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A Kinder, Gentler Porn? – Jenna Jameson speaks on Oprah

Last Updated: April 10, 2015

Mark Gaither

Mark Gaither is the founder of Redemptive Heart Ministries. Mark has a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served as the director of creative ministries and writer for Insight for Living, the radio ministry of Chuck Swindoll. Mark is the author of Redemptive Divorce, a book that offers biblical guidance to the suffering partner, healing to the offending spouse, and the best catalyst for restoration in a broken marriage. He and his wife, Charissa, lead the single adults ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. Mark blogs at MarkWGaither.com.

I just finished watching The Oprah Winfrey Show, “Why Millions of Women Are Using Porn and Erotica: Lisa Ling Reports.” I’m not sure what I expected. Something more balanced, for sure. Maybe a word or two from someone like Shelley Lubben to reveal the darker side of the “adult entertainment industry.” Alas, nary a negative word. But the truth wouldn’t have made much headway. I could script the response from Oprah’s guests, Jenna Jameson and Lisa Ling: “But women’s porn—aka ‘erotica’—is different from all that icky male-oriented material.”

Ms. Jameson spent most of her time distancing herself from the industry, going to great lengths to show that her career differed greatly from the norm. She, unlike most actresses, set high standards for herself and refused to engage in any sex acts that either demeaned her or caused physical discomfort. In fact, she claimed to have had only three or four partners in her hundreds of porn scenes. “That’s a big misconception about me in the industry . . . They think, Oh, well, she’s had thousands of partners. She’s a slut, she’s a whore. All these things. But in actuality, I had sex with my husband [on camera] most of the time, and I think that’s why my movies sell so well, because you can see . . . love.”

San Francisco Chronicle sex columnist, Violet Blue, author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn, joined the discussion to help the audience understand the difference between porn and erotica.

“Generally speaking the difference between porn and erotica is that porn is something that is a graphic sexual image that conjures up an animalistic reaction, and you like it or you don’t. Erotica also is graphic sexual imagery, but it has an extra component, or several extra components, that resonate with the viewer; be it artistic, be it passionate, be it something that emotionally engages you; be it something that parlays into a fantasy that you have about sexuality, or that you relate with the people on the screen. So it’s layered.”

By the end of the program, Oprah’s message to women was clear. Porn is for men. It’s animalistic and exploitative, and largely responsible for everything bad in the adult industry. But erotica is different. It’s a kinder, gentler medium geared to meet the needs of women. More cerebral than merely physical, erotica wraps the filmed sex act in romance, anticipation, and an interesting plot. And we need not worry about exploitation; makers of erotica treat their performers with dignity and sensitivity.

But let’s be honest about this. All rationalizations aside. Erotica, like Ms. Jameson herself, tries to distance itself from the seedy underworld of its brutish, unsophisticated cousin, perhaps hoping no one will notice that it’s still sex. On camera. For money. Sold to people for the same purpose. Erotica sates the same dysfunctional objective for women as mere porn does for men: sexual gratification without intimacy. And the effects are no less destructive to women than the mind-warping images men view, only without the pretense of romance.

In the end, Oprah didn’t do her audience a service. She squandered her opportunity to look at the issue objectively, to ask tough questions, to examine the effects of sex-by-proxy on the mind. She failed to interview female porn addicts to consider the potential harm they suffered. She even glossed over the issue of sexually transmitted diseases among performers. She drove the wedge between sexuality and intimacy deeper. She affirmed the sex addict’s fear of intimacy, and—most disturbing of all—she left her healthy viewers wondering if there’s something wrong with them.

Yesterday was not one of Oprah’s better days.

See also last years article: “Oprah Winfrey and Prescription Porn