The Stepford Syndrome
Guest Post by Joe Dallas
The power of porn may not just be its explicit content. It may also be its capacity to take the viewer into another world.
Porn’s a place where bodies and people are perfect, where imaginary lovers comply with every wish. It’s the stuff both horror and heartbreak are made of.
Novelist Ira Levin tapped into the horror of it in his fantasy drama The Stepford Wives, a dark essay on chauvinism in which a New England town is inhabited by men who’ve perfected the art of re-creating their wives into compliant, flawless and utterly lifeless beings who live only to please their husbands. The procedure involves creating a replication of the wife, eliminating anything the husband dislikes. Then the wife is killed, of course, to make room for her new and improved model. When the main character in the story discovers Stepford’s secret, she asks the leader of the town the obvious questions: Why?
His answer is chilling in its simplicity.
“Because we can. If we can have you any way we want, why should we settle for you as you are?”
There’s the horror of it all – that a man would betray the real woman who loves him so that he can indulge in a phantom figure that doesn’t even know him.
But there’s heartache as well as horror, lying in the number of men who’ve gotten hooked on the Stepford Syndrome, taking time, focus and sexual energy away from their wives and investing it in images that are perfect, exciting, and utterly unreal.
Ironically, however convenient it may be to skip the efforts involved in normal intimacy and instead settle for the cheap substitute of these ‘shadowy brides,’ the fact remains that the genuine needs of the soul cannot be met by Stepford Women. Like the junk food some people eat in hopes of meeting their hunger needs, they supply a quick rush with no follow through, leaving the consumer hungry for more of what didn’t satisfy to begin with. Sometimes, in fact, I have to wonder who the porn user is being crueler to – his spouse or himself.
Regardless, I hope and trust we’ll remember the real love and support that outweighs and outdoes the unreal hands down, slam dunk. And with that memory, we can consistently and resoundingly say No to the unreal and Hallelujah for the real.
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