Feminist Philosophers

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Travelodge, porn, objectification July 27, 2007

Filed under: bias,gender,objectification,pornography — stoat @ 9:33 am

Comment here, from Zoe Williams, on Travelodge’s decision to remove the ‘adult’ channels from its services.

Interesting assumptions on the part of both Travelodge and Williams. In the first instance the company appears to assume that:

  •  women fall into the ‘family’ category of the clientele
  • the ‘business’ category of the clientele are men
  • these are the pornography users

On Williams’ part:

  • the culturally standard attitude towards pornography is to see it as ironic
  • that pornography is homogeneous, both in kind and in consequence (suggested by her question: ‘How degrading is porn, then, and for whom?’. Answer, surely: ‘it depends on the pornography’. Even if one thought all pornography degrades women, one might think that there may be differences, according to the porn, on how it degrades, or how much it degrades, or which specific individuals, in addition to all women, are degraded by the particular piece of pornography).

I was also intrigued by her comments on objectification, in particular:

‘The rhetoric of objectification relies on the idea that it’s one-way traffic, that only men objectify, and only women are objectified’.

This may well be the way that ‘the rhetoric of objectification’ is presented. But even if one accepted the alternative that she proposes (‘So, say women do objectify men to the same degree, on the same grounds as they themselves are objectified’ [NB: given cultural norms about sexual attractiveness, I think this unlikely - see, e.g. the differences in what is taken to be an asset in the article in this post]) one might think that context mattered in a way that made it worse for women than men. Namely, in a context of gender inequality, ‘equal’ objectification, to the same degree and on the same grounds, may mean different things, or have different consequences, for men and women.

This kind of view is argued for by Leslie Green - his paper “Pornographies” (8 Journal of Political Philosophy, (2000), pp. 27-52) addresses the meaning of objectification for both women, and gay men (the meaning being quite different in each instance, he argues, due to the different cultural backdrop).

Perhaps these kinds of considerations are pertinent to the wonderings about why some objectifying body furniture (bits of women’s bodies) seem creepy whilst others don’t (hand door knockers)?

Anyway – no more pornography in Travelodge.

 

 
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