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Opinion | Sexuality

Porn, Raquel Welch, and the Power of Our Sexual Imagination

When we let porn and fashion magazines tell us what's beautiful, we usually reject the flesh-and-blood beauty right in front of us.

In a recent interview with Men's Health, aging actress Raquel Welch criticized Internet porn for ruining men: "Do they know how to negotiate something that isn't pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?" she asked. "Nobody remembers what it's like to be left to form your own ideas about what's erotic and sexual. We're not allowed any individuality."

Welch's interview attracted significant attention, mostly for her accusation that "we have equated happiness in life with as many orgasms as you can possibly pack in." Some media coverage has offhandedly referenced Welch's sex symbol status, while a few bloggers have directly pointed out the irony of her criticism. But the consensus is that she's right: It's hard to find a realistic and honest argument that ubiquitous porn has made for a healthier world.

I too think Welch is on to something. And not just about men and porn.

Among the mysterious gifts God gives his image bearers are the imagination and ability to develop sexual desire for people we love. We can form attraction we can't explain, and to grow in that attraction as we grow in love and commitment. Somehow, though a thousand men may overlook me, my husband finds me beautiful.

Our image-saturated culture, with its rigid standards of beauty and predilection for plastic, does not allow for such variety. We are programmed to view one another through lenses we were never meant to wear, and in the process, we learn to despise ourselves.

From television, movies, magazines, book ...

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