April 5, 2010
As pornography has become both more extreme and more commercial, antiporn activist Dines argues, it has dehumanized our sexual relationships. The radical objectification and often brutal denigration of women in porn, she holds, “leaks” into other aspects of our lives. Dines’s argument rests on a compelling, close reading of the imagery and narrative content of magazines, videos, and marketing materials; what is missing, however, is a similarly compelling body of research on how these images are used by viewers, aside from Dines’s own anecdotal evidence. The author’s appropriation of addiction terminology–viewers are called “users,” habitual viewing is an “addiction,” and pornography featuring teenagers is called “Pseudo-Child Pornography” or “PCP”–is distracting and suggests that rhetorical tricks are needed because solid argumentation is lacking. Likewise, Dines’s opponents are unlikely to be swayed by her speculation tying porn viewing to rape and child molestation, nor by the selective sources she draws on to support her point (convicted sex offenders). The book does raise important questions about the commoditization of sexual desires and the extent to which pornography has become part of our economy (with hotel chains and cable and satellite companies among the largest distributors).