The Thinker

Dear Amy: Here’s a Lesson in Men

In my last entry I suggested that there was nothing else I could contribute to the topic of pornography. But I was wrong. Well, actually I’m right. Advice columnists though have it all wrong. They just don’t get pornography and men and never will. Perhaps it’s because most of them are women. Anyhow, today’s Ask Amy shows once again that if this attitude represents typical American women-think, American women are seriously out of touch:

Dear Amy:

You ran a letter recently from “Broken Wife,” who found porn sites on her husband’s computer’s tool bar.

Before this woman and her husband head off to marriage counseling for his supposed actions, might I suggest that they have their computer scanned for spyware and viruses? Awhile back my husband, bless his heart, came to me because he was getting strange e-mail and his Yahoo Messenger had weird names on it. We found out that our computer had been hijacked and that all sorts of porn and other rather obnoxious stuff was being saved to our hard drive. His e-mail was flooded with messages, and his messenger had “buddies” he never approved.

I’m not saying that this man is or is not having a virtual affair, but given the propensity of Internet hackers, I’d say give this man the benefit of the doubt before condemning him.

Virtually Been There

I appreciate the possibility that a hacker might have infiltrated a computer’s hard drive, but there is a world of difference between a husband who comes to his wife with evidence of hacking and a wife catching her husband with evidence of porn.

Sometimes the computer needs a virus scan.

Sometimes the computer’s owner needs a virus scan.

Attention women: men are hardwired to enjoy pornography. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are rushing down to the 7-Eleven to buy the latest Hustler on the first of the month. That doesn’t mean they prefer the airbrushed women in magazines and dirty DVDs to you. It just means the same way cats instinctively love catnip, men enjoy pornography.

Yes, a husband in a committed relationship who spends his time trying to pick up women on Craigslist instead of working through his bedroom issues with his wife has big problems. He and his wife should probably be seeing a marriage counselor to work through some issues. But a guy who occasionally watches pornographic videos, spends some time in the bathroom in private with a Maxim, or who download pornographic pictures or movie clips off the Internet is a normal man with a normal sex drive.

Here’s the thing, ladies: men are not women. No doubt you have heard it before but clueless women dispensing dubious advice like Amy Dickenson need a reality check. With men our libido is always on. Sometimes it’s like a Christmas light and hardly there at all. At other times it’s a 500-megawatt behemoth. But anyhow, it’s always on. We’re not like women who often need thirty minutes of foreplay to get in the mood. Stop projecting your values on men! When you do so you just make yourself look stupid and foolish.

Women, if your husbands are looking at smut on the Internet, maybe it’s time to have a civilized discussion with your husband on the topic. It’s okay to tell your husband that you don’t like pornography and you don’t want to see it but it’s not okay to demand that he get rid of it unilaterally just to spare your feelings. Most of us men pick up your attitude from the ether. That’s why we don’t usually download it when you are around. When we do this it is not because we are ashamed of seeing Internet porn, it is because we respect you as a human being and are sensitive to your feelings. If it strikes you as “sneaking around” that’s your problem. Don’t give your husband an unnecessary guilt trip. Just relax. Most likely if you extend trust to your husband then he is not out trolling for whores and bimbos. He may be getting off on occasion when his testosterone levels are high but yours aren’t. But if his worst sin is he is he is using his right hand — well, you can’t get safer sex than that.

Yep, I’ve got porn on my computer. It’s there if I want it. I don’t save it on my desktop. It’s not conspicuous and I have it reasonably secure in the unlikely event that minors want to troll my PC looking for stuff. I realize it may not be your cup of tea, but it is mine, at least on those times when I want to look at the stuff. It’s not an obsession. I wouldn’t even characterize it as a hobby. It comes way behind lots of other stuff including chores, blogging here and my responsibilities as a parent and a spouse. It’s there if that’s how I choose to spend my leisure.

Ladies, when you take out that little silver beeper and press it to that delicate spot, dream of that delicious ex-lover you had or that hunky lover you wistfully might want to have, do you feel guilty that you are denying your husband something? If you do perhaps you need some counseling, but there is nothing inherently wrong with you self-pleasuring yourself from time to time. And since most men (I suspect) have a higher sex drive than their wives, stop the worrying if your man gets off by himself now and then without you. He doesn’t need the guilt and you don’t need it either. When a man is making love to you that’s all the proof you need that you are still sexy. Erections don’t happen unless a man is turned on. Every erection is obvious proof that you are desirable to him.

Now it just so happens that my wife is into homoerotic fan fiction, or Slash. Slash is full of sex. Take away the sex and I suspect it just becomes trashy romance. Here’s the thing: I don’t get Slash at all. I often wish I did because perhaps it would ripple over to our sex life. But I don’t. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. But I’ll never get it, just like women don’t get men’s interest in pornography, I don’t get Slash. And if you are the type that reads romance novels, your husband probably doesn’t get your interest in them either. For a while I was concerned. But now I’m okay with it. My wife can read and write as much of this Slash stuff as she has the leisure to enjoy. And I happen to know she collects not just written homoerotic fan fiction but has some explicit videos (likely with Slash related themes) somewhere on her hard drive. I am sure she watches it on occasion. But since she knows it doesn’t trip my trigger she watches it when she has time and privacy. And that’s cool! It means she’s a sexual human being instead of a Stepford wife. It also means she respects my feelings and isn’t trampling on them. I could I suppose snoop around her hard drive and find the stuff. I could even give her a hard time about it and suggest that Slash is destroying our marriage. But I don’t. I keep things in perspective. And it doesn’t offend me. I don’t understand it, but it doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t give me any anxiety. It doesn’t mean I am worried that our marriage is in jeopardy and she’s about to run off with a lesbian girlfriend. It means I am okay with her having personal sexual space and she is okay with me having personal sexual space. It’s all okay! Marriage does not mean tearing down every wall of intimacy. It means leaving a few to ourselves so we can remain unique people.

Of course you are unlikely to measure up to the lurid pictures of airbrushed women in Penthouse. And likely your breasts will never be as perfect as a porno star’s. (After all you had the good sense not to get implants.) Pornography is about fantasy. Men understand that. Those of us who have been around the block understand that women are not sex objects, but complex people. Relax. Take a Valium if you need to. Find more important things to fret over. As long as your husband isn’t spending hours every night downloading porn instead of spending time with you there is nothing to worry about. Respect him by giving him a little space. Make sure you get a little space too. Most likely you will both be happier.


4 Responses to “Dear Amy: Here’s a Lesson in Men”

  1. 7:35 pm on April 3 2005, Lisa said:

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head, Mark. There is NOTHING wrong with balanced self love – I say balanced because ANYthing done in excess might not be the healthiest thing. I’ve never understood the thought that once you are in a “relationship” you forfeit all rights to your private life. Were my husband to be doing this (ha! don’t make me laugh!), I would have no problem with it at all. It’s part of a healthy sexuality for most men and women.

    Good post. Way to spotlight the word “pornography” and get the page views up! hehe

  2. 8:17 pm on April 5 2005, Matt said:

    I just recently found your page – occams razor. A wonderful source of reading for me.

    I share many of your opinions – religion in particular, and strangely enough some of your frustrations. I have a reasonably intelligent 15 year old son who uses his creative skills to avoid homework at all costs. Grades suffer, to the point of possibly repeating he grade.

    Keep up the good work.

    A few things about me – 39 year old, married 14 years, 4 kids, three from her previous marraige. Computer Engineer for GlaxoSmithKline. Born in PA, live in Wake Forest, NC, falconer.

  3. 3:44 pm on April 21 2005, annoyed that i cant stop thinking like a women said:

    I agree with you on this and men need their space but being a crazy women like I know I am and admitting it, it is still hard to come to the terms of men wanting to look at it. Just like we can not understand men I can’t understand why I can be so neurotic at times. I try to control my feelings but as a women that’s hard. Men are men and going to be that way and I may never get over how I feel about men looking at porn. That’s just the way I am. I never tell my husband to not look at it because I know he will occasionally. Just like men will not stop looking at porn most women will never stop being neurotic about different things. I wish I had a man’s mindset sometimes. If women mentally were more like men it would be good and men like women but thats never gonna happen.

  4. 11:41 am on November 17 2006, CNJ said:

    The thing with most porno is it is often degrading and violent to women. I just wonder how that husband would be if his wife was looking at nude men on the net.

    Not ALL men “enjoy” pornography; I have two male cousins (NOT gay) who do not enjoy pornography at all. So be careful not to categorize “all” men or “all” women.

    In actuality, although men and women have some differences, they really are not all that radically different; basically, they are much more alike than different.


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