What’s useful about it?

16 Aug

One of my favorite movies is Scent of a Woman. In it, Slade offers Charlie some Jack Daniels. Charlie demurs, saying, “I don’t use it.” Slade retorts, “What’s useful about it?”

Every time we talk about porn around the bloggernacle (or maybe elsewhere, I don’t know), we talk about using. Actually, every time most people talk about junkies of one sort or another, they talk about using.

I never cease wanting to post, “What’s useful about it?”

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20 Responses to “What’s useful about it?”

  1. Eliza R. August 16, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    i feel the same way about porn that I do about dark chocolate. YUMMY!!!!! But I eat a lot of other stuff too. and if I eat to *much* dark chocolate, I start to notice it on my waistline.

    Hehe, not sure exactly where that metaphor is going… except to say I like a little balance in all the things that make life nice πŸ™‚

  2. Megan August 16, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    In my particular case, it can sometimes be useful for becoming aroused then directing it toward my husband.

  3. Megan August 16, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    My problem is that, unlike chocolate, it’s hard to know what you’re going to consume without actually consuming it. Meaning you usually have to see the porn to know what it is and there’s lots I don’t want to see. Are there good resources or sites that have erotica focused more on beauty and sensuality?? Lot’s that I’ve happened upon are too humiliating, degrading, or phony for my tastes.

  4. Patty B. August 16, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    I have the same problem with dark chocolate that you have with porn, Megan. Because I don’t know what I’m getting before I actually consume it. There’s lots of dark chocolate that’s not worth wasting calories on. Porn’s the same way. But I don’t have any suggestions for you about how to go about finding the good stuff. I just use friend recommendations and chance, turning off the stuff that doesn’t do anything for me.

  5. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Dark chocolate gets awfully rich awfully fast, doesn’t it?

  6. Celeste August 16, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    There is a fantastic sex-positive store, based out of San Francisco, called Blowfish. They have a HUGE variety of excellent quality items, but I particularly like how they divide up their porn categories. With categories like “Couples Videos”, “For/By Women”, “Artsy” and every other category imaginable, along with excellent reviews, it makes it easy to find something enjoyable. Plus, their return policy is great.

    http://www.blowfish.com/catalog/videos/

  7. CuriousHeather August 16, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Awesome blog, ladies! There was a really good discussion in the comments on this topic a few months back on gweninlove.com.

    http://gweninlove.blogspot.com/2011/04/ask-audience-pornography.html

    I have the same issues as Megan. I’d be more prone to “using” πŸ™‚ if I had a better way of filtering the ugly.

  8. Megan August 16, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Patty, I’m impressed you’ve gotten recommendations from friends! With both my member and non-member friends if I even skirt around the topic embarrassment ensues and the topic is changed.

  9. tristin August 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    As an addiction counselor, that is what I ask my clients all the time: “What is useful about alcohol/pot/blow/porn? What are you getting out of this?” It usually leads to a level of introspection they hadn’t allowed themselves to visit previously (breaks down black-and-white thinking). They also realize that their addiction is, in fact, useful; it fulfills an unmet need. Facing this need head on is usually a key to their recovery from addiction.

    In other words, great question! What’s useful about it?

  10. Patty B. August 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    While I’m certainly a fan of the kind of introspection Tristin references and do believe that most things we do ultimately serve some purpose (including problematic behaviors), I hesitate a little bit to think about things that serve the purpose of pleasure in terms of “use value.” The term “useful” implies productivity and in our culture “productivity” can never mean “pleasure.” I haven’t seen Scent of a Woman, but the implication I got from the question Lucy quotes in the OP was that the point of Jack Daniels is not the way in which it’s useful, but instead the fact that it is pleasurable and relaxing. In other words that “use” is the wrong paradigm in which to think about enjoying a glass of bourbon.

    I’d make that case for sex, at least in part. It is certainly true that sex serves many purposes. Procreation is the obvious one. It can help develop intimacy between partners and therefore cement a relationship. It can have positive physical benefits (like relieving migraines or overcoming insomnia). But it seems weird and wrong to me to think about sex only in terms of “use value” or why it’s “useful”? While I don’t deny it has many “uses,” at the end of the day the thing that is so amazing about good sex is that for that space of time I exist in that moment with a partner I care about very deeply. For me, sex is more about being than about “accomplishing” or “producing” or any of the other things we associate with something useful.

    As for what that means about porn–well, I guess I see porn as a sex aid in some fashion, like most other sex toys which can enhance a sexual encounter. But I still hesitate to rely exclusively on the language of use value to discuss almost anything to do with sex and sexual pleasure because even such aids aren’t about “producing” something or “accomplishing” something in the conventional sense of those words. In my mind they’re about being as much as doing or accomplishing.

  11. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    the implication I got from the question Lucy quotes in the OP was that the point of Jack Daniels is not the way in which it’s useful, but instead the fact that it is pleasurable and relaxing.

    Exactly.

    Use = utility.

    Slade was pointing out that the parlance of people Charlie’s age was ridiculous, and Slade was calling it what it was (which is a huge theme in the movie, especially at the climax).

  12. Gorihor August 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Damnit, how come whenever I come with a decent idea, one of the sister wives posts it first.

    @ Patty B – That’s what I wanted to say, but you’ve done it better.

    Again, like ‘addiction’, I think ‘use’ or ‘user’ has become a pejorative term in relation to pornography.

    Our society is very much a utilitarian one, where ‘wasting’ ones time on something that isn’t useful is looked upon as inferior or even wicked.

    The whole pornography discussion is like quicksand and we all just keep sinking in deeper (still it’s a worthwhile discussion in my opinion). We will never come to an agreement on ‘use’ or ‘addiction’ let alone what ‘porn’ actually is (are the underwear ad’s in the Sears catalog porn? What about Venus de Milo?).

    As for what use it is, I think it all boils down to the fact that it is pleasurable. It simply triggers a chemical reaction in the brain that feels good. Kinda like riding a roller-coaster or scoring the winning basket.

    It is also ‘used’ as a masturbatory short-cut. I suspect men 100 or 100,000 years ago masturbated just as frequently as men today, but they relied on cruder πŸ˜‰ images, whether they be cave-paintings or xylography, than what modern men can rely upon. In my case, I never masturbated until I was on my mission, and that was without any porn use. However, upon my return the internet had been invented and porn provided a handy shortcut to accomplish the same objective.

    Some use it out of curiosity or as a tool to expand their understanding and/or repertoire.

    Really, its uses are only limited by your imagination.

    But the ‘use’ question itself is really just another red-herring.

  13. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    But the β€˜use’ question itself is really just another red-herring.

    Or it’s really just a tongue-in-cheek movie-quotes game…

  14. Patty B. August 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Sorry to beat you to the punch, Gorihor. πŸ™‚

    Also I think you’re absolutely right that “use” and “user” often has a pejorative connotation in Mormon discussions of pornography.

  15. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    β€œuse” and β€œuser” often has a pejorative connotation in Mormon discussions of pornography.

    Well, to be fair, this is by no means the purview of Mormons. “Use” and “user” is the de facto vocabulary of addiction. It’s just that at church, we don’t often come across junkies, aka “users,” of drugs so much. And I’m not sure “the world” talks much about pornography addiction, or at least not as much as sex addiction.

    Via a tortuous mental pathway, I have another question: Does gambling and its correlatable “addiction” get much air time at church? If so, I’ve totally missed it.

  16. KaralynZ August 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    I guess I don’t think of “use” as a bad thing. When I’m sleep but want to stay awake in the middle of the afternoon I use caffeine. When I have a headache I use Tylenol. When I want to get in the mood for sex but can’t stop thinking about the bills and the car that needs repaired, I use erotic fiction.

  17. amelia August 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    just looked at these comments and now I want some dark chocolate. πŸ™‚

    Fortunately I have a delicious imported French chocolate bar just waiting to be enjoyed.

    Also, I’m with Patty B. I don’t “use” chocolate. Or romance novels (which church leadership would have us understand as a version of porn). I enjoy them.

  18. UtahMark August 24, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Last night I had a couple of hours of free time when my wife and kids were not home. For the first time in several weeks I watched some porn. Was it useful? I guess not. But I had an enjoyable, relaxing time.

  19. April Day April 6, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I see I’m a little late to the discussion but I’m going to disagree. I’m disappointed to see that all these comments refer to the personal use of pornography. There is a wider angle that we should see.

    What’s the use of pornography?…It makes money. Lots of money. It exploits the body, sexuality, intimacy and takes advantage of little girls, the confused, little boys, the sex trafficked teen, women, men, addicts, the poor and hungry, homosexuals, the ill, the traumatized, the trapped, hopeless and curious. It’s useful in robing the innocent of freedom, its a fantastic tool for the abuser and a delicious escape for the weak-minded. It’s also useful in stealing trust, respect, real passion and desire from a couple. Turns humans with hearts and minds and souls into simply body parts with only a purpose for self-gratification. The use is destruction. “A little here, a little there. It feels good. I just use it to get in the mood. It’s relaxing. It’s like a little chocolate”

    I get it, pornography has an almost magnetic pull, appealing to our basest instinct. Sex. When we watch or read images, emotions and urges surface we feel pleasure and enjoyment. But in that very moment, we are being robbed of our sexuality. Do you really think the sex industry just wants to pleasure you? Their sole purpose is for your use and enjoyment?

    There are larger forces at work with a greater intention than pleasing you. We are being herded, quietly, slowly, without question, mindlessly.

    How do I know this? I’ve been on that path. Pornography is not a victim-less habit.

  20. JaRy August 13, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    April Day, you’re right that the industry is out to make money and is often exploitative. Sadly, that’s the case with just about every industry. The real question is what it does to you and your relationships. For me and my spouse, it often has the effect of making sex more enjoyable for us both.

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