Feminist Philosophers

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SGRP Pornography Symposium September 28, 2008

Filed under: pornography — Jender @ 11:41 am

Symposia in Gender, Race and Philosophy has a new symposium up, on Anne Eaton’s “A Sensible Anti-Porn Feminism”, and I urge you to check it out. (You have to register, but that’s easy.) Eaton’s paper is an exceptionally careful exploration of what a sensible anti-porn feminism should look like: how such a view should define ‘pornography’, what conception of causation it should use, what sorts of causal claims it should make/explore, what sorts of rigorous testing would be needed to actually establish these claims, and what sorts of remedies it should advocate (not necessarily legal ones). It’s well worth reading even for feminists who are not anti-pornography, partly because it provides a new and interesting foil, but mostly because it raises so many fascinating and important methodological points. (And, in fact, Eaton’s anti-pornography feminism might not be characterised as anti-pornography by everyone.) It’s followed by an excellent series of commentaries by Patrick Hopkins, Rae Langton, Ishani Maitra and Laurie Shrage; and a reply by Eaton with lots of great original material in it. Go check it out! (It’s the Spring (No.2) Symposium.

 

5 Responses to “SGRP Pornography Symposium”

  1. jj Says:

    I think this is a subtle and valuable piece of work. The idea that one signals out some porn as harmful in specific ways is important, I think.

  2. Jay Says:

    This meta-work has some excellent insights. It wasn’t clear to me, for instance, that clinical (Stage 1) trials were not independently useful in showing the harm of pornography. They’re not, though, because they don’t demonstrate a path to Stage 2 effects (ie. harms). Indeed, it’s nearly impossible to thoroughly test for Stage 2 effects precisely because they are harmful, and disposed-to-administer-an-electric-shock doesn’t adequately imply more-likely-to-sexually-assault.

    The broad goal of the paper, of course, is the epidemiological treatment of sexism as a disease and, specifically, pornography as a factor in its progression. It’s a wonderful idea, I think, essentially putting forth a big fill-in-the-blanks problem for anti-porn feminists and scientists to complete. Depressingly, according to Eaton, there are still lots of blanks.

    One major hurdle I see for such an empirical treatment (partially analogous in the paper to finding the link between smoking and lung cancer) is our dichotomous take on porn. On the one hand, porn is the number one online income generator. On the other, one’s usage of porn is certainly not an open topic, sometimes even among friends. Supposing that many of those who use it are not comfortable admitting as much, how can a study of its effects succeed?

    I’m also highly dubious of the egalitarian/inegalitarian distinction. I often hear the phrase ‘by women for women’ as if that automatically renders porn “unuseful” for men. As this very paper notes, women are often party to their own subordination.

    Anyway, thanks for the link!

  3. [...] Jender at Feminist Philosophers comments: Eaton’s paper is an exceptionally careful exploration of what a sensible anti-porn feminism should look like: how such a view should define ‘pornography’, what conception of causation it should use, what sorts of causal claims it should make/explore, what sorts of rigorous testing would be needed to actually establish these claims, and what sorts of remedies it should advocate (not necessarily legal ones). It’s well worth reading even for feminists who are not anti-pornography, partly because it provides a new and interesting foil, but mostly because it raises so many fascinating and important methodological points. [...]

  4. Colin Says:

    If a woman chooses to be involved in porn, does she negatively effect other women? Prehaps the other women should stand behind a woman’s right to choose even if that is a right that they would not choose for them selves. Value is given by the person who desires the object. If you do not desire the object it cannot have value. Since we are all individuals, people should not let other peoples rights control their emotions, nor actions.


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