Synopses & Reviews
From the bestseller lists to teen comedies to Internet hot spots, porn has become ubiquitous and is dramatically affecting men, women, and children in ways we cannot imagine, but should.
Welcome to Porn America. Pornography, once the taboo vice that no one dared to mention, has become part of our daily lives affordable, accessible, anonymous, and, increasingly, acceptable. The all-pornography, all-the-time mentality is everywhere not just in cybersex and Playboy magazine but in mainstream magazines, in Paris Hilton's saleability as a celebrity, in the advice columns of women's magazines, and on the bestseller lists.
But, even more striking, porn has become a big part of the personal lives of many Americans. Critically acclaimed author Pamela Paul argues that as porn has become more pervasive, it has changed our marriages and families as well as our children's ideas of sex and sexuality. In the dozens of interviews and a nationwide Harris poll that she conducted as part of her research for this book, Paul exposes how porn has infiltrated our lives. From a wife agonizing over the late-night hours her husband spends on porn sites to parents stunned to learn that their twelve-year-old son has seen a hardcore porn film, we see the costs and consequences of pornography, as intimacy is replaced by fantasy and emotional isolation.
Pornified is an insightful, shocking, and important investigation that will rekindle the debate on how and where pornography meets the public eye.
"Having already carved out a major niche among 20-to-30-somethings with The Starter Marriage, Paul takes on another bane of postfeminism: the Internet-enabled 'all pornography, all the time' mentality of many younger men and its ripple effect on the culture. For this pornograph, Paul interviewed more than 100 people 80 of them young, straight men. Some findings are predictable: porn allows men 'to enjoy the fantasy of endless variety,' but can distract men from their partners, detract from their sexual skills and harm relationships. More valuably, Paul finds women caught under new forms of social pressure from men and women not to disdain porn: to do so, now, is (among other things) to be seen as limiting women's sexual self-expression. Paul also sees porn seeping ever sooner into preteen life and sensibly observes that there's no reason for porn to be limitless on the Net when it's regulated elsewhere. Still, a critique that aims to avoid religious conservatism's invocation of sin and radical feminism's emphasis on civil rights violations can get fuzzy. Like Potter Stewart ('I know it when I see it'), Paul can't always distinguish sex-related art from pornography other than on a case-by-case basis; things get especially thorny regarding the torture and pain that, she asserts, 'many, perhaps most men, find alluring.' She ends up arguing that pornography, like alcohol or cigarettes, should be 'discouraged,' and proposes an effort by the government and private sector to quell consumer demand. Paul's outlines and analyses can seem simplistic, and her prose rarely rises above the level of the Time magazine feature on which the book is based. But she covers a lot of territory, and there's plenty to unnerve the knee-jerk 'free speech' crowd. This will be a major watercooler book this season. Agent, Lydia Wallis, Paradigm Literary. Author tour. (Sept. 8)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Paul's analysis is wide-ranging....If Paul is far less polemical than, say, Andrea Dworkin, her book reveals a sadness about it all..." Booklist
"Paul fails to prove a national trend, turning what might have been a provocative study into a diatribe....The book's biggest shortcoming is Paul's one-sided examination of the effect of porn on women." Amy Sohn, The New York Times Book Review
"[Paul] interprets meaning from personal testimony like a prosecutor preparing an indictment. Her analysis implies objectivity while presenting only half a debate." Los Angeles Times
"Shrill and tendentious, Pornified comes across as less a questing investigation than a scattershot polemic. The book communicates its author's outrage effectively. Unfortunately, it does so at the expense of nuanced argument." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
is rife with tales of Americans experiencing a new level of sexual pathos, filled with snapshots of surreptitious lives: it is as compelling as it is troubling. A provocative book, sure to stir debate and reflection."—Margaret Talbot, senior fellow, New American Foundation, and staff writer, The New Yorker
"Pamela Paul convincingly and sometimes shockingly details the effects on men, women, and children living in a 'pornified' world. Her book should be a wake-up call for parents and should change the way we view—and rationalize viewing—pornography today. As Paul makes clear, porn is not 'cool,' or 'liberating,' or basically benign. It is a poison eroding relationships between men and women and darkening our children's horizons."—Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness
"This is a quietly forceful book. It helps everyone—from libertarian to moralist—by offering a common ground from which to proceed: pornography is one more alienating product of a consumer culture, and in some ways a particularly lonely one. By definition it is selfish. That doesn't mean it needs to be banned; it does mean we need to think about what it's doing to each of us, and to our shared society."—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Enough
"Pornified is rife with the tales of Americans experiencing a new level of sexual pathos, filled with snapshots of surreptitious lives: it is as compelling as it is troubling. A provocative book, sure to stir debate and reflection."
— Alissa Quart, author of Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers “A sharp rebuke to porns glamorization.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“An alarming, thought-provoking overview of todays cyber-sexual society.”—The Seattle Times
“Pamela Paul sets out to scare readers about the effects of pornography on American society, and she succeeds mightily.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Once a taboo vice no one dared to mention, porn has become affordable, accessible, anonymous, and increasingly acceptable. This volume's investigation will further the discussion of how and where porn meets the public eye.
“Strips porn of its culture-war claptrap . . . Pornified may stand as a Kinsey Report for our time.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Porn in America is everywhere—not just in cybersex and Playboy but in popular video games, advice columns, and reality television shows, and on the bestseller lists. Even more striking, as porn has become affordable, accessible, and anonymous, it has become increasingly acceptable—and a big part of the personal lives of many men and women.
In this controversial and critically acclaimed book, Pamela Paul argues that as porn becomes more pervasive, it is destroying our marriages and families as well as distorting our childrens ideas of sex and sexuality. Based on more than one hundred interviews and a nationally representative poll, Pornified exposes how porn has infiltrated our lives, from the wife agonizing over the late-night hours her husband spends on porn Web sites to the parents stunned to learn their twelve-year-old son has seen a hardcore porn film.
Pornified is an insightful, shocking, and important investigation into the costs and consequences of pornography for our families and our culture.
About the Author
Pamela Paul is a contributor to Time magazine and the author of The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. Formerly a senior editor at American Demographics, she writes for such publications as Psychology Today, Self, Marie Claire, Ladies Home Journal, The Economist, and The New York Times Book Review. She lives in New York.