Rae Langton and Caroline West have argued that pornography silences women by presupposing misogynistic attitudes, such as that women enjoy being raped. More precisely, they claim that a somewhat infamous pictorial, “Dirty Pool”, makes such presuppositions. I argue for four claims. (i) Langton and West's account of how pornography silences women is empirically dubious. (ii) There is no evidence that very much pornography makes the sorts of presuppositions they require. (iii) Even "Dirty Pool", for all its other problems, does not (...) make the presuppositions that Langton and West claim it does. (iv) Langton and West misread “Dirty Pool” because they do not take proper account of the fact that pornography traffics in sexual fantasy. (shrink)
It has been argued that an adequate feminist response to sexist pornography demands not just efforts to eradicate sexist beliefs, but also aesthetic counter-intervention at the level of taste. This view motivates support for feminist pornography. This paper takes the feminist pornography suggestion seriously by unpacking difficulties for the project. I begin by spelling out two views about what makes feminist pornography feminist: the ‘content view,’ and the ‘context view,’ and discuss what I take to be existing arguments for the (...) latter. I then present two objections to the context view: the first focuses on how we characteristically interact with pornography (as a masturbatory aid), the second challenges the value of authenticity upon which much feminist pornography rests. If these arguments are correct, then there are serious flaws with feminist pornography as it is commonly conceived. I close with a brief suggestion of an alternative approach rooted in feminist solidarity. (shrink)
In pornography, standard modelling contracts often require a performer to surrender rights over their public image and sexual media in perpetuity and across mediums. Under these contracts, performers are unable to determine who accesses, for what duration, and under what conditions, their sexual media. As a result, pornography has been described by some performers as a “life sentence” - a phrase which, if true, violates some strong intuitions we share about the importance of autonomy in sexual activity. Using the framework (...) of “affirmative consent,” I argue that these contracts violate performers' rights to sexual autonomy, and ought therefore to be considered objectionable. Overall, I argue that the legal regimes we create have a strong impact on people’s lives, and more important than legislating individual outcomes, the type of infrastructure we build around people’s decisions has the potential to radically empower - or disempower - those engaged in sex work. (shrink)
We investigate the question of whether (and if so why) creating or distributing deepfake pornography of someone without their consent is inherently objectionable. We argue that nonconsensually distributing deepfake pornography of a living person on the internet is inherently pro tanto wrong in virtue of the fact that nonconsensually distributing intentionally non-veridical representations about someone violates their right that their social identity not be tampered with, a right which is grounded in their interest in being able to exercise autonomy over (...) their social relations with others. We go on to suggest that nonconsensual deepfakes are especially worrisome in connection with this right because they have a high degree of phenomenal immediacy, a property which corresponds inversely to the ease with which a representation can be doubted. We then suggest that nonconsensually creating and privately consuming deepfake pornography is worrisome but may not be inherently pro tanto wrong. Finally, we discuss the special issue of whether nonconsensually distributing deepfake pornography of a deceased person is inherently objectionable. We argue that the answer depends on how long it has been since the person died. (shrink)
Purpose This article aims to describe the personal experience and ethical dilemmas that the author encountered when conducting qualitative research on a highly sensitive topic, i.e. interviews with offenders convicted of child pornography. Design/methodology/approach This study uses an autoethnographic approach to describe and reflect on my personal experience, emotions and ethical dilemmas when undertaking sensitive research that examines illegal acts. Findings Ethical dilemmas and emotional challenges highlighted refer to the issue of access to useful empirical material, conducting interviews with convicted (...) offenders in prison environments, the complexity surrounding confidentiality when interviewing offenders about their criminal activities, vulnerability and insecurity for the researcher and emotional challenges for the researcher when listening to the offenders’ stories describing serious crimes against children. Originality/value This article contributes with insights and reflections on conducting qualitative research with a marginalized and stigmatized group in prison environments. (shrink)
Responses to the pernicious influences of mainstream pornography on its viewers fall into two main sorts: regulation and education. Pornography has long been a core topic in analytic feminist philosophy, but it has largely focused on issues around regulation, in particular with trying to undermine arguments against regulation on the grounds that pornography should count as protected speech. Here I instead look at some ways that philosophy can contribute to an education-based approach, in particular to what has been called an (...) ‘education to address pornography's influence’. I first argue that philosophical considerations can help to motivate this kind of overall approach to countering pornography's influence, but the main contribution of the paper is to contend that such considerations can also contribute to shaping the kind of content and messaging that such an education should have. I discuss two related issues, focusing on pornographic films. The first concerns the status of pornographic films as fiction; it is misleading and unhelpful to tell teenagers and young adults that pornography is ‘just fiction’, as is sometimes proposed, but it is not clear what more effective and accurate message might be offered instead. The second concerns the ways that pornographic films often present the people (and in particular the women) who perform in them as ideals or archetypes when it comes to what kinds of sexual acts people typically choose and enjoy, which I argue is a neglected form of objectification. I briefly evaluate some suggestive examples of proposed messaging, targeted at teens and young adults. (shrink)
Sexology emerged as a discipline during a period of keen concern about the social effects of sexually explicit media. In this context, sex researchers and their allies took pains to establish the respectability of their work, a process that often involved positioning sexual science in opposition to erotic literature and images. This article argues that this presentation of sexual science obfuscated sex researchers’ complex relationship with erotic print culture, which during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided sexual scientists (...) with access to explicit material that served as evidence for theories about human sexuality, facilitated transnational exchanges of sexual-scientific thought by bringing sex research across borders, and introduced sex research to wider audiences. Erotic print culture can thus be seen as one of several fields that contributed to the interdisciplinary development of sexology and facilitated the diffusion of sexual-scientific theories. Sex researchers’ shifting, often ambivalent relationship with erotic print and its producers emphasizes that while the boundaries of sexology were extremely porous, they were also heavily policed: Working to establish a modern, respectable new branch of science, sexual scientists reframed the output of other fields of enquiry as products of their own, blotted their reliance on these sources from the historical record, and denigrated them in public writing. (shrink)
Through the analysis of the contents of the most recent and popular teen dramas, of the diffusion of online pornography and of data from surveys on adolescent sexuality, we hypothesise how today's adolescents live an increasingly carefree sexual behaviour with respect to the choice of sexual objects, more free from ethical and social norms, in a completely changed relationship with an adult world no longer seen as a more or less controversial reference point. This panorama urges us to renew the (...) theoretical lenses through which we look at an adolescence that is completely different from previous ones with regard to its relationship with sexuality. (shrink)
Considering the short history of the feminist philosophy of language, Rae Langton’s article “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts” was highly influential as one of the first positive research programs in the movement. In that paper, Langton – using John L. Austin’s speech act theory – tries to interpret Catharine MacKinnon’s thesis: pornography is a speech that subordinates and silences women. Despite the importance of the subject, those unfamiliar with certain historical and contextual features of the topic would hardly understand it. (...) My paper aims to introduce some of the major accounts in this special area in the intersection of speech act theory and feminist philosophy. Rather than just reconstructing Langton’s arguments and the most common objections against it, I will take a more holistic approach, examining its surrounding literature as well. This article has six sections. In Section 1, I contrast the conservative and liberal arguments against pornography and sketch MacKinnon’s liberal critique. In Section 2, I give alternative interpretations of MacKinnon’s thesis, “pornography is harm.” In Section 3, I try to make sense of the prima facie implausible assumption that pornography is speech. In Section 4 and 5, I will analyze the Langtonian theories about subordination and silencing. Finally, in Section 6, I will mention the most challenging problems for Langton’s approach, considering the verbal nature or pornography, the limits of the protection of free speech, and the different positions on sexual consent. (shrink)
Pornography has been defined as sex separated from personality. In other words, life’s deepest need to express desire and affection and perpetuate the species is reduced to appetite and the satisfaction of appetite. War in many ways does the same. It depersonalizes killing by pitting stranger against stranger—uniformed or otherwise. Fatalities are reduced to numbers. Such killings are dignified by slogans (“Vietnamizing the Vietnamese” or “Operation Iraqi Freedom”),. Preparing troops for the killings in war is everything from oratory to close (...) order drill, parades and honors. Denis de Rougemont in LOVE IIN THE WESTERN WORLD has even traced this to the legend of Tristan and Isolde in which Tristan chooses a military life to define his manhood after leaving Isolde. All of these manifestation and pretenses gloss over the brutality of war just as films, photographs and other promotions disguise pornography as mere excitement. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In ‘Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game’, Rae Langton and Caroline West borrow ideas from David Lewis to attempt to explain how pornography might subordinate and silence women. Pornography is supposed to express certain misogynistic claims implicitly, through presupposition, and to convey them indirectly, through accommodation. I argue that the appeal to accommodation cannot do the sort of work Langton and West want it to do: Their case rests upon an overly simplified model of that phenomenon. I argue further (...) that, once we are clear about why Langton and West's account fails, a different and more plausible account of pornography's influence emerges. (shrink)
This paper has three goals. The first is to defend Tristan Taromino and Erika Lust (or some of their films) from criticisms that Rebecca Whisnant and Hans Maes make of them. Toward that end, I will be arguing against the narrow conceptions that Whisnant and Maes have of what `feminist' pornography must be like. More generally, I hope to show by example why it is important to take pornographic films seriously as films if we're to understand their potential to shape, (...) or mis-shape, socio-sexual norms. (shrink)
In this book, Nadir Lahiji adopts Alain Badiou's thesis from The Pornographic Age to demonstrate that contemporary architecture is in absolute complicity with the pornographic present. The book is aimed at architecture students at higher graduate and post-graduate levels.
Many pornographic works seem to count as works of fiction. This apparent fact has been thought to have important implications for ongoing controversies about whether some pornography carries problematic messages and so influences the attitudes (and perhaps even the behaviour) of its audience. In this paper, I explore the claim that pornographic works are fictional and the significance that this claim has for these issues, with a particular focus on pornographic films. Two related morals will emerge. First, we need to (...) pay attention not merely to whether entire pornographic works should be classified as fictional, but to the way that pornographic fictions (like fictional works more generally) have both fictional and non-fictional elements. Second, we have to understand the ways that pornographic works can blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction, misleading their audiences into taking their fictional elements to be revealing truths about non-fictional reality. In the case of pornographic films, we will examine how a pornographic fiction can be portrayed by people having sex on camera, and the ways in which this portrayal can mislead viewers about sex in the non-fictional world. (shrink)
Through her silencing thesis, Langton has contributed to the study of epistemic injustice by highlighting a possible cause of such a phenomenon: She asserts that the pornographic representation of sexual relationships affects the felicity conditions of speech uttered by women, so this speech is not understood as an illocution by men. This fact arguably undermines women’s credibility, since their testimony is not even registered in men’s testimonial sensibility. However, this thesis entails problematic consequences from at least two standpoints. From a (...) theoretical perspective, it enacts a circularity when it comes to the empirical individuation of the subordinative effects of pornography. I will point out that this problem arises from Langton’s substantive conception of power, i.e. from her notion of authority as an attribute which can be ascribed to preexisting subjects. From a political perspective, such conception of power allows Langton to performatively rank women as credible when testifying sexual violence, but it also leads her to silencing alternative political strategies, e.g. the ones proposed by Butler. Hence, I propose to consider this form of silencing as a specific kind of epistemic injustice, one that neutralises the performative value of political discourses. (shrink)
This review of Alain Badiou’s The Pornographic Age—as well of the essays included in the book by William Watkin, A.J. Bartlett and Justin Clemens—illuminates that this is one of the few, if not only, texts where Badiou reverses the operational directionality of the event qua category theory, so as to “dis-image” power. In doing so, Badiou provides a theory of power based on intentionality and relation, rather than the more common Foucauldian genealogic-historical methodologies so often co-opted by contemporary thinkers of (...) biopolitics and power. Using Jean Genet’s play, The Balcony, as a fulcrum with which to strip apart the representative regime vis-à-vis the Platonic gesture, Badiou posits a politically exigent critique of contemporary neoliberal democracy. (shrink)
Mari Mikkola’s Pornography: A Philosophical Introduction is a rich, thorough, and important book. With great skill and precision, Mikkola maps the conceptual terrain of pornography; summarises and assesses key debates in the existing literature; and contributes her own insights – chiefly, in my view, an appealing artefactual definition of pornography, and a strong case for a methodological commitment to discussing pornography in a way that is grounded in empirical reality. The result is much more than the promised ‘introduction’: it is (...) a key critical study that will, I am sure, play a major role in shaping future debates on this topic. I focus on a brief part of the book where Mikkola offers a critique of a paper of mine on pornography and social ontology. In short, I think Mikkola’s critique is correct, and I’ll attempt a re-working of the argument I made in that paper which, I hope, avoids the problems she identifies. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to show that pornography dehumanizes women through essentialization. First, I argue that certain acts of subject-essentialization are acts of subject-dehumanization. Second, I demonstrate, by reviewing evidence about the linguistic material that we find in and around pornography, that pornography systematically deploys content that essentializes women in the ways identified as problematic. It follows that pornography dehumanizes women.
We offer an account of the generic use of the term “porn”, as seen in recent usages such as “food porn” and “real estate porn”. We offer a definition adapted from earlier accounts of sexual pornography. On our account, a representation is used as generic porn when it is engaged with primarily for the sake of a gratifying reaction, freed from the usual costs and consequences of engaging with the represented content. We demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of generic (...) porn by using it to isolate a new type of such porn: moral outrage porn. Moral outrage porn is representations of moral outrage, engaged with primarily for the sake of the resulting gratification, freed from the usual costs and consequences of engaging with morally outrageous content. Moral outrage porn is dangerous because it encourages the instrumentalization of one’s empirical and moral beliefs, manipulating their content for the sake of gratification. Finally, we suggest that when using porn is wrong, it is often wrong because it instrumentalizes what ought not to be instrumentalized. (shrink)
The Gamer's Dilemma challenges us to find a distinction between virtual murder and virtual pedophilia. Without such a distinction, we are forced to conclude that either both are morally acceptable or that both should be morally illicit. This paper argues that the best way to solve the dilemma is, in one sense, to dissolve it. The Gamer's Dilemma rests on a misunderstanding in the sense that it does not distinguish between the form of a simulation and its surface content. A (...) greater appreciation of the way structural features of a simulation affect subject experience will help us see why only simulations of murder and pedophilia generating virtually real experiences are likely to be seen as wrong. I argue that a simulation’s structural elements powerfully affect how subjects experience simulated content and hence is an important, and previously neglected, variable necessary to dissolve the Gamer's Dilemma. Properly understood, virtually real simulations of murder and pedophilia are both likely to be treated by players as morally wrong. Similarly, virtually unreal murder and pedophilia will be less likely to be judged as wrong. Subject judgments are thus consistent once a simulation’s structural variables are accounted for. The Gamer's Dilemma dissolves as a dilemma once we acknowledge these structural features of simulations and how they affect experience and moral judgment. (shrink)
This article results from the experimental convergence of five elements. Three of these are seemingly unrelated names: the Anglican philosopher John Milbank, the German critical theorist Walter Benjamin, and the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. The remaining two are themes that seem to have little relation to each other: the explosion of online pornography, which is making addicts of younger and younger users, and Christology or the study of the nature and work of the Second Person of the Trinity.
The impacts of pornography are varied and complex. Performers are often thought to be victims of abuse and exploitation, while viewers are regularly accused of becoming desensitized to sexual violence. Further, porn is held by some to perpetuate damaging racial and gender stereotypes. I contend that these accusations, though not entirely baseless, are undermined for two reasons: they rest on questionable empirical evidence and ignore many of the positive consequences porn may have. In this article, I organize my analysis from (...) the screen outward, critically examining the effects porn has on performers, viewers, and wider society, and finding that in each domain it may have both positive and negative outcomes. Following this, I evaluate porn as a form of Bakhtinian carnival and discuss how online porn may offer a mode of resisting hegemonic cultural norms. On the whole, therefore, I argue that the harms attributed to porn have often been overgeneralized and exaggerated, and that porn has a range of effects unable to be captured by a mere pro/anti dichotomy. (shrink)
A guilty pleasure is something that affords pleasure while being held in low regard. Since there are more opportunities to experience worthwhile pleasures than one can experience in a finite life, it would be better to avoid guilty pleasures. Worse still, many guilty pleasures are thought to be corrupting in some way. In fact, many so-called guilty pleasures can contribute to a good life, because they are sources of pleasure and because they do not actually merit guilt. Taking pornography as (...) a case study, I argue that in the absence of compelling evidence for its harmfulness, pornography can contribute to well-being by promoting autonomy, social recognition, knowledge and flourishing personal relationships. The case of pornography demonstrates an argumentative strategy for defending many so-called guilty pleasures as worthwhile elements of a flourishing life. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop two criticisms of Miranda Fricker’s attempt to offer an interpretation of MacKinnon’s claim that pornography silences women that conceives of the silencing in question as an extreme form of testimonial injustice. The intended contrast is with the speech act theoretical model of silencing familiar from Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby, who appeal to MacKinnon’s claim to argue against the standard liberal line on pornography, which takes a permissive stance to be demanded by a right to (...) freedom of speech. Fricker’s alternative suggestion is that women are the victims of ‘an especially acute form of testimonial injustice’, due to the kind of dehumanizing bad sexual ideology peddled in much pornography. Fricker suggests that both notions of silencing are coherent possibilities, but that ‘the epistemic model describes the more empirically likely possibility, simply because it requires less erosion of women’s human status before the silencing effect kicks in’. I question the truth of this advertised advantage of Fricker’s epistemic account of silencing, but also its relevance to philosophical debates about pornography and silencing. Second, I raise a concern about theorizing about sexual refusal as a kind of testimony, as Fricker does. (shrink)
While pornography addiction currently circulates as a comprehensible, diagnosable, and describable way to make sense of some people’s ostensibly problematic relationship with pornography, such a comprehensive description of this relationship has only recently been made possible. The current analysis makes visible pornography addiction as situated within a varied history of concerns about pornography, masturbation, fantasy, and technology in an effort to bring to bear a conceptual critique of the modern concept of pornography addiction. Such a critique in turn works to (...) offer an alternative to treating the study of pornography addiction as the discovery of a new disease, instead conceiving it as the propagation of old forms of knowledge under a new moniker. (shrink)
Is it ever morally wrong for a consumer to imagine something immoral in a work of fiction, or for an author to prompt such imagining? Brandon Cooke has recently argued that it cannot be. On Cooke’s account, fictive imagining is immune to moral criticism because such cases of imagining do not amount to the endorsement of the immoral content, nor do they imply that the authors of such fictions necessarily endorse their contents. We argue against Cooke that in fact fictively (...) imagining something immoral can be morally blameworthy, specifically in cases where fictive imagining is engaged in the service of immoral desires. Taking one potent case—namely, rape-fantasy pornography—we argue that the proper engagement with pornography requires the engagement of the consumer’s desires. Insofar as it is morally wrong to desire something immoral, or to encourage others to desire something immoral, then consumers can be held morally blameworthy for engaging in such fictive imaginings and works of fiction that are crafted to fit these purposes can be open to moral condemnation. (shrink)
In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of attempts were made to put into U.S. law a civil rights ordinance that would make it possible to sue the makers and distributors of pornography for doing so (under certain conditions). One defence of such legislation has come to be called "the free speech argument against pornography." Philosophers Rae Langton, Jennifer Hornsby and Caroline West have supposed that this defence of the legislation can function as a liberal defence of the legislation: in (...) particular, a defence of the legislation based on the value of women's liberty. This would be somewhat unexpected given MacKinnon's own antipathy toward liberalism. In this paper, I argue that the free speech argument against pornography cannot be used as a liberal defence of the ordinances. The legislation is, to some extent, self-defeating insofar as it understood in terms acceptable to a fairly standard kind of liberal. This becomes apparent when we consider the value pornography can have for women, which we can see if we consider what female makers, distributors and consumers of pornography have to say about why they make, distribute and consume it. (shrink)
Bad Attitude(s) on Trial is a critical analysis of pornography in the context of contemporary Canada. The notion that pornography both reflects sexual domination and 'victimizes' women has recently found expression in law in the landmark Canadian Supreme Court decision of R. v. Butler (1992). Many feminists embrace this new law as progressive, but in the post-Butler years, straight, mainstream pornography is still flourishing, while sexual representations that challenge conventional notions of sexuality, such as those centering on gay and lesbian (...) sex and s/m sex, are the focus of censorship. It is the censorship of sexual others that the authors critique from a legal, cultural, gay, and philosophical standpoint. Lise Gotell examines the intervention of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) in the Butler decision and provides an overview of socio-legal debates on pornography and censorship. Brenda Cossman examines the Butler decision itself and challenges the dominant reading of this case as a feminist victory. Becki Ross critically examines the expert testimony she delivered in defense of Bad Attitude, an American lesbian sex magazine seized by police from Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto in 1992. She details the difficulties she encountered in explicating and contextualizing the specificities, nuances, and complexities of lesbian s/m fantasy in a court of law. In the final chapter, Shannon Bell advances a conception of pornography that is not distinguishable from philosophy, using philosophy to make pornography. Bad Attitude(s) on Trial provides a new debate on pornography and feminism. It will be of particular interest to students of both women's, and gay and lesbian issues, but will also be relevant for scholars of law, political science, and philosophy, as well as for anyone interested in a different, provocative view of the Butler decision. (shrink)
For a few years in the 1980s, Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women appeared to have changed the intellectual landscape – as well as some people’s lives. Pornography, she argued, not only constitutes violence against women; it constitutes also the main conduit for such violence, of which rape is at once the prime example and the central image. In short, it is patriarchy’s most powerful weapon. Given that, feminists’ single most important task is to deal with pornography. By the early (...) 1990s, however, the consensus had become that her project was a diversion, both politically and intellectually. Today, who would argue that pornography is a crucial political issue? I shall argue that Dworkin has in fact a great deal to teach us – perhaps even more today, as we are going through the neo-liberal revolution, than thirty years ago. Her argument is not a causal one, despite in places reading as if it were. The legal route she chose as the ground on which to fight may well be a dead end, but that does nothing to undermine the force of her analysis. Nor does the fact that she makes arguments that might not be recognized as professionally philosophical or social scientific undermine their substantive force. It may even be that pornography itself is not the sole key she thought it was to understanding and dealing with political realities; but even if that were so, the form of her analysis, far from rhetorical and/or fallacious, is exactly what is needed to counter the depredations of neo-liberal “common sense”. That she herself found it difficult to find a language beyond that of liberalism to express her argument is no reason either for ignoring or misinterpreting it. (shrink)
A book in which analytic philosophers examine the portrayal of sex in art and the possible artistic value of pornography proves a disappointment. Although a transcendental objection to pornographic art is rebutted, the papers employ barren philosophical methods that divert energy away from significant problems and into scholastic quibbles.
Even as it skirts mainstream contemporary culture, pornography remains a social taboo; there still exist strong biases both in favor and against it. With chapters addressing imagination, gender, power relationships, truth claims, aesthetics, and both pro and anti-porn slants, this book presents a balanced view of pornography in modern society.
Since its influential rendering by Rae Langton in her 1993 paper, “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts,” the “silencing argument” against pornography has become the subject of a lively debate that continues to this day. My intention in this paper is not to join in the existing debate, but to give a critical overview of it. In its current form, I suggest, it is going nowhere . Yet the silencing argument, I believe, nevertheless contains an indispensable insight—and more radical potential than (...) is usually acknowledged either by its defenders or its opponents. I argue that in order to preserve this insight and unleash its potential, we should begin by adopting the following motto: MacKinnon, not Austin! (shrink)
Since the early 2000s, zombies have increasingly swarmed the landscape of popular culture, with ever more diverse representations of the undead being imagined. A growing number of zombie narratives have introduced sexual themes, endowing the living dead with their own sexual identity. The unpleasant idea of the sexual zombie is itself provocative, triggering questions about the nature of desire, sex, sexuality, and the politics of our sexual behaviors. However, the notion of zombie sex has been largely unaddressed in scholarship. -/- (...) This collection addresses that unexamined aspect of zombiedom, with essays engaging a variety of media texts, including graphic novels, films, television, pornography, literature, and internet meme culture. The essayists are scholars from a variety of disciplines, including history, theology, film studies, and gender and queer studies. Covering The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, and Bruce LaBruce’s zombie-porn movies, this work investigates the cultural, political and philosophical issues raised by undead sex and zombie sexuality. (shrink)
Anti-Porn activists have argued for decades that pom is discrimination, it hamis women as a class. The Pro-porn response has been to dismiss these concems, laud the First Amendment, or argue that pornography is a valuable contribution to society. The debate has progressed little beyond this stage. In this article, I argue that it is time to frame the pomography debate as a discussion on sexualized media in general. Recent research indicates that the negative results often attributed to hard-core pornography, (...) such as sexist attitudes, lack of empathy for women, objectification, etc., are attributable to sexualized media as a whole. Pornography is, therefore, an infelicitous target. The solution to this problem is not the prohibition or litigation of one narrow aspect of this phenomenon, hard-core pornography, but the regulation of the producers of sexualized media in conjunction with efforts to educate consumers. (shrink)
Torture Porn is a term that has generated a great deal of controversy during the last decade, critics utilizing the term to dismiss contemporary popular horror cinema as obscene and morally depraved. Arguing primarily in defense of torture-themed horror films, this book seeks to offer a critical overview and examination of the Torture Porn phenomenon, discussing the generic contexts in which it is situated, scrutinizing press responses to the sub-genre, and offering narrative analyses of the sub-genre’s central films; including the (...) highly popular Saw franchise, the Hostel movies, and recent revamped versions of slasher movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as the multitude of independent direct-to-DVD films that have been influenced by these theatrically successful films. (shrink)
This book marks a radical and powerful intervention in traditional arguments about pornography. Kappeler re-examines the artistic distinctions between fantasy and reality, pornography and erotica, and challenges the legal definition of obscenity as well as the intellectual defence of 'freedom of expression'. By linking images of actual violence with the imaginative portrayal of women in the realm of the aesthetic, she establishes vital connections between modes of representation and social forms of power and domination. It is essential reading for anyone (...) concerned with issues of pornography and sexual politics and related debates in literary criticism and cultural studies. (shrink)
We refine a line of feminist criticism of pornography that focuses on pornographic works' pernicious effects. A.W. Eaton argues that inegalitarian pornography should be criticized because it is responsible for its consumers’ adoption of inegalitarian attitudes toward sex in the same way that other fictions are responsible for changes in their consumers’ attitudes. We argue that her argument can be improved with the recognition that different fictions can have different modes of persuasion. This is true of film and television: a (...) satirical movie such as Dr. Strangelove does not morally educate in the same way as a realistic series such as The Wire. We argue that this is also true of pornography: inegalitarian depictions of sex are not invariably responsible for consumers' adoption of inegalitarian attitudes toward sex in reality. Given that pornographic works of different genres may harm in different ways, different feminist criticisms are appropriate for different genres of pornography. (shrink)
The primary purpose of depictive works of pornography, we take it, is sexual arousal through sexually explicit representations; what we callprototypical pornography satisfies those aims through the adoption of a ceteris paribus maximally realistic depictive style. Given that the purpose of sexual arousal seems best fulfilled by establishing the most robust connections between the viewer and the depictive subject, we find it curious that not all works of pornography aspire to prototypical status. Accordingly, we target for philosophical scrutiny several non-standard (...) but putatively pornographic forms: Tijuana Bibles, hentai manga, and slash-fiction. We find that works of these genres possess certain depictively or fictively oriented properties that appear at least prima facie incompatible with prototypical pornography, and thereby to pose two pressing questions that anyprima facie viable analysis of pornography must answer: the depiction question and the fiction question. By answering these questions, we can not only arrive at a deeper understanding of the aims of pornography and the reasons for which significant sub-genres of pornography might diverge from the prototypical ideal, but also perhaps better understand what lies at pornography’s edge, and so better understand the ways in which pornography might relate to what lies beyond. (shrink)
Philosophers involved in the ‘porn-or-art’ debates standardly assume that pornography is centrally about sexual arousal, while art is about something else. I argue against this assumption and for the view that there is no single thing that pornography (or art) ‘is about’. This suggests that there is no prima facie reason for claiming that some x cannot be both pornography and art. I further go on to develop an understanding of (what I call) ‘porno-art’ - a wholly new kind of (...) thing developing from the extant categories of pornography and art, but still distinct and separate from them. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years, academic debate over pornography in the discourses of feminism and cultural studies has foundered on questions of the performative and of the word's definition. In the polylogue of Droit de regards, pornography is defined as la mise en vente that is taking place in the act of exegesis in progress. (Wills's idiomatic English translation includes an ‘it’ that is absent in the French original). The definition in Droit de regards alludes to the word's etymology (writing (...) by or about prostitutes) but leaves the referent of the ‘sale’ suspended. Pornography as la mise en vente boldly restates the necessary iterability of the sign and anticipates two of Derrida's late arguments: that there is no ‘the’ body and that performatives may be powerless. Deriving a definition of pornography from a truncated etymology exemplifies the prosthesis of origin and challenges other critical discourses to explain how pornography can be understood as anything more than ‘putting (it) up for sale’. (shrink)