by Mary Harrington
Tuesday, 4
May 2021
Reaction
16:08

The third law of pornodynamics

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction — porn included
by Mary Harrington
Topless model Lucene Duarte, who posed with her 18-year-old son for a story about her OnlyFans account

It’s a good rule of thumb that if a thing is taboo, someone has made porn about it. I call this phenomenon “the third law of pornodynamics”, after the thermodynamic law that ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. This third law of pornodynamics is in full and repulsive view this week, via two contrasting, incest-flavoured stories.

In the first, a young woman revealed that she’d cut contact with her father after he borrowed her iPad and left multiple porn searches in her Safari browser history including ‘teen’, ‘flat teen braces f***’ and — most queasily of all — ‘dad and daughter’. In the second, the Scottish Sun ran a feature on topless model Lucene Duarte, who posed with her 18-year-old son for a story on how he “opened an account at OnlyFans for his own mum, in order to help with expenses and pocket money”.


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Defenders of porn are fond of framing it as a matter of freedom of speech and personal self-expression — in essence, a neutral feature of human culture that will exist whether repressed or not and as such best regulated and taxed. But the differences as well as the similarities between these two stories tell us something about why this is inadequate as an account of the now-pervasive online porn industry.

Both stories take as their core assumption the belief that to be female is to be an object of desire, and to be male is to desire. It’s a view expressed baldly by trans scholar Andrea Long Chu in Females, where ‘female’ is “any psychic operation in which the self is sacrificed to make room for the desires of another”.

The twist in the OnlyFans story is meant to be the idea that 18-year-old Leonardo ought to feel territorial about his own mother — but has instead participated in arranging her objectification. Meanwhile he is pictured standing right behind her, and staring down her ample cleavage. In contrast, the clear inference of the young woman’s reaction to ‘Porn Search Dad’ is a sense of being objectified by proxy.

This is, of course, not the full picture of human sexuality, as most normal people know perfectly well. And yet this reductive, one-way dynamic, in which males are the desirers and women ‘make room for the desires of another’ has been relentlessly propagated as a basic paradigm for relations between the sexes. It’s a worldview where women are ‘entrepreneurs’ for self-objectifying, and men are choosing subjects simply enjoying a fantasy when they consume.

It’s not real. But it makes a lot of money — even as it forms an addictive trap for many consumers, and a trigger for violence in relationships. And it shapes the landscape of what’s taboo as well: for as every taboo becomes searchable, so new, buried ones must be found —and we end up with men using their own daughter’s iPad to search for child pornography. 

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Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Wait a minute; just who is the adult in that relationship? So, while Leonardo participated in arranging her objectification, what did mama do? It seems that she was an active collaborator. Sure, it’s a bit creepy but the “woman as victim” play is not working here.
I can’t help but notice how in both cases, it’s the man who’s wrong. Uh uh. The dad using daughter’s iPad is the guilty party, no argument there. But Duarte is an adult who is quite willing to objectify herself.

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

yeah its a weird reading of that relationship, the mother , ie the Adult, who has a history of profiting and promoting from her own objectification, is somehow exploited by her child. i understand his role to be a kind of website manager not a pimp. i wouldn’t want to spend my day uploading porn pics off my mum to the internet, but this is the result of the play stupid games win stupid prizes world of unshame-able hedonism thats been prevalent since the smart phones become the norm.

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago

Porn definitely qualifies as an addiction, because as with drugs and booze, those who consume porn need to consume ever worse porn to get the same hit.
It does need to be reined back somehow, if necessary by making ISPs liable for the content so they have to block it at their end. Few adults are tech savvy enough to block it at the receiving end.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

As an alcoholic (dry) I know all about addiction but to claim that porn is an addiction is ridiculous – it can be used addictively just like many other things but in itself it is not an addiction.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

That’s maybe too subtle a distinction for me. All I know is that when I was 13, the pages of Penthouse were the most startlingly erotic thing I’d ever seen. If I were the average 13 year old of today, I’d have seen thousands of naked women by now, and I’d presumably have moved on to watching films of depilated women being used disrespectfully and slapped around.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

That’s maybe too subtle a distinction for me” – you made the claim pal not me.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Any proof of this bold statement? When I was 13 naked women were terribly at exciting and at 63 I still think they are terribly exciting. The idea of the stepping stone is not true for drugs and I doubt it is true for porn. It is a certain type of person that suffers from addiction and excess but I think the far, far, majority is not looking for b***h slapping. However, if you have some quantative information, love to see it.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

And thereby hangs the rub – your (and wider society’s) presumption.
There seems to be a pervasive view that if it’s something society is a little wary about – porn, drugs, alternative lifestyles (largely viewed as sex & drugs & rock ‘n’ roll) – then there has to be an ever decreasing dive into worse ‘depravity’ at each episode/contact.
It is a “well-known fact” that if you smoke a joint, you’ll end up on crack; and if you gaze longingly at a topless model you’ll end up a rapist in the bushes- of course it is; apart from the lack of evidence.
Ultimately, viewing porn is a matter of taste (as in what one finds pleasing), and to my knowledge, there is no evidence to suggest that the majority of people (men and women) who have been exposed to/users of porn have deteriorated into using, and slapping around, their partners disrespectfully – largely because, although that type of thing is out there, they have more ‘vanilla’ tastes when it comes to porn/sex.
Just because you once broke the thirty mph limit, doesn’t mean that you will end up thrashing around the streets at ninety; nor is it certain that just because you hacked zombies to death on your PS4 that you will be an axe-murderer. The human brain has far more agency than the doom-mongers would have us believe. We are all more than capable of separating fantasy from reality – and setting our own limits accordingly.
All the best.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
1 year ago

a trigger for violence in relationships” – prove it sweetie because if you can’t or won’t then that tells me you just hate porn and are trying underhand tactics to try to shape a narrative.

Miss Fit
Miss Fit
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

She did provide a link that cites research that makes the connection. I’m thinking that the one trying to shape a narrative is you…

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Why dont you prove that it’s not?…sweety

George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

Really is getting like Weimar Germany in the West.

Vóreios Paratiritís
Vóreios Paratiritís
1 year ago

The problem with porn is not that it exists, it is that it has become mass produced, caught in a deviance spiral to gain viewers, and is essentially free for anyone to watch. The results are in. It messes up human sexuality. Maybe we should do something about it.
Banning will never work. To my mind a fist step is to make free video porn illegal, because so much porn consumption is compulsive, the financial barrier is probably enough to cut down on casual mass consumption.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
1 year ago

The results are in” – so point me to those ‘results’ please.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

There are many dodgy websites out there. Try googling sissy or gay conversion (although I warn you, it’s not pleasant): they openly advertise how they hijack human – usually male – sexuality. There’s a whole reddit thread about it somewhere. The transgenderism fetish that’s rapidly becoming normalized is the end result of this porn addiction.

George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

Andrea Long Chu?
She does not look at all Chinese from her photos on the internet.
Makes me think of Full Metal Jacket. Me chew you long time.

matthew70
matthew70
1 year ago

Did nobody think to check that the “pun” around which the article is written actually applies to the correct physical law?

Guy Holme
Guy Holme
1 year ago
Reply to  matthew70

Mary is referring to Newton’s third law of motion, not any laws of thermodynamics.

Nick Wade
Nick Wade
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Holme

Glad someone else noticed. I wonder if science expert, Tom Chivers did!?

ashtreeimages
ashtreeimages
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Holme

If only she wasn’t so didactic after the fact, she may have got away with it. (Journalists’ Third Law of Obscured Fallacy)

Chris Hirst
Chris Hirst
1 year ago
Reply to  matthew70

It’s actually very difficult to make the third law of thermodynamics work in the context of this story!

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
1 year ago

Mary could you please write a piece on that book Females? From the quote it appears to go several decades back in terms of improving women’s lives!

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

Wait – there are “trans scholars”?

William Harvey
William Harvey
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Its a tough job but ze/zim/ thing-one has to do it.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Harvey
Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago

‘…males are the desirers and women ‘make room for the desires of another’ .
Yet another missed opportunity for asking “why does that happen?”… I suspect the discussion would expose some uncomfortable truths – not to mention trigger an army of screeching feminists into a frenzy.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Oh Mary! Haven’t you retained anything from GCSE Science?

M Spahn
M Spahn
1 year ago

Mary is usually pretty reasonable but her argument is all over the place here. If there even is one other than porn bad.
I’m curious as to whether she objects to gay men “objectifying” each other, but as usual we are pretending they don’t exist because it complicates the narrative too much.

Last edited 1 year ago by M Spahn
Scott Carson
Scott Carson
1 year ago

Rule 34.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago

Well, it looks from the picture like the UK is a highly developed country.