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Porn and Teens – the Pygmalion Effect

by Beth Divine 19 Jun 2018

It was something of an open secret and source of much masculine laughter back in the day. John Ruskin – prominent Victorian art critic and philanthropist – married Effie Grey. What exactly happened no one ever knew for sure (but many took ribald guesses about everything from Ruskin being gay to him having some sort of sexual infection that affected his performance. There was also much banter about his being ‘unmanly’ and effeminate.) What everyone did know was that the marriage was annulled and that Effie Grey was as pure and virginal after her marriage as she was on her wedding day…

Ruskin was deeply moved by art, and probably had many of his expectations of what a naked woman would look like fomented by the female figures he saw daily in the paintings and statues that he loved so much.

This means, modern theories posit, that Ruskin had no idea that women had pubic hair, and that he was in no way ready to accept the reality of a real female body. This may have led to his reacting badly to the sight of Effie unclothed – and may have been the reason that the marriage was never consummated and the annulment put into place.

This theory causes a lot of scorn and sniggering when it is told to undergraduate students taking Literature degrees, but modern youth are falling prey to the same misapprehensions. When a young man has never seen a naked woman in the flesh, so to speak, and only has porn as his guide, it is perhaps not so surprisingly that young men assume that most women are as hairless as a marble masterpiece, and have no understanding of shaving rash, pubic hair and all the factors that make up the realities of what Germaine Greer called ‘a big hairy, smelly vagina’.

In short, the reality does not match up to their imagined beliefs, based entirely on what they have seen on porn clip after porn clip. Thus it seems that in a century and a half, we have come full circle to young men seeing what they assume to be the reality of naked womanhood, only to then experience the actuality of naked womanhood – and not be equipped to deal with it in a mature fashion!