Doubt That

Ross Douthat has a story in this month's Atlantic titled "Is Pornography Adultery?" in which he makes this argument:

Start with the near-universal assumption that what Spitzer did in his hotel room constituted adultery, and then ponder whether Silda Spitzer would have had cause to feel betrayed if the FBI probe had revealed that her husband had paid merely to watch a prostitute perform sexual acts while he folded himself into a hotel armchair to masturbate. My suspicion is that an awful lot of people would say yes—not because there isn’t some distinction between the two acts, but because the distinction isn’t morally significant enough to prevent both from belonging to the zone, broadly defined, of cheating on your wife.

You can see where I’m going with this. If it’s cheating on your wife to watch while another woman performs sexually in front of you, then why isn’t it cheating to watch while the same sort of spectacle unfolds on your laptop or TV?
Oh yes indeedy, there's absolutely no difference at all, so long as you can't tell the difference between a woman and an object, if you don't notice that the woman, even if she is a prostitute, is still a woman, a human being, with thoughts and a perspective of her own, who is aware of the person masturbating while she "performs," and who is subject to the ordinary and extraordinary dangers and possibilities of currently unfolding time, who exists in the same room at the same time as the masturbator, breathing the same pheromone-fraught air, eyes matching eyes, creating a kind of human connection, that, however limited it is by business-like expectation and circumstance, could rapidly change and evolve into anything from a higher priced sex act to (were something unexpected to happen) a deeper personal connection. 

Because she's a person.

In other words, the very fact that Douthat can make this argument is evidence that he fails to see a woman (or perhaps just a prostitute?) as a full human being. To him, a woman in person is the same as an image of a woman on paper or in a film.

In other words, Ross Douthat is moron, and his argument is completely without merit. Pornography is not cheating. Employing prostitutes is.

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