Today, it is easy forpeople to gain access to anything their heart desires.
Resources such as theinternet gives users a wide range of platforms to research certain topics.Pornography is extremely prevalent on the internet. Now more than ever thereare endless platforms to find pornography like magazines and websites. Thoughit is regulated through the users or purchasers confirming they are 18 years ofage, this does not necessarily lead to it being less accessible. Helen E.Longino defines pornography as “verbal or pictorial explicit representations ofsexual behavior that…have as a distinguishing characteristic as ‘the degradingand demeaning portrayal of the role and status of the human female… as a meresexual object to be exploited and manipulated sexually'” (Longino, 42). Longinobelieves that this all types of pornography are harmful and immoral and becauseit is immoral it should also be banned.
However, I disagree with most pointsshe makes. I believe that there are certain types of pornography that arepermissible if they meet specific conditions, which is also argued by Martha C.Nussbaum. Longino has multiple premises that support her view forpornography being immoral. She does define the different between pornographyand erotica before her premises are presented. Erotica falls into her categoryof a sexual encounter that is represented between adults that shows mutualrespect and is not morally objectionable (Longino, 42). Sheargues that it requires that women be subordinate to men. In her research shebelieves that overall, pornography makes it a requirement that women aresubordinate to men by fulfilling their fantasies alone (Longino, 45).
This canbe harmful to women, thus going supporting her overall argument. Anotherpremise she has is that violent pornography can convey the message that it isfine to commit violent crimes against women (Longino, 48). The research shediscovered found a connection between violent pornography and general violentcrimes, but also sexually abusive and violent acts towards women specifically(Longino, 47). Violent acts against a human being is harmful towards them, thusmaking it an immoral act. She also argues that pornography has a distorted viewof women’s nature within society and therefore reinforces the male centeredoppression within society (Longino, 48). The first premise that she gave in heressay works as evidence for this claim.
The idea that women are used only forinstruments in men’s fantasies and that women’s pleasure only consists ofpleasing the men involved creates for the falsity in pornography. This alsoplays into Longino’s point of pornography giving a false picture of sex. Shestates that “pornography, explicitly lies about women’s sexuality, and throughsuch lies fosters more lies about our humanity, our dignity, and ourpersonhood” (Longino, 46). These lying plays into porn’s portrayal of women’ssubordination. All these premises and the evidence that back them up aresupport for her last premise which is that if something is harmful, it isimmoral and being that it is immoral it should be illegal, unless for goodreason. In contrast to that overall position, not everything that is harmful isillegal. Smoking cigarettes have been scientifically proven to harm the humanbody, and yet they are merely regulated with the same age limits as porn aswell.
Certain types of speech are also harmful to people, such as speechattacking people based upon certain attributes like race, yet they are also notillegal. Though Longino makes valid points about her views on pornography, I donot entirely agree with them. There aresome types of porn that can be harmful to women which fall into her premisesgiven, however not all porn is harmful. Not all porn that is made falls intothe categories she has argued in her writings.
Mary Nussbaum has taken a different view on pornographycomparatively to Longino, who viewed certain works as harmful or not. Her workfocuses more on the objectification of women within literary texts.Objectification would fall into Longino’s definition of harmful because it istreating a person as if they are an object. Nussbaum broke down objectificationinto seven notions, instrumentality, denial of autonomy, violability,fungibility, ownership and denial of subjectivity (Nussbaum, 257). At least oneof these notions need to be involved for an act to be consideredobjectification. She argues that in the specific case of objectification,context matters greatly (Nussbaum, 271). Through the literature that shestudied she discovered conditions that can make the objectification acceptable,in her opinion. For example, she analyzed a passage from D.
H Lawrence’s The Rainbow and in passage Lawrencebelieves that the purest sexual form is when people allow themselves to besomewhat objectlike, which in turn is objectification (Nussbaum, 273). Howeveraccording to her it is a “mutual denial of autonomy and subjective awareness”(Nussbaum, 273). This is one condition that makes objectification acceptable,objectifying yourself as equally as you’re doing it to another person. She alsobelieves that objectification is okay if there is equality between the twopeople and a mutual desire, willingness, and consent (Nussbaum, 280). All thoseelements go back to the idea of context being important within a situation.There are situations in which she believes objectification of any kind is notacceptable, which is where I feel Longino and Nussbaum would agree in theirviews.
One condition that is not acceptable is if it can be publicly a badinfluence on people. For example, she analyzed a picture published by Playboyof a famous tennis player with her skirt hiked up to reveal her underwear andthey put the caption as “why we love tennis” (Nussbaum, 253). This magazine isa platform that is public and with this caption it makes it seem like women arealmost objects to be collected. She believes that the message this image andcaption sends to the people, more specifically men, is that no matter who thewoman is or whatever she does foe them she is just an object for their sexualenjoyment (Nussbaum, 283). Other conditions that she believes are notacceptable is when the objectification is permeant, meaning the person doingthe objectifying never cares or neglects the individual. Pornography overalldoes not fall into these conditions to be deemed unacceptable.
I agree with Nussbaum’s view of pornography andobjectification more than I agree with Longino’s point of view. To me there aretypes of pornography that are morally acceptable. Circumstances where there isconsent, willingness, and mutual desire between the actors and that theconsumers are aware of it.
If both parties are mutually interesting in each otherand the activities taking place than the act can not be immoral. Having anequal power dynamic within porn will create an environment where there is nofalsity and only male fantasies being portrayed. If actors in the porn aretreated as individuals rather than members of a group, than conclusions willnot be made. This type of porn can especially be beneficial to women becausethey are the ones with the most stereotypes against them.
In fact, in a studyconducted by Kohut et al. found that people who viewed pornography within thepast year had more positive views of women in situations of power or in theworkforce in comparison to those who did not view porn within that year (Kohutet al., 1-11).
If all porn was harmful to women than a study would not findpositive benefits within the users. Overall, if someone is viewing porn andbelieve that it may be harmful and immoral they should consider the conditionsthat Nussbaum presented in which it is acceptable and unacceptable. Longino iscertainly right in saying that some types of pornography are harmful to thewomen involved, however she makes too large of an assumption that all porn isthat way.
Viewers need to be educated in the fact that people who are inpornographic films are actors, making it somewhat like a movie where noteverything being portrayed is a real-life occurrence.