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Old 10-30-2002, 10:02 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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Pornography: Bad, degrading to women (Need to debate this)

What the hell am *I* doing with a thread title like that?

I have been invited a public forum to discuss and debate the issues raised in the title. As those of you who know me can readily surmise, mine will be the opposite position. But I want to arm myself thoroughly.

So... if the mods don't object, I'd like to debate this subject. And if there are not enough people who agree with the thread title, I'd like to play the devil's advocate and argue that side of the debate just to see my brilliant fellow doper's answers.

If anyone's game, of course.

So...I'll start from my normal side of the issue and say the following:

1) Pornography in this context shall be defined as photographs and films depicting sexual acts between consenting adult human beings. (no puppies, turtles, or 10 year olds.)

2) The existence of pornography itself is morally neutral. Sex being a natural, pleasurable, and compelling part of being alive, it is natural, virtually certain, than human beings, with their clever abilities to draw, paint, photgraph and otherwise depict things which are interesting to them, will choose to depict sex. They always have, it is virtually certain that they always will.

3) For some people, this is a bad thing. It is perfectly ok for those people to avoid pornography, and to expect that a reasonable attempt will be made to warn others when pornography is around, especially if those "others" are children.

4) Some people view pornography as degrading to women. It is their right to have this opinion. However, it is the right of each woman to decide for herself whether she chooses to participate in pornography or not.

5) It is not a violation of feminist ideals to participate in the production and distribution of pornography. The feminist ideal is that women shall choose for themselves, and that is a valid choice.

Anyone care to argue these points or other related ones? I'd appreciate the help.

Ta!

stoid
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  #2  
Old 10-30-2002, 10:27 PM
hansel hansel is offline
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Re: Pornography: Bad, degrading to women (Need to debate this)

Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
1) Pornography in this context shall be defined as photographs and films depicting sexual acts between consenting adult human beings. (no puppies, turtles, or 10 year olds.)
Very convenient, but hardly apropos. Casual acceptance of "vanilla" pornography subtracts from the moral condemnation of more extreme forms. A slippery slope, basically, in which magazines with pictures of 25 year olds make it almost okay to read "Barely Legal", which makes it seem not so bad to find pictures of 15 year olds on the Internet...

Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
2) The existence of pornography itself is morally neutral. Sex being a natural, pleasurable, and compelling part of being alive, it is natural, virtually certain, than human beings, with their clever abilities to draw, paint, photgraph and otherwise depict things which are interesting to them, will choose to depict sex. They always have, it is virtually certain that they always will.
Sex in general may be morally neutral, but it doesn't follow that pornography is. To the extent that pornography has dominant themes and aesthetics, it has a moral perspective as well. In other words, pornography's obsession with big-busted blondes is not morally neutral, and has a damaging social effect of reinforcing negative stereotypes about beauty and worthwhile attributes in women. Moreover, pornography's constant portrayal of women who are ridiculously sexual (i.e., lots of partners, multiple orgasms every time, ready to throw down anytime and anywhere) presents a false image of normal female sexuality that puts pressure on women to conform and creates false expectations in men; again, not morally neutral, either in intent or effect.

Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
3) For some people, this is a bad thing. It is perfectly ok for those people to avoid pornography, and to expect that a reasonable attempt will be made to warn others when pornography is around, especially if those "others" are children.
I can avoid pornography, but can I avoid pornography consumers? Will all the women I date be free of any sexual and relationship misconceptions derived from the consumption of pornography? Will all the men that women date be free of such an influence?

Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
4) Some people view pornography as degrading to women. It is their right to have this opinion. However, it is the right of each woman to decide for herself whether she chooses to participate in pornography or not.
But it's not the right of a woman to decide if a man will treat her in a degrading fashion because he believes pornography to represent a desirable state of affairs. To the extent that pornography consumption shapes attitudes, does any woman have a right, in practice, not to be affected by those attitudes, especially when those attitudes can contribute to sexual discrimination and sex crimes? Having a right in theory is irrelevant if the circumstances don't support that right.

Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
5) It is not a violation of feminist ideals to participate in the production and distribution of pornography. The feminist ideal is that women shall choose for themselves, and that is a valid choice.
There's more to the feminist ideal than individual choice. The feminist ideal includes a world free from patriarchal power structures that oppress women. When a woman participates in the manufacture or consumption of pornography, she supports the oppression of women by feeding that part of society most responsible for her own suffering as a woman: namely, men who treat women not as individuals but as objects of their own pleasure. She perpetuates the stereotypes that harm her and others. She actively furthers the degradation of herself and her sisters.

To draw an analogy: shouldn't every union member be free to decide for themselves whether or not they join the union, or how much they're willing to accept as a wage? Shouldn't they be free as individuals to undercut their fellow employees by working for less? Your choice may harm me indirectly, but in very real ways.
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Old 10-30-2002, 10:38 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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Stoid: I would be delighted and flattered if you would read my paper on that very subject. Warning: it isn't strongly conclusive, definitely a very ambivalent paper; but it does seriously consider the perspective that finds porn harmful to women, and the conclusion, such as it is, tends towards that viewpoint. (I'm not sure I still agree with that perspective, but I've drifted into and out of and through it)
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Old 10-30-2002, 10:46 PM
RexDart RexDart is offline
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First show that if something is degrading to women that it's necessarily bad. What's the standard? The feminists themselves are fond of describing everything in terms of power struggles, with no absolutes. Every feminist professor I encountered in college with whom I discussed philosophy was a postmodernist, so they wouldn't call anything universally bad. Patriarchy and certain male behaviours may be bad for women, and they may be good for men. (Putting aside for the time-being Simone deBeauvoir's arguments for self-interest in equality between the sexes, which IMHO warrants almost an entirely separate thread.)

Implicit in hansel's argument is that removal of pornography may eliminate those behaviours and power structures which the feminist ideal opposes, or at least that pornography plays a part in perpetuating them. Embedded within this is the popular feminist idea that gender is a cultural construction, that can be deconstructed and altered with the right changes to cultural influences. Unless one presumes the theory of gender construction, one might not necessarily conclude that patriarchy has any relationship whatsoever with pornography or any other cultural influence at all.
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Old 10-30-2002, 11:11 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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RexDart:QUOTE]Every feminist professor I encountered in college with whom I discussed philosophy was a postmodernist[/quote]

I hate that shit.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ahunter/R.../tocandtp.html
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Old 10-30-2002, 11:24 PM
RexDart RexDart is offline
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Wow AHunter, you actually wrote a paper on this! I'll have to give it a read and get back to you on it. BTW, your personal story about that class you were enrolled in during grad school, that exactly describes the treatment my friend Jay is getting in a Women and the Law class here at the MU Law School.
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Old 10-30-2002, 11:54 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Re: Re: Pornography: Bad, degrading to women (Need to debate this)

Quote:
Originally posted by hansel


Very convenient, but hardly apropos. Casual acceptance of "vanilla" pornography subtracts from the moral condemnation of more extreme forms. A slippery slope, basically, in which magazines with pictures of 25 year olds make it almost okay to read "Barely Legal", which makes it seem not so bad to find pictures of 15 year olds on the Internet...
oops, there goes the Victoria Secrets Catalog and the Sunday NY Times Magazine. I think we can condemn child pornography and what looks like child pornography without condemning all pornography.

Quote:

In other words, pornography's obsession with big-busted blondes is not morally neutral, and has a damaging social effect of reinforcing negative stereotypes about beauty and worthwhile attributes in women. Moreover, pornography's constant portrayal of women who are ridiculously sexual (i.e., lots of partners, multiple orgasms every time, ready to throw down anytime and anywhere) presents a false image of normal female sexuality that puts pressure on women to conform and creates false expectations in men; again, not morally neutral, either in intent or effect.
There goes Baywatch, and most of Hollywood. As for feeling inferior, men feel at least as inferior as women do! If the question is about degrading to women, particularly, this is not much of an argument.

Quote:

I can avoid pornography, but can I avoid pornography consumers? Will all the women I date be free of any sexual and relationship misconceptions derived from the consumption of pornography? Will all the men that women date be free of such an influence?
In that case, let's ban lots of churches, for many foster misconceptions at least as harmful, possibly more so, as pornography. Also, I suspect that anyone you are likely to want to date is smart enough to distinguish between the fantasy world of porn and the real world. If not, they have other problems, and are probably off thinking D&D is real or something.

Quote:


But it's not the right of a woman to decide if a man will treat her in a degrading fashion because he believes pornography to represent a desirable state of affairs. To the extent that pornography consumption shapes attitudes, does any woman have a right, in practice, not to be affected by those attitudes, especially when those attitudes can contribute to sexual discrimination and sex crimes? Having a right in theory is irrelevant if the circumstances don't support that right.
Evidence that porn contributes to sex crimes? Does a woman have a right not to be affected by a religious man who thinks he should be the boss? Does a man who believes this have the right not to be affected by a woman who believes she should have rights? Your way leads to a slippery slope, to coin a phrase.

Quote:

When a woman participates in the manufacture or consumption of pornography, she supports the oppression of women by feeding that part of society most responsible for her own suffering as a woman: namely, men who treat women not as individuals but as objects of their own pleasure. She perpetuates the stereotypes that harm her and others. She actively furthers the degradation of herself and her sisters.
Aha. Women should be free by being not free to make employment choices. I see. Some women (such as those who produce and direct porn) honestly believe that it does not degrade women. I know of several women who enjoy porn far more than I do, and they don't seem a bit degraded.

As for me, I'll take freedom.
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  #8  
Old 10-31-2002, 03:14 AM
Eidolon909 Eidolon909 is offline
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Quote:
By Hansel: Sex in general may be morally neutral, but it doesn't follow that pornography is. To the extent that pornography has dominant themes and aesthetics, it has a moral perspective as well. In other words, pornography's obsession with big-busted blondes is not morally neutral, and has a damaging social effect of reinforcing negative stereotypes about beauty and worthwhile attributes in women. Moreover, pornography's constant portrayal of women who are ridiculously sexual (i.e., lots of partners, multiple orgasms every time, ready to throw down anytime and anywhere) presents a false image of normal female sexuality that puts pressure on women to conform and creates false expectations in men; again, not morally neutral, either in intent or effect.
Which Pornography? Do you mean Playboy? Because there are hundreds of different types and genres of pornography out there catering to the vary wide array of tastes and fetishes of men and women. Pornography does not have an obsession with busty blondes, perhaps one particular periodical does but you cannot judge the entire thing by one single example.

False expectations in men? How about in women? The men in heterosexual pornography have the sexual stamina of latter day Gods due to expert camera and editing techniques. There are very few men who can perform in the same manner as that which is portrayed.

As for portraying damaging stereotypes, you have to look no further than the media. Televisions, Movies and Magazines. I would state that Cosmo and Vogue et al are far more damaging as far as presenting unattainable ideals is concerned, than pornography ever will be.
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Old 10-31-2002, 05:16 AM
Virtuosity Virtuosity is offline
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That Jackass show is degrading to men as are a lot of other thngs men do. If there is anything degrading it is degrading to the subject only not to the general population of women.
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Old 10-31-2002, 07:05 AM
hansel hansel is offline
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No no no no no! If we're going to do Stoid's homework for her, we have to take a contrary position to hers. She's not asking for help with her side, she needs devil's advocates!

I will comment on one thing:
Quote:
Does a woman have a right not to be affected by a religious man who thinks he should be the boss?
Well, yes, in fact she does, both in theory and practice (as does anyone). If a religious boss treats her employees in a way that is demonstrably religiously biased (e.g., not promoting someone from a different church who deserved it, firing someone because they're an athiest, etc.), then the employee has several recourses, including a civil law suit and a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.
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Old 10-31-2002, 09:25 AM
Eidolon909 Eidolon909 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by hansel
No no no no no! If we're going to do Stoid's homework for her, we have to take a contrary position to hers. She's not asking for help with her side, she needs devil's advocates!

Oh... I get it...

Can I go now?

Well, to take a perfectly fundamentalist point of view. Lets examine the purpose of pornography. The overwhemling majority of consumers of pornography are men and the assumption that this pornography will be used as an aide to masturbation one can argue that pornography encourages masturbation, which is inherently wrong. Sex is also a private affair between a man and a woman within the sanctity of marriage. Individuals in pornography are usually not married or even in any type of relationship. There is no love involved, no sacred vows. This is immoral and wrong and people shouldn't commit these acts, never mind watch them being commited. Pornography treats women as objects of lust and desire, not potential wives and mothers.

I now demand a frogurt.
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Old 10-31-2002, 12:49 PM
photopat photopat is offline
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Hansel: But it's not the right of a woman to decide if a man will treat her in a degrading fashion because he believes pornography to represent a desirable state of affairs. To the extent that pornography consumption shapes attitudes, does any woman have a right, in practice, not to be affected by those attitudes, especially when those attitudes can contribute to sexual discrimination and sex crimes? Having a right in theory is irrelevant if the circumstances don't support that right.

No man has the right to treat a woman in a degrading fashion, even if he does believe pornography represents a "desirable state of affairs." Every woman does have the right in practice to refuse to be treated, and therefore affected by those attitudes. Granted, that doesn't mean their rights will be honored, however the same argument can be made about the inherent right to walk down the street and not be held up.

Women do have the right to decide that men will not treat them in a sexually discriminatory manner. As you said yourself in a later post: "then the employee has several recourses, including a civil law suit and a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board." That applies to sexual discrimination or harassment as well as religious.

Also, there is no reason to assume that every man who uses porn, whether magazines or video, believes it to represent a real state of affairs. Having watched a number of soft and hard core porns in my life, I can state for a certainty that I never believed that, for example, if I delivered a pizza to a woman she would come to the door in underwear, invite me in, and then decide to have sex with me immediately. It's simply not real. Granted that a few people may have trouble discerning the difference, but the vast majority, I believe, does not.
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Old 10-31-2002, 01:26 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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Actually, hansel, I need both. I'm always open to the brilliant arguments of my fellow dopers, and that's what I need. I am trying to arm myself with the best arguments and I surely don't have them all.

So please, argue away.

I will, too, but not this moment.
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Old 10-31-2002, 01:36 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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You're not leaving much maneuvering room for the opposition by stating from the get-go the assumption that porn is between consenting adults. That kind of gets a serious foot in the door to the argument that it's their own dang business, and something they decided to do purely on their own, with no coercion or whatever bad stuff involved.

Then again, it also leaves the door wide open to say, sure, these people are actors. "This woman isn't being degraded, but she's portraying someone who is." I haven't seen all that much video or film porn, but what I have seen tends to run the gamut of fantasized sexual experiences, the vast majority of which fall out of the bounds of acceptable behavior as far as anti-porn people tend to be concerned. I.e., sure, it's not likely that your typical pizza delivery man gets waylaid by the missus, but then again, that type of behavior, which is being portrayed as acceptable, is NOT acceptable in certain circles.

What is the focus of your opposition in this debate going to be? Are they the PTA? Religious group? High-school teachers? Rocket scientists? They could take several different tacks with their arguments, and the points you have made seem to either block them off completely, or leave huge gaps for them to take advanage of, depending on their focus.
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Old 10-31-2002, 02:03 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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I'm not sure yet, but probably some "Mothers Against Porn" - I'll know by the end of the day.

The actual discussion wont' be nearly this detailed, controlled or formal, believe me. I just know that there will be certain obvious objections offered, and I want to be prepared.

As for the consenting adults bit, that's because not all porn is the same. I do not believe that child porn is ok, and I don't know a single person in the adult entertainment industry who does. So it is beside the point entirely to even discuss it, since everybody is on the same page about it.

I'll be back, you guys are doing great. Thanks for participating.
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Old 10-31-2002, 02:54 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Stoid, you know you have my friendship and that there are many issues on which we don't see eye to eye. This is only to a certain degree one of them, but I'll start with the "con" stance, since that's what you need.

I think there are several key points:

For the overwhelming majority of people, men and women, religious or not, the most appropriate place for sex is in the context of a permanent romantic/marital relationship. I think it's safe to assume that 99.999999...% of pornography does not portray such a relationship but, if it has any plotline at all, depicts casual sex. There are a lot of people that argue strongly, and I think with some justice, that such pornography takes away from the committed-sexual-relationship's meaningfulness to its partners. That was in part what I saw Hansel as saying.

Second, there is absolutely no question that some pornographers take unfair advantage, to understate the case, of their performers. For every happy porn star there are probably a dozen down-and-out losers who are only too happy to perform on camera as the pornographer directs for a fee, at the cost of their own dignity and personal privacy. IMHO, that's a strong case of abuse of the individual. I will grant that most of these people are adults capable of making mature decisions -- but a fair amount of their decision-making capacity is taken from them by their economic situation.

Third, there are more than a few "recovering porn addicts" in our society, including an erstwhile member of this board whom I know personally, who honestly do not need the temptation placed before them.

Now, I respect the individual's right to publish and purchase what he pleases, so I'm not advocating banning it. But I trust you can see that one can argue a moral case against it without necessarily getting into questions of whether it can be legal.

On the other hand, I'm well aware of people who use it as a means of stimulating their flagging sex drives, of people who use fantasy based on porn as a way to enhance their marital relationships, and so on.

And I've felt for years that there is a gap on the market: many kids get into porn purely out of curiosity and libido stimulation, because there's nothing else that clues them in to a subject that they're intensely curious about. I'd like to see an illustrated book produced by an attractive young married couple talking about and showing their sex life, designed to educate kids on what healthy sex is supposed to be. This would satisfy their curiosity, put paid to some of the childhood myths ("we only did it once, so she can't get pregnant"), and generally make that transition into adolescence much easier for kids as regards this issue.
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Old 10-31-2002, 04:07 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
Second, there is absolutely no question that some pornographers take unfair advantage, to understate the case, of their performers. For every happy porn star there are probably a dozen down-and-out losers who are only too happy to perform on camera as the pornographer directs for a fee, at the cost of their own dignity and personal privacy. IMHO, that's a strong case of abuse of the individual. I will grant that most of these people are adults capable of making mature decisions -- but a fair amount of their decision-making capacity is taken from them by their economic situation.
This could be said about any shitty job, whether it's running the fry vat at White Castle or scrubbing puke stains out of a hotel-room carpet. People perform a wide range of personally demeaning functions to make a living in our capitalist economy, and the only one that seems to attract any attention is porn. Why is that?

My perspective:

First off, depictions of sexuality are as old as humanity. Consider Venus figures; they can't just be paperweights, right? Further examples of the ancient fascination with sex can be found from cave walls to carvings on every continent.

Second, not all cultures view sexual subjects with fear and distrust. I note that every single world religion takes a general position on sex (no pun intended), but that these positions run the gamut from loathing to outright celebration. (Sometimes it's mixed; the Aztec figure Eueucoyotl, for example, represents fun and spontaneity along with sex, but also acts as an unpredictable mischief-maker. That, obviously, is not a coincidence.) Stated simply, sex is a constant for humanity, and no system of morals and/or values is silent on the issue. However, the sheer variety of views implies that they are the product of cultural conditioning, and are not inherent to the subject in any meaningful way.

From this I conclude that sex itself is value-neutral, a physical function upon which layers of opinion and judgement are imposed by humans. This is illustrated by the fact that the more a culture attempts to repress depictions and explorations of sexual subjects, the more pornography becomes an underground force.

In other words, my opinion is that porn can be unhealthy, but it is, paradoxically, the very act of suppressing that makes it so, because it stigmatizes it and creates a penumbra of guilt and secrecy. It's a vicious tautology: If nobody had a problem with it, there wouldn't be a problem.

My point, in short, is that we create our own problems when we inappropriately impose a value judgement on a basic biological act. Everything else, including the "exploitation" of women in porn, follows.
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Old 10-31-2002, 05:39 PM
koawala koawala is offline
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I have always wondered this- feminists say porn is degrading to women by showing them as sexual objects, what do they say about gay porn. Is it alright because it is womanfree, or is it basically anti-woman bacause anything that pleases a man has to be harmful to women? What about lesbian porn made for women?
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Old 10-31-2002, 11:36 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by hansel

I will comment on one thing:Well, yes, in fact she does, both in theory and practice (as does anyone). If a religious boss treats her employees in a way that is demonstrably religiously biased (e.g., not promoting someone from a different church who deserved it, firing someone because they're an athiest, etc.), then the employee has several recourses, including a civil law suit and a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.
I meant boss in a relationship or marriage. Totally agree with you about the workplace.
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Old 10-31-2002, 11:44 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp

Second, there is absolutely no question that some pornographers take unfair advantage, to understate the case, of their performers. For every happy porn star there are probably a dozen down-and-out losers who are only too happy to perform on camera as the pornographer directs for a fee, at the cost of their own dignity and personal privacy. IMHO, that's a strong case of abuse of the individual. I will grant that most of these people are adults capable of making mature decisions -- but a fair amount of their decision-making capacity is taken from them by their economic situation.
I remember reading somewhere that women in porn are well paid, but men in porn are not.

Stoid, the best argument I can come up against it is an oppressive environment one. Just like porn and suggestive pictures and websites are banned in the workplace, porn should be banned for causing an oppressive environment to some women by its very existence and easy availability. I don't buy this argument, but it seems like one with a little bit of credibility.
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  #21  
Old 11-01-2002, 12:51 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Pornography: Bad, degrading to women

Not advocating banning it, just wish it didn't exist.

I've said before here on the boards how destructive was the influence of Playboy and Penthouse reading material on my attitude towards women during my youth. I truly believed that if I didn't get laid within the first several dates, that the relationship had no future and that I was wasting my time. The trajedy is that what I most wanted at the time was shared intimacy. So, that is point 1, misrepresentation of general female character resulting in negative male response behavior.

Point 2. Its all fine and dandy to talk about the mature consent of females to expose their body parts and act out normally intimate acts for the public but as been pointed out before, in many cases , economics/drug dependancy and even slavery are behind the consent. There are many shitty jobs that I hope my daughters avoid as a career, but if they temporarily are cleaning toilets, I would not feel sad for them. If they decide to appear in a porn video, I'm sure it would destroy me. So its okay for your daughter, but not mine.
I'm sure most loving parents would agree with me when it comes to their daughters, but since so few of us are actually in that situation, society is free to follow the unfettered capitalistic law of supply and demand. When we expect others to raise their children to titilate us, but do not wish to reciprocate, Then that is exploitation.
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Old 11-01-2002, 02:22 AM
istara istara is offline
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Yes - I think a lot of porn degrades women, not all. Some degrades men.

I would never advocate banning it because I don't think that is possible in any society (you guys have no idea how much porn and prostitution is available here, and even in Saudi, according to Saudi associates).

In terms of harmful stereotypes/body image - I find it ridiculous blaming just "porn" because such tapes and magazines are usually at least slightly hidden away from view. Far more harmful are men's mags with scantily clad, porno-style covers which even here - yes, an Arab muslim country - are located at the supermarket checkout at eye-level of children and everyone else. Loaded, FHM, etc etc.

And likewise women's fashion mags - they're just as (deliberately) detrimental to women's body image. It sickens me to read phoney articles on feeling-good-however-you-look and then seeing articles on losing weight, colouring your hair, how to enhance yourself, ads for hair removal, weight loss, cosmetic surgery.

To me, these magazines are far more damaging than porn because they are mainstream. They have a deliberate financial interest in undermining women and making them insecure about themselves and their bodies so the advertisers that fund the mags can sell products.
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Old 11-01-2002, 02:39 AM
istara istara is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by AHunter3
Stoid: I would be delighted and flattered if you would read my paper on that very subject. Warning: it isn't strongly conclusive, definitely a very ambivalent paper; but it does seriously consider the perspective that finds porn harmful to women, and the conclusion, such as it is, tends towards that viewpoint. (I'm not sure I still agree with that perspective, but I've drifted into and out of and through it)
I just read your paper and I thought it was brilliant, really, really enjoyable to read and interesting. Thanks for the link.
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  #24  
Old 11-01-2002, 04:59 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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i don't think this is going to be a very intelligent or well-thought-out post, so please forgive me, but here goes.

personally i find some porn "uncomfortable" to watch. not anything i can put my finger on, but there you go.

i don't like hardcore anatomical shots, or that "give it to me baby" voiceover. i just don't find it does it for me.

however, an erotic passage in a book, a piece of photography which has more "soul" or "atmosphere", or a soft core or mainstream film with some sort of plot/ realistic characterisation is more likely to turn me on and gives me no such qualms.

so, do i find pornography bad?
yes, in that i am disappointed with the quality and soulessness of so much of it.

no, in that i don't find the concept of visual/aural/written stimulation abhorrent.


do i think it degrades women?
yes, in that i think the crass, fiercely hard-core, sex-as-physical-process porn degrades all who participate in it or watch it.

no, in that i think that an image of people enjoying sex together in a loving, trusting relationship (be it casual or otherwise) is not degrading to anyone.

i thank you for your time, normal programming wil now be resumed.
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  #25  
Old 11-01-2002, 10:19 AM
erislover erislover is offline
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I find it degrading to the sex act to consider that it must be done in a loving, trusting relationship. Sometimes sex is just sex: raw, unfettered, non-contextual. And I like that. This is why I like many porno mags over movies; sure, they put on some kind of overall theme to link the images, but it is far from an actual context.

Not that there isn't a need for the representation of a loving, trusting relationship, too. I am longing for the day when a great drama inculdes hardcore sex scenes. It is my personal fantasy that I make just such a movie. But this does not describe the totality of consentual sex.

Degrading to women? I'll wait to read AHunter's paper before commenting further.
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  #26  
Old 11-01-2002, 01:42 PM
erislover erislover is offline
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hansel
Quote:
In other words, pornography's obsession with big-busted blondes is not morally neutral, and has a damaging social effect of reinforcing negative stereotypes about beauty and worthwhile attributes in women.
And I find this characterization of pornography to not be value-free, either. Certianly none of the pornography I enjoy centers around this Barbie (&trade Doll.
Quote:
But it's not the right of a woman to decide if a man will treat her in a degrading fashion because he believes pornography to represent a desirable state of affairs.
I would like you to expand upon the word "degredation" and "degrading" in the context of the thread. Specifically as it relates to this quote.

It sounds to me like something along the lines of "Born Again Christians brainwash people, therefore you cannot choose to be a Born Again Christian." The only way for a woman to enjoy multiple partners is to succumb to this tunnel-view of pornography? What sort of tar-baby are you handing us here?
Quote:
When a woman participates in the manufacture or consumption of pornography, she supports the oppression of women by feeding that part of society most responsible for her own suffering as a woman: namely, men who treat women not as individuals but as objects of their own pleasure.
I'm going to say: bullshit. Unless the very act of sex itself degrades women, pornography itself cannot degrade women or cause this effect merely by its existence (that is, as a portrayal of sex).
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  #27  
Old 11-01-2002, 09:25 PM
aramis aramis is offline
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Given a picture of two people having (presumably consensual) sex and apparently enjoying it, even if they are just acting, I can't see how one can draw the conclusion that the image is degrading to women unless she starts with the assumption that heterosexual intercourse is itself degrading to women. Every justification I've seen, including those here, sounds a lot like "I don't like it so you shouldn't either"

To open another front here, how does women's porn, aka romance novels, fit into the equation. Other than being verbally rather than visually oriented, I think they can reasonably be accused of the basic underlying sins attributed to male porn. They present vastly misleading notions about the opposite sex to impressionable young minds, presenting a view of sex and relationships that panders to one genders idealized vision, and thus creating impossible expectations that can cause lifelong damage.

A bit of hyperbole maybe, but where are the people shouting for romance novels to be banned or least sold only to adults? Why is it that porn (the kind men like) is socially shunned but women's porn is available in the checkout line at the grocery store?

I have the perception based on circumspect discussions that romance novels are used at least partly as masturbation aids, sorta like male-oriented porn is. Can any female dopers set me straight on this?
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  #28  
Old 11-01-2002, 09:56 PM
capacitor capacitor is offline
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I see a lot of intergender porn, and most of the time the men are just there just because they have a penis and "magic hands". Sometimes that's all the body parts you see of them.
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  #29  
Old 11-02-2002, 12:08 PM
litost litost is offline
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Taking up the point of expoloitation, would an analogy between women and blacks, say, be appropriate? Both traditionally oppressed by white/patriarchial structures, and when restrictions are loosened have to compete with the rest without any memory. Doesn't that set up the stage where tons of women who want to make their own money choose pornography as a career? Not really a Hobson's choice, but somewhat close. For this thesis to be valid, we need to prove a surge in the pornography "labor" market.
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  #30  
Old 11-02-2002, 06:44 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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There is the empirical evidence. The reality is that women are the power in the adult fim business. Actresses get paid the big money and have the power to decide when, how, and who they'll work with while actors receive almost token sums. And women are a substantial force behind the cameras as well.

So you have an industry controlled by women, which gives the largest share of money to women, and where men are either paying the money or underpaid low level employees. And this is degrading to women?
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  #31  
Old 11-02-2002, 10:21 PM
Weird_AL_Einstein Weird_AL_Einstein is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid
Actually, hansel, I need both. I'm always open to the brilliant arguments of my fellow dopers
Well, I have no brilliant arguments for you, sorry, just a couple of things I'd like to say about this issue, I hope you don't mind.

First off, I'd like to second what this poster said:

Quote:
Originally posted by koawala
I have always wondered this- feminists say porn is degrading to women by showing them as sexual objects, what do they say about gay porn. Is it alright because it is womanfree, or is it basically anti-woman bacause anything that pleases a man has to be harmful to women?
I distinctly recall reading about an anti-porn feminist, I think it was Andrea Dworkin, who was opposed to gay porn...that is, porn in which no women are featured or even seen...on the grounds that it was, in fact, degrading to woman.

I've been scratching my head over that ever since. If someone reading this thread could explain it to me, I would greatly appreciate it. As far as the purposes of the OP go, I would think bringing up the subject of gay porn in an argument with "porn is degrading to women" types would be a good way to get them off balance.



Secondly, I just wanted to say, in response to this:


Quote:
Originally posted by hansel
Casual acceptance of "vanilla" pornography subtracts from the moral condemnation of more extreme forms. A slippery slope, basically, in which magazines with pictures of 25 year olds make it almost okay to read "Barely Legal", which makes it seem not so bad to find pictures of 15 year olds on the Internet...

The slippery slope argument can be worked both ways. Condemning or banning pictures of 25 year olds in Playboy leads to doing the same with the Victoria's Secret Catalogue, and then "Baywatch", etc, etc, and at the other end of the slope you are in Taliban-era Afghanistan, with all the women wearing burquas.
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  #32  
Old 11-05-2002, 01:39 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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I have been so tardy, and in my own thread! Well, as I said at the beginning, I wanted to see what both sides had to say…I’m poaching from y’all.

Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp
Stoid, you know you have my friendship
Thank you. < --extremely sincere.

Quote:
For the overwhelming majority of people, men and women, religious or not, the most appropriate place for sex is in the context of a permanent romantic/marital relationship.
Maybe. At best, maybe.


Quote:

Second, there is absolutely no question that some pornographers take unfair advantage, to understate the case, of their performers. For every happy porn star there are probably a dozen down-and-out losers who are only too happy to perform on camera as the pornographer directs for a fee, at the cost of their own dignity and personal privacy. IMHO, that's a strong case of abuse of the individual. I will grant that most of these people are adults capable of making mature decisions -- but a fair amount of their decision-making capacity is taken from them by their economic situation.
You answered yourself, as you can see. Adults make bad decisions all the time. And for some people, being in porn is not a bad decision. So whose job is it to make that distinction for each person? Each person’s.

Quote:
Third, there are more than a few "recovering porn addicts" in our society, including an erstwhile member of this board whom I know personally, who honestly do not need the temptation placed before them.
Same could be said of alcohol, gambling…all the vices. Will we deny the majority the right to partake moderately because some partake immoderately? Is that the American way? (It certainly seems that some would like it to be, which is the constant struggle of a free, yet puritanical society.)

Quote:
And I've felt for years that there is a gap on the market: many kids get into porn purely out of curiosity and libido stimulation, because there's nothing else that clues them in to a subject that they're intensely curious about. I'd like to see an illustrated book produced by an attractive young married couple talking about and showing their sex life, designed to educate kids on what healthy sex is supposed to be. This would satisfy their curiosity, put paid to some of the childhood myths ("we only did it once, so she can't get pregnant"), and generally make that transition into adolescence much easier for kids as regards this issue.
Let’s do it! We’d make a mint!

Actually, I think it was already made… it’s called "The Joy of Sex".


Quote:
Originally posted by hansel
Moreover, pornography's constant portrayal of women who are ridiculously sexual (i.e., lots of partners, multiple orgasms every time, ready to throw down anytime and anywhere) presents a false image of normal female sexuality that puts pressure on women to conform and creates false expectations in men; again, not morally neutral, either in intent or effect.

This argument and anything like it, falls apart on close examination. Why? Because who is it that takes their world view from pornography? Who is educated about women by pornography? You may claim that today's young people, more than any others, are being educated by pornography because of the internet. But here's the thing: for every stolen moment spent sitting in front of a computer, fantasizing about the busty blonde that does every Tom, Dick, and Butthead, there are a thousand other moments spent with mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, other kids, and all the other women in the world, who do NOT behave like that. So anyone who decides that that is the way women must be, is doing so willfully, because he wants it to be true, not because he's learned it legitimately.

Ahunter, thanks for directing me to the paper. I printed it out and I’m going to read it at my leisure.


Quote:
Originally posted by grienspace
Point 2. Its all fine and dandy to talk about the mature consent of females to expose their body parts and act out normally intimate acts for the public but as been pointed out before, in many cases , economics/drug dependancy and even slavery are behind the consent. There are many shitty jobs that I hope my daughters avoid as a career, but if they temporarily are cleaning toilets, I would not feel sad for them. If they decide to appear in a porn video, I'm sure it would destroy me. So its okay for your daughter, but not mine.
I'm sure most loving parents would agree with me when it comes to their daughters, but since so few of us are actually in that situation, society is free to follow the unfettered capitalistic law of supply and demand. When we expect others to raise their children to titilate us, but do not wish to reciprocate, Then that is exploitation.
It isn’t a matter of "expect". I don’t think there are many people who "expect" that some women should be "raised" to be sex workers of any kind. Some women just do, and always have.

Quote:
Originally posted by erislover
Not that there isn't a need for the representation of a loving, trusting relationship, too. I am longing for the day when a great drama inculdes hardcore sex scenes. It is my personal fantasy that I make just such a movie.
You and me both!
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  #33  
Old 11-05-2002, 03:40 PM
Gaudere Gaudere is offline
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Quote:
ctually, I think it was already made… it’s called "The Joy of Sex".
I believe Poly specified attractive. The guy's bushy 70s-style beard could scar a developing sexuality for life.
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  #34  
Old 11-05-2002, 04:25 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Weird_AL_Einstein

I distinctly recall reading about an anti-porn feminist, I think it was Andrea Dworkin, who was opposed to gay porn...that is, porn in which no women are featured or even seen...on the grounds that it was, in fact, degrading to woman.

I've been scratching my head over that ever since. If someone reading this thread could explain it to me, I would greatly appreciate it. As far as the purposes of the OP go, I would think bringing up the subject of gay porn in an argument with "porn is degrading to women" types would be a good way to get them off balance.
I have not read much Dworkin and am certainly no fan of hers, but we did cover some of her work on pornography when I was studying rhetoric. If I remember her position correctly, her main problem with pornography is that it is degrading to women. However, she objects to all pornography, even that not depicting women, on the grounds that all pornography is based on the sexual degradation, exploitation, and humiliation of someone, be that someone a woman, a gay man, a transgendered person, a child, or even an animal. If a person feels that pornography is by its very nature degrading to someone then simply bringing up gay porn is not going to catch them off guard.

Of course, one could argue that pornography is not always degrading to anyone, but I believe that Dworkin would say that such works are not actually pornography at all but non-pornographic erotica. It would not be unfair to accuse her of playing a semantics game here, but I don't think even Dworkin's fiercest opponents can deny that at least some pornography is based on degrading someone. The only questions are how important and damaging such degradation is and what, if anything, should be done about it.
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  #35  
Old 11-05-2002, 05:54 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lamia
I don't think even Dworkin's fiercest opponents can deny that at least some pornography is based on degrading someone.
Sure, but you say that like it's a bad thing...
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  #36  
Old 11-06-2002, 04:07 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stoid

Sure, but you say that like it's a bad thing...
Did I? I mean, I am willing to go on record now as saying that I do believe that in most cases degrading media representations of people are a bad thing, but I think

Quote:
The only questions are how important and damaging such degradation is and what, if anything, should be done about it.
leaves ample room for an argument that such representations are not damanging or that what damage they might do is insignificant.
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  #37  
Old 11-06-2002, 08:05 PM
Wabbit Wabbit is offline
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First, I'm thinking you need to realize there's definitely differences among the various types of porn (i.e. vanilla porn is different than, say, child porn). Therefore you need to clarify the differences between 'acceptable/non-harmful porn' and 'unacceptable/harmful porn'. Lots of times anti-porn people immediately jump to bestiality and kiddie porn to make their points so it's usually best to clarify this issue early on before everyone starts rioting and throwing things.

Secondly, you have to realize that any sort of porn, even vanilla porn, can be harmful if the people view that as an accurate depiction of sexual relations between people and base their sexual activities on those assumptions. In other words, don't behave in real life like they pretend to do in porno flicks 'cause it's not healthy (a good example would be pointing out that serial killers tend to have an attraction to bondage porn). Of course this unhealthy mentality can be equally applied to any number of other things such as taking the Bible literally, thinking D&D is an accurate representation of reality, etc. etc.

Lastly, porn is not a good substitute for a relationship. Remember, we've all got a biological imperative to reproduce and porn doesn't enable you to do that...
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  #38  
Old 11-06-2002, 10:15 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cervaise

First off, depictions of sexuality are as old as humanity. Consider Venus figures; they can't just be paperweights, right? Further examples of the ancient fascination with sex can be found from cave walls to carvings on every continent.
Holy cultural bias, Batman!

What, exactly, makes that a sexual depiction? The breasts? The nakedness?

Not all cultures see breasts and nakedness as sexual symbols. And as far as I know, the Venus figurines were more likely used as fertility symbols than as, say, ancient porn.

Stoid, when I thought about why porn is degrading to women, I came up with a gut answer. I would never post this on a message board, in intellectual debate, but if you're looking for possible objections, here's one:

I find porn degrading to me. Kinda hard to refute that, though it's a useless point.

I have very limited experience with porn, so I may be wrong in some of these assertions, but here's another few ideas to be thrown out there:

Men are usually depicted as, even if sexual objects, controlling sexual objects. They make the conquests. By portraying women as sexual objects (much more overtly than men) there to be conquered, one harms both women's self-image and men's image of women.

I think someone has mentioned this before, but it creates false ideals of sexual behaviour. I know I don't act like people in porn. If that's what turns men on, one might think, should I be acting more like them?

Finally, this point is VERY relationship-specific. Meaning, there may be a vast majority of relationships and people involved in them that DON'T work this way, but some do. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of my boyfriend getting sexual gratification from other women. Understandable. Do pictures of women fall into this category? For some people.
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  #39  
Old 11-07-2002, 12:14 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by LaurAnge
What, exactly, makes that a sexual depiction? The breasts? The nakedness?

Not all cultures see breasts and nakedness as sexual symbols. And as far as I know, the Venus figurines were more likely used as fertility symbols than as, say, ancient porn.
I'm not entirely clear where you're contradicting me. I called it a "sexual depiction," and in the exaggerated breasts, clearly carved line for vulva, and lack of face and any other distinguishing or individualizing features, it is obviously meant to have a sexual meaning. You yourself call it a fertility symbol.

And note, further, that I don't call it porn. That, in fact, was the whole point of my post. When depictions of sexual subjects are common and in the open, there's no such thing as "porn." Porn is secret, shameful, in the shadows. Venus figurines, and similar works, are about sex, through the lens of fertility and reproduction -- up front, not hidden. If sex is not regarded as dirty and unhealthy, and isn't set aside as something to avoid confronting or discussing, then no distinction between "fertility material" and "pornography" can be made. I have to assume you're forgetting about Japanese screens painted with brothels, and African statues with huge erections, and Indian murals cataloging sexual positions, and all the other examples of artwork from societies that (at least at one time) celebrated sex rather than hiding it out of culturally-conditioned shame.

"Cultural bias" back at you.
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  #40  
Old 11-07-2002, 03:35 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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I wasn't even coming close to talking about any of that other stuff (Japanese screens etc.), so I doubt I "forgot" them.

I suppose it depends what I mean by sexual. If you mean that it's obvious she's a woman, yes. If you mean that it's obvious that this statue has something to do with the symbolism of sexual feelings and relations, no.

Breasts and vulvae (vulvae?) maybe to you be inherently about sex, but to other cultures they're inherently about birth and breastfeeding. And I don't think it's fair to say that fertility necessarily = sex (not in a symbolic way, of course I think you could argue biologically that they're related!)

If you meant that the Venus figures were a depiction of sexuality in the sense that they depicted a member of a sex, I'd agree with you. If you meant that they depict something having to do with sexual feelings, I'm going to have to say that there is no where near enough proof to claim that.
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  #41  
Old 11-07-2002, 05:27 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Seems like we might be closer than either of us thought. I'm not saying anything about feelings about sex. All I'm saying is that since the only significant elements of the figurines are exaggerations of obviously reproductive features, it seems clear that they are, as you say, fertility objects. Fertility = reproduction = achieved by sexual intercourse. Ergo, sex at root. I'm not suggesting anybody was holding a Venus and spanking the monkey. All I'm saying is that the figurines strongly imply a culture where sexual iconography was common and publicly displayed, and that in such a culture, what we think of as "porn" is irrelevant.
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  #42  
Old 11-07-2002, 06:07 PM
Menocchio Menocchio is offline
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I wonder if that's true, Cervaise.

I've seen nude art from cultures much more comfortable with the human form than contemporary America, and I've also seen flat-out porn. There was no question that Vergil was polishing his gladius to some of the stuff the Romans put out.

There's a difference between a sex manual, nude or sexually-explicit art and porn. The latter is meant to sexually arouse the audience. Porn can be more open, or mixed in with more open discuss about sex, but it is still porn.
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  #43  
Old 11-07-2002, 06:51 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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You know, you're probably right; I'm hitting it a little harder than can be justified by strict scholarship. I still think that a culture that creates and carries around such evident fertility-related objects would have a vastly different relationship to sex than we do, and that that implies that attitudes to sex and its representations are more culturally determined than inherent, but the rest of my assertions can be fairly debated. Still, the core point remains.

"Polishing his gladius." Heh.
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