FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY AND PORNOGRAPHY
16th – 18th of September 2013, Berlin
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Main Building (Unter den Linden 6), Room 3059
NANCY BAUER (Tufts University, US): What Philosophy Can’t Teach Us About Sexual Objectification
AMNERIS CHAPARRO (University of Essex, UK): Inegalitarian Pornography: Harm to Dignity
MATT DRABEK (University of Iowa, US): Gender Subordination and Pornography’s Authority
ANNE W. EATON (University of Illinois at Chicago, US): A Sex-Positive Antiporn Feminism
NICOLE HALL (University of Edinburgh, UK): ‘Sexiness’ and the Problem of Pornography
KATHARINE JENKINS (University of Sheffield, UK): What Are Women For? Pornography and Social Ontology
RAE LANGTON (University of Cambridge, UK & MIT, US): Pornography and ‘Sex Positive’ Feminism
HANS MAES (University of Kent, UK): Falling in Lust: On Sex Objects and Sexy Subjects
ISHANI MAITRA (University of Michigan, US): Revisiting the Authority Problem
MARY KATE MCGOWAN (Wellesley College, US): On How Pornography Can be Used to Enact Discrimination
EVANGELIA (LINA) PAPADAKI (University of Crete, Greece): Pornography: Objectification and Personification
NICOLE WYATT (University of Calgary, Canada): Naming and Refusing: Austinian approaches to MacKinnon on Silencing
ROBIN ZHENG (University of Michigan, US): A Case Against Racialized Sexual Preferences: Why Yellow Fever Isn’t Flattering
Registration for the event is now open! Please register by the 26th of August 2013 via email (feminismhu AT gmail.com). The conference fee is 10 Euros (full)/ 5 Euros (reduced) and payable on the day. The fee covers coffee breaks as well as a vegan/ vegetarian buffet at the conference reception (to be held on the 16th of September). Places are limited, so please register as early as possible.
This event is part of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Symposium Series Feminist Philosophy and…. For further information about the Symposium Series and past events, please see http://blogs.hu-berlin.de/feminist_philosophy/. For queries concerning the event, please contact Mari Mikkola (mari.mikkola AT hu-berlin.de).
Best wishes from local organisers,
Conference: Feminist Philosophy and Pornography July 11, 2013
Protecting children from internet pornography May 24, 2013
A call for better sex education:
A report released on Thursday by the commissioner’s office found that children who watch pornography are more likely to develop sexually risky behaviour and become sexually active at a younger age.
It called for urgent action to “develop children’s resilience to pornography” after discovering that a significant number have access to sexually explicit images. It also called on the Department for Education to ensure all schools delivered effective relationship and sex education, including how to use the internet safely.
I’m really pleased to see this. I naively thought when I first came to the UK that students here would have far superior sex ed to what students in the US have. Years of conversations with my students have shown me otherwise. None of them have been taught such basic things as that sex should be enjoyable for everyone involved, and that you should make sure that the person you’re having sex with is happy about it. (My favourite student anecdote was about one school where the girls were taken into a room to watch a film about menstruation while the boys watched a film about cars.) Thanks, Mr J!
Becoming a feminist porn star February 24, 2013
A very interesting, reflective article. (Thanks, S!)
Iceland considering ban on violent internet porn February 17, 2013
An online ban would complement Iceland’s existing law against printing and distributing porn, and follow on from 2010 legislation that closed strip clubs and 2009 prostitution laws that criminalised the customer rather than the sex worker.
Web filters, blocked addresses and making it a crime to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography, are among the plans being devised by internet and legal experts.
Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir, a gender specialist at Iceland University, said: “This initiative is about narrowing the definition of porn so it does not include all sexually explicit material but rather material that can be described as portraying sexual activity in a violent or hateful way.
“The issue of censorship is indeed a concern and it is important to tread carefully when it comes to possible ways of restricting such material. For example, we have a new political party, the Pirate party, that is very concerned about all forms of restrictions on the internet. It is very important not to rush into anything but rather have constructive dialogues and try to find the best solutions. I see the initiative of the interior ministry on this issue as a part of that process. Otherwise we leave it to the porn industry to define our sexuality and why would we want to do that?”
From here. (Thanks, Mr Jender.)
File This One Under “Things That Make We Want To Stab Something…” February 5, 2013
N.B. Revenge porn = a naked or salacious picture of a person is uploaded to the internet by an ex-lover for the sake of humiliation and spite, i.e. revenge (for dumping their skeazy misogynistic ass, probably.)
IsAnybodyDown posts revealing pictures, mostly of women, without their consent, along with their full names and identifying information like phone numbers and Facebook snapshots. If they want to get off the site, victims get directed to a takedown “service” that costs $250. The site is an even sleazier, and possibly more extortionate, version of Hunter Moore’s famous site “IsAnybodyUp.”
In the interview, Brittain says his site should just be considered “entertainment,” not extortion. He was also straightforward about his desire to turn the controversial business of “involuntary porn” into a big moneymaker.
When asked whether he thought what he was doing was “really sleazy,” Brittain offered this gem: “We live in a really sleazy society.”
Will copyright be the tool that pummels IsAnybodyDown?
So-called “involuntary porn” sites are certainly pushing the legal boundaries of free speech—especially when they include thinly-veiled attempts to wring money from the people portrayed.
I hope the people making money from these websites get sued into oblivion. And I hope everyone who gets off to these photos realizes how beyond F***ed up that is. Though really, this is on a spectrum with the rest of our culture and our F***ed up senses of sexuality, ya? So it’s not even like the people jacking off to this are an uber-class of misogynists. Their actions are a reasonable extension of Girls Gone Wild, the crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype, and having a madonna-whore complex.
So the asshole who made the site is right on that count; we do live in a sleazy society. And that makes him a coward who doesn’t have the guts to fight for something better.
CFP: Feminist Philosophy and Pornography January 24, 2013
FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY AND…
16-18th of September 2013, Berlin
Anne W. Eaton (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Rae Langton (MIT)
Hans Maes (University of Kent)
Ishani Maitra (University of Michigan)
Mary Kate McGowan (Wellesley College)
Evangelia (Lina) Papadaki (University of Crete)
The heir of Playboy, Cooper Hefner, stated in a recent newspaper article that Playboy isn’t pornography – rather, Playboy is art and it empowers women (The Independent, Jan 6th 2013). This claim is in stark contrast with most feminist views: many feminists do not consider Playboy to be empowering and they take pornography to be a kind of harm. Rae Langton forcefully and famously argued for such feminist claims in her article “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts” (originally published in 1993). In her paper, Langton defends the philosophical cogency of Catherine MacKinnon’s view that pornography not only causes the subordination and silencing of women, but it also constitutes women’s subordination and silencing. Langton’s defence appeals to J. L. Austin’s speech act theory. She argues that pornographic speech illocutionarily subordinates women and silences their speech. It does the former in ranking women as inferior, legitimating discrimination against them, and depriving women of important rights to do with free speech. This last point connects to illocutionary silencing. Pornographic speech does not prevent women from making utterances. Rather, the thought is, pornographic speech may create communicative conditions that result in illocutionary disablement of women’s speech in specific contexts. Particularly this may be so with respect to women’s refusals of unwanted sex: if pornographic speech prevents the locution ‘No!’ from being seen to be a refusal in a sexual context, due to which sex is forced on the speaker, she has not successfully performed the illocutionary speech act of refusing the unwanted sex. In this case, there may be a free speech argument against pornography.
Since the publication of Langton’s seminal article, a rich philosophical literature on pornography has emerged. A number of philosophers from different backgrounds have either critiqued or defended Langton’s position (e.g. Ronald Dworkin, Leslie Green, Jennifer Saul, Judith Butler, Caroline West, Nellie Wieland, and many others). Despite the rich literature on the topic, precious little agreement still exists on some key questions: How do or should we define ‘pornography’? Does pornography in fact subordinate and silence women? What should legally be done about pornography, if anything at all?
The first goal of this conference is to take stock of extant debates and discussions. We wish to clarify the conceptual and political terrains of feminist discussions concerning pornography. In particular, we wish to investigate how do or should feminist philosophers define ‘pornography’ and related terms (e.g. harm, silencing, objectification). Further, what are the political commitments of those working on the topic, and what might be a helpful feminist political strategy with respect to the reality of pornography. Despite the wealth of literature on pornography over the past couple of decades, these questions are still in need of being addressed.
The second goal of this conference is to explore new issues and themes in the feminist philosophical debates that have emerged more recently. By doing so, we wish to create new lines of inquiry on themes that (to date) have received surprisingly little attention from feminist philosophers. We also aim to investigate how these new issues intersect with older, more established, debates. Specifically, we wish to examine three themes: HARM – EPISTEMOLOGY – AESTHETICS. We will investigate the themes themselves, how they intersect with one another, and how do or can these issues and their intersections help answer our first set of questions about feminist conceptual and political commitments. In more detail, we will be asking:
HARM – Are the existing conceptions of harm, illocutionary subordination and silencing plausible and/or helpful? Do they help us in settling questions about the legal treatment of pornography, or should we base our discussions in the legal domain on some other notions? Do feminist philosophers even have to settle the issue of pornography’s harmfulness once and for all?
EPISTEMOLOGY – What kinds of knowledge claims does pornography involve, if any? Does it involve maker’s knowledge, as Langton has recently argued (in her Sexual Solipsism, OUP 2009)? If so, is the maker’s knowledge that pornography involves harmful, as Langton claims? What would its harmfulness consist in?
AESTHETICS – What kind of representation does pornography involve? Is the representation (of women, sexuality, etc) in pornography harmful and if so, in what sense? How do the elements of reality and fantasy in pornography relate to one another? And how do these elements intersect with the previous two themes (harm and knowledge)? Can pornography be considered art (as Hefner Jn. claims)? If so, what consequences does this have for the view that pornography harms women?
We invite submissions on these themes (broadly conceived). The focus of the event will be on analytic feminist investigations of pornography; however, we also welcome paper submissions from other philosophical perspectives. Please email FULL PAPERS suitable for anonymous review of no more than 3,500 words by 15th APRIL 2013 to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title ‘CONFERENCE SUBMISSION’. (PDF submissions are preferred.) Notification of acceptance will be send late June 2013. We hope to be able to provide travel bursaries for accepted papers.
This conference is part of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Symposium Series Feminist Philosophy and…. For further information about the Symposium Series and about past events, please see http://blogs.hu-berlin.de/feminist_philosophy/. For queries concerning the forthcoming event on Pornography, please contact Mari Mikkola (mari.mikkola AT hu-berlin.de).
No More Page 3 September 30, 2012
A campaign is calling for The Sun to stop running photos of topless models.
Earlier this summer, Lucy-Anne Holmes was in a hurry, off on a short train journey, when she picked up a copy of The Sun. The country was gripped by Olympic fever, and as Holmes opened the paper, she was glad to see there was no topless woman on page 3, just stories of victorious athletes, such as Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Ennis. She leafed through the sports coverage contentedly, until she reached page 13. There she found “a massive picture of a girl in her pants”, she says. The typical image had just been moved back. “It made me really sad. It was the biggest female image in that issue, and I think pretty much every issue of [The Sun] for 42 years.” At a time when women’s strength was being celebrated with medals, on podiums, this image, in the country’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, seemed starker than ever. Since Page 3 began, in November 1970, the most prominent daily newspaper image of a woman has been smiling, and topless. . . Three weeks ago, Holmes started the campaign No More Page Three. She set up a Twitter account, Facebook page, and a petition on Change.org, which has 2,000 signatures and counting.
There’s a really wonderful spoken word performance of a poem written in support of the campaign by Sabrina Mahfouz:
You can sign the petition, here.
The Awesome, the Funny, and the Heartwarming September 14, 2012
Three things stood out in my feed today:
1) ”the Washington DC Office of Human Rights decided in reaction to the string of ugly anti-trans incidents and murders in the District to launch a first of a kind anti-trans discrimination campaign.” You can read Monica at TransGriot discuss it further here. The posters seem really well executed and well thought out. It’s a bit mind-boggling that we have the need for such posters that are basically, “Hey, I’m a person! I do person things! Please treat me as such.” But we do have that need and this seems a great way to address both general issues of visibility and the recent increase in anti-trans violence in DC.
(two more after the jump)
When is a sex act degrading? January 12, 2012
Jezebel has an interesting article on whether facials are degrading (it’s here – but be warned, it’s probably NSFW. Unless your workplace is a lot more interesting than mine.)
I suspect there’s no person- and context-independent answer to the question of whether something like a facial is degrading. But I thought a particularly problematic part of the article was this:
A lot more straight porn features women happily accepting facials than reacting with disgust and evident humiliation. That acceptance may be feigned, but it suggests that the primary turn-on about facials for men isn’t the desire to degrade women.
Porn routinely features women ultimately enjoying all sorts of things – including rape. That doesn’t mean that such depictions aren’t misogynistic.
A quote from a teenager in a recent study. And many more say similar things. So the idea that porn has a kind of authority due to its education role isn’t just a wacky thought from Catharine MacKinnon. Interestingly, though, the study’s authors argue that this shows “pupils should be taught how to evaluate porn in sex education lessons.” They continue,
To be unable to critique imagery is equivalent to being illiterate in the modern world…We need to help young people to resist peer-group pressure to consume porn or to respond to partners’ requests for sex they’ve seen in porn.