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Markets in sexually-explicit materials pornography and sexual services prostitution raise numerous worries for philosophers and feminists. The main concern is that such markets appear to be inescapably and seriously harmful to women—both individual women and women as a group.
Deploying concepts from moral and political philosophy, and philosophy of language and art, feminist philosophers have analyzed how prostitution and pornography harm women. She hypothesizes that the harms caused by exposure to inegalitarian pornography range from increasing rates of sex discrimination, sexual harassment and assault to degrading the status of women. Eaton recognizes that her causal model requires empirical support, and that the studies needed to confirm or refute it have not yet been done. Because inegalitarian pornography is not the only kind of mass culture that promotes sexist attitudes and behavior, it can be difficult to separate out the effects of sexist materials that are sexually graphic from those that are not.
In the early years of the second-wave feminist movement, activists campaigned against all violent and sexist popular media. Carolyn Bronstein argues that the shift from condemning violent and sexist media images to condemning only pornography even nonviolent porn involved two main factors. The saturation of society with Playboy, Hustler, Deep Throat, adult bookstores, and eventually cable television and video pornography in the s and s was interpreted by some activists as an orchestrated campaign to keep women in their ased social sphere.
Some feminists accused their opponents of Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana uniquely seductive and powerful misogynist propaganda that falsely and maliciously depicted women as desiring and deserving of coercive and degrading sexual use. Second, Bronstein alleges that, by targeting pornography as the culprit rather than sexism in the media, the feminist anti-pornography movement took advantage of the conservative climate of the s.
The convergence of aims among feminists and some conservatives enabled the former to garner financial support from non-feminist, and even anti-feminist organizations Bronstein Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin wrote a model anti-pornography ordinance, which was soon adopted by the city of Indianapolis with the help of evangelical Christian organizations Bronstein In response, many free speech activists organized to challenge this new law, and similar ones proposed in cities around the country.
Inthe Supreme Court found the Indianapolis ordinance to be unconstitutional and, not long after, the feminist anti-pornography movement fell into disarray. Although the second-wave feminist anti-pornography movement has now evolved into the third-wave sex-positive feminist movement, a of feminist academics are attempting to revive societal opposition to pornography Eaton ; Langton ; Hornsby ; Brison By utilizing the tools of philosophical analysis and empirical social science, feminist academics aim to strengthen the intellectual foundations of the anti-pornography movement.
With a better understanding of the impact of pornography on individuals and society, and the psychological and social mechanisms that can explain its influence, communities can mobilize more effective responses to its production, distribution, and consumption. Now that the Internet enables pornography to reach wider audiences, its impact may be greater than ever.
Helen Longino was one of the first feminist philosophers to articulate a theory of how pornography harms women. She argued that pornography shows men and women taking pleasure in activities that objectify women and treat women as less than human. By depicting female subjects as dehumanized objects, pornography promotes the idea that women can be treated without moral regard i. Longino writes.
Pornography, by its very nature, requires that women be subordinate to men and mere instruments for the fulfillment of male fantasies Longino Sexual desire is irrational and le us to reduce others to their sexual body parts, and thus is objectifying, dehumanizing, and degrading. Longino adds a feminist element to Kant by arguing that, because men have greater social power than women, men are able to use women as instruments to satisfy their sexual ends.
Pornographic depictions of heterosexual sex, then, glorify and promote the immoral and subordinating treatment of women by men. Heterosexual acts are inherently violent to women in that they involve men treating women as interchangeable objects whose integrity and boundaries are not respected. Pornography, then, is equated with visual evidence and documentation of the abuse of particular women, and those who view it collaborate in their violation.
According to MacKinnon, women in patriarchal societies are not free to refuse sex with men, and therefore their participation in sex with men is not fully consensual. Sex with persons incapable of giving genuine consent, made into a public spectacle via pornography, expands the temporal and spatial parameters of the crime. When women view pornography they often relive their own violation and public humiliation.
Therefore, pornography has the power to repeatedly traumatize women and does not merely record a past abuse, according to MacKinnon and Dworkin. Adult pornography is similar to child pornography, which records and amplifies the abuse of molested children.
Pornography is therefore harmful to men who Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana it, as well as to women who have sexual contact with men, on and off screen. MacKinnon For these reasons, anti-pornography feminists generally hold that pornography is not simply a sexist nuisance that can be addressed by calls for consumer boycotts and corporate responsibility. Longino argues that pornography should not be given the same legal protection as other expressive materials. Along with MacKinnon, she proposes that pornography should be restricted, not as a form of obscene expression, but as a product that can cause serious injuries to women, individually and as a group.
Longino contends that liberal toleration of pornography constitutes acceptance of the immoral treatment of women Longino MacKinnon and Dworkin take this argument a step further and allege that pornography often records acts of criminal rape and, therefore, its dissemination further compounds the injuries of such criminal acts MacKinnon—49; Dworkin Toleration for pornography disempowers all women because it perpetuates a climate in which women constantly feel threatened by rape, which makes it impossible for them to exercise the formal rights they have won.
MacKinnon and Dworkin offer only anecdotal empirical support for their claims about the harmfulness of pornography. But their work inspired a of social scientists to conduct controlled studies to find more empirical support for their claims. Reviewing the social science literature available at the time, Diana Scully writes. Further, particularly when women are depicted as receiving pleasure from the violence directed at them, pornography trivializes rape and, thus, may encourage more men to act on their fantasies.
Armed with the myths celebrated in violent pornography, such as women secretly want to be raped, men who rape can and do believe that their behavior is within the normative boundaries of the culture. Scully Although she notes some problems with her research de, she concludes that her.
Malamuth, Addison, and Koss In a more recent review of the social science literature, Christopher Ferguson and Richard Hartley report that. Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates.
Data from other nations have suggested similar relationships. Ferguson and Hartley Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Frazer question whether any s of the causal properties of pornography are helpful or illuminating. The idea that men simply imitate what they see in pornography, or are conditioned to behave in certain ways through exposure to pornography, implies that men are not able to creatively and critically interpret pornographic materials.
By treating sexual violence as a product of exposure to pornography, feminists promote a view that relieves sexual predators of responsibility for their actions, and blames their actions instead on expressive materials or the pathological conditions they allegedly cause. Ironically, causal models may engender social sympathy for the perpetrators of sexual violence and make it difficult to punish them Cameron and Frazer Not all feminist philosophers concur with the feminist critique of pornography.
While agreeing that the content of pornography condones the objectionable treatment of women, Ann Garry was one of the first to question whether pornography should be held responsible for pervasive gender-based violence and discrimination. Garry writes. Much of the research on the effects of pornography indicates that any effect it has—positive or negative—is short lived. Garry Garry also questions whether treating a woman as a sex object is always bad, and suggests that pornography succeeds in harming women, in part, because viewers assume that sex is generally harmful to women Garry —37; see also Garry Garry encourages feminists to support the production of non-sexist pornography rather than try to suppress pornographic materials.
When they communicate their unwillingness Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana participate in a sexual activity, their interlocutors will infer that they are misreporting their desires. In this way, pornography silences women, because it reinforces the prejudice that women are dishonest or coy when they express little or no sexual interest in men who pursue sexual contact with them.
Similarly, when a juror listens to the testimony of a sexual assault victim, his perception of her sincerity will be skewed by his exposure to pornography Langton On this view, pornography is a mechanism that can be wielded to deny women their equal right to free speech, social respect, and personal security, and thus subordinates and silences them.
Rae Langton deploys the tools of speech Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana theory to elaborate further how pornography silences and subordinates women Langton Langton points out that pornographic words and images, like utterances in general, are a form of social action. The literal content locutionary force of a pornographic work includes the representation of a particular sex acts, which have the effect perlocutionary force of arousing some viewers and shaping their attitudes toward women.
The illocutionary force of a pornographic work pertains to the social actions performed in depicting sex and women, such as informing, commanding, entertaining, approving, and so forth. Similarly, a pornographic work may perform the function of recommending or approving certain sexually predatory behaviors in a context with certain kinds of social rules about the status and entitlements of the character types shown.
The illocutionary force of a particular speech act,or expressive work depends on a variety of factors, including the intentions of the author and the linguistic and social conventions that link words with particular meanings and social practices.
A successful speech act, where an audience gets what a speaker intends to communicate or do, depends on various historical, legal, and other features of the context of use Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana b; Bianchi ; Mikkola Langton argues that there are good, though not conclusive, reasons to think that the background factors that enable pornographic texts to endorse, recommend, or command hostile acts against women are in place. However, she also suggests that the illocutionary force of pornography may be blocked effectively by the speech acts of its critics, rather than by censorship Langton Jennifer Hornsby also deploys speech act theory to explain how pornography silences women.
Hornsby maintains that pornographic materials reinforce ideas about women that deprive their utterances of their ordinary illocutionary meaning Hornsby Women may be silenced, then, not by having their speech suppressed but by changes to the background conditions necessary for successful speech acts, such as refusal.Ladies seeking sex Butler Indiana
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