3 Reasons Porn Sucks

I don’t think opposition to the pornography industry is a religious issue. Here’s why:

1. Sex Trafficking

The word pornography comes from pornos, prostitute, and grapho, to depict or write, meaning “depicting prostitutes.” We seem to be waking up to the possibility that the word’s etymology may very well be a description of reality. Pornography is fundamentally an experience of bought sex.

In the purchase of pornography, we pay for sexual arousal. We do not simply pay money for a video — though it is precisely this idea that allows us to remove ourselves from the possibility that we are engaging in sex trafficking — we also pay for the incidence of sexual use that the video depicts. The money spent on pornography does not disappear, it goes to pornographers, thus supplying and encouraging those who’s job it is to get men and women to have sex for money, that is, to prostitute themselves. In this regard, there is very little difference between the pornographer and the pimp. He arranges the experience of sexual gratification for a client by paying a woman the client doesn’t know to have sex. The American feminist Catherine MacKinnon, in a 2005 speech, made some very indicting claims regarding the relationship between pornography and sex trafficking:

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Pornography then further creates demand for prostitution, hence for trafficking, through its consumption.Consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex, of sexually using a woman or a girl or a boy as an object who has been purchased. As such, it stimulates demand for buying women and girls and boys as sexual objects in the flesh in the same way it stimulates the viewer to act out on other live women and girls and boys the specific acts that are sexualized and consumed in the pornography. Social science evidence, converging with testimonial evidence of real people, has long shown the latter. As observed…in the hearings on the anti-pornography civil rights ordinance that Andrea Dworkin and I organized for the Minneapolis City Council at its request: “Men witness the abuse of women in pornography constantly, and if they can’t engage in that behavior with their wives, girlfriends, or children, they force a whore to do it.” On the basis of the experiences of a group of women survivors of prostitution and pornography, she told how pornography was used to train and season young girls in prostitution and how men would bring photographs of women in pornography being abused, say, in effect, “I want you to do this,” and demand that the acts being inflicted on the women in the materials be specifically duplicated. Research by Mimi Silbert and Ayala Pines on prostituted women in San Francisco also reported that the women spontaneously mentioned being raped by johns [those who purchase prostitutes] who said, essentially, “I [have] seen it in all the movies … . You know you love it,” referring to a specific pornography “flick.” Melissa Farley and her colleagues found that forty-seven percent of prostituted women in nine countries were upset by someone asking them to perform a sex act that had been seen in pornography. Forty-nine percent reported that pornography was made of them in prostitution. Mary Sullivan’s research in Victoria, Australia, where prostitution has been legalized for a decade, reports women describing pornography videos running constantly in brothels – to set the tone and mood, apparently – making safe sex more difficult. Pornography is documented to create demand for specific acts, including dangerous and demeaning ones inflicted on prostituted people, as well as for bought sex in general. If this is right – and Melissa Farley’s preliminary results show that it is – the more men use pornography, the more they use prostitutes.

In shortening the word “pornography” to “porn,” or “porno,” we are performing etymologically what arguably occurs in reality — moving from “depicting prostitutes” to an engagement with just “prostitutes.” In essence, pornography is associated with prostitution because pornography — insofar as it is the purchase of a person for sexual gratification — is already is a form of prostitution. In watching pornography, we cannot pretend that the consequences of our actions are limited to us and our browsing history, for we are supporting an industry, creating a demand for the exploitation of human beings, creating jobs for pornographers, and thereby creating incidences of sexual use. (And to be absolutely clear, there is no such thing as free porn. If you are not directly giving money to a pornographer, you are giving it to him through an advertiser.)

But surely — I imagine a complaint could go — this is only a problem if you take as an assumption the idea that porn is abusive and bad. Then yes, it is bad to watch pornography and thereby fund an industry that sells sexual acts for gratification. But what if you take the enlightened, modern view that the only morally limiting factor of a sexual act is that it be between “consenting adults”? Pornography, after all, is consensual. Women and men perform sexual acts for pornographers out of their own free will, flaunting their lifestyle, calling themselves “pornstars.” Why then, is it any evil to fund an industry which people join by choice?

2. The Illusion of Consent

From the point of view of the person watching pornography, there is no way to establish that any of its members are consenting to the act reproduced. How could you possibly know? From the point of view of the person watching pornography, there is likewise no way to know that it’s members are all legal adults. Could you with certainty distinguish a 16-year-old girl, the trafficking of whom is an incidence of child pornography, condemned by the law and by society, with an 18-year-old, the trafficking of whom is supposedly harmless, consensual, and absolutely legal? Given that there is no way we can affirm that the already inadequate moral minimum of “consenting adults” is being adhered to, we should shake from ourselves any semblance of confidence in the “consensual” nature of pornography.

MacKinnon notes that, “as with all prostitution, the women and children in pornography are, in the main, not there by choice but because of a lack of choices. They usually “consent” to the acts only in the degraded and demented sense of the word (common also to the law of rape) in which a person who despairs at stopping what is happening, sees no escape, has no real alternative, was often sexually abused before as a child, may be addicted to drugs, is homeless, hopeless, is often trying to avoid being beaten or killed, is almost always economically desperate, acquiesces in being sexually abused for payment, even if, in most instances, it is payment to someone else.”

This is not consent. Furthermore, even if there is some semblance of consent in regards to an initial entrance into the pornography, it is not informed consent. Truly informed consent would allow a woman to consent not only to a life of having pornography made of her, but to the content of that life. Two ex-porn-actors Shelley Lubben and Jenni Case bravely detailed the fact that should probably seem obvious — women are lied to about the content of their lives as porn actors. They are told that they will be given attention, safety, glamour and money. In reality, they are made to work in filthy conditions, they are constantly exposed to disease, they are pressured into sexual acts that they do not want to perform, and the vast majority of “pornstars” must resort to drugs and alcohol to numb both the physical and emotional pain of their “work.”

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A 2012 thesis paper by Chelsea Thompson looks at multiple studies and confirms this:

Many enter the industry with a distorted view of what it will be like, and many producers and agents take advantage of this innocence (Hughes, 2000). New performers are thrown right into brutal and traumatic scenes and performances. Even if one initially consents and has signed a contract, if he/she is not allowed to back out, this can be considered trafficking. Additionally, if one ignores a participant’s request to stop and uses force to make one finish a scene or continue working in the industry, then this is sex trafficking. Also, preying on an addiction, either from before one’s entrance into the industry or after, can be classified as psychological coercion according to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), child pornography is always seen as coercive in nature even if it is not for commercial purposes because it is preying on vulnerabilities and the inability to consent to something as an adult. The third prong is fraud, which Hughes (2010) states is “tricking someone into something she didn’t anticipate” (p. 4). Therefore, it can be argued that fraud occurs in most, if not all, instances of pornography (Hughes, 2010).

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  • Thom Willis

    Grapho means to write, not to look at. :)

    • badcatholic

      Fixed, thanks!

      • filiusdextris

        JPII also frequently used the term pornovision to refer to the consumption of pornography.

  • Anon

    While MacKinnon has points about some aspects of the pornography industry, her remarks are indicative of second wave feminism, and a large part of the feminist community has explored the possibility of pornography generated apart from the harmful practices and structures she cites.

    For example, the feminist porn awards celebrate excellence in the pornography that is produced by women, with different content and structure than in the kinds of pornography MacKinnon cites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_Porn_Award

    The feminist porn awards are not the only instance in this shift in culture, but I think what’s really important is that much of this post assumes that one particular type of pornography is the only type there is/can be. Oddly enough, women consume pornography. Men are pornographic actors. Women do produce pornography. Pornography is produced for women. This is one of the largest problems with MacKinnon’s criticisms, and it applies just as easily to your post as well.

    Also, could you stop doing violence against philosophy? Marc, your abuse of a priori in the first section is horrific. Not only is the sentence ungrammatical, but it would be absurd to believe that MacKinnon actually holds her beliefs on a priori grounds.

    Similarly, you don’t even get the use of terminology surrounding pornography and sex work remotely correct. Trafficking is the purchase and sale of humans, the production of pornography is not trafficking. As in your previous post, it really shows that you are only engaging surperficially with the issues at hand, and are more amused by your own presumed wit than anything else.

    Your definition of consent in part 2 is also kind of ridiculous – for example, people would very rarely consent to marriage on your account. Many people pursue sports careers under similar pretenses. People in many other careers resort to drugs and alcohol to handle negative aspects of their career path. It’s difficult to see how this is a special indictment of pornography.

    Part 3 is cut off, but people can obviously consume pornography without addiction. Addiction is a severe problem for many other things, (eg. tobacco, alcohol, gambling, caffeine) and we should have mental and physical health services available to those in need of such things.

    Neither the Coolidge effect, nor the testimonial justifies the claims you make here. Novelty does not always mean type novelty, and you seem to be rushing ahead of the data here. The testimonial seems to be about a case where someone was already checking out, and not engaging with the media they were consuming. While this does happen, nobody is suggesting that he was right in doing so. Moreover, I highly doubt that you have a clear distinction between light and extreme porn in play — so the ending just comes off as confusing.

    I don’t see demand for pornography that is produced in a non-coercive environment (eg. by women), with the intention of showing real pleasure, as a negative thing, or something we should could people from getting into.

    • badcatholic

      Thanks for the response! This is the beginning of many, many more “reason” posts on porn, and I’ll be addressing feminist porn, male degradation, more on the coolidge effect, and why I stand by the definition of “trafficking” as applicable to many cases of pornography.

      • Anon

        So, the post will be modified, with no notes of corrections. Stay classy Marc Barnes.

        • badcatholic

          Que?

          • Anon

            It’s a general thing you have a tendency to do – silently modify your posts in light of criticism with no notification that you’ve modified them. Generally speaking, it’s poor blogging form.

          • badcatholic

            Wait, the “a priori” to “assumption” change? I’ll make an announcement of sorts if the change effects the content of a post, not if it’s just fixing a mistake rightly pointed out.

          • Anon

            It’s an example of the phenomenon — you have a tendency to also shift the content of your posts in response to criticism without making changes (cf. 1flesh, posts on this blog about abortion and contraception).

            Generally speaking, responsible authors notify people of changes to the content of their posts. Also “a priori” does not mean “as an assumption” – the content of the post changed here when you switched the words.

          • badcatholic

            right, but i thought it did haha. hence the switch.

          • badcatholic

            you’re right though, i’ll definitely try to let people know when i make major changes.

    • Emilia

      There can never be pornography ‘apart from the harmful structures’. Even if women say they’re actively participating in pornography, and they direct it themselves, they are still subjecting themselves to objectification. It is impossible to be both objectified and empowered. You do not gain power by purposefully making yourself into an object. You give it away willingly and make the viewers consolidate the idea that objectification of women is ok. It’s not, it’s never ok. Ever.

      Porn isn’t simply wrong because it’s violence against women (although that is a HUGE, huge part of it), but because it flies in the face of any sort of respect for human dignity. It makes people into objects. Always.

      The terminology between sex work and sex trafficking is given in the video that Marc linked…so you clearly haven’t engaged with that in any meaningful way.

      “People can obviously consume pornography without addiction” I call bullsh*t. Seriously, *anecdotal evidence warning* my friends that are guys talk about porn, sometimes when I’m around, and they are addicts. They started as just kind of interested, but now they’re addicted, and they watch awful stuff. But anecdotes aside, there is a wealth of evidence now that shows that pon is addicting. Here’s an article for you about that: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/was-i-actually-addicted-to-internet-pornography/276619/?google_editors_picks=true

      You downplay the Coolidge Effect to your detriment I’m afraid.”The testimonial seems to be about a case where someone was already checking out, and not engaging with the media they were consuming. ” < That statement makes no sense. Could you clarify what you meant please?

      "A non-coercive environment (e.g) by women" You seriously think that women aren't, or can't be coercive? Seriously?

      Showing 'real pleasure' is not a goal of porn. There's a reason those involved in porn are called 'actors' and 'actresses'.

      Feminism has tried to be all hip and in with the menz by suddenly saying that porn is a good thing because duh, women watch it too! That women watch porn too isn't surprising at all, because duh, women have desires too. Porn is a misapplication of those desires, and inevitably results in the degradation of the human person.

      Of course, if you believe if neither right nor wrong, preferring to take a more relativistic/unreal perspective on things, then there's probably no convincing you.

      • Anon

        Emilia, you make plenty of bald assertions.

        It’s not at all clear that objectification is always harmful in the sorts of ways that you think it is. Indeed, the over use of the subject/object distinction has to be one of the laziest kinds of philosophy ever – people don’t get any say in what their dignity consists in, and you get to sweep it into the subject/object distinction, so as to write off things as immoral that you don’t approve of on the basis of poor heuristics.

        Indeed, the whole reason why people frequently take objectification to be problematic is that we use it as an excuse to ignore our other, legitimate duties to them. It doesn’t follow as a consequence that objectification, simpliciter is always wrong. You need to actually provide an argument for that, rather than blithely asserting that it is always a wrong thing.

        Also, your skepticism about the possibility of creating pornography that is independent of, or subverts those social structures seems unjustified. Indeed, I have no idea why you think that – given that there exists the queer community, the independent pornography community, the feminist porn community etc.

        It’s pretty condescending to say that their work is impossible, especially when you seem to be completely ignorant of the motives and aims of people in the movement.

        “The terminology between sex work and sex trafficking is given in the video that Marc linked…so you clearly haven’t engaged with that in any meaningful way.”

        The ex-porn stars video? Or the one on the conferences site? I don’t really have 30+ minutes to watch videos at the moment. Since his use is a) non-standard, and b) unexplained, I have a legitimate complaint.

        “I call bullsh*t. Seriously, *anecdotal evidence warning* my friends that are guys talk about porn, sometimes when I’m around, and they are addicts. They started as just kind of interested, but now they’re addicted, and they watch awful stuff. But anecdotes aside, there is a wealth of evidence now that shows that pon is addicting.”

        It’d be really nice if you didn’t strawman me. Oddly enough, we tolerate and encourage the use of many other addicting things in society. It doesn’t follow that because something is addicting we should hold that it’s immoral, or think that every user is addicted.

        “That statement makes no sense. Could you clarify what you meant please?”

        The testimonial in question is on the conferences page where the whole post is linked. In particular the guy was not engaged with media he was consuming (“checking out” – which is colloquially fairly common) and that seemed to play a role in his perception of women apart from porn.

        Porn consumers don’t loose there ability to be intelligent consumers. Or do you have that low of a picture of the capabilities of men and women?

        “Showing ‘real pleasure’ is not a goal of porn. There’s a reason those involved in porn are called ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’.”

        So do you want to go tell Tristan Taormino and people associated with the feminist porn movement that they’re lying through her teeth? Or should I?

        “Porn is a misapplication of those desires, and inevitably results in the degradation of the human person.

        Of course, if you believe if neither right nor wrong, preferring to take a more relativistic/unreal perspective on things, then there’s probably no convincing you.”

        Ah yes! The human person which needs to be elevated in a way that conveniently coincides with a fairy-tale picture of essences. You don’t really address my arguments, and proceed to try and argue from a confused conception of what feminist and queer pornographers actually do – undermining the effectiveness of your comments.

        And without knowing anything about me, you falsely attribute moral relativism to me. It’s like I’ve got a Catholic commenter bingo between this and the hints at essentialism/natural law.

        At least you write better than Marc does. Maybe you should write for the Patheos network instead of him?

        • Emilia

          *bold* assertions. *bold* ;)

          “People don’t get any say in what their dignity consists in.” Actually, you’re kind of correct here. Our dignity comes from our humanity, and means ‘being worthy of honour’, and there’s not much we can do about that definition. (Except maybe pretend it doesn’t exist, so we can say that porn is ok.) For a pornographic film to contain dignity, it would have to…not be a pornographic film.

          Watching someone else have sex to jack yourself off and get pleasure out of it, it not dignifying to the people you are watching, because you’re using them as objects, and you’re also using your own body as an object, which is very dualistic of you (again, hypothetical you).

          People are not objects, and should not be treated as such. Feminists complain of rape culture (which is definitely around on many college and university campuses), but then promote pornography, which perpetuates the woman (and yes men too, but women mostly (inordinately, considering that one in three porn viewers are women)) as an object, simply to be used. Rape involves seeing women (and men) as objects to be used violently for gratification, and asserting dominance, trying to destroy any previous equality between the individuals. Much of the pornography available online is about those very things.

          You may not have 30 mins to watch something that, to properly react to Marc’s post, you should watch, but you might have 12 mins to watch a talk on objectification, which goes through the logic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMS4VJKekW8

          My scepticism of the ‘feminist’/independent/queer pornography being able to exist outside the harmful structures lies in being against porn *as a whole*, because it reduces people to body parts, noises, and fakery (and makes money doing it).

          “Porn consumers don’t loose there ability to be intelligent consumers. Or do you have that low of a picture of the capabilities of men and women?”

          When they’re watching porn, yes, yes I do. Addiction makes you lose your ability to make sensible decisions, because you crave/need the next fix, which is why smokers can easily spend over a tenner a day on cigarrettes, why shopaholics and gamblers max out their credit cards with no way to pay the money back…etc.

          When it’s easy for men and women to behave badly, they will. Fact of human nature. Virtue is a habit, not an inherent quality that some people are born with and some aren’t. It’s a habit that’s hard to keep and easy to break, with 12% of the internet being pornographic, and the average age of first seeing pornography being 11, it’s *very* easy to break.

          “The human person which needs to be elevated in a way that conveniently coincides with a fairy-tale picture of essences. ”

          Again, nonsensical statement. You’re going to have to define your terms a little bit more if you want discussion on that.

          You think that just because something is ‘addicting’, doesn’t mean it’s immoral. To be addicted to something implies a lack of control over your decisions about something. Morality, and being moral, involves actively making decisions about things. The two are at odds.

          You have an odd sense of what is moral and what isn’t. And I say that with all the love in the world…

          • Anon

            “Our dignity comes from our humanity, and means ‘being worthy of honour’, and there’s not much we can do about that definition.”

            As it stands, we have a flimsy definition barely worth the name. There’s no content attached to the concept at all. So for you to go from this definition to:

            “For a pornographic film to contain dignity, it would have to…not be a pornographic film.”

            Is silly. At best.,

            Indeed, I think we have good grounds to think that pornographic films of particular sorts can contain dignity. Also, for the record Marc, Emilia’s step here is an a priori inference.

            Now, you try to back this inference up with your discussion of objectification. But I reject the idea that the subject/object distinction can do as much moral work as you think it does. Indeed, I gave an explicit sketch of how objectification often leads to wronging a person – but noted that it doesn’t follow that we’ve wronged a person merely because we’ve objectified them.

            I’m objectified when I line up at the government to get my drivers license, but I’m neither wronged nor harmed by that process.

            “People are not objects, and should not be treated as such.”

            I don’t see why not.

            An object is something that is referred to by a noun in a sentence. If you want to play the dictionary game, objects are defined as physically existing things. People are particularly relevant in moral considerations, but this isn’t because they’re not objects.

            “promote pornography, which perpetuates the woman (and yes men too, but women mostly (inordinately, considering that one in three porn viewers are women)) as an object, simply to be used.”

            Not all pornography. Believe it or not pro-sex feminists are critical of many negative aspects of the porn industry. So, please give feminists some credit.

            Moreover, not all pornography features women solely as objects. There is pornography where women are represented as sexual agents.

            “Rape involves seeing women (and men) as objects to be used violently for gratification, and asserting dominance, trying to destroy any previous equality between the individuals. Much of the pornography available online is about those very things.”

            So, is the claim here that pornography depicting objectification and dominance encourages rape? This is pretty confused — not only is there evidence suggesting that the availability of pornography has decreased the prevalence of rape, but it’s extremely out of touch with many of the individuals involved in the scene.

            Honestly, people into dominance, objectification, shame, etc. have much more healthy sexual relationships and are more communicative than those not into those things. Give Greta Christina’s blog a look sometime.

            “My scepticism of the ‘feminist’/independent/queer pornography being able to exist outside the harmful structures lies in being against porn *as a whole*, because it reduces people to body parts, noises, and fakery (and makes money doing it).”

            More assumptions about the content of the works being produced by feminist, indie and queer pornography. Here’s a fun fact – sometimes its about the depiction of people as sexual agents, enjoying and seeking out sex with each other. This entails that it’s not about a) body parts, noises and fakery or b) making money.

            HUMP is an amateur porn festival where all the tapes are destroyed at the end. It’s not about money. You are so remarkably out of touch with a culture you vehemently condemn it is comical. I can really only pity you at this point.

            As to your opinion of peoples capacities:

            “When they’re watching porn, yes, yes I do.”

            “When it’s easy for men and women to behave badly, they will. Fact of human nature. Virtue is a habit, not an inherent quality that some people are born with and some aren’t. It’s a habit that’s hard to keep and easy to break, with 12% of the internet being pornographic, and the average age of first seeing pornography being 11, it’s *very* easy to break.”

            Consumption of pornography isn’t inherently bad, however, and neither does it entail bad behaviour.

            “Again, nonsensical statement. You’re going to have to define your terms a little bit more if you want discussion on that.”

            This was a caricature of your reasoning.

            As to:

            “To be addicted to something implies a lack of control over your decisions about something. Morality, and being moral, involves actively making decisions about things. The two are at odds.”

            Trivial case: consumption of coffee – it’s addicting. Is it immoral on these grounds alone?

          • Emilia

            *sigh* I hold up my hands to a poor description of human dignity (my wine had worn off by that point – I always write better on a glass of wine…). However, to presume that because I poorly argued something means that my claim doesn’t hold up, is a fallacy fallacy. Fun terminology, no?

            You tried to use one amateur porn festival to disprove what I said about pornography *as a whole*. It doesn’t stand up. So what if they throw the tapes away? Does it throw away the objectification and indignity that occurred? Absolutely not.

            “There is pornography where women are represented as sexual agents” You don’t seem to understand objectification very well at all…even if the woman is represented as a sexual agent, she’s still always an object to the viewers.

            You see no problem with treating people like objects. *shudder* You’re so far removed from morality and decency with that statement that it’s probably not worth continuing a discussion.

            So, hilarious as this has been, I don’t think this is going anywhere, because you’re of the mind that if people think what they’re doing is ok, moral and even fulfilling, then it truly is all of those things. Sigh.

          • Anon

            “sigh* I hold up my hands to a poor description of human dignity (my wine had worn off by that point – I always write better on a glass of wine…). However, to presume that because I poorly argued something means that my claim doesn’t hold up, is a fallacy fallacy. Fun terminology, no?”

            That doesn’t describe the situation, even remotely. I provided reasons why I think your conclusion is false. I argued that some men and women who engage in the production of pornography can maintain their dignity.

            So, I turned to your discussion of subject/object and objectifying a person. I found this confused, and that it ultimately didn’t support your conclusion beyond weaving a fairly tight circle of concepts.

            I even provided specific instances of objectification where I haven’t been wronged.

            I don’t think I was playing the fallacy game in the slightest.

            “”There is pornography where women are represented as sexual agents” You don’t seem to understand objectification very well at all…even if the woman is represented as a sexual agent, she’s still always an object to the viewers.”

            Well, I was hoping you could explain what objectification is – in fact. What is morally problematic about the objectification experienced by an actress in a porn movie — I thought it was that she was no longer an agent, but then I recognized that there is pornography where women are represented as having agency.

            So what am I missing?

            “So, hilarious as this has been, I don’t think this is going anywhere, because you’re of the mind that if people think what they’re doing is ok, moral and even fulfilling, then it truly is all of those things. Sigh.”

            Nope, this is the second time you’ve tried to impute a view to me that I don’t hold. Grow up.

          • Anon

            Oh, and I forgot this gem:

            “You tried to use one amateur porn festival to disprove what I said about pornography *as a whole*. It doesn’t stand up. So what if they throw the tapes away? Does it throw away the objectification and indignity that occurred? Absolutely not.”

            I brought up HUMP as a way to point out how you were mistaken about the motives of (people in) the queer/indie/feminist porn communities.

          • Baldy

            Actually, “bald assertions” seems to be fine.
            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bald (def. 3) http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/bald (def. 4)

        • Emilia

          Also, the link between trafficking and pornography was made in a link Marc included in the text, which I’ll put again here, in case you genuinely missed it:

          http://ebookbrowse.com/mackinnon-pornography-as-trafficking-pdf-d435741284

          • Anon

            Oh yeah, this is silly too:

            “Watching someone else have sex to jack yourself off and get pleasure out of it, it not dignifying to the people you are watching, because you’re using them as objects, and you’re also using your own body as an object, which is very dualistic of you (again, hypothetical you).”

            Believe it or not, people watch pornography in other contexts apart from jacking off. Also silly confusion about the nature of objects.

          • Emilia

            You’re right, it’s not the only reason, but whatever reason they use it for, the end result is always objectified persons.

            The nature of objects? Oh goody, let’s hear your theory on it.

          • Anon

            Bodies are objects – they have physical existence and are referred to by noun-phrases. I’m fully in defense of common sense here. The presumption that bodies, and body parts aren’t objects is only philosophical confusion.

          • Emilia

            We are not merely bodies. We are more than the sum of our parts, being ensouled. To look at the body of a person without considering the soul is a form of objectification. Some forms are (obviously) more detrimental to the human person than others.

            Of course, if you believe we’re soulless, and determined entirely by our surroundings and chemicals etc, then that’s a nuance of the conversation that just can’t be had, and explains your mystification at objectification being a bad thing.

          • Anon

            Where’d that come from Emilia? I said nothing about whether or not persons are identical to their bodies

          • Emilia

            You presumed there to be a difference, by separating the two.

          • Anon

            Oddly enough, there are two words in English – person and body. You used the latter, and the quote of mine under discussion is whether or not its appropriate to objectify the body.

          • Anon

            So, I’m getting through Caroline Heldman’s talk now. Interestingly enough, I can think of pornography that features women and doesn’t objectify women, according to the criterion in her talk.

            And, funnily enough, I can think of pornography that passes the Bechdel test.

          • amycas

            People watch movies, including the actors and actresses, in order to gain enjoyment. They’re using the actors and actresses as objects for their enjoyment. Clearly, movies are bad and should be considered immoral because the end result is always objectified persons.

          • Brian Anthony

            in a “normal” movie, there is no sexual objectification as a physical sexual toy, thats what we are talking about. in a “normal” movie one appreciates the characters their depth as portrayed by the actor, the person is seen. in porn there is no acting just sex, and so there is only a body.

            You all are missing a very very very BIG root point…porn is wrong because it is extra-marital. done

    • http://snickersnackbaby.blogspot.com/ David Ferguson

      Interesting, so non-coercive women can legitimately produce pornography? Are there any other approved categories of persons who can produce legitimate pornography?

      Also, does that line of thought lead to the conclusion that that these enlightened persons can legitimately prostitute themselves or other consenting women?

      • Anon

        “Interesting, so non-coercive women can legitimately produce pornography? Are there any other approved categories of persons who can produce legitimate pornography?”

        I don’t have a list, but I obviously used the case of non-coercive women produced pornography as an example. Generally speaking the feminist porn community is the paradigm what morally unproblematic porn looks like. I do think that men could produce non-coercive, non morally problematic pornography — and in particular that there is a fair amount of it (eg. HUMP!, some parts of the queer porn community etc.)

        You do know how eg. works, right?

        “Also, does that line of thought lead to the conclusion that that these enlightened persons can legitimately prostitute themselves or other consenting women?”

        You might want to read Martha Nussbaum on this one – I agree with many of the points that she makes in her book “Sex and Social Justice”. Despite disagreeing with her on the issues surrounding pornography.

        And as a plus for you Catholics reading along! It’s broadly Aristotelian!

        • Emilia

          Porn is not simply ‘morally problematic’ because of the coercion that is often involved, it’s because of objectification. It’s also to do, in the Catholic sense, with the mockery of sex that pornography automatically entails (because: “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world.” CCC 2354, in case you’re interested!)

          Also, the f-word did a rare article where I agree with them:
          http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/07/whats_wrong_wit_1

          • Anon

            Ah cool! It’s conceptually impossible for a married couple to produce pornography for their own consumption. If only I had the same power as Catholics to engage in shoddy definition mongering.

          • Amy
          • Anon

            Snark isn’t ad hominem.

            Here’s the relevant catechism line:

            “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties.”

            And here’s the conclusion it entails:

            “A married couple cannot produce pornography for their own consumption.”

            It’s valid.

          • Amy

            You say ‘valid’, I say ‘spectacularly missing the point’.

          • Anon

            Or “shedding light on the massive conceptual confusions inherent in Catholic thought regarding pornography” sounds pretty good to me.

          • Amy

            If you really want to think that about Catholicism, you may. Feel free, in fact!

          • Paul S.

            The married couple just became the “third party” to their own objectification. They’ve made a mockery of their own intimacy.

          • Pofarmer

            “It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy”

            As if Catholics somehow aren’t immersed in a fantasy world?

        • http://snickersnackbaby.blogspot.com/ David Ferguson

          Which categories of people are qualified to make morally acceptable pornography?

          Would you please briefly summarize Nussbaum’s point regarding prostitution?

          • Anon

            To repeat myself – I don’t have a list David. I actually think your repeated insistence that I list the categories of qualified people is fairly rude.

          • http://snickersnackbaby.blogspot.com/ David Ferguson

            I am being rude? No, I am loving you.

            You do have a list. You mentioned feminists and ‘queer porn’ community. It is not unreasonable to ask you for the rest of your list. If that is the entirety of your list, then my question is answered. Thanks.

            Alternatively, I could ask: do you have any demonstrable basis for determining morally acceptable pornography or morally acceptable prostitution?

          • Anon

            You have ignored the content of what I said in an attempt to score rhetorical points. I think that qualifies as rude, and unloving. For all the professed Catholic knowledge of love, you guys sure have an odd way of demonstrating that knowledge.

          • http://snickersnackbaby.blogspot.com/ David Ferguson

            I am not Catholic, though no harm in that assumption considering the context.

            In spite of your dulcet tones and pseudo-intellectual jargon, you are recklessly (and anonymously) making assertions about life altering behavior without offering a moral basis or justification for your advice.

            The choices you advocate in this thread will destroy lives, families and souls if put into practice. I am praying for you. It is not too late for you. May God have mercy on you.

            Now I will leave you alone.

          • Anon

            Those reading the thread will have noted that not only did I provide examples of communities exploring the possibility of ethical pornography, but that I named names and listed criteria. That you refuse to engage with those comments says more about you than me.

            I disagree with you about your prognostication regarding families and souls – porn becomes a problem when communication and honesty fail. There is a wealth of web advice on how to handle and engage with porn consumption in a responsible manner.

    • Anon sequitur

      Anon, it’s pretty obvious that Marc is discussing the predominant form of pornography—the kind that is run by capitalists and is most pervasive in society. Trying to derail his argument by pointing out a fringe movement that tries to exist totally outside the purview of the massive porn industry (with different goals and a different ‘market’ ((perhaps even an anti-market)) is a weird retort.

      As to your remarks on feminist porn: Just the fact that an idea exists positing pornography as somehow subversive or redemptive is a sign of the overwhelming desperation of nouveau-feminism as its very structure crumbles in on itself. The women involved in ‘feminist pornography’ operate under an illusion of subversion. In reality, they have been forced into a corner by a male-dominated social climate that exploits the female body. These women justify their undignified exposure with a rhetoric of “choice” when in fact they have been aggressively thrown there by the repressive male powers at work in the media industry at large. Feminist porn is the rape of feminism. The only control the these power-stripped women have is to pretend they enjoy every minute of it. It’s disgusting, and women should be outraged.

      I share your distaste of the go-to “object/subject” moralizing, but not because it isn’t substantial (c.f. Martin Buber/Kierkegaard), rather because the difference between object and subject is often misunderstood (or totally misappropriated.) There is a sense in which there is virtually no way we can perceive all people as subjects (given our temporal and physical limitations), but it does not follow that viewing subjects as objects is morally permissible (or is something to be aspired to.) We are subjects. And pornography, by definition, forces objectification.

      • Anon

        Sequitur, it must be nice to use sweeping generalizations as an excuse for sloppy reasoning. The feminist porn awards are ran by business owners, and involve significant personalities within the pornography industry who in turn are producers and authors.

        You really couldn’t call Tristan Taormino an outsider to the world of pornography. Ditto for Nina Hartley. The qualification to capitalists just seems silly and immature – are all capitalists greasy men who sit around in shady back rooms? No. There are women having successful careers producing feminist porn and selling them.

        “As to your remarks on feminist porn: Just the fact that an idea exists positing pornography as somehow subversive or redemptive is a sign of the overwhelming desperation of nouveau-feminism as its very structure crumbles in on itself”

        I don’t see how it is – pornography can be liberating and dignified. It can represent women as agents actively seeking and engaging in particular experiences. Nor is the existence of sex-positive feminism a sign that “nouveau-feminism” is crumbling in on itself. Indeed, it only seems to do that if you hold on to the commitments of second-wave theorists, but there are deep flaws within their positions (or, I guess, if you’re an opportunistic Catholic). I find that they have a coherent position. Though I imagine you expected disagreement here.

        “The women involved in ‘feminist pornography’ operate under an illusion of subversion. In reality, they have been forced into a corner by a male-dominated social climate that exploits the female body. ”

        Honestly, I don’t get this – it’s pure assertion. Why is it only an illusion of subversion? Are you just holding on so tightly to the idea that all porn is wrong, therefore feminist porn must be wrong too? Why is it undignified or disgusting?

        You just blithely assert that pornography is undignified. This isn’t very compelling, despite your passionate admonishment.

        You honestly fall into the same trap Emilia did: respect women, but only up until the point where they disagree with you about sexual morality. When they do that, they become delusional, they become slaves to a certain societal conspiracy. This is far more disrespectful and agency-denying than the kind of society sex-positive feminists envision.

        “but it does not follow that viewing subjects as objects is morally permissible (or is something to be aspired to.)”

        I gave clear cases in which I believe it does not wrong an agent. It would be nice if you could address that. Isn’t it a truism that if something isn’t wrong, then it’s permissible?

        “We are subjects. And pornography, by definition, forces objectification.”

        It would be nice to have some argument to the effect that a) the objectification in pornography is morally problematic, and b) that pornography which represents persons as agents is impossible.

        • Anon sequitur

          Capitalists are clean-shaven and sit in well-lit sky-rise offices.

          At the epicenter of all of this discourse lies the idea of human dignity (a topic which fully explored allows for a less ambiguous definition of pornography.) Unfortunately, the impasse we will constantly reach is our fundamental disagreement about human dignity. As a Catholic, I understand our dignity as something we receive from God—we are the Imago Dei. This means to understand what dignity is, we must do theology. You, I assume, outright reject any such notion. I don’t know how you construct an idea of dignity (it’s obviously relative to some degree, but I assume it has some fundamental moral underpinnings) so I’m not sure how to move forward fruitfully in this dialogue.

          I am surprised to hear about who is running (and funding) the feminist porn movement. I was operating under the assumption that feminist pornography was a largely grass-roots, ideologically based movement in an attempt use a source of male power against male power (hence my references to subversion.) That there are “feminist porn awards” ran by the very same people who are vested in the same industry that exploits the female body for capital goes even further to prove my point. Why do they do what they do? It generates revenue, power, fame etc. To claim that such an industry is a way to “seek out particular experiences” glosses over the blatant fact that such experiences can be sought out without being documented and sold.

          • Anon

            Oh please Sequitur, none of what I said is surprising if you’re aware of the figures within the feminist pornography movement.

            Tristan Taormino not only is a prominent author who sells books, but also a director of videos. Similarly, Nina Hartley is not only an actor and an activist, The Feminist Porn Awards were founded by managers at Good For Her, and supported by the owner of the shop.

            There are feminist porn production companies. To act as if the women involved in the feminist porn community cannot be business owners is absurd and patronizing.

            And, now we have it really out – you fall back on your being Catholic. So the reasons aren’t really secular that you oppose pornography. You think that human dignity is derived from facts about God’s nature. Great. Unlike Marc or Emilia, you’re up front about that.

          • Anon sequitur

            What you call falling back I call moving forward—but I can see you’re less interested in defining terms than you are accusing others that they can’t define theirs. You do have a gift for equivocation.

            In any event, nobody here has claimed as an agenda the provision of “secular reasons” (whatever that means) to oppose pornography. Even if that was the case, why should secular discourse preclude theology? If a theological paradigm is false it may still be worth discussing, especially in the case of the orthodox Christian narrative wherein human dignity is central.

            Finally, the fact that you don’t see the glaring irony in the figure of the “feminist porn-producing business owner” is profoundly disturbing. A dignified feminism (and I believe such a thing can exist) runs contrary to male exploitation, not in tandem with it. If you disagree with my use of the word dignity, please, explain how you have constructed your own notions so we can move forward.

          • Anon

            Hmm. Seems my post including a screen cap has disappeared. It’d be nice if it came back.

            In any case, if you go to the Steubenville Conferences site, you can see that the post was originally entitled “3 (Secular) Reasons for Opposition to Pornography”.

          • Anon

            Also – vague accusations of fallacies are a super classy way of silencing folk. Where do I equivocate, and how is it a problem?

          • Anon

            Also, finally, your assumption that feminist porn runs in tandem with male exploitation is faulty. Also pretty vaguely worded. But it’d be near impossible to live your life entirely apart from patriarchal structures, and supporting them. You Catholics do a pretty good job of the later – so I’d have difficulty imagining that Catholicism is compatible with “dignified” feminism. Part of how feminist pornogrpahy works is by exploiting a typically oppressive framework for liberation. But being so educated on feminist porn, you knew that, right?

      • Anon

        Also, Sequitur, you’re trying to have it both ways – you can’t say that pornography (as Marc uses the term) is solely referring to the mainstream industry, and then appeal to the definition of the term. Lets be clear – while there are particular problems with the porn industry, MacKinnon, Marc, and yourself appeal to the broader concept of filmed or photographed representations of sex.

        If the post had been solely about the industry, in its current form and excluding feminist/queer/indie porn Marc would not have played the etymology game.

  • peri

    It’s disquieting, to say the least, to ponder all the vices that yet remain to be made over into virtues, simply by fiat (cloaked in verbiage, of course). Tread carefully, Bad Catholic. Pretending there is ambiguity where there is none, even in the service of making known some or other teaching of your church, strikes me as a dangerous strategy.

  • http://veritascibi.com/ Joshua Kingdon

    I love the research, quotes and the overall thoroughness of your argument. This is such an important issue and it deserves this degree of scrutiny and “apologetic depth”. Keep up the awesome work! You’ve got my prayers.

  • Yvain

    This article falls into a pattern I’ve been worrying a lot recently which I’m tentatively calling “pseudo-consequentialism”. Someone has a belief they hold for non-consequentialist reasons, and in order to make it acceptable or persuasive, they generate seemingly consequentialist reasons for supporting it.

    The first problem with pseudo-consequentialism is that those reasons are very often wrong, since they were made up on the fly to support one side of an argument, and that proving those reasons wrong doesn’t change the person’s original opinion one bit.

    For example, you make a big deal about how you’re worried about rape here, but there’s zero credible evidence that pornography increases rape and quite a bit of evidence that pornography *decreases* it – by coincidence I just wrote a post on this yesterday, see http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/06/22/social-psychology-is-a-flamethrower/ and go to the third bold heading.

    If someone were actually consequentialist and filled with a burning desire to prevent rape, learning that you were wrong about the rape -> pornography connection might lead them to change your mind and start supporting pornography. If they were pseudo-consequentialist, they would either deny the connection, say rape isn’t that important after all, or that some other factor outweighs it. If that other factor turns out to be wrong too, they would go to some third factor.

    The second problem with pseudo-consequentialism is that it causes an amazing uncreativity in looking for alternative win-win solutions.

    If someone were really worried about sex workers, their first thought might be “People should switch to amateur porn made by willing participants who enjoy it” – this wouldn’t fall afoul of your third claim, since people enjoy *a lot* of pretty disgusting stuff. This would probably be strictly better for sex workers than avoiding porn entirely, since more people would have the willpower/energy to switch to amateur porn than to go off porn entirely.

    But if someone is not actually thinking of the sex workers at all but just looking for excuses to be against porn, a clever solution that helps sex workers but doesn’t condemn porn will never occur to them, or if it does they’ll immediately suppress or condemn it, because helping sex workers was never their original goal in the first place.

    The third problem is that it leads people to apply arguments in one direction they would rightly reject in another. For example, a pretty high number of ex-porn actresses say they don’t regret their job choice, and a surprising number of doctors say they do regret their job choice. If we had really good numbers, and we could prove that more doctors than porn stars regret their job choices, would you propose banning medicine but leaving porn untouched? What if we could prove that more doctors experience stress and humiliation than porn stars? (and don’t knock this theory until you’ve tried being a medical resident!) If not, you don’t actually believe in avoiding services that the providers regret, you just want less porn and are looking for excuses.

    (or to give another example, it’s EXTREMELY easy to know the people involved consented / are not trafficked when it’s a famous porn star who goes on talk shows and gives lectures about safe sex at top colleges and stuff. On the other hand, it’s extremely difficult to know whether your cell phone was made by slave labor in China. But I bet you use cell phones, and I bet you didn’t even check online to see whether yours was made by a company that contracts with Chinese factories known to employ slave labor.)

    I apologize for the tone of this comment, but I thought there were enough problems here that just responding to each one individually wouldn’t reach my main objection.

    • Emilia

      The reason rape and pornography are so often conflated is because rape happens in pornography. A lot. If you dont believe that, then you are living in a fairytale land where people consent to rape porn and have fun while they do it. Mainstream porn is invariable violent towards women. One of my university acquaintances once noted that he rarely sees a porno where the woman doesn’t get beaten, kicken, spat upon, or mistreated in some way. The guys around him who also watched porn agreed. He said this, and laughed, as if this was just some hilarious nuance of the porn world, and not something shocking that should immediately get him to stop watching it.

      “More people have the willpower to switch to amateur porn than to go off it entirely” Meaning that people who watch porn regularly forgo their willpower when they do watch it, because it’s a compulsion. It becomes an addiction, and your response here is to basically to say, well, as long as they watch porn-lite, it’s ok. Switching to ‘amateur porn’ (where actually, many girls do not enjoy it and are pressured by boyfriends and partners into it) does nothing for the person who is addicted to hardcore porn, because they have developed a tolerance.

      I have no doubt that many ex-porn actresses say that they had a good time. This is called denial. Also, having ‘fun’, doesn’t mean that it is right, or that it wasn’t degrading to you. Just because you may not have felt degraded, doesn’t mean you weren’t being so. (This is a hypothetical you by the way, I’m not saying you’re a porn actor/tress…)

      Yes, we do want less porn, because it is ALWAYS harmful to both the viewer and those involved in the making of it. Porn is a lose-lose situation for everyone. If you don’t see that, then talk to Shelley Lubben, who runs a charity to help women escape – literally escape – the violence of the porn industry.

      Doctors aren’t degraded by the work they do – if they feel degraded, the degradation comes from the people surrounding them, and how they perceive the work they are doing. The degradation in pornography comes from the very work that they do, and from how other people view them as bodies, or things, to be used and discarded – whether they realise it or not. Also, you don’t see charities helping doctors get out of their professions.

      Your main objection (apart from a misunderstanding of logical consequences and psychiatry as a whole) seems to be that you’re under the impression that most sex-workers choose their work, and would choose that work over other jobs. If you think this, then you’d probably think people who want to see an end to mainstream pornography are being mean and trying to take jobs away from people. Pornography as a career is taken from a lack of choices, and the people who go into it have normally been damaged in their past in some way, be it by a parent, or carer, or situation in life, and the industry takes advantage of them. You do sex workers no favours by trying to keep their abusive industry going.

      • Anon

        “Yes, we do want less porn, because it is ALWAYS harmful to both the viewer and those involved in the making of it. Porn is a lose-lose situation for everyone. If you don’t see that, then talk to Shelley Lubben, who runs a charity to help women escape – literally escape – the violence of the porn industry.”

        Remember folks! We’re all about not objectifying you, but if you say something that disagrees with our narrative your a crazy liar!

        • Anon

          “I have no doubt that many ex-porn actresses say that they had a good time. This is called denial.”

          Sorry, I meant to quote this.

        • Emilia

          Yo, didn’t say ‘crazy’, or ‘liar’. Didn’t even think it, to be honest.

          I do know you to be mistaken though. :) Probably well-meaning, but ultimately mistaken.

          • Anon

            You should be ashamed of yourself. Honestly. “She’s just in denial” is one of those common phrases used to dismiss the experiences of women quite frequently.

      • alexander stanislaw

        If I may summarize your argument:
        Pornography is bad because:
        1) Pornographic actors are abused.
        2) Pornography is violent.
        3) Pornography actors would choose another job if they had a choice.

        Is that about right? So, if pornographic actors were treated well, violence was not displayed in porn and pornography actors were satisfied with their job and well adjusted, then you would be okay with pornography?

    • madisonyoung

      Wow!
      Can I just say that Catholics are intense? I went to this thread
      because I run the Feminist Porn Network and I get google alerts
      whenever “feminist porn” is used through out the web. I just want to
      say that a lot of folks on this thread have a great many misconceptions
      about porn. Porn is the documentation of our sexual culture, the
      documentation of our sexual selves. I’ve performed in hundreds of
      scenes over the last decade and directed 39 feminist porn films. My
      work is an extension of my political beliefs as a queer feminist woman and activist/community organizer in the LGBTQI community.
      As a director I work with my performers discussing their ideal fantasy
      that they would like to explore and document. Sometimes this is several months of discussion. Many of the performers
      perform with their real life partners and if they don’t they choose who
      they want to have sex with, just as they would if a camera was not
      present. I create a safe container for the exploration of consenting
      well negotiated pleasure. These women and men and persons of all gender
      identities are not objectified. They are respected and honored with
      dignity by me, their partners, and the viewers. How do I know that the
      viewer is viewing the scene as a beautiful passionate documentation of
      pleasure versus viewing the performers as objects? When I’m shooting two
      people passionately climaxing and looking into one another’s eyes while
      professing in an honest authentic trembling voice that they love one
      another, you see pleasure, you see love, you see connection, and raw
      authentic documentation of true self. My films are often docu/porn or
      educational porn offering sexual education, safer sex practices,
      encouragement of communication and negotiation around sex. My docu/porn
      films offer extensive interview elements with women and men as they
      discuss who they are as an individual, they are valued for the whole of
      who they are, not as an object. Bodies are not shameful. Sex is simply
      one of many ways in which we connect, share pleasure, share intimacy,
      share energy. Sex is simply one element of our culture of our lives and
      their is no reason why healthy expression of sexual connection and
      education should not be documented. Rape culture does exist. Abuse and
      non-consent do exist. Violence against women does exist. This is all
      the more reason for us to document what clear negotiation, healthy
      sexual communication, safer sex practices, expression of authentic
      sexual desire, and female (and all humankind) pleasure looks like.
      There are film festivals around the world which screen feminist and sex
      positive erotic films. This is not a small movement. I’ve been speaking
      for years at Universities around the country on the topic of feminism
      and pornography and I’m currently pursuing my doctorate in clinical
      sexology. I plan on continuing this very important dialogue on both an
      academic level and with in the adult industry. Just know that there is a
      way to lovingly document human intimacy and connection with dignity and
      respect, and there is space for viewing bodies, individuals, lovers,
      and the intimate connection of humans with dignity and respect. –
      Activist-Artist-Feminist Pornographer – Madison Young

      • Ron Knox

        First of all, thank you for your compliment! Intensity implies a religion passionate and full of life, rather than a listless and cowering faith. May I also say that you too seem rather “intense” in your beliefs! Let me lift the curtain on the reasons for the Catholic zeal. We oppose porn due to the very definition and nature of it, which counters Catholic understanding of sex.

        The first six online dictionaries define porn as being designed to stimulate sexual excitement in the viewer. The person using porn is not partaking in the sex they are viewing, but remain a perpetual third-wheel observer. These dictionaries also led me to another word, voyeurism. Here the person becomes aroused by watching other’s sexuality, either with their consent or not. I believe we can logically conclude that porn in its very being is voyeuristic.

        Here’s when we pesky Catholics swoop in. We hold an odd view of sex, holding it to be a intimate, yet immensely private act. Sex is a gift meant to be shared between a wife and her husband, a mystical union that should belong to only them. You seem to believe that porn celebrates this bond; Catholics believe that is perverts it. The lovers give themselves to one another, not to the eager audience.

        I present the mediocre analogy of a secret between friends. When ones shares a secret with another, it implies insane trust and respect. The make themselves completely vulnerable, letting down their shields, which is how love gets through. Now, if one was to tell the other the secret onstage during the “The Voice” results show, what substance does the exchange now have?

        I understand you’ve devoted much of your life to this. If Marc’s wonderful piece couldn’t convince you, my rambling shambles have an otter-pop’s chance in the ninth level of hell. But remember one thing.The Church has been around for over 2000 years: that’s an awful lot of time to reflect, don’t ya think?

  • filiusdextris

    Is it possible to get a precise definition of pornography that excludes nude modeling (if possibly a licit category) but includes recorded voyeurism (or should the latter be left to a separate category)? Is there a definition that conscientious Catholics believe is too loose but “acceptable enough” for us as a legal term in a pluralistic society? For example, Catholics might honestly and objectively argue that MTV is pornography but are willing to tolerate it as distinct for legal purposes. If we’re then working under two definitions – the true one and the legal compromise – how do we distinguish between the two?

  • disqus_YiyUHs9R7P

    Wow. There is so many dumb things with this article I do not know where to being. I guess the biggest thing I have to say is that I watch porn for the purpose of sexual arousal, sometimes even fendom, and it has no effect on my outside life. Humans NEED sex in their life. It is in us and it is proven that things like masturbating is healthy for us both physical and mentally.

    • Dan

      your an idiot. God forgive me and you!

      • disqus_YiyUHs9R7P

        I have done nothing wrong in this case that God should forgive me. You on the other hand are not suppose to judge others.

        • Dan

          Not
          true, I am allowed to judge somebodies actions as idiotic and wrong, which unfortunately
          applies here in abundance. I am not allowed, nor will I ever, adjudge your soul
          to be in hell or how long it will be in purgatory etc. (as I assume you are referring
          to “Judge not lest ye be Judged”).

          First you say you watch porn, which is intrinsically wrong as it makes a mockery
          of the human form in countless ways; then you attempt to justify it using the
          false claims that “it is proven that masturbating is a good” (which
          is stupid and very very wrong, which only a little research will confirm) and that
          “Humans need sex in their life” which begs the question as to whether
          or not you even understand what the act of sex is, because porn is most
          certainly not sex (and with that statement you condemn all those who are either
          incapable or choose not to have sex as lacking in their life.)

          Please, if you are genuine about you thoughts then please do some honest research
          into it as you current conclusions will lead you down a path of misery and despair.

          God Bless.

          • disqus_YiyUHs9R7P

            I have done research. Have you?http://news.menshealth.com/masturbate-every-day/2011/12/29/
            As for porn not being sex, you are only sem-right. There are many forms of porn, some of it is stupid and fake. Some of it is not.

            As for a life of misery and despair, I literary use to have depression because I thought God hated me for not being “pure enough.” For having “unpure thoughts.” Going to church only made it worse. That was misery and despair, it ended when I taught myself I was hurting no one, and doing nothing wrong. People think about sex, people need to release it.

            Also, I do not condom those who chose not have have sex in their life, I feel sorry for them.

          • Dan

            (just to say it starts of a bit nasty but then gets a bit better. Sorry I’ve been so rude thus far)

            I think you actually need confession, you’re really only lying to yourself that your actions are ok. Why am I saying that? Because you ARE hurting someone – yourself. When you were performing those acts and it made you depressed, it was not that God was condemning you, it was you condemning you. You can lie to yourself and say “I’m not hurting anyone!!” but you know you hurt yourself. The gift and wonder of purity is difficult and painful, but such are the truly good things in life. Holiness demands much and as humans we will fail, we are fallen, but God forgives, his Love is limitless and he simply awaits your call to him.

            The article you presented is another attempt to validate your choices, finding a study agrees with you. But what you presented was terrible and very untrustworthy. I cannot accept it. Nor could any serious academic.

            Unfortunately, I was using semantics i.e. the word Sex translates to “the process by which children are conceived” and I’m sure you’re aware that porn needs to be contraceptive, that was what I was getting at before, Porn cannot be real because not child is born of it. In fact pregnancy is considered a failure; in effect the womb and the sperm become an inconvenience. WHAT RIGHT DOES PORN HAVE TO BELITTLE OUR BODIES!

            How on earth could such an attack on the life itself ever be considered good? Because humans need sex? In the true sense yes, for otherwise there are no children, but outside of that is only perversion of this beautiful act.

            I hope you understand God is waiting to forgive you, and help you understand the truth of this affliction. For Sexual intimacy is a most tempting proposition, but leads to the misery and despair you suffered.

            I see you need prayers, I will pray a rosary for you, that you might recognise you offense again and be willing to accept the truly life changing power of God’s, mercy. A mercy which I clearly struggle to give. Please forgive my arrogance, I was unthinking and unfeeling. If anything I need your prayers.

            God have mercy on us both,

            Dan.

          • disqus_YiyUHs9R7P

            Dan, thank you for apologizing. I apologize too if I had been rude to you.

            Well there is one thing we agree on, and that is sex is a beautiful thing. One of the most beautiful things on the planet. And to be honest that is why I do not understand why God in all of his wisdom would tell us to stay away from it. If we truly wanted sex to be just for making children why would he make it so enjoyable? Why would he give us the ability to have an organism by ourselves and tell us not to do it? It would be like him telling us not go walk in nature or look at the stars.

            Also, you never explained how the article was “untrustworthy.” Is it because its on the web? So is this one. I have heard the same things that article from many sources, and saying you disagree with it is not a response. And yes, I am looking for articles to back up my argument. You asked me if i did resource, I presented some of it, and you just throw it out the window because you didn’t like it. I can give you more if you would like that.

            As for the definition of sex that is the worst one I have ever heard and I am almost insulted by it. Should a women who is unable to have kids or a man who shoots blanks never have the love of another? And there are many definitions on the web (and books), many are simple as a penis entering a vagina.

            Then you brought up the issue of me hurting myself. In hindsight I should have seen that coming I have heard it before, and I am sorry but that is also false. There was a couple years pause after I hit puberty that I never masturbated not for moral reasons but simply because I did not know what it was. When I started, I noticed major changes in myself. I slept better. I was able to think clearer. I didn’t get boners every 30 seconds. I was more calm and less stressed. And please, do NOT tell me that it is not true happiness. There is no such thing as false happiness.

            So the question is what reason is there NOT for me to pleasure myself and watch porn. The only thing is the Bible. A book written 1000′s of years ago, written by MAN (not God himself), that suports rape, child murder and slavery among other things. I will not put my faith into such things. That does not mean I do not believe in God. You do know that during the middle ages you could buy off your sins right? To me it seems like one giant scam. Say doing something as temping and common as sex is wrong and you have to give us money if you do it, otherwise your a bad person. I mean what makes more sense, God telling us not to have sex for no reason, or the church to make profit.

            I had confession once for this, during my episode and I admit it helped. For a while. I will not do it again though. First I do not feel that I am doing anything wrong, so saying sorry is wasted breath. And I will not enter a building that covers up child molesting and preaches homophobia. I also noticed I put some money in the slot on my way out feeling good about myself. Again, it seems they are just making me feel better though artificial means for profit. I will ask you not to prayer for me (though I do thank you for the offer), and God does have mercy on you seem like a good person.

          • Dan

            (i did a spell check and the lines went wonky, i suggest you put it on to WORD to make it look nicer. And i have just basically babbled on for far too long, over 1000 words. Some of my coursework is shorter that this. Sorry again!)

            Thank you for your apology, but it is not necessary. My
            frustration at you opinion is no reason for my rudeness, and I detect you are
            being honest with yourself. It appears you have thought this through, and so I
            will likewise give the conversation the same level of respect.

            Let’s reduce your last comment to charges and I’ll answer each one.

            Why is sex so enjoyable: Because sex is a good. The procreative act is, I
            think, a progression of the 4 levels of Pleasure which we humans experience (this
            is my theory, I have not researched it). The first, lowest, level of Pleasure
            is the act of sex, a bit like fireworks going off, or eating cake. Of Course
            some of these make us happier than others but ultimately, they are fast elation
            which ends in desire for more. Unfulfilled and unsustained. The second level is
            “personal achievements” so doing well in an exam or winning a game of
            Tennis. In sex this would be the creation of Life, something that you have
            achieved. This kind of pleasure lasts longer but it also begins to become a
            source of unfulfilment and longing. Such as say a dream to win the French open,
            once achieved, is now the new mark to surpass. This can go on forever pushing
            someone to death. The Third level are things like charity and kindness.
            Goodness knows how many virtues are spent on the bringing up of children, to
            make them happy and to give many things up for them. These a far greater
            pleasures then the other two, because they a selfless. The Pleasure from these
            actions however might leave a sense of resentment when your charity is thrown
            back into you face, it is true for me. So even this can be a source of
            unhappiness. The last level, and you might not agree with this, but the great
            form of Pleasure is when one is in service to God, praying and acting to please
            him. I will tell you I also struggled with porn; I held very similar views to
            the ones you have presented. In fact you’re almost a mirror of my a few years
            ago. But I began to realise what I was actually doing. On my own, sneaking
            around, in the day or the night, holding my penis. I saw how pathetic I looked.
            I began to ask God for help and when I left the confessional I finally felt
            free, but I remember on night, I was in my flat, and I said “can I test
            myself” and I nearly fell there. It was like hearing whispers “once
            isn’t going to hurt” “you’re not hurting anyone”. It was a massive
            struggle, but I remembered my promise to God, and it was that which stopped me.
            I no longer felt guilt and attraction to these perverted things, because they
            block my Love for The Father The Son The Holy Spirit.

            Why is your source untrustworthy: well again I should be lest cryptic, you see
            if you go searching on the internet for a scientist to support you argument, then
            I can do the same. Of course the article itself is questionable, the author and
            publish (the magazine) are clearly pushing the hook up culture and selling
            sexually intimacy. Equally if I did the same you would have the same problem.
            Anyway health has nothing to do the with the debate as it’s easy to argue both
            ways.

            My definition of Sex is wrong: Yes, I do struggle to define it. I suppose what I
            mean is “open to life” i.e. as you put it Penis-Virginia. This may
            make sex sound a bit boring, but it has to the true definition. If that is not
            what I said before, I retract my last comment.

            I felt better afterwards: Well one post you say it made you depressed, the next
            post you say it makes you happy. Well I’ve covered pleasure already. But I
            think this is evidence of the denial you’re in, and the need to understand
            again what you’re doing, who you’re watching, why you watching them, and what you’re
            not doing, what you could be doing.

            The bible is the only thing telling me otherwise, it’s evil: Your attack on the
            bible is false, if you are catholic then I think you should know that the bible
            must be read with care. Looking at context and idioms, history and genre. Many
            factors, a light research into good catholic scholarship should put to rest
            those ideas. Otherwise, Porn is not denounced by the church alone, it is
            condemned in many faiths and societies, why? Because of its disgraceful presentation
            of men and women, reducing the perfect act which creates life, it to a sellable
            commodity. Not cool. Think of the sex trafficking, the abuse of women, it’s
            terrible. You mistakenly charge the bible with supporting slavery, and then you
            support porn which actually makes use of slavery!!

            You can buy you way to heaven: This is a very simply answered just, but it
            takes a long time to do it. I’ll try and keep it short. Confession gives forgiveness
            and asks for penance. Penance can be prayer, doing a nice thing, giving to charity.
            The church helps the poor, and so a person can give money to the church and so
            “pay his penance”. This is legitimate and good, but obviously and
            historically some corrupt bishops and priests took advantage and used this
            money for personal reasons. The practice was amended, but not abolished. I hope
            that explains it.

            The church helps paedophiles and Hates Gays: No and No. The so called
            “cover-up” is rooted in the medical categorisation of Paedophilia as
            curable and so the church complied with the science not to condemn but to help
            correct. This was done everywhere. The society was wrong to do so then and so
            the church was wrong to do so. But a cover up it is not. And as far as Homosexuality
            is concerned, while marc has extensive work on this, it comes down to this:
            Tolerate the person-Intolerate principals. A man with same sex attraction is no
            less than a human being and should be treated with dignity and respect. But the
            lifestyle of Homosexuality goes against the dignity of the human body. Harsh words
            and ones I’ve never had the courage to utter until now. But the truth is harsh.

            I hope those answers help, but I suspect you will reply either will more guns
            or apathy. Either way, I hope that rather than simply sit on your own a think
            about things ask questions of your friends and enemies. Discover the truth and
            not the opinion you like the best. I hope God grants you that Grace, I will
            pray the rosary for you tonight (its 19:28pm for me now, so I’ll say it at
            1:00am).

            God Bless and I hope you return to the church,

            Dan.

  • http://www.gadel.info/ GADEL

    Quite interesting post.

  • Pofarmer

    Just a quibble here. But this thing is pretty much completely undocumented.

  • GK Guru

    I somehow doubt that when a man is watching porn, he values his entertainment’s star as a human being. “Gee, I wonder if what the delivery girl thinks of the gender wage gap?” She’s a mere instrument to him, not a person with family or friends, regrets and dreams.

    The idea of feminists giving awards to the porn industry is oxymoronic, like PETA holding business luncheons at Black Angus.

    • Anon

      Or you know, you could read things written by pro-pornography feminists and see what they think. But it’s “cool” if you want to bury your head in the sand.

      Supposing you want to learn something, maybe try reading some Greta Christina blog posts.

      • GK Guru

        You seem very passionate about this subject, and are probably more knowledgable about it than I am. Could you please explain how it doesn’t degrade those involved? I can’t seem to wrap my head around that idea.

        • Anon

          Basically see Madison Young’s comment upthread.

  • Niemand

    I agree that points one and two are concerns. Of course, I have many of the same concerns about laws that allow underage girls (and boys) to marry. If it’s not legal to have sex with a 16 year old you aren’t married to, how does performing a ritual first make it ok?

    But point 3 loses me completely. It seems to apply equally to practically everything. If watching “safe” (i.e. clearly consensual) porn becomes “dull” eventually because of the lack of novelty, won’t sex that is “safe”, especially sex with a particular individual (i.e. within marriage) also eventually become dull and lead to sex with others or potentially non-consensual sex? It seems that everyone should be celibate by the argument you made. But then what about food? Should we never eat an apple because it’s a gateway food to twinkies? After all, we won’t be satisfied with the sweet reward of an apple forever will we? Best to eat nothing but kale. And internet posting? Sure. It starts innocently enough with a bit of reading of a favorite blog and next thing you know you’re arguing with people whose world view is so different that they’ll probably just dismiss you as a nut anyway ;)

  • FeistyAmazon

    Whether you agree with all their premises or not, there was a link to Max Hardcore speaking on Youtube, and I could only endure 10 minutes of hearing him speak(I listened aptly to these two women till they got into the whole prayer thing). There is community made erotica, made by and for the Lesbian community for example. I’ve known some of these women who were in the films, it was all consensual and enjoyable to them. None of them experienced coercion and they were all very willing. Safe sex was practiced. This may be a very, very tiny part of the industry(nor do men want Butch models) and the rare exception to the rule. And those films certainly aren’t marketed the way these ones are, nor did they make that kind of money.

    However, as far as the young woman’s testimony about Max Hardcore, I heard him speak in that previous video and he says: “There’s no such thing as ‘NO’ in a Max Hardcore film.” Right there, it’s rape, it’s nonconsent, it’s coerced consent, whatever you want to call it. I’d call it RAPE, since the very basis of all I know and have experienced in multiple Dyke and Feminist communities is that “If a woman says no, and the other continues, IT”S RAPE.” So he is admitting to being a rapist, and chasing after ‘new’ women, who aren’t jaded, who don’t know what they’re in for. He wants a woman whose nervous, who has an innocence, who hasn’t checked out yet like the young woman explains in the pink cross video, and who won’t say ‘no’ and stand up to him. He wants to crush her innocence and her youth.

    It’s very much like men’s eternal chasing after true ‘virgins’. Then what happens when they get pregnant? Or come down with A.I.D.S. or other STD’s? They’re just so many commodities to being discarded. To hear these two women’s experiences really enlightens me as to the coercion of most porn videos and the horrible working conditions they are in. It doesn’t surprise me at all about the pushing of drugs and alcohol. Every pimp knows if they get a young woman addicted, she’ll keep coming ’round for the drugs and the money. The more desperate she gets, the more she’ll be willing to do. That Max Hardcore is nothing more than a pimp, plain and simple, from his body language to his presentation to what he says…..I hope he gets shut down and sent to prison for life! -FeistyAmazon

  • Barb

    And what about all those ‘harmless’ movies that have sex scenes in them. I have sat and watched a male ‘enjoying’ watching the sex scene on the television. We need to clean up the entertainment industry full stop and then maybe people won’t think porn is OK. Basic morality needs to be reintroduced into society.

    • devanthony

      Whose morality? You forget you’re speaking to a mixed audience.

  • Karl

    Great read! I linked this in my latest Blog post.
    http://catcdn.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/be-a-man/

  • Liang Chen

    Just to troll: Hentai doesn’t do reasons 1 and 2

  • Caitlin Fairchild

    You know, you’re absolutely right. We can never be sure, so we should never partake in pornography. For that matter, we can never be sure that our own sexual partner is truly consenting. Maybe they’re lying about their age, or are strung out on drugs or alcohol. Maybe they’re having a psychotic episode and are unable to make an informed decision due to their delusions. We should all stop having sex right now!

    And don’t get me started on the dark stuff. Women getting beaten with crops or forced to eat from the floor by men (or even other women!), it’s horrifying! No one would ever consent to such acts. We need to gather together, go down to our local dungeons, and survey all the participants to see if they’re actually consenting. While there, we should stick around to, ahem, observe the situation, for feminism’s sake of course. Maybe do a little research into this so we can better fight it. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

    Won’t someone think of the children, who aren’t legally allowed to participate in or view pornography? I mean, why can’t we set up some government organization to protect them from this stuff? We can call it the Policies Against Rape and Exploitation Now for Today’s Students! PARENTS will look after the kids!

    By never knowing, the only way we can fight it is to abolish it. Don’t bother with trying to improve conditions, that’ll never work, and even if it did, we couldn’t prove it. It’s not like there’s some industry or organization out there trying to improve things and fight for sex worker’s rights. We’re doomed to a world where we must restrain our libidos forever, lest we contribute to the problem!

    I for one will join you in this fight! I’m off to do research!

    • amycas

      What’s this you say about parents looking after their own children?

  • Alex

    This is my first time viewing this blog. I think it is well put together. Although, I seem to find the comments more intriguing than the actual posts. Which brings me to my point of writing this comment at all. What is the purpose of debate if not to change the others perspective? The comments posted both have legitimate points but the way they have been written makes me laugh at the condescending and quite frankly, completely belittling nature of them. By the look of it, obviously both parties think they are right, which cannot be true but there seems to be truth portrayed in both, which should be thoroughly considered by both parties. As well as the fact that if one really wanted to get there point across ultimately to change another’s point of view, hopefully, but not always likely…for truths sake and truths sake only, then they would use finesse and far more importantly empathy to convey their point, rather than the harsh stubborn approach that sets the tone for both arguments. Both “Anon” and “Emilia” seem to be of higher intelligence than I am, which I do not say with a drop of false modesty but rather blatant honesty. The presentation of both arguments consume me with frustration because your intelligence could be so much more effective if written properly. There is a high likelihood that neither of you will see this, but in hopes that you do…keep up the debate…it’s a beautiful thing but consider more tact.

  • Guest

    The Denand Documentary exposes the link between porn and human trafficking very well. http://catholicrebel.blogspot.com/

  • Kevin Roerty

    The Denand Documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRDgA3e9UK0 exposes the link between porn and human trafficking very well. catholicrebel.blogspot.com

  • Rivka

    Everybody who has not done so, please watch the video of the interview with two former porn stars.

  • Michael Antonin Gajdos

    well, I just read a blog by a pro web cam performer “why I love being independent cam girl.” Believe it or not there are some out there who like what they do. Secondly the vid from the ex-porn stars keeps talking how they lied to her about how famous she was going to be, how rich, by having sex on camera? well its hard to muster sympathy for it sounds as if she did get famous she would be just be dandy with porn and all it stands for I tell u what sucks about porn..everyone and their grandma is doing it, I repeat their grandma…

    How exactly did men and women abuse each other prior to the invention of porn?Becuase I dont think it is porn that is called the oldest profesion in the world.Howver you are correct in the end, it is wrong, however it is a symptom rather than the cause of the disese for many of us damn ourselves with sins of the flesh, the sad thing is that so many never even get to know the the plan our eternal Father has for each of us..thank u

  • raphamello

    What about graphically sexual art? Whether in photography or drawing/painting? Where do you draw the line between pornography and art? Just a thought…


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