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Zimbardo's "Demise of Guys"

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Rivi, May 26, 2012.

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  1. Rivi

    Rivi

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    What do you guys think about all of this discussion on the "demise of guys?" Essentially, Dr. Zimbardo is arguing that men have lower graduation rates, higher incarceration rates, and greater difficulty with emotions and intimacy.

    (I really hate to link to psychologytoday but it gives some points for discussion)

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201205/best-reads-week/the-demise-guys
    http://www.ted.com/talks/zimchallenge.html



    I think a lot of this relates to the pressure of being a primary breadwinner in a strange economy. What do you guys think? How do feminist theorists think about this? Do you believe that men are truly struggling in newer ways due to technological advances or are people making too much out of this?
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  2. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    I think feminists would surely interpret this is multiple ways, but largely not as a "demise of guys." What does that mean, anyway? I ask that sincerely. Does it mean that men are on the demise? Or does it mean that "guys," as in macho men or something, are on the demise (as in, men are going to have to become more like women)? I think feminists would either find this idea blasphemous and impossible (because the ruling gender will not relinquish power) or as a really positive thing!

    This is a very, very complicated issue and Zimbardo cites some very simple data to make some very striking claims. It's nice that he has made a name for himself, but I really struggle with what he is intending to do by saying these things. Is he on the public speaking circuit now? Is he broke? Regular people will listen to this and think it means something...but does it?? I don't see evidence of that. When you compare 1/2 of the population to the other 1/2, you are bound to see differences. But those differences don't necessarily mean what he says they mean. Disappointing. :yawn:
  3. KillerDiller

    KillerDiller

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    I don't know, I just read an article stating that in 38% of households headed by straight married couples, the woman is actually the primary breadwinner (up from 24% in 1987). Fewer than 20% of these households are supported by the man alone.
  4. AnnoyedByFreud

    AnnoyedByFreud

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    wow. the comments from that article make me cringe.
  5. Ya Ya

    Ya Ya

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    Definitely not a scholarly debate. Smh.
  6. AnnoyedByFreud

    AnnoyedByFreud

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    Apparently the blame lies entirely with women. And that pesky feminism stuff. :rolleyes:
  7. Pragma

    Pragma

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    LOL, it is all because of porn and video games...
  8. JeyRo

    JeyRo

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    I doubt Zimbardo's broke. He works for Palo Alto University (formerly PGSP) and teaches social psych. courses. My guess is he gets a fairly decent six-figure salary basically for hanging out and letting PAU bask in his aura.
  9. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    Gary Wilson gave a talk in response to this on TED Talks, about how internet porn might have contributed to this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wSF82AwSDiU

    Also, I think most feminists would roll their eyes at this. We already think that men get too much attention and focus on their problems, whereas the problems of women get ignored. And then of course those comments blaming this effect on feminism. We get REALLY annoyed at the idea that "oh no, poor emasculated men! What are they to do with the oppression they face of having to watch female-centric movies and go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to shop for pillow shams??"

    I think female gamers would especially be annoyed by the idea that video games are symptomatic of men facing a problem.

    Zimbardo's article also fails to note that the stronger, attractive, career women in those films are often portrayed as cold-hearted, bitchy women whose lives are empty because they don't have a man to get by. And these women always end up with that aimless manchild in the end of the movie, with their lives supposedly better for it.

    Oh, one more thing to complain about ;)

    Because it's not like research has shown that marriage increases happiness for men... oh, wait.
    Last edited: May 27, 2012
  10. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    Oh how I would love to wade into this... I will however wait until I am no longer on an entire pharmacy worth of medications before I say much more than this.

    However, I will go out on a limb and state that women and/or feminists are certainly not responsible for the demise of masculinity and "guys".
  11. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    I also want to point out that people are always saying how bad the younger generation is and how they're on the downslide.

    Edit:

    A lot of comments I'm reading on these various articles point out how schools are now more concerned with children being able to sit and focus for hours at a time, which has come to define normal attention. I do think this is an issue for young boys (as well as for young girls).
    Last edited: May 27, 2012
  12. deadmau5

    deadmau5

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    I think it's a relevant issue. I was never a gamer, but I can see how social isolation could feed into social problems. We enjoy our internet, we enjoy watching TV, we enjoy video games - all solitary activity. How are our interpersonal skills supposed to develop? I would be interested in seeing whether people who game very regularly have poorer emotion recognition performance or even social cognition task performance.
  13. Shatani

    Shatani Real Life Doctory Type

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    i never read comments sections anywhere anymore. it just makes me stabby.
  14. aagman01

    aagman01

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    As an increasing minority in the field (male), I do not understand how a feminist can have problems with this article. This article is bemoaning the collapse of men, as they become increasingly addicted to video games, porn, and other forms of escape. The increasing drop in male college students (now a minority also, at approximately 40%) is something that everyone should be concerned about, just as discrimination against women is something that all people should be concerned about. Nowhere in the article are women blamed for the problems that are befalling men. Am I mistaken on anything I have written? As a society we are as strong as all individuals - black, white, gay, male, or female - what am I missing?


  15. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    There is a sect of feminists who aren't concerned about the drop in male college students/graduates, actually--they see it as either equaling the playing field or as a disadvantage due to inevitable result of the empowered gender going elsewhere, thereby lowering the value of a college education (from which women will suffer if they saturate education).
  16. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Let's be honest: some feminists will just be annoyed if you ever even mention men's issues. I mean, unless you are a gay male, in my program your issues were not discussed much at all in courses. We talked almost all the time about women's issues and issues for people who are gay. not saying that is a bad thing, but I am really surprised that some people seem to care less about what is going on with straight men.
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  17. Ya Ya

    Ya Ya

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    .
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  18. Veit

    Veit

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    I'm not sure where the research is, but for an undergrad class, I found a paper measuring emotion recognition among nerds and gamers. Turns out because they're more likely to have been bullied, they're more sensitive than the norm to the emotional states of others. This hypersensitivity presumably is a reaction to needing to know when to get out of a situation, and when it's safe to relax.
    This shouldn't really be a surprise. I'm a gamer, and all of my gamer friends are academically and socially successful; not a universal experience, but video games cannot be a scapegoat here. While many who play video games are becoming reclusive and emotionally/academically stunted, countless more are as successful as ever. Video games did not cause this, though it may be that they are used by those men falling into this cycle as a more modern means of escape.
    It's also worth noting that video games are very frequently not, as you say, a solitary activity. Nearly all of the most popular games released during the past console cycle have included multiplayer in some form. This isn't to say that playing online with strangers equates to face-to-face interaction, but many of the multiplayer additions to modern games are meant to be played together. Split-screen has become a must for many co-op campaigns. Party games are huge, and getting bigger. Hell, look at the 5 best-selling games on the Wii (which was the best-selling console of this generation): Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Play, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. All are intended to be played with friends present. The top 5 for the other two consoles are primarily single-player, but prominently include local multiplayer.

    Frankly, I have to question how close Zimbardo is to his topic, and how much he actually knows about video games; this is important only because he is labeling it, alongside pornography, the biggest factor in the "demise of guys." I haven't read his book, but from the article: "Video game production companies are in fierce competition to make games that are ever more enticing, more provocative and, now, in 3-D." I'm not convinced that Zimbardo understands video games, or has bothered to look beyond the latest Call of Duty/Battlefield AAA-game crop of titles. Yes, they are among the fastest-selling games of all time (though Diablo 3 just thoroughly unseated the latest Modern Warfare title as fastest-selling game ever), but they are not representative of the industry in any way. There is no real trend towards 3D gaming. I'm not sure what he means by provocative; sexually provocative, like the poorly received Duke Nukem 3D? Morally provocative like the controversial No Russian level of Modern Warfare 2? Intellectually provocative, like the fantastic Braid? The allegation that provocative games are breaking men is nonsense. And finally, the idea that media which is created to be "enticing" is harmful men is ridiculous. All media is created to be enticing, and that which fails is forgotten. The Avengers is enticing; 24 is enticing; Harry Potter is enticing; Magritte is enticing. The difference between these examples and, for example, the universally well-received Half-Life 2 is only user input. Is Zimbardo arguing that it is user input, a nonexistent 3D movement, and the idea of "provocation" that destroys men? If so, I truly don't understand. Perhaps it's just that these things all draw men to play; if that is the case, then someone should remind Zimbardo that people have been saying for centuries that new technology will destroy society, and it hasn't yet. Finally, his idea that (from the article) there will be some transferal of player into protagonist, warping their view of the world into one totally egocentric, is just absolute gibberish. Again, are we blaming user input to explain why this would happen when a millennium of written fiction didn't lead to the same outcome? Pressing buttons forces me into a purely egocentric worldview? Gibberish.

    Blaming video games for lower graduation rates among men is nonsense, Zimbardo.
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  19. KillerDiller

    KillerDiller

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    Veit's post deserves about 32 stars. Well stated.
  20. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    +1 :thumbup:

    Posts like Veit's make Zimbardo look like an idiot. Zimbardo needs to watch his step when he talks science, IMO...I won't go there, but we all know what I'm talking about.
  21. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    Totally agree! Great post.
  22. aagman01

    aagman01

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    Zimbardo was talking in general terms in a general publication. His points - that video games, (online) pornography, and other muses are impeding healthy development make sense. More than that, I have individuals such problems in the clinical setting. This is not to say that these are entirely new phenomenons or are entirely to blame for the "demise of guys", but it does bear examining the problems men are experiencing. To dismiss Zimbardo - a leading researcher/scholar of the 20th century - based on a general article in a general field periodical is, I think, rather sad. And to record posts like the one quoted below is also, I would think, indicative of posters needing to "watch (their) step" more frequently while so blindly dismissing a scholar of Zimbardo's stature.

  23. Veit

    Veit

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    I think you're missing what I'm saying. If you understand or regularly play video games, then no, it really doesn't make any sense at all. Video games are not standing in the way of healthy development. Porn? I don't know. Maybe? I don't know where he's coming from there. Zimbardo certainly is a leading researcher of the 20th century, but it appears as though he hasn't transitioned well into the 21st. Having done excellent work doesn't make later work any better for it.
  24. FadedC

    FadedC

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    Hey, if it wasn't for video games, it would frequently be impossible for me to establish rapport when I work with adolescents with learning/developmental disabilities...

    Anyway certainly a lot of my clients play a ton of video games, but it's not entirely clear to me that it's any less healthy then sitting around watching TV, or being obsessed with sports or comics, or any other things we might have seen in previous generations.
  25. ClinPsychEnthus

    ClinPsychEnthus Psy.D. candidate, VA intern

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    I'm also not seeing a solid distinction between using and becoming dependent or addicted to something. Anything, when becoming dependent upon it as a means of coping or functioning, can be a problem- I don't care if its alcohol, porn, caffeine, exercise, video games, relationships... all things can be taken to levels that can become unhealthy.

    So how are can we pick 2 things as the problem, when so many things could contribute to problematic functioning? I'm not sure this even gets to the heart of the matter-- what about the porn use or video game playing is addressing another need (escape? avoidance? coping? etc...) and isn't that function the real problem?
  26. deadmau5

    deadmau5

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    Well I think you're missing my point too.

    I never said it was directly implicated.
  27. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    I don't understand the request to watch one's step and not dismiss someone who says something that is highly questionable. Isn't that what a scientist does? I mean, we are talking about a scientist who bypassed ethics and became famous by default by really f***ing around with people in that prison experiment. Okay, so we learned a lot, but we have to agree that he isn't exactly someone to emulate--especially when throwing theories like this around.
  28. wigflip

    wigflip

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    I always got the impression that my profs envied researchers like Zimbardo, even while wagging their fingers about ethics. "Oh, that Laud Humphreys was a terribly naughty boy...did I mention what a pain the IRB folks are being?"
  29. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student

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    Hence the response above, essentially painting him as a hero. :rolleyes:
  30. Veit

    Veit

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    I was replying to aagman, who said that it makes sense--it really, really doesn't. If you're referring to my longer post, only the first half was really addressing you, where I talk about the large emphasis on local multiplayer and the tendency towards emotional hypersensitivity in nerds and gamers. The rest was addressing Zimbardo's claims.
  31. aagman01

    aagman01

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    Many do consider video game addiction a serious problem:
    http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/20/video-game-addiction-spans-the-globe/22803.html
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625133354.htm

    With that said, it is, like drinking and/or substance abuse - escapist and an unhealthy manner of coping. The problem, as I see it, is that the technological innovations make it even more addictive than the same medium in early incarnations.

    And btw.....Zimbardo does attribute other factors to the "demise of guys" in the final paragraph:

    "There are also other factors contributing to the demise of guys: widespread fatherlessness and changing family dynamics, media influences, environmentally generated physiological changes that decrease testosterone and increase estrogen, the problematic economy and also the dramatic rise of gals."

  32. roubs

    roubs Ph.D. Student

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    Are you calling beer a serious problem? Umbrage taken.

    Now that I got being flippant out of the way, I do think it's ridiculous to label a behavior as a problem because some individuals have serious consequences from misuse. The vast majority take great care to enjoy our vices responsibly.
  33. Veit

    Veit

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    I don't think you'll find anyone more quick to discuss video game addiction than myself, having personally dealt with it. However, the mere fact that a very small minority of men and women struggle with playing video games compulsively to the detriment of other necessary activities in their lives is in no clear way connected to this proposed downfall of man.
  34. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    Yup, he got famous going around talking about his huge ethical screw-up, which he only stopped when the grad student in whose pants he wanted told him off. He also had a study where participants ate grasshoppers! Yet we "tsk tsk" Milgram, who at least let people leave his study.

    Sorry, I am the opposite of a Zimbardo fan. ;)
  35. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Didn't they get married? I also thought it was a faculty member and not a grad student. Been awhile since I taught Intro :cool:
  36. Pragma

    Pragma

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    On a different note, I think John Watson was worse. Didn't he have an affair with a grad student (who he screwed up little Albert with), then get married to her after?
  37. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    She was Zimbardo's grad student at the time, but later on they got married. He announces it so proudly in his video.

    And, yes, I believe Watson and Rosalie Rayner had an affair and later on were married.
  38. wigflip

    wigflip

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    sounds like my department. :rolleyes:
  39. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Well in that time, I believe Watson was booted from his position because of the affair. He ended up making coffee advertisements.
  40. wigflip

    wigflip

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    I don't recall being exposed to these juicy facts as an UG. Your intro class must be fun.
  41. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Surely the history of Maxwell House coffee, and it's tradition of hiring male psychologists from Harvard who tortured infants with banging pots and pans and had adulterous relationships with their female graduate students, has a place in all Intro classrooms :)

    Or at least, by providing context, the students learn better!

    I hear that his offspring had severe psychological problems as well, presumably due to his childrearing theories.

    Edit: and to get back on topic, I am thinking that this video of Zimbardo's might spark a great classroom debate...
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  42. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    I don't think lumping VGs and porn together is a great idea, either. Maybe this is my bias showing, but I think porn has a lot more demonstrated detrimental effects to it than VGs do.
  43. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    While it could make for a compelling study to compare the two and the negative as well as positive effects for both. I believe you would have a hard time however deciding what qualified as similar levels of arousal created by each media.

    Are you going to compare something "softcore" like Blue Lagoon/9 and 1/2 weeks with Grand Theft Auto or Modern Warfare, or would you compare something more disturbing like hardcore BDSM/public disgrace videos with Mario Cart or Guitar Hero.

    I think that you could easily manipulate the results and reinforce your personal bias by selectively picking the media that you are comparing. Surely not all video games or "adult entertainment" are created equal, trying to compare the two on any level seems fraught with both internal and external validity problems.
  44. JeyRo

    JeyRo

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    +1
  45. Shatani

    Shatani Real Life Doctory Type

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    here here!
  46. PhilAwesome

    PhilAwesome

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    Seconded. I think porn can be perfectly good and healthy for a lot of people, but I've read plenty about people with significant issues with sexual functioning related to their porn use. Video game addiction, while certainly a huge problem for people who experiences it, seems a lot less common (meaning I've read articles about porn interfering with sexual functioning frequently and I've spoken to a sizable number of people whose lives are hurt by porn overuse, either their own or their partner's; I haven't seen the same thing with video games). I'd imagine porn causes a much greater and more frequent dopamine rush than video games do.
  47. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    I am pretty sure Cara was reffering to the emotional harm that it does to the people involved in making it, as well as the predatory and abusive/exploitative practices of the business and how this interacts with troubled women between the age of 18-22. I think anyone who think porn is just a bunch of people hanging out filming people having some good old-fashioned sex is WAY, WAY out of touch with what really goes on in that business.
  48. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    I have been meaning to comment on this topic and have to agree with a number of Veit's points. I think Zimbardo is missing some interesting issues. I think technology has had an effect on both men and women. Part of this is that it gives one access to others who are more alike than generations before. Thus, those that might be socially awkward or have poor success with women might be more likely to find each other and bond over mutual failures,
    but there is never a person there to show any of them the err of their ways. Conversely, a girl would not have to settle for such a person given the popularity of social media and online dating, there are now opportunities to expand outside of your immediate geographic area. If those two assumptions are correct, is it simply that while social media and internet technology open doors to meeting many new others, they also serve to isolate us in our comfort zones and there is less of a need to venture out into other circles. I'm just spinning yarn based on what I have seen though. I have not looked at any data on this.
  49. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    Definitely that, but it also has some highly detrimental effects on relationships. I saw an article about how even a brief viewing of porn, without an associated addiction, led to an immediate decrease in relationship satisfaction with male participants. Are the detrimental effects of VGs that powerful and immediate?

    And yeah, there is softcore porn just like there are softcore video games... but consider even "hardcore" games like Grand Theft Auto, they don't even come close to the level that even softcore porn does in terms of teaching men that women are sexual objects and that men's pleasure comes first. I'm sure there are some exceptions like Japanese hentai games (the infamous "Rape Lay," anyone?).

    What I'm saying is, Zimbardo is saying that men are struggling interpersonally, with women. I think porn is far more to blame for that than VGs. Research has shown that, whether they realize it or not, porn influences how men perceive women and what to expect in relationships.
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  50. Veit

    Veit

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    Two things:
    1. I am definitely using the phrase "softcore" more often to refer to video games. It makes more sense than "casual," at least.
    2. I wonder if there's any difference between the effects of feminist pornography and other pornography. I'm also not sure about the idea that any porn teaches men that women are sexual objects--that sort of assumes a basic inability for a man to distinguish between sexual situations and other aspects of their interpersonal relationships. I'm sure that it's an issue for certain men, but it seems suspect to me to allege that pornography (in general) teaches men (in general) to treat women in any different way. I'm sure that, like the RapeLay of video games (a game, of course, never sold or distributed outside of Japan but controversial everywhere else, apparently) there is negative or detrimental pornography, but surely it doesn't all fall under that heading, and if we can agree on that, then where is the line?

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