In Connie Tuttle's commentary ("Sex Sells," November 14), she writes that, "Sales of sexual material in the United States are estimated at between $10 billion and $14 billion annually." Accepting those numbers as accurate, then the population of the U.S. is spending, at most, $50 per person, roughly speaking. Posit that half of the population isn't part of the market and that jumps to about $100 a person--the cost of a subscription to Playboy and three to four videotapes. I would also point out, in light of her arguments to come, that these sales are not exclusively made to men. A significant part of the boom in videos is the targeting of the so-called "couples market" and to women as primary purchasers.
Second, on a personal note, I'm in my 40s, single, disabled and poor. Not high on too many women's "Prince Charming" list. The speed with which all too many women go on "ignore" mode when I'm around is breathtaking. So I look at videos and magazines. Not all of the models in such products are anorexic or silicone-enhanced, either. Madison Avenue might be that way, but (sadly) Camryn Manheim probably had more difficulty in straight films than she ever would have had in X-rated ones.
The people desensitized by porn probably wouldn't be all that sensitive to treating women well even without the images they take in. Some guys are jerks and will be jerks regardless. As for trophyism, that's been around for centuries and porn (even soft porn like Playboy) can't be blamed for that.
I'd like to close with three points that might seem like non sequiturs, but they aren't. One, a tale of two movies: Rocky got a PG when it was released and doubtless would still get the same today. A movie called Topsy Turvy got an R rating when it came out, for one scene lasting less than a minute. The scene? Two women were shown topless. So Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers pound each other into mulch and that gets a PG, while a film about Gilbert and Sullivan gets an R because of bare breasts.
Two, Eminem's new movie, 8 Mile, comes out and parents are taking their teen-agers to see it, figuring they'll see it anyway. What one qualm does every adult interviewed express? That they aren't concerned about the language or violence, but told the kids to close their eyes during the sex scenes.
Finally, Canada passed one of the most restrictive and broadly defined obscenity laws in the world, in no small measure due to the efforts of anti-porn feminists, some of them Americans. The net effect seems to have been that the biggest targets of the law are gay and lesbian bookstores and books shipped to those stores being stopped, declared obscene and refused entry, something I gather has caused some of those responsible for passage of the law to regret its passage. Beware the law of unintended consequences. Because there are always consequences you didn't foresee. Sometimes they have fangs and bite you.
I am trying to decide if the column by Jim Hightower concerning Wal-Mart (November 14) displays distortions of facts or just displays his ignorance of the retail business. He states that Wal-Mart cannot have lower prices since it is so profitable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Mr. Hightower needs to understand that, in retail, there are two kinds of profit--gross profit and net profit. Because of its huge purchasing power and operational efficiency, Wal-Mart is able to have lower retail prices than most other retailers and still generate higher net profits. That is why hundreds of millions of shoppers in the United States, and many other countries, vote with their pocketbooks and choose to shop at Wal-Mart.
Hightower faults Wal-Mart for not buying from local businesses. Can he name a single local business that could supply Wal-Mart (or any other store) with power tools, lawn mowers, paint, clothing, housewares, etc.? Of course not.
He states that Wal-Mart eliminates jobs. Then why is it Arizona's largest employer?
This column is so off-base it didn't deserve the ink to print it.