LOS ANGELES—It's turns out it is all true. Only after I started watching a shitload of porn did my inner-progressive start pushing its way to the surface of my soul. Before my immersion in the erotic arts, I was your typical American guy whose primary perspective on the world was that I just wanted everyone to leave me the hell alone. You could have called me a libertarian, if I knew what that meant, but the fact is I just knew what I was taught from birth: that as rugged individualists we Americans are born to mind our own fucking business, except when it comes to sex, and then it's our constitutional obligation to regulate our neighbors' behavior. It held me in good stead for years.
But then came the porn, massive amounts of it pumped into me on a daily basis as if I was a living guinea pig for some Nazi-like sexual experiment. Sure, watching porn was a part of my job, but my brain didn't know or care about that. My poor inexperienced neurons were firing so wildly they didn't know which way was up, and neither did my penis, which always thought it had a mind of its own. Wrong! It didn't take long for both of us to realize that something big was happening and we weren't being asked our opinion on the matter.
One day I had a porn-inspired epiphany. I was becoming a different person just by looking at people fucking. And I was hardly a spring chicken. Well into my forties, I was married and had a beautiful little boy I had named after my father. My wife and I were not well-off, to say the least, but we were happy and contented with our little family... or so we thought. Porn was making me question everything.
The changes were subtle at first. I had of course never literally brought my work home with me, but soon I started questioning that decision and others quickly followed. My wife and I had made certain vows to one another, but the life lessons I was gleaning from porn made me question them as well. Now, after reading the work of Mark Regnerus, associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, I realize that, as he recently wrote, "[Porn] reinforces the idea that people can share their bodies but not their inmost selves, and that they can do so temporarily and (definitely) not exclusively without harm."
Bingo! If that is so, my brain further reasoned, then everything imaginable is acceptable, and nothing stands in the way of a person embracing any behavior. By definition, that meant that the vows my wife and I had exchanged years earlier were essentially empty utterings spewed into a vast void of meaninglessness. Likewise, any restrictions we placed on our son were not only wrong and probably harmful. Whatever behavior he decided he wanted to engage in was correct and healthy. We were the problem and the obstacle.
In time, all my old beliefs fell by the wayside. Regnerus has been focusing on issues involving homosexuality—most notably in his "study" from earlier this year that found that children being raised in same-sex households fare worse than children raised by opposite-sex couples, and then again recently in an article for the Witherspoon Institute, in which he postulated, "Contrary to what we might wish to think, young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and a noble commitment to fairness... It may be, at least in part, a by-product of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts." But I had learned that his findings were only the tip of the iceberg.
Now I not only believe in many things that were not on my radar before—including same-sex marriage and people from different faiths being allowed to shop at Zabar's at the same time—but I live my life differently than I did before the porn. Nothing is off the table now, which is actually what I believe Professor Regnerus was getting at.
"Of course," he writes, "correlation doesn’t mean causation, and I’m not suggesting causation here. But I’m also pretty confident the 'causal arrow' wouldn’t run in the other direction. (Why would supporting same-sex marriage encourage you to look at porn?) Still, we should consider alternative explanations. What might predict both porn use and support for new family forms? Religion? Politics? While religiosity indeed matters for perceiving marriage as outdated, it does little to alter the stable link between porn use and same-sex marriage support. The same is true of political affiliation. It matters. It just doesn’t weaken the association between porn use and supporting nontraditional family forms."
Were truer words ever spoken? Do they not explain my new interest in animal husbandry and sex with shellfish? Sure, it's problematic for Regnerus, a Christian Sociologist, and for his supporters at the conservative Witherspoon Institute and anti-gay Family Research Council, but not for me. Porn, you see, has set me free. My wife, on the other hand, remains chained in the basement, but she's coming around, too.
Image: Ancient depictions of people after watching porn.