Should Humanists Support Pornography?

In the latest Humanist Network News, there’s a debate on that topic.

Kaitlin Cottle and Gayle Tyree, both students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, argue that Humanists shouldn’t support porn:

These singular and physically dangerous expectations for female beauty and sexuality that are perpetuated by pornography suggest that the value of women lies in their “use.” If we can recognize that female pleasure in porn (and consequently, society) is marginalized, we can understand how our culture has reduced the identity of women to that of an object. In pornography, this process, called objectification, results in the dehumanization of men and especially women because we no longer identify them by their personality and individuality. Inevitably, this dehumanization results in the attitude that because another person is somehow less than human it is acceptable to commit violence against them.

The role violence plays in pornography trivializes rape, sexual aggression, and other forms of abuse. When we encourage males to include dehumanizing acts in sex and teach women to accept various forms of violence against them as a “natural” part of sexual activity, we are condoning violence against women.

Once the layers are pulled back, it becomes obvious that pornography brings far more harm to our society than good. Its homogenous representations of beauty and sexual activities have created a narrow sexual aesthetic that women must physically harm themselves to achieve. Worse, it consistently features the degradation and abuse of women, valuing them not as people to be respected but objects to be used and creating a climate in which violence is accepted. These negative actions and attitudes against women make it clear that pornography is against the humanist idea that all people are worthy of safety and respect.

Jennifer Kalmanson of the Washington Area Secular Humanists doesn’t think porn is a problem:

One common feminist fear is that by objectifying women in any sexual way, it makes it easier for men as a group to see women as a group as less than human. While there is some merit to this argument in the sense that male behavior in groups can be dehumanizing of women, especially when there’s alcohol involved. However, it’s the male behavior here that’s offensive, not that they may have in the past viewed porn. Let’s go ahead and condemn offensive behavior simply for what it is: jerks behaving like jerks.

One might also posit that fear of pornographic fantasy is ultimately a fear of female power–the power of sexual prowess with respect to other women as well as power in the utilitarian sense. Until we’re comfortable, specifically, with the idea that a woman in charge of her life can still fantasize about sex with a full range of imagery available to her, we’ll never be able to accept pornography as anything other than a “poem of male desire,” and an often crude one at that. If we can just get over our fears long enough to take a peek, we might just find an industry in which women are very powerful and which produces media capable of enhancing eroticism between partners.

Feel free to chime in, too.

Incidentally, I once attended a debate between porn star Ron Jeremy and a guy known as the “porn pastor.” It was surprisingly awesome.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Ryan Moran

    Anti-porn arguments only hold water if you believe that women don’t have the right to control their own bodies and have sex under whatever conditions they see fit.  And, as usual, anti-porn people pretend that gay/lesbian porn doesn’t exist and that straight women don’t enjoy porn as well.

     The idea that porn “trivializes” violence against women makes roughly as much sense as the idea that Shakespeare “trivializes” murder.  People understand fiction.  Lastly, this ignored the obvious fact that many of the “violent” or “degrading” things seen in porn are in fact enjoyed by many women (and men) in their personal sex lives.  Humanists should not be in the business of telling women what they can do with their bodies and what sorts of sex they’re allowed to enjoy.

    • Stev84

      It also ignores the fact that not all porn shows women being violated or degraded. Some does, yes, but not all. And even then, there are actually some women who enjoy having that kind of sex. At least now and then.

      • Michael

        I think that if something seems like it might be nonconsensual then there ought to be some kind of behind-the-scenes footage to put it in context.

        Sure, comfort sex can feel better when someone is actually being comforted. It’s good to see it made plain when that’s what’s going to be going on after the camera stops rolling.

        • A Portlander

          Should theatrical films include the same behind-the-scenes footage? Should The Avengers be distributed with a prologue explaining that it’s not a documentary? How about the subtitle “not an actual murder” flashing onscreen every time a stuntman gets blown away in an action movie?

          • Tom

            Statements that no animals were harmed are practically always to be found in any film that features them.  Apparently human beings, including porn-stars, aren’t so important.

            • The Other Weirdo

               An episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys where Hercules had to fight a metal panther included a disclaimer in the credits to effect that no metal panthers were harmed in the making of the episode. Mostly, I think, to lampshade the ridiculousness of those disclaimers.

              Killing a couple of animals to get buckets of blood is one thing—wrong, of course, since there are executive producers available for that sort of thing—but killing or harming people in the making of a movie, well that’s a whole ‘nother thang. Not everyone who works in movies is
              Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
              .

        • Atheist in a foxhole

          The leading provider of the “rough/ BDSM” side of porn has always included a prior interview where the actress or actor lays out their boundaries, and an ending interview where they, exhausted and smiling, reassure everyone that they did, in fact, enjoy the experience.

      • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com/ WhatPaleBlueDot

        You don’t always have to fuck her hard.

        • Salty

          Tenacious D!!!  

    • Miranda

      While I agree with almost all of the points you make here, I have to take issue with the idea that (all) ‘people understand fiction”.   A problem arises in a society where sex is taboo (and let’s not kid ourselves, we’re weird about sex.)  In an environment where sex and sexuality are repressed, sometimes a furtive look at porn on the internet becomes the definitive source of ideas about what goes on during sex. 
      Because we’re not open about sexuality, and because we put a taboo on sex, we get people who, far from “understanding fiction” have weird ideas that 1)sex is dirty and naughty, and 2) the act always ends with a woman smiling into the camera with white goop on her face.
      My issue, of course, is not with porn, but with how we, as a society, supress our sexuality.

      • Fsq

        Larry Flynt once gave a speech that had a fantastic point:

        “Murder in this country is illegal. Yet, if you see a murder taking place, and get pictures of it, you may well win a Pulitzer Prize.”

        “Sex is LEGAL in this country, but if you take pictures of people having sex, or show people having sex, you can get arrested for obscenity or worse.”

        Seriously, Janet Jackson flips a nipple during a half-time show at a sports event and the nation screams and gasps “What about the children”, yet Mel Gibson can make a movie that is torture porn, and people line up to take their kids to it.

        We are truly a fucked up nation.

      • Mommiest

         I just saw a TED talk in which this very point was made:
        http://blog.ted.com/2009/12/02/cindy_gallop_ma/
        4 minutes long, worth watching.

    • Carla

      Your perspective is tempting, but wholly unsupported by research. While people consciously understand fiction, they do not do so subconsciously. Because of this, fiction, humor, etc are all vehicles that desensitize us to reality. You may be able to state objectively that something on television is fake, but the less controllable parts of your brain cannot. You internalize what you see, and it becomes a part of how you think and act. (And yes, this principle applies to watching fictional murder, although there is research that shows that we encode live theatre differently that we encode images seen on a screen. And no, comparing Shakespeare to porn is not a valid argument.) Humanists are arguing that by eliminating the porn industry, people will stop being told how to live their sex lives, and so will be freer to actually learn what they want, not what is expected. The violent and degrading things in porn may be enjoyable for some women, but by showing as a sort of norm, they are being forced on other women who may not enjoy them, but think they are expected or normal. 

      (I have references, honest. I’m looking for them…. ::digs through really old files::)

      • Ryan Moran

        The argument breaks down because if you eliminate the porn industry you are already telling people what to do with their sex lives.  Mainly, you are telling them they can’t make or watch porn as part of their sex lives.  Your solution is causing your problem.

        You are also ignoring the fact that not all porn is violent or degrading to women, that gay/lesbian porn exists, and that female domination porn is a rather prominent genre of porn in general.

        I also saw an article yesterday saying that the brain processes porn different than other media.  It had a small sample size and there’s more work to be done, but it’s possible that research that studies how we absorb other media would not entirely apply to porn (article: http://gizmodo.com/5903590/watching-porn-turns-off-your-brain-says-study)

        Fundamentally, the idea of eliminating porn comes down to free expression and the right of women to control their own bodies and sexual labor.  You can’t eliminate the porn industry without taking that control away from women and seriously infringing on freedom of expression.

        • A Portlander

          I agree with most of your points, but I have to caution you about citing fem-dom porn as support in these arguments. VERY few of those videos portray anything like authentic F/m BDSM; in fact, if any variety of adult video is guilty of reducing the actresses to fetish objects that exist solely to cater to a male fantasy, it’s your run-of-the-mill dominatrix porn.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      I agree with Ryan on this. Attacking aggressive sex in porn as if it dehumanizes women and encourages abuse is actually quite offensive because it suggests women who enjoy it have something wrong with them.

      And I don’t understand the argument that female pleasure in porn is marginalized. If this is true, why so many solo videos of women pleasuring themselves, women pleasuring other women, or women over-exaggerating their pleasure? Women’s sexual pleasure has become much more important in general as well as in porn.

      • Stev84

        Again, it depends on the type of the porn. Most straight porn does indeed seem to be about the cumshots, no matter how much the women moan around before. Which is one reason why I greatly prefer lesbian porn (the good kind which isn’t faked – yes it exists), because the women have actual orgasms and usually several of them.

        • The Other Weirdo

           After some lesbian demonstrations in Boston, an article from The Onion came out asking all those lesbians to just stay home, because they were bad for the lesbian porn business.

    • Ed.

      fiction for who exactly? for us it may be so but for the people who are actually in the industry I doubt its fiction for them.

      Sure, so when you daughter says she wants to do porn, says she wants to lick another woman’s shit hole, wants a man to cum all over her face, wants several men to go inside of her – even if it will hurt like hell and she’ll most likely bleed after and therefore, she’ll probably end up needing to take drugs during filming. You’ll let her?  

      wow. You are one sick guy.

      “business of telling women what they can do with their bodies and what sorts of sex they’re allowed to enjoy. …” well porn uses women that are vulnerable and desperate as mere sex objects, humiliates them, degrades them and tells the audience that women can be used like this.  I think you are deluding yourself by saying that pornstars ACTUALLY enjoy it? You believe it when a porn star says she enjoys herself? Of course, it is the mass idiots that believe anything, that buy into this crap. You forget it is her job and that ex-porn stars who are completely out of the porn industry have a entirely different opinion. 

  • CanadianNihilist

    I see this as an individual choice than a Humanist issue.
    If you like porn great, watch it. I watch it with my gf. There just isn’t a problem with it for us.

    However if you’re against it or don’t have a relationship where you can watch porn together without getting all uppity about it than simply don’t watch it.

    • Carla

      This experience can go tragically the other way. When I was a teenager, I had a boyfriend who wanted to watch porn with me. He used it as justification to force me to do things I didn’t want to, and abused my body image with it so thoroughly that I ended up with depression and an eating disorder. 

      Point: we need significantly more sex education in this country before porn can be a wholly neutral experience and a personal choice, not an issue. Porn’s fault? No. But still a factor to consider.

      • Michael

        Do you think that he wouldn’t have done these things without porn?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

         So just because you had a lousy experience with an abusive asshole, NOBODY should enjoy porn?

        …sheesh.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Yea, I’m going to go with Ms. Kalmanson on this. The  ‘porn causes douchebag behaviour’ canard has been a tired argument for long time now. I think you have to be unhinged or indoctrinated in the first place to do something harmful. Porn might be a contributing factor, perhaps a trigger, but I have a very hard time believing it’s the underlying cause of douchebaggery.

    • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

       

      The  ‘porn causes douchebag behaviour’ canard has been a tired argument for long time now.

      It’s a post hoc fallacy where people mess up cause and effect just like when people try to blame violence on video games. Ted Bundy didn’t become a serial killer because he watched a lot of porn. His addiction to violent porn was just another symptom of his psychopathy.

    • Carla

      Ted Bundy is one case, and the “‘porn causes douchebag behaviour’ canard” isn’t another tired argument. It’s supported by research that happens to be inconvenient to most people’s chosen perspective. 

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

         [citation needed]

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Including evidence of a causation, not simply a correlation.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

         Evidence, please.

  • Yaboiksar

    I’m female and work at a porn company. It’s the least sexist job I’ve ever had. More females than males work here. (And I’m in software development, not a star.) A few months ago I read somewhere that it’s getting close to almost half of porn companies are owned by females.

    Is there sex trade out there? Sure. But I think people confuse that with “pornography.” Besides the BDSM category (which some people like, male and female alike) I don’t understand why people think it’s all this violence against women. The FBI checks our servers monthly and we have to abide by the 2257 law where where have to keep the paperwork on the age of every single person in every movie we offer.

    I just think most people don’t really even know what the porn industry is even like.

    See Nina Heartly’s perspective on this issue. An atheist/feminist/porn star.

    And I for one am personally for allowing someone to do whatever they want to their own body as long as it isn’t hurting someone else.

    • Arclight

      Gee, a reasonable response from someone who has actual relevant knowledge? Seems like people should be listening to you…

      • Yaboiksar

         LOL

        Honestly, that sounds dangerous. =)

        Thank you for the compliment, though.

    • Pisk_A_Dausen

      Thanks for this comment. I’m on the fence about whether porn is a good thing, but my main worry is about whether people who work with it are satisfied (no pun intended), treated well etc. Whether or not it causes sexism/douchebaggery worries me less, for several reasons I won’t get into right now. (Others have covered it better than I could, too.)

      In prostitution there’s a huge difference between the kidnapped 15-year-old who’s been forced into a drug addiction, and the callgirl who enjoys both the sex and the money and who really can just quit if she feels like it. I can find a lot of info about both trafficking and callgirls, but it’s more difficult to see behind the curtain of the porn industry.

      For one thing, I had no idea a porn company would need software developers. :p Any bloggers at your workplace? It sounds like a source for fun blog stories. (A lot of my knowledge about the happy, consensual side of prostitution comes from blogs. Okay, my research methods aren’t scientific, but they’re very entertaining! Callgirls write hilarious blogs.)

      • Yaboiksar

        My company deals with not only hardware but also streaming content. That’s where the software development comes into play.

        No one is told we can’t talk about our jobs (which I do to a point on my Twitter account) but we are not allowed to get into details. I’m not sure if anyone here actually blogs. I know many of the stars do, though.

        I’ve recently started a website/blog for the many facets of my life and I’m sure I’ll get into my job some. Honestly, it would most likely be all tech related stuff, though.

        http://yaboiksar.com if you’d like to be bored to death, lol. Not much there yet.

        EDIT: Oh and yes, it is a hilarious job. You have to have a sense of humor to work in this industry. We have a good time and I really love my job.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

      I think most people really just see the fact that it’s porn, and bad, because it’s porn; and never really goes too much in-depth on what working in porn actually goes on as. To comment about the edit, I actually recall reading a story of that happening very often in Prague - with the article calling it the ‘gay porn capital of the world’. Anyways, depending on the video it may depict rape, which if that’s what they refer to I can see where they come from, but I don’t see just basic porn as having any problems involved in it.

    • A.J.

      Are you playing some kind of a sick joke? !  Why don’t you watch what this Ex-porn star has to say about the real truth.  Shelley Lubben.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ddPHfYDkDE&feature=related 

      “I for one am personally for allowing someone to do whatever they want to their own body as long it isn’t hurting someone else” … So if your daughter said I want to be a porn star, you’d happily allow her to do so?  No matter how worthless you are treated, no matter how many degrading acts you have to do, no matter how many men you have to have sex with without condoms.  

      If a drug addict wants to continue doing drugs and injecting heroin, you’re going to let them continue doing it? Just because someone decides to do something, it doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. 

      “”The bottom line is,ask any porn “star”,director or the average person,would you like your daughter to chose this as her career path?Answer=NO!This sum’s up porn,we are all attracted to viewing it,but we all subconsciously know/see the latent immorality of it! “”” – -

      Are you really a female righting this?? Because if you are, well I’m shocked. Anal sex, gang bangs, slapping, sex during filming which can take forever as they need to stop, re-act and stop so on. Is GOING TO HURT PHYSICALLY. And the only way they are going to deal with this through tough drugs. 

      Also do you honestly think these women are psychologically/mentally well? 

      here’s a link on drugs and STIs in the porn industry http://www.shelleylubben.com/porn-stars-speak-out-stds-drugs-and-abuse-0

      Do you honestly think a Woman from a decent background, financially comfortable is going to choose Porn as a career? Majority of these women in the porn industry are desperate.  And this is why porn is a form exploitation, exploitation of the vulnerable groups of women out there. 

      I’m not sure what porn industry you work in but with all the humiliating, degrading, hardcore stuff going around these days, porn doesn’t seem right at all. It only seems to be displaying shocking amounts of misogyny and for this I am seriously concerned about my what my future children will grow up watching and what ideas they’ll be getting into their minds.

      And about the payment. A lot of these girls are “pimped” by their managers and not all of them get paid well. A porn star can also get coerced into doing things they don’t want. 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxUq_zzvAaA 

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/jul/14/hardcore-abuse-of-women-in-porn 

      • A.J.

        on more thing.  ALL PORNSTARS that are currently still doing porn are OBVIOUSLY going to say they like it and that it’s great blah blah blah… 
        the reason: THEY HAVE TO SELL, IT’S THEIR JOB and they NEED THE MONEY. So of course they are going to lie and say whatever they have to say in order to sell. 

        This is just common sense. 

      • Yaboiksar

        Um, no, not playing a sick joke and it looks like someone needs to just calm down a little and actually read what I wrote. I’m completely in agreement with you where you say (down below) that it needs to be regulated more and in a way that is safe for everyone involved (also fair to everyone involved).

        You must have missed the part where I said yes, the bad stuff does go on but I work for the largest provider of porn on the internet and as I said we are visited by the FBI monthly. If you didn’t take the time to look up what the 2257 law is, here’s a link: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2257

        The issue isn’t black and white. If my “of age” daughter came to me and said this is what she wanted to do, I’d still love her as much as if she came to me and said she wanted to be anything else. Why? Because she’s another human being and not me. Do people want their kids to go into this kind of thing? No. And no one ever said they did. But I’m not going to look down on those that do choose to do it. And yes, a lot do choose to do it because of the money.

        I’m all for a more structured system. But I also believe prostitution and drugs should be legal as well. I think it takes away the bad elements you speak of.

        We basically agree, I just know it isn’t as black and white as you make it since I work in it. The studios we work with would like the same thing because it would mean more profits.

        I can’t speak for every place, of course. But I’m not lying when I say this has been the least sexist job I’ve ever had. And I’ve worked at Marvel Comics, hospitals, comic shops, Adobe, AOL, etc. 

        I find it hard to believe that every actor/actress is lying when they say “yes this is what I want to do.” And I think you do them a great disservice by alluding to the fact that if they are doing this, they must not want to or be capable of doing anything else. 

        I watched porn when I was a teenager (who didn’t? first thing you look up when you get internet, heh) and even before having sex myself, I knew it was fake. I don’t know a male or female who thought that’s how sex is/was. I’m sure there are those that do. But I don’t think the majority do and honestly, the first time they have sex and it isn’t like that it should pretty much put that misconception to bed (no pun intended). Someone who is “into” doing horrible things to others, has always wanted/liked to do horrible things to others and it wasn’t the game/book/movie/music, etc that caused them to do it.

        We are sexual creatures. And we are individuals. Some people like different things. As long as everything is in a controlled environment, then I don’t see what the problem is. As I said in my original statement. Hell, we have a category called “pedal pushing” where it’s nothing but women wearing high heels pushing on the gas pedal of various vehicles. Do I understand that at all? Nope. But there are people who like it.

        Ok, I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself. Hopefully I’ve explained myself better. But really, no need to go on the attack (your tone was a bit aggressive) and if you weren’t then I apologize. But that’s what it sounded like.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    If anyone thinks that porn has “singular [...] expectations for female beauty and sexuality” then they’re just not paying attention. The porn industry will work with any body type and sexuality they can sell, and that turns out to be pretty much all of them.

    • Yaboiksar

       +1

    • RobMcCune

      Exactly, that criticism applies more to TV ads than than porn.

  • Salty

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that there are many different kinds of porn?   And as Yaboiskar mentioned, a lot of  porn today is made by women, and for women.  I don’t support pornography that features violence, or suffering, or the dehumanization of men or women.   But damn, I love watching attractive people genuinely enjoying themselves in a consensual erotic setting.  Sex is natural, sex is fun, and if we acknowledge that women seek sexual pleasure just as men do, and we as a society allow women to seek pleasure, we will all be better off.   With better porn, too.

    • Fsq

      I just loved that “Two Girls and a Cup” thing….

      (yes, tongue firmly in cheek – no double entendre intended…..)

    • cin

      Talk about believing anything someone writes. ”
      a lot of  porn today is made by women” .. go to any porn sites that show you the directors and you will see that out of  lets say 20, you’ll probably only get 2 female directors. 

      Agree though, sensual porn where both man and woman are receiving pleasure and it isn’t just about one giving and other just using and receiving.  Where it isn’t about humiliating or degrading a woman seems fine but its the whole industry that is problem. We just don’t know whether these women are really enjoying it or are being coerced  or are on drugs or whatever. It’s difficult. But the fact that a lot of the porn is heading towards the negative road and that the majority of porn is geared towards pleasing men only (regardless of how dehumanized the woman is) is a truly sad and sick.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    As long as both of the actors are doing it without coercion, then yes.

    If there’s behind-the-scenes abuse or coercion or anything like that, no.

    • Michael

      As should be the case in any job. The police just broke up a gang over here who were coercing people into construction.

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

        Yep. The problem with porn is that there is a bit of an extra exploitative angle to it. I say the rule with porn should be the rule with sex in general: enthusiastic consent.

        And of course a fair contract and payment for services rendered - although those are not needed with (most) sexual arrangements.

        • The Other Weirdo

           There is always a contract(might be an implied one) and payment for services rendered(might not be cash) with most sexual arrangements. There’s always a price to be paid.

  • vexorian

     In fact, I will argue that humanists need to support porn more.

    The first argument is great, but it is not against porn as a whole, but against sexist porn that trivializes violence and gives false expectations of women AND sex to the males. Not to mention the cases in which the entertainers are forced to perform their jobs.

    But it is not the only kind of porn. I do not really have any stats here, but even if assuming that was the majority of professional porn, I can assure you that it is not the only one.

    This is the reason, there should be more humanists supporting and encouraging the better porn. Porn can be enjoyed both men and women, it can portray a realistic and even educative view of sex and it can promote healthier lives rather than do the opposite, as such we should be more open and perhaps vote with our wallets to make sure healthy porn thrives. Because if we just ignore the industry, it will continue developing and unhealthy porn will go unaddressed.

  • Lucilius

    I think it may be creating a bit of a false dichotomy to argue that humanists “should/shouldn’t support” porn. I don’t think those are the only two choices. I’d go for the “Meh” option myself: not active support, but not active opposition either. Let the religious freak out over porn for “moral” reasons; that doesn’t mean we have to get similarly involved.
    I’m for defending people’s right to make porn in free-speech grounds, but outside of defending that, I don’t think it should really be a big issue. Barring, of course, the physical harm and coercion that others have already mentioned, we can react to it by merely noting this is one more peripheral issue on which some of the religious lose all perspective.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I think there’s a subtle shift of semantics going on here.  There’s a difference between supporting, and not having an opinion, and opposing.  It sort of seemed to my like the article was saying Humanists should oppose porn.  In which case I guess you could argue Humanists should also oppose alcohol.  I’m not sure that Humanists  should ‘support’ either porn or alcohol, but, like, what about a separation of Humanism and things some people choose to do which in some way harm people, but other people enjoy?  I don’t drink alcohol, and I think it does massive harm to society, but I’m not going to look down on anyone who decides they want to drink while not operating heavy machinery.

    • Carla

      Those are the hard questions that religion gives an answer to without any consideration of the facts and complications. Sucks that we have to be the ones stuck actually thinking about how to deal with this stuff.

  • Michael

    Kaitlin and Gayle would have done better if they’d skipped the myth that only one body type is present in porn. Everyone who reads porn knows this is false. In fact, there is a far greater diversity of face and body shape in porn than in mainstream films. 

    If your partner watches porn that makes you uncomfortable, ask if you can find something that you both like. I assure you there is good stuff featuring people slightly less pert than you.

    • jack

      Problems is most of the girls you are watching on your screen performing those sexual acts are probably drugged or drunk.    If it is a hardcore scene, then this is probably very true. Most women should tell you long periods of sex, rough sex at that,  can get painful  and with these girls they have to film, meaning, cutting and acting and pausing and generally a very long process.  Not to mention all the  other horrible things…

      Another problem, is that these women in the films probably go home feeling worthless and used, ashamed, probably promises to stop filming porn but for some other reason, financial, drugs, low self esteem/worth or whatever it is, they carry on filming.  A spiral,  they probably end up feeling depressed, anxious, suicidal.  

      So not only are you most likely watching an alcoholic/drug addict performing but overall your probably watching a very mentally unwell person too. 

      Every reason to feel uncomfortable. 
      Hope you enjoy yourself.  I don’t know how you can. Unless you can guarantee that the woman wasn’t into any drugs and wasn’t in pain and was completely fine. problem is, we can’t. Not to mention the high risk of contracting an STI – which majority of pornstars do contract- lets face it, they hardly use condoms.

      dead porn stars: what they died of 
      http://www.francesfarmersrevenge.com/stuff/archive/oldnews/deadpornstars.htm 

       

  • Bryan

    There have been a number of studies comparing the availability/consumption of pornography with crime.  Generally speaking, more porn = less rape/violent crime against women (or, at a minimum, no change – exact details vary country-to-country).  One example:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2032762

    Yes, it is purely correlative, but it is (generally) consistent with direct experimental studies and other epidemiological ones.  The rationalist in me says “follow the data”…

    Bryan

  • Onamission5

    The category of “porn,” like the categories of “music” and “art” and “food” and “sex” and “video games” and “books” is not a singular entity but a vast continuum of everything from foot fetishism to some seriously violent and perverse stuff. To lump all sexually stimulating imagery into one label and then categorically dismiss that singular label as degrading or exploitative, it does an injustice not only to those substantial parts of the porn industry which are not exploitative, but also to the very exploited people we should be trying to help. 

    Saying that all porn is degrading or promotes violent behavior because some does is akin to saying all books are bad because some books contain some pretty awful shit. It doesn’t help anyone, and one might argue that it actually adds to the marginalization problem.

    • Myers24

       i completely agree with you. if most tv it total crap that offers us very specific ideals of beauty (male or female), then should we ban tv? obviously not. moreover, let’s go with the “women are being objectified/exploited” argument (sure, some porn does this, but not all). in what way are men NOT objectified in pornography? female porn stars often make more money than their male counterparts. in much of porn that i’ve seen, the man’s face is rarely shown, he never speaks, and he’s just a hunk of muscle with a penis. that screams objectification to me.

      also, consider that “porn” is an umbrella term. there’s now a huge group of people making home movies of themselves. is that something that should be regulated and/or banned? porn is just another way of people owning, understanding, and accepting their sexual natures. it’s a part of our humanity. and THAT is very much in line with my humanist values.

    • not ok

      And the issue is that most of the people working in the porn industry contract STIs, are on drugs, are alcoholics, are from concerning backgrounds, are unstable/poor financially, already suffer from or will eventually suffer from depression/ suicidal thoughts, have been/will be abused, suffer from physical pain/emotional pain. 

      This isn’t the case with most authors of books. What a pathetic comparison. Authors aren’t having their body’s constantly abused, used, whatever you call it by other people, being filmed to lose their dignity and being watched by millions.

       In addition. When asked, would you want your children to grow up and become pornstars? the answer from everyone is no. No one wants that, but they won’t mind watching others children grow up to become porn stars.  What does that say?  

  • Fsq

    This is a true false dichotomy.

    We don’t have to do either!

    This entire question operates on the flawed assumption that humanists have to take a stand, one side or the other; in fact, we do not have to do this.

  • Raven

    Problems with the porn *industry* are different from problems with pornography in itself. You can be against the former without objecting to the latter.

  • Thalfon

    I’m on my phone and it’s exam day so I can’t look them up at the moment, but Greta Christina has a couple really well written pieces on this topic worth checking out.

    • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

      Yeah her writings on it are fantastic.

  • Ericka

    Feminists who demonize porn by painting it with such a broad brush run Tue risk of memorizing male sexuality and that’s not cool. I was taught to be ashamed of my sexuality because of my religious background and I know how horrible that feels and how difficult that can be to overcome.

    It’s fair to complain about some specific accepts of some specific pieces of porn. But the best way to change what’s on the market is to go support the good stuff. Go buy porn that shows more realistic people having real fun. Support female porn producers. Shop at stores like Babeland and Good Vibrations.

  • Ericka

    Arg! Autocorrect fail.

    Feminists who demonize porn by painting it with such a broad brush run the risk of demonizing male sexuality and that’s not cool. I was taught to be ashamed of my sexuality because of my religious background and I know how horrible that feels and how difficult that can be to overcome.

    It’s fair to complain about some specific accepts of some specific pieces of porn. But the best way to change what’s on the market is to go support the good stuff. Go buy porn that shows more realistic people having real fun. Support female porn producers. Shop at stores like Babeland and Good Vibrations.

  • Michael

    I always think it’s funny how any discussion of the morality of porn leaves gay porn out of the debate. I attended the same debate series between Ron Jeremy and the porn pastor, and I brought up the fact that were it not for porn, I wouldn’t have realized that I was gay for a much longer time (maybe until after I was married to a woman, even). The fact that when I was watching porn, I was only interested in men, forced me to realize that I was gay at an age before I had made any major life decisions assuming I was straight.

  • InvincibleIronyMan

    I think what makes this a contentious issue more than anything is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with porn in principal, only that in practice actually existing porn is shot through with deeply ingrained misogyny. IMO this is more of a reflection of the society that produced the porn rather than the notion of porn itself. 

    I am a sex-positive feminist. I certainly do not agree with, and in fact I oppose, Andrea Dworkin’s thesis that all penetrative sex is tantamount to rape. What I can say is that her argument is not as crazy as many people seem to think it is, and it is certainly not without merit. I can easily see how a gay woman, who had watched as much straight porn as she must have done in order to research her book “Pornography”, might get that impression. The majority of straight porn that I have seen is deeply disrespectful to women, and plays on notions of ownership and exploitation as if they are fun and sexy, which to me they are not.

    Anyway, I am feeling an essay coming on, but I am not going to write it here in the comments section. Sorry! :-)

  • Savoy47

    These singular and physically dangerous expectations for female beauty … 

    Did she ever hear of “granny” or “Fat Girl” porn? 

    • Yaboiksar

      Grannies and BBW for our content. (Big Beautiful Women)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

    When I was a Christian fundie, I was adamantly anti-porn.  Of course, I used the whole “it demeans women” argument. And, I was told by a family member that watching porn increases the likelihood that someone will commit a sexually violent crime. She told me this right around the same time that I came out about my sexual abuse, so of course, I believed her.

    But over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to not only not be anti-porn, but to enjoy porn myself. It has allowed me to be a lot more comfortable with different aspects of sex, etc. And, it allows me to enjoy women (I’m bisexual), which is an experience I wouldn’t have otherwise because I’m married.

    Porn has also allowed my husband and I to be more honest about what we like. It’s easier to point at a screen and be like, “Yep, that right there looks fun” instead of awkwardly trying to explain something.

    Of course there is porn that demeans women. I’m sure there’s also porn that demeans men. The thought of someone enjoying rape porn makes me, as a survivor, want to vomit. But to put all porn under the umbrella of “demeaning” to women is ridiculous. As long as a woman is voluntarily participating in the industry, I say more power to her.

    Also, I’m going to echo what many people have said here: there is no ONE body type or expectation that is presented in porn. Believe me, I’ve seen it all.

    • Stev84

      It depends on whether it’s about demeaning the actors or their characters. As far as the characters are concerned it’s usually the women who are portrayed negatively. But on the acting side, women are the stars. They get all the attention and most of the money. The men are little more than walking cocks and most straight porn is shot to focus on the women (though weirdly except for the orgasm, but that’s changing somewhat with porn shot by women). The men are told to not block the women, which is why you see a lot of positions like reverse cowgirl and doggy that keep the man out of the way

      • jack.s

        Hardly. Women don’t get majority of the money in a lot of the cases. It’s is the producer or their manager a.k.a their pimp. The women who make the gold are very few out of the thousands – millions who actually in the industry.  A lot of the women also never last for long in the industry and so never really get a chance to move up and actually “make it”. 

        the reason its shot to focus on the women is purely because its all supposed to be from a man’s perspective. When a man has sex, he sees the woman not himself!! 

    • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com/ WhatPaleBlueDot

      The rape porn makes me unbelievably upset (as a former victim).  But though I don’t want to watch it, It isn’t real, it is consented, and some people (men and women) like it and have consented “rape” fantasies.  Even some former victims.  It’d be nice if they weren’t included in compilation videos without warning, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    All the porn I have ever seen has the males working as sex tools,  well expect from some early 70′s porn, which tended to focus of the guy’s face at certain times. 

    We get extremes in ever human endeavour, extreme ironing for example. We just need to find a rational acceptable mid ground.

  • quantheory

    Cross-posting the comment I left on the first article:
     
    Just once it would be nice to have the authors of such a criticism, without
    actually being prompted to do so, acknowledge how gay porn fits into
    their argument. Or lesbian porn not targeted at straight men (admittedly
    overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that *is* made for straight
    men).

    Just once it would be nice to have a short definition or explanation
    of what “pornography” is being taken to mean that does not implicitly
    redefine the word. And are we talking just commercial media, or
    including stuff that’s not intended to make money? Do drawings count?
    Does erotic fiction count? Do true stories with graphical discussions of
    sex count? It would be nice to have one of these criticisms explicitly
    state whether it includes “amateur” porn and other such
    non-stereotypical media. (Are they off the hook for being “cheaper” and
    “less refined”, or not?)

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been tangentially involved
    in the making of erotica that, while possibly outside the definition of
    “pornography” as used in this article, would probably be called “gay
    porn” by most people, so this is of personal relevance to me. And I
    would take offense at it being called “cheaper” and “less-refined”
    generally.)

    This article takes the common tactic of actually *defining* the word
    pornography as being all the bad stuff (in that it involves unacceptably
    glorified depictions of abuse and degradation), and uses “erotica” for
    everything else. Honestly, that seems like a shameless trick involving
    ambiguity; of course pornography is bad (objectifying, unrealistic,
    whatever) if you redefine it to only include bad things, but that
    doesn’t mean anything about whether pornography as usually defined is
    bad.

    And it doesn’t help to say that the way that most people are bad at
    “identifying” what porn really is, and therefore you get to declare
    yourself (or the group sharing your philosophical/cultural identity) as
    the authority on what the word should mean. (In my experience,
    “pornography” is colloquially used to describe any sexually explicit
    work whose primary purpose is to titillate, or in particular any such
    work with a graphical depiction of nudity. This is a very different
    definition than saying that pornography refers to all erotica involving
    abuse and degradation. The latter definition also implies that all BDSM
    porn is wrong by definition, which is a whole new can of worms; I have a
    serious problem with the implication that *all* power play in sex,
    regardless of its nature and scope, is wrong.)

    All that said, I’m not at all opposed to a feminist critique of
    pornography as such. I have to admit that I’m actually quite
    uncomfortable with some of the cultural staples of “mainstream” porn
    (straight and gay and other types too). It’s just that this argument is
    not very convincing when applied to erotica generally, and of limited
    utility while this hangup over the meaning of “pornography” persists. An
    actual exploration of what should be considered acceptable or worrisome
    or dangerous in erotic work seems like an important discussion to have,
    and a laundry list of potential and actual bad effects of pornography
    would be a starting point. But assigning that laundry list of bad
    qualities to all porn, and then narrowing the definition of the word
    “porn” to make your argument tautological, I don’t think that’s very
    meaningful.

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    Ignoring the argument that porn contains a large portion of objectification of women for a second I think the data (like it does with film, video games etc.) shows that people are not influenced in the way people think. Most people realize that it’s fantasy.

  • Jamiefnews

    Not all porn is the same. Even if we’re only talking about American porn, there’s something for everyone, mild to wild, a dizzying array of pairings, and many amateurs who do it for their own gratification. 

    And how much of it is connected with human trafficking? I’m sure there are those who are coerced, or for whom the choice is not freely or casually made. But is porn a causal factor? I don’t see it. 

    As humanists I think we can concern ourselves with the issues of human trafficking, sexual exploitation of adults and minors, sexist behavior and busting stereotypes. We can also do something about building healthy acceptance of sexuality for everyone. 

  • TimothyWells

    Porn is chock full of some of the vilest stuff you’ll see, most of which is composed of Racism, Race fetishism, and Sexism.  It’s pretty easy to tell whats what. I’m into BDSM, and i’m fine with what happens in consensual games and fantasies, but I cringe when watching your average porn flick when you can tell their attitudes are for real.

    If you like the idea of pornography, but don’t like what’s out there, do something about it. The minimum you can do is try to consume ethical porn. Vote with your dollars.  Better yet, be an entrepreneur, and start your own ethical porn company.

  • BrentSTL

    Speaking of which, the Ethical Society of St. Louis had a Platform address about this very topic a few weeks ago, given by the Society’s Leader, Kate Lovelady. It’s called “In Defense of Smut” (her term for porn). The podcast is now available; here it is:

    http://ethicalstl.org/ethical-community/podcasts.html

    Give it a listen, I think you’ll find it fascinating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/msorens1 Mark Sorensen

    One problem I usually have with anti-porn arguments is that they usually break down if you try to apply them to gay porn. If the only reasons you can come up with against porn pick out risks to women then you haven’t done a good job of showing why all porn is bad.

    • Kathrin

      My argument (and one I’m certainly willing to reconsider) is that I found that my use of erotic material was causing me to see people more as sexual objects, and reducing the drive and desire I had towards my spouse.

      I don’t want to tell people what they can and can’t produce (or use), but I do believe that the use and production of pornography can be harmful to people (much like smoking).  In many cases, it may not be harmful.

      This particular objection doesn’t rely on discrimination between men and women from a harm basis, either.

  • Dbaker13

    Can porn be degrading? Yes. Can books be degrading? Yes. Can movies, television, radio, etc.? Of course!

    I see commenters talking about how people understand fiction, and I agree. It’s rare that someone watches a movie like The Rock, and then tries to hijack missiles and take Alcatraz over. I argue that it’s just as rare for someone to watch a porn movie and try to have anal sex with her while she cries.

    Porn actors and actresses choose this line of work. If they enjoy it, and it’s not hurting someone else, it’s not my place to condemn it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    violent porn isn’t necessarily dehumanizing or neglecting women’s pleasure. Max Hardcore went to jail over the abusive nature of his porn videos, but all the women he worked with were happy with the conditions.

  • Curioushelen

    Once again I’m sitting on the fence, when it comes to this. I see both arguments and am swaying towards the more anti porn argument (as such). As I women, who has experienced plenty of male partners, secretly getting their fix, I can say, although I see it as an undangerous, rather male orientated act, I still am offended when its uncovered. Despite the fact I wouldn’t condemn porn, I still am helplessly offended when the occasion occurs. Moral, I can’t see any wrong, emotionally I do. It’s between individuals in a partnership.

    On a side note, psychological scars are grown and desensitisation of the penis through repeated , habitually mastabration, for fellows who’ve been single a long time. A real issue experienced by women…. Something to consider and look up !

    • Zadius

      All the more reason I’d like to see the stigma against porn subside.  A lot of men hide it from their partner for fear that she’ll be upset, but I think hiding it only makes it appear more shady.  It’s better to be open and honest.  A lot of women worry that men watch porn because they’re unhappy with the sex life, but it’s really not true.  I watch porn no matter how good my sex life is, because I always have had a stronger sex drive than my girlfriends.  It’s a masturbation aid and is no different than a vibrator, really.  The difference is, men need help with the visual stimulation, not so much the physical stimulation.  We’ve got that part covered pretty well.

    • brianmacker

      So what are you saying here? You want the penis to be hypersensitive so you can get it over with as quick as possible. Your final objection is that porn prevents premature ejaculation? how else to interpret your unexplained concern for the desensitization of the penis?

  • http://nicepoems.wordpress.com/ nice poet

    I’m disappointed by the reference to pornography’s “homogenous representations of beauty and sexual activities …” It’s a bit like complaining that literature contain “homogenous representations of dialogue”. One thing that amazes me about porn is the *variety*: There’s really something to suit every taste. I occasionally think, only half tongue-in-cheek, that women who are feeling down about their shape, their hairiness, their skin colour, or any other aspect of their looks, should look at a niche porn site. It’s an almost sure-fire way of realising that a surprising number of people find them desirable.

    That said, there may be a certain homogeneity in the way heterosexual men are portrayed. But, for some reason, Cottle and Tyree didn’t mention that.

  • Cortex_Returns

    Stopped reading the first one at “singular and physically dangerous expectations for female beauty and sexuality that are perpetuated by pornography.”  The standards of beauty are actually much less rigid than Hollywood’s or TV’s.

    Stopped reading the second at “Let’s go ahead and condemn offensive behavior simply for what it is: jerks behaving like jerks.” As if no decent people have ever acted like jerks, and social variables have nothing to do with the way we treat others? I guess I should burn my degrees, then.

    Most people here have made the case that porn isn’t a monolith, and they’re right. Maybe most porn companies are even actually on the up and up. I don’t know, and I don’t care to research it, so whatever, good point. But there is some seriously fucked-up, not-okay shit out there, and we need to acknowledge that, too. I’m not even talking about the play-violent or other obviously staged stuff. There are depictions of tricking women into sex, with no clear indication that it’s fictional, and there are even websites that actively encourage men to submit naked pictures and sex videos of their ex-girlfriends. Tell me in what universe that’s ethically permissible!

    And sure, a lot of porn is harmless and all in good fun. But doesn’t all this “moderate” porn just provide a nice safe shelter from criticism for the more “extremist” porn? 

  • Neil

    I understand the emotions that such a subject can bring out in people.  But most often, those feelings are based in ignorance.  I have never yet heard an anti-porn perspective that wasn’t an unfair generalization, tarring all porn with the excesses of the worst, and never admitting that much like TV, movies and video games, almost all the scientific evidence shows that attitudes are not heavily shaped by porn exposure.  I have also never read an anti-porn perspective that wasn’t ignoring the existence of autonomous women who enjoy porn of a variety of kinds(of which there are in fact many.)   The few exceptionally crappy people who do watch a violent porn and then go rape somebody or try to force or coerce their girlfriend into uncomfortable sexual situations are people who didn’t need to watch a porn to have a lack of respect for women.

    The demonization of sex in American culture is still rolling full tilt, cynically used by those hungry for control over people, and fueled by the average American’s ignorant panic about all things sexual.  For all the porn available, all the strip clubs, all the places and times where sex is sold or used to sell something, we still have very ignorant, fearful and irrational notions about sex deeply ingrained into us.  The last thing I want to see is a large portion of the freethinking community jump on the anti-sex bandwagon in any way.  The problems that women face in porn are a reflection of the greater society, not the other way around.   

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with sex, with movies of sex, or even with fantasy porn that some might find ugly or gross.  There is a lot of frank, honest discussion that needs to happen, and yet a very few voices (such as Greta Christina) ever even make the attempt to talk realistically about it.  I have known happy, healthy people who have worked in porn(straight and gay) and enjoyed it.  We don’t get to hear about them.  I’ve known a woman who enjoyed being spanked roughly, held down, and “pretend violated”.  This was no sickness, it was a harmless fetish that she enjoyed greatly.  She loved every second of it, filmed it for her own pleasure, had multiple enthusiastic participants, and could have made big bucks if she hadn’t been afraid of her religious family finding out.  We don’t get to hear her story.  Supposedly rational adults, with little or no religious “residue” in their thinking, are often still embarrassed, shy, even downright terrified of talking out loud about real sex.  Blanket anti-porn sentiment does absolutely nothing but feed right into the plans of people who gain from this irrational stigma.  I believe that anti-porn activism, even from a feminist perspective, does active harm by reducing the exposure that “normal” people get to the wide variety of sexual experience.  The claims of “damage” done by porn are never really evidenced, but I have known many, many people who enjoy it and even got new, healthier perspectives on sex through exposure that they never would have without porn.

    One thing I see plenty of in America is rampant slut-shaming and other real, harmful effects that spring at least in part from our irrational shame-based responses to sexual topics.  Here’s a nice article about a science teacher who got fired because she used to do porn, and a whole lot of holier-than-thou jerks explaining why (or rather, ignorantly proclaiming that) a woman who enjoys or profits from sex could never, ever have anything else to offer as a teacher, and should not be allowed such a career.  Porn didn’t do this to her…anti-porn people did this to her, and I’ve known some otherwise rational feminists who would fit right in with that mob.  I know that I may have many blind spots of male privilege, but one thing I (and my S.O.) certainly do not need is an atheist or feminist “pope” telling me what kind of sex to enjoy or how to repress myself to make others who can’t mind their own business more comfortable.  And I don’t think anybody else needs it, either.  The link is from The Smoking Gun, and has possibly NSFW pics.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/porn-star-teacher-fired-7893412?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150824621774365_23639739_10150824662289365#fa3e1390a1175f       

     

    • Stev84

      Another good example is Mz Berlin, who was forced to retire so as to not lose custody of her son after a newspaper published her real name:

      http://www.salon.com/2009/07/08/mzberlin/

      And of course the “journalist” who outed her also wrote lots of crap about consensual BDSM being torture and what not.

  • http://twitter.com/TachibanaEri Patience Virtue

    The only reason for porn to destroy relations between men and women is if men see women as only sexual beings and then hold them up to those porn standards. If men see women like they see men–as human beings with varieties of skills and flaws–then it won’t matter if her boobs are imperfect because she is smart and creative and strong and funny and sweet; things you can never experience from looking at porn. Frankly, I think making porn out to be this powerful thing says that the most important thing about a woman is her body.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scumbagstyle Mark Hurley

    The idea is complete absurdity, as will be pointed out in numerous ways by other commenters. One of the ideas I wanted to refute on a personal level is the one that the viewer of porn, whilst focusing on the sexual act, is not taking the woman’s personality into account. On the contrary, I personally find pornography boring if the woman does not express any emotion or self in the scene. How does she FEEL about being double penetrated while hanging upside down, I’d like to know. If she doesn’t react, how can I tell if she is enjoying it or not, and adjust my self-ministrations accordingly? If anything, it is more often the man (in traditional porn) that is used as the anonymous stand-in, good only for his member. And even if it were true that porn removes the woman’s self from the equation, must all art include every aspect of the subject. Wouldn’t that severely muddy the result and make it, in effect, not art?

  • http://twitter.com/liberalanon Formerly Not Guilty

    This is a gigantic debate amongst feminists too. As long as the porn doesn’t depict degradation or violence against anybody, women included, and they appear to be enjoying it ie) they aren’t portrayed as being forced into it, I can’t say I have a huge issue with it.

  • Zadius

    I’m a guy who enjoys porn from time to time.  What I’d like to point out is that I honestly believe normal men watching porn are not objectifying or dehumanizing women because normal men are not attracted to objects or non-humans.  We are attracted to real women, and when we watch porn we’re fantasizing about real women.  Granted, we are fantasizing about an “ideal” woman, but my ideal woman is anything but an “object.”

    Interestingly, I saw something on TV about a phenomenon where some Japanese men are buying sophisticated sex robots.  These men were lonely and a bit creepy and pathetic, but one thing struck me: they totally personify their robots.  They act as though these robots are real.  So, here we have actual sex objects, and the men don’t even objectify them!  They do the opposite and talk to them as though they are real people.  The truth is, these men have failed with real women and this is their plan B.

    For the rest of us who are a bit less desperate, porn is plan B as well.  I’d much rather be sharing an intimate moment with a real woman that I love and care for, but when that is not available, I’ll use my imagination.  Porn comes in a higher resolution than my mind can create, therefore I watch it.  Simple as that.

  • TristanVick

    In my research I have found that the societal effects of porn help to protect women from violent crime.

    Also, in more liberal countries and sexually progressive countries, like Japan, women with high paying jobs will choose to go into the porn industry as a carrier choice and not simply because they were duped into it. 

    As long as it is the woman’s choice, and it causes more good than harm, then why would anyone be opposed to it–except for their distorted and perhaps misinformed views they have accumulated from detractors of pornography instead of taking the time to actually investigate the effects of porn itself?

    I wrote an article on this very thing, if anyone is interested.

    http://advocatusatheist.blogspot.jp/2011/02/what-world-needs-now-is-love-sweet-love.html 

    –Advocatus Atheist

  • TristanVick

    Also, I should state that Virgin fetish based cultures, and religions, such as Islam and Christianity, do more to ‘objectify’ women than pornography ever has.

    Feminist author 
    Jessica Valenti’s book The Purity Myth goes into detail about the negative side effects of purity culture and its cultural ramifications. 

    Also, the Porn Report, published by the University of Melbourne only found positive causal links between porn and society: such as porn leading to a decrease in violent crimes against women.

    This research is backed up by the studies done by Milton Diamond and Ayako Uchiyama, found in their article “Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan,” Published:International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22. 1999. 
    Available online: http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/1961to1999/1999-pornography-rape-sex-crimes-japan.html

    Porn, it seems, is good for society. 

  • dangeroustalk

    I weigh in on this debate: Pornography: Is it moral? – http://t.co/Sokf63jz 

  • dangeroustalk

     She is flat out wrong on the facts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532665943 Leoal Nelson

    My opinion? If you wanted to ban porn, then (like alcohol) people are going to want it anyways. And I would imagine the type of people willing to break the law to make porn will be a whole lot worse than the people who are doing it now. As it is, it seems that most porn is either professionally made (which, while it has its body image issues) at least the women are paid decently and have quite a bit of say in what they will or won’t do; or else it is amateur stuff, in which case who’s to say someone can’t film themselves and post it on the internets…. as long as both (all?) parties are willing.

    I’m not denying other porn exists….but I think those sorts of things are dealt with as separate issues than as just “porn”

  • Quince

    I do always get a bit irritated when I see “degrading to women” arguments against porn. Like many people have said…gay porn doesn’t exist? Lesbian porn?  Porn where the woman is pushing around a guy? And what’s wrong with degrading if someone feels like being degraded? Porn with people all cuddly and sexy, complete with awkward, visibility maximizing positions?

    I don’t like ALL porn, but I’ve definitely enjoyed some of it. I’m very glad it’s around.

  • Pollracker

    I just have to stand by my belief that what someone wants to do with their own body is there business. If some women find it degrading they dont have to do it. But we must also remember an overwhelming amount of porn has men and women in it. Can it not be said that those who watch straight porn degrad the men too. It is my belief that jerks should be called jerks. But that veiwing some porn doesnt make them that way.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Why all the focus on women? If straight porn demeans women  and objectifies women then does gay porn demean men and objectify them? Most porn doesn’t involve violence. Also porn doesn’t focus on just one particular idea of “beauty”. Porn focuses on pretty much any type that will make money.

  • Withheld

    I think studio porn is creepy. I don’t think it’s wrong or should be subject to censorship if all parties are comfortable with what they’re doing, no one is coerced into discomfort with money, and all of the business-side stuff is ethical, transparent, and above the table. I just think it’s creepy to watch waxed models have joyless sex.

    I think in the current e-climate we’re seeing more and more of a switch to homemade porn. With home video getting better and video-sharing becoming commonplace, I think homemade porn is taking up the slack that studio porn is starting to show. This does have a lot of potential for abuse, since it’s unlikely that voyeuristic couples are going to do the same amount of paperwork as studio companies, but it also shows real people having real sex in real situations, which is much healthier psychologically than airbrushed models being used as sex dolls.

    I can’t help but see optimistic trends in the way we create and enjoy porn.

  • The Other Weirdo

    My main concern with porn is with the East European stuff.  I just don’t know how free-to-leave those girls really are.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/115688405302888337564/posts Twistinglily

    Slightly out of topic. This whole porn debate reminded me of Google donation last years to end modern day slavery that was criticized by Violet Blue ( http://www.zdnet.com/blog/violetblue/sex-tech-weekly-google-sex-protest-vatican-dot-xxx-sopa/880) and she linked to this article by Swaay (http://www.swaay.org/action/google.html). Why am I bringing this up? Because I just realized that one of problematic organizations being mentioned is Polaris Project, one of 2011 Q4 beneficiaries of Foundation Beyond Belief. Does anyone has more information about this?

  • brianmacker

    Seems like no Humanists shouldn’t have problem with male gay porn if I understand these arguments correctly.

  • Sam

    As a humanist I don’t really have a problem with porn, but even if someone convinced me otherwise, I would not be for illegalizing it. History shows how restricting things make them much worse, and the best thing you can do is keep it legal and have safe regulations. (ex: alcohol, drugs and prostitution.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelangelog Michael Angelo Gaudio

    lets not question whether a hammer is good or bad, but whether we are using it to tear down or to build:

    To me the question of porn being good or bad is too much of a blanket question.  Sexual intimacy is one of the greatest tools we hold to express direct affection to another person.  Yet, we, as a culture, do not properly teach the value of sexual relationships….we almost always approach sex in terms of whether it IS moral or Isn’t Moral….not as a question of it being constructive or destructive to our relationships.  

    I can go on about this subject for quite a bit….but the bottom line is that I see our becoming more liberal in terms of sexuality…and yet it is becoming more and more an empty or even selfish act.  I would like to see pornography be less an empty shell…and more a tool to teach others of what real affection and intimacy can be—and it can be kinky at the same time.

  • A.J.

    Really what is so good about porn? From looking at these links… I seen nothing that is great about porn, only that it is a purely selfish desire of man for some 10 minute masturbation over the detriment of so many men but mostly women in the porn industry: 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ddPHfYDkDE&feature=relatedhttp://www.shelleylubben.com/porn-stars-speak-out-stds-drugs-and-abuse-0 
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/jul/14/hardcore-abuse-of-women-in-porn 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxUq_zzvAaA 
    Majority of porn stars will contract an STI. Lets not kid ourselves, they usually don’t wear condoms.Majority of porn stars are addicted to either alcohol or drugs in order to help them cope with the physical pain and emotional pain. It’s not attractive knowing that the girl you are watching on screen is probably on drugs and was mostly likely drugged up during  the filming. 

    A lot of the women in porn industry come from a very vulnerable/dark background or they are in pretty desperate situations. 

    No-one, when asked if they would want their children to go into the porn industry will agree to it. The answer is No. Pornstars, pornographers, etc all mention that they would not want their children to get into this industry. This speaks volumes for itself. lets not lie and turn a blind eye. 

    These women are pimped and the majority of the money will go to their managers. They can be forced to do things they do not  or will agree to it even if they don’t, purely because they need the money or are working under their manager.  Is this right? of course not.  out of the MILLIONS of girls in porn, only they very few make the actual big money.  The rest don’t and never will.

    A lot of the pornstars are so sadly, young. 18 of course, but who remembers being 18? I do, I remember being so naive, lacking so much knowledge, I was still a child psychologically even if I had all the adult features physically.  

    It’s a sad thing because it is not regulated well at all and a form of exploitation of the vulnerable groups in society.  A lot of the content these days are hardcore, degrading, humilating, painful, misogynistic acts. What’s so great about that? it’s not hurting anyone? well what about the porn”star”?  Psychologically/mentally, what must she be thinking about her self worth and where he life is heading towards, do you honestly think she could be happy? and phsycially? well it’s obviously going to be painful doing anal/gangbang/long scenes and demoralizing to do so many other nasty crap.  I don’t know why people debate about this.  The answer is clearly there, trouble is many people just want to ignore it.  I guess we really do live in a pathetic selfish world.

    • A.J.

      In addition, supporting for a world for better porn, more controlled porn, that ensures these women/men are not treated terribly, not abused, not degraded, not dehumanized, are not coerced, not being exploited for their vulnerable aspects,  to enforce the use of condoms for example, not constantly drugged, to help performers with mental and physical health  in the industry is a much needed step. 

      The only problem is how. … how can they go about ensuring this? When its already such a messed up industry to begin with….where the majority of those in this industry are messed up themselves (performers, producers, directors etc). 


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