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Men look at pornography, but we do not see it,"" laments Kimmel (Sociology/SUNY Stonybrook). So begins this revelatory collection of 34 essays--many original, a few lifted from books, several reprinted from magazines ranging from Film Quarterly. to Changing Men Magazine--that focus clearly and with conscience on how and why men use porn. Kimmel himself, as he explains in an introduction and wrap-up essay, is deeply influenced by radical feminist criticism of porn, finding that ""pornography is gendered speech"" and ""that men's consumption of pornography is, in part, fed by [a] strange combination of rage and lust."" Several of his contributors mildly disagree, most notably Phillip Lopate, who in ""Renewing Sodom and Gomorrah"" argues that, among other reasons, men ""go to pornography. . .to be put in touch with their sadness. . . elegiac is the mood that settles on a pornography audience""; and, amidst a chorus of gay voices, Scott Tucker, who in ""Radical Feminism and Gay Male Porn"" points out that porn also expresses ""desires for freedom and pleasure."" For the most part, though--and not including the handful of scholarly research essays here, most devoted to exploring the tenuous link between porn and sexual violence--the majority of Kimmel's contributors agree vehemently that, as the punchy essay ""Is Pornography Jerking You Around?"" by Men Against Pornography puts it, ""Pornography [is] a key element in the oppression of women,"" purveying the belief that ""women want men to possess and dominate them."" Moreover, several men writing here explore the sorry plight of the male user of porn; this indictment is made with maximum moral force by David Mura in an impassioned meditation on the spiritual decadence of porn addiction (""A Male Grief: Notes on Pornography and Addiction""). A commendable collection, flush with talented work, that achieves the rare goal of provoking serious thought about a usually mindless practice.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Crown