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Pornography - always wrong?

rockwater
Posts: 273
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7/25/2013 8:36:34 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This thread didn't get off the ground in the society forum, so I'll try it here although it is not just about pornography laws and more about whether making, consuming, or watching paid or free pornography is always wrong or not.

I'm not that receptive of the argument that pornography (which I define as the distribution, for money or for free) of media that show people in sexual activity, sexually aroused, or nude in a way to elicit sexual arousal in the viewer) is inherently degrading to women or enforces an unrealistic view of sex and the human body, since I am a big fan of pornography involving overweight middle-aged men who are not bears. If any women or thin men are in pornography, I find them distracting. I am unsure, though, whether SELLING or BUYING pornography is moral or not because it seems almost identical to prostitution. Instead of paying someone to have sex with you, you pay for people to have sex on camera. In some cases, the producer of the pornography (who gets to keep the profits) stars in the film and pays people (who sometimes they find from searching prostitution ads) to have sex with them on camera. Because of the huge social stigma associated with appearing in pornography, people often only do it if they are desperate or have been exposed to the industry by being victims of sex trafficking or sexual abuse. That said, there are people who earn money by appearing in pornography who are not drug addicts, who do not also engage in prostitution, who have never been trafficked or abused, who are mentally stable and confident, and who are not ashamed of doing so. When a person pays for pornography - s/he usually does not know what the situation is of the people appearing in it. This is true with free (non-pirated) pornography as well, but at least the people in it are not appearing in it because of financial necessity.

There are other arguments about the morality of pornography - that sex should be private, that only committed or married couples should see each other naked in a sexual way, that the human body and sex are demeaned when they are commodified or objectified, and that producing sexually explicit material for consumption encourages the consumers to view sex as obtaining instant gratification, satisfying specific personal tastes, or (in some but not all pornography), being a violent or humiliating form of subjugation of the partner(s). I disagree with the first two points and am not sure that all pornography, especially free pornography produced by people in committed relationships, is characterized by these criticisms.

As a last point, I do think that anyone who wants to consume pornography should be willing to appear in it him/herself. This troubles me because I want to be a teacher but if there were sexually explicit content of me on the Internet, even if it were behind an adults-only pay or membership wall and even if my name and contact information were not linked to it, I could lose my job if it were discovered. I feel that this is deeply unjust - sexual expression amonf consenting adults on parts of the Internet children are not allowed to access (whether they illicitly manage to access it or not) is part of people's private lives in the modern era and should not factor into people's employment. (Don't compare this to politicians - electing someone is different than hiring them for a job, and betrayal of one's spouse if different than appearing in pornography with a spouse's approval.)

Thoughts?
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
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7/25/2013 8:50:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/25/2013 8:36:34 AM, rockwater wrote:
This thread didn't get off the ground in the society forum, so I'll try it here although it is not just about pornography laws and more about whether making, consuming, or watching paid or free pornography is always wrong or not.
I have absolutely no problem with the watching of either paid or free pornography. But the conditions under which it is made are an issue. Consumers (just like consumers of any product like coffee or chocolate or sneakers) should be aware that their consumption has implications for the people producing the material.

I'm not that receptive of the argument that pornography (which I define as the distribution, for money or for free) of media that show people in sexual activity, sexually aroused, or nude in a way to elicit sexual arousal in the viewer) is inherently degrading to women or enforces an unrealistic view of sex and the human body, since I am a big fan of pornography involving overweight middle-aged men who are not bears. If any women or thin men are in pornography, I find them distracting. I am unsure, though, whether SELLING or BUYING pornography is moral or not because it seems almost identical to prostitution. Instead of paying someone to have sex with you, you pay for people to have sex on camera. In some cases, the producer of the pornography (who gets to keep the profits) stars in the film and pays people (who sometimes they find from searching prostitution ads) to have sex with them on camera. Because of the huge social stigma associated with appearing in pornography, people often only do it if they are desperate or have been exposed to the industry by being victims of sex trafficking or sexual abuse. That said, there are people who earn money by appearing in pornography who are not drug addicts, who do not also engage in prostitution, who have never been trafficked or abused, who are mentally stable and confident, and who are not ashamed of doing so. When a person pays for pornography - s/he usually does not know what the situation is of the people appearing in it. This is true with free (non-pirated) pornography as well, but at least the people in it are not appearing in it because of financial necessity.
It is definitely the responsibility of the viewer to do some investigation into the conditions under which the filming was done. Companies which make pornographic material should be accountable and well regulated.

There are other arguments about the morality of pornography - that sex should be private, that only committed or married couples should see each other naked in a sexual way, that the human body and sex are demeaned when they are commodified or objectified, and that producing sexually explicit material for consumption encourages the consumers to view sex as obtaining instant gratification, satisfying specific personal tastes, or (in some but not all pornography), being a violent or humiliating form of subjugation of the partner(s). I disagree with the first two points and am not sure that all pornography, especially free pornography produced by people in committed relationships, is characterized by these criticisms.
An interesting point, though dominance is an issue even in committed relationships.

As a last point, I do think that anyone who wants to consume pornography should be willing to appear in it him/herself.
Why should they? The whole point of viewing pornography is that you want to see someone else do it. What I think would be a better criterion is that such a person should not judge someone else that they know for appearing in pornography.
This troubles me because I want to be a teacher but if there were sexually explicit content of me on the Internet, even if it were behind an adults-only pay or membership wall and even if my name and contact information were not linked to it, I could lose my job if it were discovered.
Yes, this is unfortunate, and something I think will change with time. I don't see that there is much we can do about it other than talk to the people in our lives about it, or mention it to work colleagues who we trust. Society changes its views only slowly, and usually that is because the people who hold those views move on. Teaching though, that's a tough one, I think there are some jobs for which this might be an actual issue and teaching minors is one.
I feel that this is deeply unjust - sexual expression amonf consenting adults on parts of the Internet children are not allowed to access (whether they illicitly manage to access it or not) is part of people's private lives in the modern era and should not factor into people's employment.
I'll add a caveat, that this should be the case provided the pornographic material does not impede them doing their job. Teaching would be made very difficult if the students were to obtain the material.
(Don't compare this to politicians - electing someone is different than hiring them for a job, and betrayal of one's spouse if different than appearing in pornography with a spouse's approval.)
Well I'm not sure that it is all that different (hiring to electing) other than that the group of people who do the hiring is much larger, but I guess I can accept that you think they are.
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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7/25/2013 9:21:57 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I would say that atop such objectification otherwise that it can be a very harmful thing, and leave it at that really. In itself, I would not say that it such a bad thing, but that it might bring shameful thoughts of the world around it to manifest into terrible things. It's like how some people might look upon a beautiful scenery and think to dominate it as opposed to how some might just look upon it just to look upon it with no real malicious intent. We might better foster the second attitude and have pornography be a perfectly acceptable thing, I'd say, but that, as is, it is dangerous.
rockwater
Posts: 273
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7/25/2013 12:33:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The croftmeister: Yes, this is unfortunate, and something I think will change with time. I don't see that there is much we can do about it other than talk to the people in our lives about it, or mention it to work colleagues who we trust. Society changes its views only slowly, and usually that is because the people who hold those views move on. Teaching though, that's a tough one, I think there are some jobs for which this might be an actual issue and teaching minors is one.

Me: I agree that teaching minors is made very problematic if the minors have seen sexually explicit material featuring their teacher. However, minors are not supposed to be seeing pornography in the first place, and the fact that so many teenagers start watching porn at puberty is not a good thing. I don't know how improve protections that prevent minors from viewing porn without effectively making porn too difficult to access for adults and thereby tampering with freedom of speech.

The reason I feel that a person should be willing to be in pornography in order to view it is that the people who appear in pornography subject themselves to a huge social stigma (rightly or wrongly) unless they hide that part of their history. It can affect their future employment, their future relationships, and many other things. The compensation that participants in pay porn receive is nowhere near enough to make up for this stigma and the secrecy and shame that often accompany it. I feel that rather than segregate society into the "sl*ts" that appear in pornography and the hypocrites who would never appear in pornography but consume it anyway, all porn users should be porn participants (in free porn if not in pay porn) in order to make this medium more democratic and just.

That said, I think it is profoundly unjust that teachers of minors could be fired if evidence of appearing in pornography in the last surfaces even if the teacher no longer appears in porn. The teacher may have no control over the dissemination of the porn if it is pay porn (and even in free open the website often takes full copyright and control of the material - rightly or wrongly). I think all that should be asked is that the teacher remove all sexual explicit material of themselves that s/he consented to the posting of and continues to have control over from public websites. If a teacher wants to join an adult social network and put naked photos of themselves behind a pay wall or other security barrier, or sexts or otherwise shares naked images of themselves with romantic adult partners outside of school, it really is none of the school's or the students' business and it is unfair for the teacher to be penalized.