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Leering Impaired

What is your view of magazines like Penthouse and Playboy? I have maybe 30 of these magazines and a dozen soft-core DVDs. I store them in my closet, but you start to get close to some women, and they feel entitled to go through your things. I don't want to throw everything out or lock it up, but, in many cases, this stuff seems to be a deal breaker. How should I react to women who don't want it in my house at all?

--Rated Ex

On airplanes, they have little light strips along the aisles to help you exit in case of emergency. Install them throughout your house so your snoopy girlfriends will have no trouble finding their way out the door.

Whatever happens, you'll always have Miss February. Sure, people are bound to stare when you're out to dinner with a magazine page Scotch-taped to the chair across from you, but there are a few things you can count on: She'll always be naked; she'll always be smiling; and she'll never crawl off page 89 and start ransacking your sock drawer when you get in the shower.

Your dates would indeed have something to worry about if your house were decorated in "Porn Star Neo-Traditional," with Jenna Jameson wallpaper and matching drapes, and instead of two stone lions guarding your porch, two snarling statues of Briana. Since you have maybe 30 of the tamest skin mags around (quaint pictorials compared to what's free on the Web), plus a few dirty DVDs, it's not like these ladies were in danger of being crushed by an avalanche of porn whenever they opened a cupboard or closet. In the absence of a nasty addiction on your part, the deal breaker should have been the invasion of your privacy -- not what some woman thinks you should do in the privacy of your home. Remember, even the government needs a search warrant to go through your stuff.

What does it say about a man when he enjoys looking at nude photos of really hot women? Umm...he's heterosexual? Male sexuality is all about the visuals. It's always been all about the visuals. This is a Pleistocene-era design element, hardwired into men over 10,000 years ago to keep them from missing mating opportunities -- not something they picked up from watching too much TV.

Women's sexuality is different. Compared with men, women have a very high cost per sex act -- pregnancy -- which is bad enough when you're in a hospital, where you can scream for an epidural. Squatting on the Great Plains, then having to drag around and feed a bunch of furry little buggers had to make a lady choosy about which guy she'd let take her behind the bushes. So, women evolved to look for a man they could count on to stick around and make the mortgage payments. Women, for the most part, don't care about seeing men naked. Quite frankly, we'd rather shop.

Each gender has its sexual Disneyland. While men fantasize about "pornotopia," note researchers Bruce J. Ellis and Donald Symons, where everybody's too busy having no-strings-attached sex to "talk about the relationship," women turn to romance-otopia, the multi-billion-dollar romance novel industry. Women's "commitment porn," with its formulaic happily-ever-after-gasm, "imposes a female-like sexuality on men that is...perhaps no more 'realistic' than that of pornotopia," writes psychology professor Catherine Salmon. "But no one is out there lobbying to ban romance novels because of the harm they do to women's attitudes toward men."

Contrary to the unsupported claims and flawed data of women who've turned victimhood into an industry, most porn doesn't exist to demean or promote violence against women. "If there is one thing all (heterosexual) porn videos have in common, it is the portrayal of women engaged in some form of sexual activity," observes Salmon. She points to the bottomless pit of gay male porn as "the ideal test case" that male appreciation for porn "is about sex, and not about violence or the degradation of women." And no, porn films don't cause rape -- any more than movies like Ocean's Eleven make people want to rush out and rob a casino.

You can find a woman who understands this stuff, but you'll have to broaden your search criteria from "pretty" and "hangs out at the corner bar" to include terms like "thinking," "logical," and "has self-esteem." Be patient in your search -- or be prepared to ladyproof your closet with a combination lock. Once you find a qualified candidate, keep showing and telling her how hot you find her. This should reassure her that your smut stash is merely occasional entertainment -- not a precursor to your running off with the "Girls Of Ace Hardware!" or installing a peep show in your front room and whispering sweet nothings like "Got more quarters?"

Copyright ©2005, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.