be romantic. Instead, women are taught to prefer one night stands, erotic relationships with men they hardly know, and physical relationships that lack romance needed to acquire them.
It is obvious that pornography has had a detrimental effect on how men and women perceive, initiate, and maintain romantic relationships. Pornography trains and inspires men to pursue short-lived sexual relationships and avoid romantic courtships; females who allow their significant other to watch porn (or participate in pornography themselves) are enabling men to continue seek these type of relationships and are encouraging men to not be romantic to women they desire. Pornography has also caused feminists to challenge the double standard that exist with men indulging in lustful sexual acts; it upholds the opposition and ravage of slut-shamming that occurs when women perform similar sexual behavior. Society, as a whole, is mostly to blame for making pornography acceptable and easily available. However, women particularly are responsible for the absence of romance in the relationships because they hold the power to change these circumstances. If women rejected the ideas that sex films propagate, romance will return as a requirement in the relationships they anxiously seek and desire.