Does Ross Douthat denounce porn so he can deduct his collection as a business expense?

by CynthiaYockey on March 15, 2009

I have just belatedly learned that our dear Stacy McCain has given up Ross Douthat-bashing for Lent! I gather the problem is that he is relinquishing something that gives him pleasure — I’ll have to ask the Anchoress — while Douthat annoys me like a big, slow-moving fly when I already have a rolled-up newspaper in my hand. I just have to smite him.

Stacy technically did not bash Douthat by quoting him today, so he’s keeping his vow, but I couldn’t tell from the quote whether Douthat was for or against porn and it included a swipe at gays,ย  so I had to wade through his (Douthat’s) turgid prose to see whether he would continue tying us to the decline of modern civilization. It turned out he was after bigger fish.

Frankly, from reading Douthat’s essay here when he must have been a sophomore or junior at Harvard in October 2000, to an even more tedious, fuzzy-minded, yet obviously meticulously and extensively researched essay for the Atlantic published in October 2008 allegedly pondering the question of whether pornography is adultery — my one takeaway was that this kid LOVES his porn, and periodically poses as a serious-minded journalist on the subject to justify indulging his passion AND MAKE IT TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

(Douthat’s porn stash must be HUGE! I mean, seriously, he invokes images that I know about from my brother’s Playboys from the 1960’s when they were originally published, twenty-some years before Douthat was born — he’s a freakin’ porn historian.)

Oh, and before you read the following quote from Douthat, I want to point out something about it that straight people would never notice without my drawing this to their attention — namely, it shows how much straight people take marriage for granted and chafe and rail against it. You guys unthinkingly denounce and besmirch marriage so cavalierly, and then somehow gays and lesbians wanting to get married makes US what’s threatening the institution of marriage these days? How, exactly? By shaming you guys by VALUING it, is how it looks to me.

I added the boldfacing below to Douthat’s wishy-washy and decidedly tepid denunciation of porn in the Atlantic (linked above):

Go back to Philip Weiss’s pal and listen to him talk: Porn captures these women before they get smart … It’s painful to say, but that’s your boys’ night out. This is the language of a man who has accepted, not as a temporary lapse but as a permanent and necessary aspect of his married life, a paid sexual relationship with women other than his wife. And it’s the language of a man who has internalized a view of marriage as a sexual prison, rendered bearable only by frequent online furloughs with women more easily exploited than his spouse.

Calling porn a form of adultery isn’t about pretending that we can make it disappear. The temptation will always be there, and of course people will give in to it. I’ve looked at porn; if you’re male and breathing, chances are so have you. Rather, it’s about what sort of people we aspire to be: how we define our ideals, how we draw the lines in our relationships, and how we feel about ourselves if we cross them. And it’s about providing a way for everyone involved, men and women alike-whether they’re using porn or merely tolerating it-to think about what, precisely, they’re involving themselves in, and whether they should reconsider.

The extremes of anti-porn hysteria are unhelpful in this debate. If the turn toward an “everybody does it” approach to pornography and marriage is wrong, it’s because that approach is wrong in and of itself, not because porn is going to wreck society, destroy the institution of marriage, and turn thousands of rapists loose to prey on unsuspecting women. Smut isn’t going to bring down Western Civilization any more than Nero’s orgies actually led to the fall of Rome, and a society that expects near-universal online infidelity may run just as smoothly as a society that doesn’t.

Which is precisely why it’s so easy to say that the spread of pornography means that we’re just taking a turn, where sex and fidelity are concerned, toward realism, toward adulthood, toward sophistication. All we have to give up to get there is our sense of decency.

You know, if what’s standing between us and the onslaught of porn is our sense of decency, don’t you think that is the idea that should have been developed throughout the article instead of being a throwaway line as Douthat is pulling his hand out of his pants after the contemporary history of porn montage that comprised the rest of the article reached its climax?

By the way, Douthat made some remarks about women’s use of porn and thatย  it is less than men’s, blah-blah-blah. This is a point I think most people in the field get wrong. Men’s and women’s porn are COMPLETELY different.

Women are high consumers of porn — it’s just that OUR porn — by which I mean pictures that make (straight) women excited — can be sold at grocery stores and children can look at them without experiencing any loss of decency whatsoever. This is because women’s porn is photos of chocolate cakes, followed by pretty much any other baked dessert, followed by attractive women in stylish clothes. Naked men, as a corollary to the naked women of men’s porn, are really not on the radar. Which is just as well, guys, because women resenting howย  judgmental men are about their endowments is nothing compared to how you would feel listening in on their judgments about, um, yours. To say nothing of how you would feel about the pointing and laughing, or worse, the pointing and sighing.

Update: Welcome, Anchoress readers, and I send my thanks to her for accepting my link’s pingback. I enjoy her posts whether or not I agree with them because, like her, I believe in the value of leading a life devoted to spiritual development. I expect we may have a conversation or two in the future — blogversation? — about the separation of religion and science, since that is at the heart of my father’s work on the origin of life.

Update: Welcome, Protein Wisdom readers — Dan was kind enough to give me a head’s up that you might be dropping by. If you are disappointed at not finding any sample porn, may I direct you to my “humor” category, so I have a shot at getting you to laugh before you go? Also, please peek at the category for “Barack Obama.” I explain why his sociopathy — his lack of a conscience — explains all his contradictions, seductions and coercions. I really want to educate as many people as I can about that. Also, it will help immunize you against his manipulations.

Update: Welcome, The Other McCain readers, sent by my dear Stacy from here and here. My favorite line today of Stacy’s immortal prose is, “Sister Cynthia is numbered among the ‘Lanche-worthy, and with porn-worthy rackage dealeth she the mighty blog-fu: WOLVERINES!” I dealteth some amusing karma, too — be sure to scroll down.

Update: Andrew Sullivan helpfully chronicled other smitings of Ross Douthat here, “A Douthat Backlash.” It was just not Ross’s day today.

Update: I just read the post at Brad DeLong’s blog, which is linked in Andrew’s post and now I see why Stacy had it, too. Oh. My. God. If you have been wondering how to say Douthat’s name, it is pronounced, “douchebag.” I hereby officially amend my theory that Douthat writes about porn to make his collection tax-deductible to stipulate that it appears his primary drive in amassing his huge collection is to find the Magic Porn that will make him straight.

Update: Cuban Diva BFF advises me this morning that I should tell my gentle readers what I told her about why the Douthat quote linked above made me conclude he is very likely a gay man trying to make himself straight. In short, it takes one to know one.

First, when I was in college and in comparable intimate situations with men, I felt the same way Douthat says he did with a willing and scantily clad woman: clueless, disgusted and bored. HOWEVER, I don’t think anyone in the history of the Earth has EVER been as turned on as I was the first time I was intimate with a woman at the age of 18 and you know what? My hormones told me EXACTLY what to do and I was WILDLY ENTHUSIASTIC about the whole endeavor.

So I am outing Ross Douthat. If he is NOT a gay man, and the very worst kind of closeted Congressman-Robert-Bauman-I-denounce-gays-to-prove-I’m-not-gay gay man, I will eat my hat. It is a chocolate hat, but very large, and therefore likely to upset my tummy, so this remains A REALLY SERIOUS VOW!

Coincidence: When I was a reporter for the Harford Democrat, I wrote the Election Night story when Roy Dyson defeated Bob Bauman after Bauman was caught soliciting sex from a teenage boy in downtown D.C. during the campaign. The next summer I was covering some Democratic crab feast that Gov. Harry Hughes attended in Havre de Grace, Maryland, and Bauman was there and flirted with me. Ick. He is about 5’2″ and has the most startling aqua-blue eyes.

Update: Michelle Malkin was really the first one out of the blocks when the New York Times announced that Douthat would replace Bill Kristol as its token conservative op-ed columnist. Michelle lists their criteria here. (Snort!) I have the utmost respect for her and pine for the day when she will accept my trackbacks.

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  • I admit, I laughed a bit when you described women’s porn. Pictures of naked men? Eh. Triple Chocolate Death? Please, let me scream in amazement.

    • Elena,

      I KNEW it! Thanks for your comment! Cuban Diva BFF disagrees and has a comment in the works, so I have to toss this one out to my female readers for their reaction!

      Cynthia

  • Dan Collins

    I think that the state ought to be out of the marriage business altogether. The problem is that for many it has a specific sacramental meaning for many people, people who oughtn’t, frankly, give a rat’s ass what government thinks about it. To hijack and redefine it, and bring in all the apparatus of censorship that would be required to police the redefinition is wrong.

    Let the government recognize all domestic partnerships as domestic partnerships, whether homosexual, heterosexual or other, and let churches decide what it is that they would like to bless.

  • Roy Lofquist

    “… but I won’t Douthat”.

    There is a very cogent reason that a principled conservative would oppose gay marriage without regard to moral teachings:

    “Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire.”

    This is from Russell Kirk’s Ten Principles:

    http://www.kirkcenter.org/kirk/ten-principles.html

    Just as the left hijacked the term “liberal” and tortured its meaning, so too have many radicals on the right donned the mantle of conservatism to advance distinctly un-conservative ideas. I commend to you the above link to the writings of one who many believe to be the father of modern conservative thought. William F. Buckley certainly thought so.

  • Cuban Diva

    I have no idea WHERE to begin. A million thoughts are fighting to get out of me and into this comments section. Seriously, I don’t type that fast. Hell, I can barely think that fast.

    Women’s porn is photos of CHOCOLATE CAKES and stylishly clothed women????? Yeah, in the Twilight Zone, maybe!

    My brain began to hurt. Cake, clothes, women’s porn? All connected in the same thought? No naked men? No effing way. That is wrong. It’s just WRONG.

    Then I got all crazy. I started to make those noises my cat makes when he’s getting ready to barf. Seriously. No kidding. I was stunned, repulsed, gobsmacked.

    Then fond memories came to mind. My pre-teen friends and I buying and savoring Cosmo,the naked Burt Reynolds edition. And that magazine, Playgirl, I think, that I held onto for years because of one particular picture of a naked man on a beach. Then a flood of other images of men that have left delicious impressions in my mind. Ahhh, so nice. No baked goods have ever made my mouth water like any of those. And for all the men reading, you will be happy to know that in my experience absolutely, positively, no baked goods have ever been selected over any man. Not in a photo, not in a fantasy, not in real life. Not ever.

    I love men. I celebrate men. I neeeeeeed men.

    Chocolate cake? Keep it. I’m setting my radar for beefcake!

    • My dear Cuban Diva BFF,

      This is why my post about your blind date disappointment was headlined, “If he’s just not that into her, he’s a FOOL!”

      ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cynthia

  • Cynthia, thanks for helping me with my Lenten vow. And as much as I would like you to be able to legally marry who you really want to marry, (a) polygamy is illegal in Maryland, and (b) my wife would never understand.

    Ain’t this bloggin’ sho’ ’nuff fun, y’all?

    • Stacy,

      (1) You’re welcome! (2) I’m glad to see you are coming around on the marriage issue. (3) Yes! I hope to God I made you laugh your ass off!

      Cynthia

  • I must say that photos of chocolate cake and women in stylish clothing do nothing for me — in fact, the real presence of those things excites me not at all. I like chocolate fine, but I’m one of the minority of females in the world (apparently) who don’t go all orgasmic over the stuff. As for stylish clothes… well, maybe if I had a figure. And an income of several figures. Anyway, these days I just wish women would dress decorously in classic styles, instead of looking like they just crawled out of the dumpster or rolled in glue and ran back and forth through the sales racks at Macy’s.

    On the other hand, something like this, however… Excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.

    • Twisted Spinster,

      Not to worry, you and Cuban Diva BFF are kindred spirits on this issue.

      ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cynthia

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