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uncle ebeneezer
05-02-2011, 05:14 PM
To say the least... (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-01/playboys-muslim-cover-girl-does-sila-sahin-help-women/#)

operative
05-02-2011, 05:16 PM
To say the least... (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-01/playboys-muslim-cover-girl-does-sila-sahin-help-women/#)

Pornography is more degrading to women than burqas.

miceelf
05-02-2011, 05:52 PM
Meh. Neither are inherently degrading. Women should be free to wear whatever they want, and whatever they don't.

operative
05-02-2011, 05:53 PM
Meh. Neither are inherently degrading. Women should be free to wear whatever they want, and whatever they don't.

Well yeah, I don't think women should be banned from participating in pornography. But I also don't think that changes the inherent nature of pornography, which is that of a social cancer.

Simon Willard
05-02-2011, 08:41 PM
Well yeah, I don't think women should be banned from participating in pornography. But I also don't think that changes the inherent nature of pornography, which is that of a social cancer.

There is no simple answer here. I'll try to find a copy of the photos and study the issue further.

nikkibong
05-02-2011, 08:59 PM
There is no simple answer here. I'll try to find a copy of the photos and study the issue further.

you'll find them if you look between the pages of the articles that you bought the magazine to read.

AemJeff
05-02-2011, 09:54 PM
There is no simple answer here. I'll try to find a copy of the photos and study the issue further.

That's quite a task you've set for yourself. I wonder if anybody besides me finds the label "pornography" just a little precious in regard to Playboy's photography.

stephanie
05-02-2011, 10:27 PM
That's quite a task you've set for yourself. I wonder if anybody besides me finds the label "pornography" just a little precious in regard to Playboy's photography.

Depends on how you define it. Probably wouldn't fit the MacKinnon/Dworkin definition (not that they'd necessarily agree with me, and not that I'm endorsing it, but I always do find definitional questions interesting).

uncle ebeneezer
05-03-2011, 02:07 AM
Not "precious", more like ridiculous. Are we in 1956?

bjkeefe
05-03-2011, 02:19 AM
To say the least... (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-01/playboys-muslim-cover-girl-does-sila-sahin-help-women/#)

Would never have been possible without Bin Laden (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4555430.stm).

miceelf
05-03-2011, 06:02 AM
A social cancer? Really?

Ocean
05-03-2011, 07:26 AM
Not "precious", more like ridiculous. Are we in 1956?


I'm with you on this one, uncle!

Good photography, beautiful women. There's an aesthetic aspect to it that makes it closer to art than to pornography.

PS: Pornography is in the eye (?) of the beholder. ;)

operative
05-03-2011, 09:23 AM
A social cancer? Really?

Yes. It has profoundly negative consequences on dating and marriage, because it reduces women to mere sex objects.

miceelf
05-03-2011, 09:53 AM
Are you married, out of curiosity?

I was taught that pornography was bad for marriage etc, too.

then I got married.

meh. There's zero relationship between pornography viewed before marriage and marriage, from what I can tell, unless we are talking about stuff that's illegal and should be.

I am also not convinced it "reduces women to mere sex objects." Certainly, people (both men and women) are sex objects in addition to a host of other things.

AemJeff
05-03-2011, 10:04 AM
Are you married, out of curiosity?

I was taught that pornography was bad for marriage etc, too.

then I got married.

meh. There's zero relationship between pornography viewed before marriage and marriage, from what I can tell, unless we are talking about stuff that's illegal and should be.

I am also not convinced it "reduces women to mere sex objects." Certainly, people (both men and women) are sex objects in addition to a host of other things.

And, what's wrong, exactly, with being "reduced to a mere(?) sex object?" It doesn't seem like a problem to me unless you're incapable of distinguishing between moments when that's appropriate and the rest of the time. That's an issue of mental health and has very little to do with "pornography."

miceelf
05-03-2011, 10:12 AM
well, i was thinking of permanent reduction to only a sex object and never anything more. I agree with you, if it wasn't clear.

operative
05-03-2011, 10:17 AM
Are you married, out of curiosity?

Nope, I'm one of the senior citizens of an LDS singles ward ;)


I was taught that pornography was bad for marriage etc, too.

then I got married.

meh. There's zero relationship between pornography viewed before marriage and marriage, from what I can tell, unless we are talking about stuff that's illegal and should be.

I am also not convinced it "reduces women to mere sex objects." Certainly, people (both men and women) are sex objects in addition to a host of other things.

I absolutely agree about there not being a relationship between pornography and marriage. The latter is an emotional bonding more than a physical one.

But when one grows up with pornography one click away, and indulges in that, one has essentially immediate sexual gratification. One can always go to a website and see women with whom there is no emotional contact, who are only there to bare their skin and engage in sexual acts. Symbolically this is awful. You are right that people are sexual objects in addition to a number of other things. That's why I don't necessarily have a problem with watching a movie that contains a sex scene, so long as it is an artistically defensible movie (I just rewatched Black Swan a few nights ago). But the whole point of pornography is that it presents nothing else other than the angle of the sex object. There is no balance. That's one of the reasons why sexist terminology is prevalent in pornography ('bitch', 'slut', etc.)

It is true that intelligent, reasoning people can easily distinguish between pornography and real relationships. The problem is that intelligent, reasoning people are a minority ;) So for less intelligent, less reasoning people, expectations are distorted. Men are more likely to expect that women are there to satisfy their every sexual want, and when they fail to do so, they will turn back to pornography, which in the context of marriage I view as a form of infidelity.

operative
05-03-2011, 10:19 AM
And, what's wrong, exactly, with being "reduced to a mere(?) sex object?"

It's dehumanizing.

miceelf
05-03-2011, 10:42 AM
In all honesty, more people arrive at the negative views about relationshipos you cite through some combination of parents modeling abusive/negative relationships, and/or experience with sexual abuse than will ever happen through porn.

And, I tend not to see playboy as porn.

stephanie
05-03-2011, 10:47 AM
Yes. It has profoundly negative consequences on dating and marriage, because it reduces women to mere sex objects.

You really need a definition if you are going to claim this. Then we can debate the claim. But right now I can't evaluate it, since I have no clue what you mean by pornography. (I can guess, but you wouldn't want that, would you?)

stephanie
05-03-2011, 10:48 AM
And, what's wrong, exactly, with being "reduced to a mere(?) sex object?"

Mere and object, I'd say (though I don't think it's inherent in photos of naked people, for the record).

operative
05-03-2011, 10:51 AM
In all honesty, more people arrive at the negative views about relationshipos you cite through some combination of parents modeling abusive/negative relationships, and/or experience with sexual abuse than will ever happen through porn.


I don't necessarily disagree, but I don't think that exonerates pornography ;)

operative
05-03-2011, 10:52 AM
You really need a definition if you are going to claim this. Then we can debate the claim. But right now I can't evaluate it, since I have no clue what you mean by pornography. (I can guess, but you wouldn't want that, would you?)

I would say (and this may be problematic, I will admit) anything done whose intent is to satiate the sexual drive of the target audience.

stephanie
05-03-2011, 11:17 AM
I would say (and this may be problematic, I will admit) anything done whose intent is to satiate the sexual drive of the target audience.

Hmm. Not to be crude, but to understand, does that mean you are focusing on whether those who look at it are likely to view it as an aid to mastubation, primarily. Not simply arousing.

Given your "mere object" claim, I wonder how you address the fact that pornography can be writing, too, not merely photographic.

For the sake of a broader discussion, here are a few other possible definitions (taken from here (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pornography-censorship/):

I know it when I see it.

(This is taken from a discussion of obscenity, of course. Included mostly for amusement, and because a lot of people probably agree.)

Pornography is any material (either pictures or words) that is sexually explicit.

(Presumably, if the definition is as broad as this one, no one here would claim it's inherently objectionable. That's one reason why it's important to define what is meant.)

Pornography is sexually explicit material (verbal or pictorial) that is primarily designed to produce sexual arousal in viewers.

(This is what I'm most familiar with as the normal definition, and one that fits Playboy, but yours seems more narrow. There's an addendum to this one, also, "it is important to distinguish here between sexually explicit material that is wholly or primarily designed to produce sexual arousal (i.e., whose only or overriding aim is to produce sexual arousal) and material whose aim is to do this in order to make some other artistic or political point.")

Pornography is sexually explicit material designed to produce sexual arousal in consumers that is bad in a certain way.

And this last one brings us to the MacKinnon/Dworkin efforts to define it, which are as follows:

We define pornography as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes (i) women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things, or commodities; or (ii) women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; or (iii) women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest or other sexual assault; or (iv) women are presented as sexual objects tied up, cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or (v) women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display; or (vi) women's body parts including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts; or (vii) women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or (viii) women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual.

Correctly found to pose a First Amendment problem as a law, but probably relevant to how some think of "pornography." As I said before, this clearly would not encompass Playboy, IMO.

In any event, like "obscenity," I'd assume "pornography" understood more broadly would vary depending on community standards. Moreover, your own definition would vary depending on who was looking. (For example, can we turn the bra and underwear section of the Sears catalog into porn, because it was no doubt used by some in a way that would fit your definition, once upon a time?)

AemJeff
05-03-2011, 11:18 AM
Mere and object, I'd say (though I don't think it's inherent in photos of naked people, for the record).

I think "mere," in this case, represents an a priori value judgment, rather than a description. I'm also dubious regarding the literal meaning of "object" in the context here. To objectify in this context seems only to mean "to narrow one's focus to another person's sexuality." Again I'd say that it resolves to socialization and mental health issues - that is, if the object (grammatical "object," ahem) of that focus feels as if it's appropriate, then there should be no intrinsic problem with the "objectification."

AemJeff
05-03-2011, 11:24 AM
well, i was thinking of permanent reduction to only a sex object and never anything more. I agree with you, if it wasn't clear.

I was just trying to clarify something that seemed ambiguous.

miceelf
05-03-2011, 11:45 AM
My problem with the Dworkin definition is that it includes elements that seem clearly objectionable (physical injury, sex with animals, incest), elements that seem odd but harmless in and of themselves (tying up, for example, is incredibly common in real life, and not just in hetero couples, and penetration with objects is even more common, I suspect), and stuff that seems vaguely creepy.

I know loving generally healthy couples that are into various elements of S&M. I understand and share the discomfort with it, but I kind of see this as my problem and not theirs.

stephanie
05-03-2011, 12:22 PM
I think "mere," in this case, represents an a priori value judgment, rather than a description.

Are you referring to the specific photo (in which case I agree) or any use of the term?

I'd say that it's objectionable to treat someone as a mere object, and I do think that has meaning. (I think it's mostly the latter bit that we may be disagreeing about.)

To objectify in this context seems only to mean "to narrow one's focus to another person's sexuality."

If that's all it means, I'd agree with you, but I'd say that's because it's not actually objectification. It's focusing on sexuality. But that doesn't mean that objectification does not exist, of course, including in certain types of porn, IMO.

Again I'd say that it resolves to socialization and mental health issues - that is, if the object (grammatical "object," ahem) of that focus feels as if it's appropriate, then there should be no intrinsic problem with the "objectification."

I think I disagree with you here, but want to clarify the rest first, before pursuing this. I think people can be socialized to think of themselves as basically objects, though, or not important in themselves.

stephanie
05-03-2011, 12:30 PM
My problem with the Dworkin definition is that it includes elements that seem clearly objectionable (physical injury, sex with animals, incest), elements that seem odd but harmless in and of themselves (tying up, for example, is incredibly common in real life, and not just in hetero couples, and penetration with objects is even more common, I suspect), and stuff that seems vaguely creepy.

Hmm. My problem is threefold, at least. First, I don't think it's works for the purpose it was created -- to define what should be illegal. (Whether obscenity as currently defined works better is of course not at all clear.) This is because it's still too vague (or both overly broad and overly narrow) and because it focuses on message, which creates a clear first amendment issue.

Second, it seems to imply that by pornography we mean "explicit and bad" and I'm not yet convinced that should be the definition. (I'm honestly undecided on this, though -- I haven't thought about it much.)

Third, even if we do mean "explicit and bad," and even if we aren't worrying about the law, I think the vagueness issues remain -- this is basically your point, I think. But I can't think of any obvious way to resolve this other than, well, I'd know it if I saw it.

I suppose operative's effort to create an objective standard -- it's explicit and bad if the purpose is to be an aid to masturbation -- could be helpful here. But my problem with that one is that I am not convinced that that would be inherently bad. Also, clearly people can use things not intended as such for that purpose, so it strikes me as a less objective standard than it at first seems. (Note: I'm assuming that no one is claiming this standard as a basis for a law, and therefore not unnecessarily addressing why that would be a problem.)

miceelf
05-03-2011, 12:39 PM
I agree with your cautiousness in defining "a potential aid to masturbation' as a criteria for what is either wrong or should be illegal. ;-)

The Dworkin stuff really seems to be kind of a grab bag of things they don't like, kind of thrown together without much regard for how people behave in real life and why the particular things are listed in one group vs another. As well, some of the listed things are so vague as to be completely useless. (what's a "position of display," and what picture of a naked woman- or man for that matter;the other problem is it presumes that it is impossible to exploit men, and I am not sure that's correct- but, in any case, what picture of a naked woman is NOT in a position of display?)

You're right about the sears catalog. Hell, apparently, according to lore, the bible (song of solomon) was used as such many years ago...

popcorn_karate
05-03-2011, 01:23 PM
But when one grows up with pornography one click away, and indulges in that, one has essentially immediate sexual gratification.

from this i'll assume that you are a virgin? pornography may increase the desire for sexual gratification but is not even close to providing sexual gratification.

operative
05-03-2011, 01:27 PM
from this i'll assume that you are a virgin? pornography may increase the desire for sexual gratification but is not even close to providing sexual gratification.

I am; it's a decision that I am very glad I made.

popcorn_karate
05-03-2011, 01:38 PM
I am; it's a decision that I am very glad I made.

cool. no judgment from me. but yeah - porn does not give sexual gratification to most folks.

operative
05-03-2011, 02:10 PM
cool. no judgment from me. but yeah - porn does not give sexual gratification to most folks.

If this is the case then what would you argue is its function?

handle
05-03-2011, 02:44 PM
If this is the case then what would you argue is its function?

Dr. Ruth: "Stimulation".

AemJeff
05-03-2011, 03:13 PM
Are you referring to the specific photo (in which case I agree) or any use of the term?

I'd say that it's objectionable to treat someone as a mere object, and I do think that has meaning. (I think it's mostly the latter bit that we may be disagreeing about.)



If that's all it means, I'd agree with you, but I'd say that's because it's not actually objectification. It's focusing on sexuality. But that doesn't mean that objectification does not exist, of course, including in certain types of porn, IMO.



I think I disagree with you here, but want to clarify the rest first, before pursuing this. I think people can be socialized to think of themselves as basically objects, though, or not important in themselves.

Reading you here, I'd say we don't have perfectly aligned notions of what "object" connotes here. I think that in healthy people what we're referring to is something for which "object" can be used as a metaphor, but that differs in kind from what the word literally means. "Functional" might be a better literal descriptor, and I think that's only bad to the extent that the person whom it describes objects to it.

I agree with you that it's possible for people to feel about themselves or others in a way that's much closer to the actual meaning of "object," but I think that's a form of mental illness that's only peripherally related to sexuality (sociopathy or deep self esteem issues, e.g.)

stephanie
05-03-2011, 03:38 PM
Reading you here, I'd say we don't have perfectly aligned notions of what "object" connotes here. I think that in healthy people what we're referring to is something for which "object" can be used as a metaphor, but that differs in kind from what the word literally means. "Functional" might be a better literal descriptor, and I think that's only bad to the extent that the person whom it describes objects to it.

I agree with you that it's possible for people to feel about themselves or others in a way that's much closer to the actual meaning of "object," but I think that's a form of mental illness that's only peripherally related to sexuality (sociopathy or deep self esteem issues, e.g.)

Setting aside the issue of whether or not any specific photo objectifies anyone, I think there's a somewhat accepted understanding of what "to objectify" means. Basically, it means to focus on someone as a means, not an end, as a mere object of gratification, not as a person in his or her self. To use that person. Sexually, then, it means to treat someone merely as an instrument of pleasure for you, to have no more regard for him or her as for some item you might use to pleasure yourself. (I'm falling into sexual assumptions, but it need not be sexual.) More generally, it would mean to lose sight of the fact the person is, in fact, a person with feelings. That's why I'd tend to say it was objectifying a woman to leer at her, to talk about her as a sexual object to another man in front of her, to treat her as if her only value is in how she turns you on. This is not the same thing as merely appreciating how a woman looks -- that's something that you could experience while, and as a result of, also interacting with and understanding her as a full person.

Now, when we are talking about photos, it's somewhat different, since the photo was taken for a purpose that is basically sexual arousal or appreciation of some sort (just as other photos are taken for beauty or to sell a product or so on). But if the nature of the photo is such that it suggests that the woman exists in some way other than a subject and encourages one to see her in such a way (as a mere object) -- and I'd point to the kinds of things the MacKinnon/Dworkin definition talks about as examples of these, although I have the issues with the definition expressed -- then I'd say it was a fair criticism.

The response, I suppose, would be that any photo where the purpose was just to turn you on would be objectification, since you aren't relating to the real woman at all. I don't think I'd go there, since the woman is presumably making a choice to participate in this, and need not be doing so in a way that presents her as an object. That's why I'd distinguish based on what's shown.

But I haven't especially thought about porn as a political thing for a while. (Once upon a time I watched an explicit movie with Catherine MacKinnon and then we talked about it afterwards. Others were there, granted, which makes it a less good story, but still...)

uncle ebeneezer
05-03-2011, 06:06 PM
I tend to agree with Jeff's perspective. But I even go one further. I don't really see "objectification" as a necesarrily bad thing, per se. Objectification (both as objectifier or person being objectified) is just one narrow element of a complex mix that is what we consider sexuality. Like anonymity, there can be something very thrilling and "titillating" about it, especially when incorporated into the fantasy element of one's sex life. I even think that sort of thing can be very erotic and fun in real scenarios with a lover. But that works best when there is an understanding that we are not "just" objects to one another and there is something more substantive there, when the fun is over. But that's just me. Other people may have sex lives that primarily consist of objectified, depersonalized sex. I've met some people like that who seem to have very healthy relationships. So I think it is very much to-each-their-own. So my overall take, I guess, is that like anything else, objectification can be a very fun aspect of a healthy sex life, but there is also the risk that it can get to levels that probably are NOT healthy.

The tougher question is whether pornography is good for society? That is tough. I can certainly understand the concern from a women's rights perspective. And if I had a daughter I certainly wouldn't want her to be a porn-star or stripper. But I think that that is more reflective of the innate way that we tend to view our offspring in pure/non-sexual ways, in combination with wanting them to be respected and make the "most" of themselves, rather than a bigger concern from a societal utilitarian perspective. It's one of those "well there's nothing WRONG with posing for Playboy, I just don't want MY daughter doing it" conflicts that is weighing two different viewpoints that are both honestly held.

stephanie
05-03-2011, 09:15 PM
I tend to agree with Jeff's perspective. But I even go one further. I don't really see "objectification" as a necesarrily bad thing, per se.

Hmm. I think there's some confusion here that I want to try to clear up. I don't think (could be wrong, of course) that Jeff and I are yet disagreeing on what's good or bad yet. We have different understandings of what objectification means. As a result, Jeff can apply his definition and say "what's wrong with that!" My definition -- what I understand when someone uses the term -- seems to me more clearly wrong. But as a result I'd also probably use it more sparingly and perhaps not to that which Jeff is saying "yeah, and what's wrong with that" about.

This is why I think definitional questions are so important, even just about our terms, although I realize I may just be boring everyone else to tears.

uncle ebeneezer
05-03-2011, 09:25 PM
Sorry, I was chiming in more for where the discussion was at around comment #28.

AemJeff
05-03-2011, 10:15 PM
Hmm. I think there's some confusion here that I want to try to clear up. I don't think (could be wrong, of course) that Jeff and I are yet disagreeing on what's good or bad yet. We have different understandings of what objectification means. As a result, Jeff can apply his definition and say "what's wrong with that!" My definition -- what I understand when someone uses the term -- seems to me more clearly wrong. But as a result I'd also probably use it more sparingly and perhaps not to that which Jeff is saying "yeah, and what's wrong with that" about.

This is why I think definitional questions are so important, even just about our terms, although I realize I may just be boring everyone else to tears.

I've been thinking about how to bridge that gap. Would you agree that many relationships between people are objectified in some sense? Even if we feel warmly toward a grocery bagger, and try to have a human moment every time we go through the checkout queue, generally what we want from them most is to efficiently get us out of the line and heading towards our cars. The same with many work relationships, etc... I think the difference, when there's also an element of sexual desire, is the combination of "objectification" and the high level of intimacy that's at least implied by the desire. That's going to set off a lot of people's "ick" response, which I think is natural. But, ignoring the "ick" for a second (because not everybody has that reflex, I think) it's not clear to me that that sort of relationship is inherently bad (though I grant that it can be bad, in context), or that (as I said in my previous post) that's it's really, literally about making people into objects, so much as it's about focusing on a narrow subset of their aspect.

How this relates to what pornography signifies is that I conclude that if this sort of objectification isn't bad or immoral by definition, then what matters (I think) is consent. And if somebody poses for nude pictures, or whatever, with the knowledge that the result will be published or broadcast, then they've pretty explicitly given that consent.

bjkeefe
05-04-2011, 09:54 AM
from this i'll assume that you are a virgin? [...]

I am; it's a decision that I am very glad I made.

This is a rather amazing revelation in light of everything else that has been said by one of the people participating in this thread. However, from another thread, I now understand why the operative is so confidently opining on what affects sexual relationships.

"Real world" experience means extraordinarily little.

operative
05-04-2011, 10:04 AM
This is a rather amazing revelation in light of everything else that has been said by one of the people participating in this thread. However, from another thread, I now understand why the operative is so confidently opining on what affects sexual relationships.

BJKeefe's posting presence has a direct negative causal relationship with the quality of the posting. Hopefully the staff around here takes note.

bjkeefe
05-04-2011, 10:08 AM
BJKeefe's posting presence has a direct negative causal relationship with the quality of the posting. Hopefully the staff around here takes note.

Funny how other threads keep applying to this one.

We're talking about the "right" to not be offended. Which does not exist in a free society.

operative
05-04-2011, 10:12 AM
Funny how other threads keep applying to this one.

If Bob & co. want to improve the quality and tenor of the threads, the best way they can do so is to terminate your presence; I think that the mood in the absence of your presence validates this observation.

bjkeefe
05-04-2011, 10:32 AM
If Bob & co. want to improve the quality and tenor of the threads, the best way they can do so is to terminate your presence; I think that the mood in the absence of your presence validates this observation.

Let us give thanks for the operative's sense of <strike>tribalism</strike> standards!

Unfortunately, incivility is essentially inevitable.

I disagree with some of DS's beliefs but I don't see any reason to exclude him from the community (I also did not see the reason to ban Lyle).

Face it, oppie. You feel free to say whatever comes to your mind, but you can't take what you dish out. You got zinged (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=207211&postcount=29) and you can't deal with that. Whenever this happens, you always get all huffy about Teh Quality of Teh Forum, and you start in on your passive-aggressive campaign to get someone who dares to ridicule your ridiculousness banned.

stephanie
05-04-2011, 11:03 AM
I've been thinking about how to bridge that gap. Would you agree that many relationships between people are objectified in some sense?

No, not ideally, because I think it's a fundamental moral requirement that we try and interact with others as not only objects or intruments, not merely based on their use to us, but as full human subjects. So, sure, it's easy to fall into a pattern where one thinks of another as irrelevant but for their function or use to you, but that would be wrong, whether it's sexual or not.

But as a result, I think I'd be much more sparing in what I'd claim was objectifying. For example:

Even if we feel warmly toward a grocery bagger, and try to have a human moment every time we go through the checkout queue, generally what we want from them most is to efficiently get us out of the line and heading towards our cars.

I wouldn't consider this, caring about how the bagger performs his job for me, to be objectifying. It would only get to objectifying (which I do think is ordinarily used as a bad thing) if I saw him as nothing more than a bagger, someone I could then treat in a way that didn't consider his feelings, personhood, etc.

So, similarly, I wouldn't consider appreciating the sexuality of a woman to be inherently objectifying her, and thus I'm actually trying to figure out (without being too graphic) what's meant by "objectifying" to you and uncle eb in the context of a loving and mult-dimensional relationship. I don't think that simply having impersonal sex at times within that context would fit the way I've been using the term, since there is the overall relationship.

It's harder, like I said, for me to figure out how I think this applies to pornography, since by definition there is nothing but the photo. But I would say that in considering that question it should be noted that photos of people are often used for limited purposes with no suggestion that that's a problem with regard to the person in the photo or the relationship of the viewers to other humans (operative's claim that sparked this, I believe). Thus, I think claiming it is "objectifying" humans because you view a photo for a particular purpose is far too overreaching a claim. I'd be tempted, then, to say the issue is something else or, perhaps, to limit "objectification" as it applies to photos to photos which show a person in a way that suggests that she is being viewed as someone who is to be treated as an object or, instead, that viewing the photo gives the message that women generally are to be treated as objects -- and, again, I do think this is related to what the M/D definition gets at too.

I think, however, that I am inclined to disagree that objectification is the issue when it comes to photos at all. Not if it merely says "you have no relationship with this woman other than as a sexy photo, so you aren't treating her as a full person." That's the case, again, with any photo or image of someone you don't know, and if porn is a problem in some cases, presumably it is in some different way than the photo of whatever model is currently on Vogue.

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2011, 12:21 PM
I think, however, that I am inclined to disagree that objectification is the issue when it comes to photos at all. Not if it merely says "you have no relationship with this woman other than as a sexy photo, so you aren't treating her as a full person." That's the case, again, with any photo or image of someone you don't know, and if porn is a problem in some cases, presumably it is in some different way than the photo of whatever model is currently on Vogue.

I think the heart of the "objectification" compliant that people have about porn is that it encourages people (men mostly) to take the shallow relationship (for lack of better word) that they have with a phtograph of a pretty model in a sexy pose, and then try to apply that to the real-world people that they have tangible interactions with.

Objectification for the sake of good sex (pretending that there is no underlying depth or caring, even if there is) can be quite exciting to many, and I would not be surprised if it is at the heart of alot of the appeal of bondage. I can also see where even the objectification of a person WITHOUT any deeper feelings is also ok. People who are consentually interested in NSA play or swingers, prostitutes, strippers etc. It seems to me that as long as everyone is on the same page and the terms are understood by all parties, there is really no harm.

It is kindof funny. I was talking about this with my girlfriend the other day about how I totally understand women's negative feelings towards objectification based on how they have been historically treated by our society and men and feel de-valued, and yet for many men it is a total fantasy to be objectified in ways that most girls would find creepy.

stephanie
05-04-2011, 01:24 PM
I think the heart of the "objectification" compliant that people have about porn is that it encourages people (men mostly) to take the shallow relationship (for lack of better word) that they have with a phtograph of a pretty model in a sexy pose, and then try to apply that to the real-world people that they have tangible interactions with.

I think this is right, but I guess I'm arguing against it.

I'd say: (1) it's clearly wrong to treat people as objects, as important only because of how they affect you sexually, and (2) if porn has such an effect on viewers generally, it's bad (which does not mean that it should be made illegal). However, if we are defining porn as broadly as we seem to be, I don't see a reason to assume that porn has such an effect on viewers generally.

It seems to me that the leap is made from "the photo is used as an object" to "men who use photos of women in this way must then learn to treat real life women in such a way." But I don't see how that follows. A photo is an object, and that I use a photo of an attractive woman (or man) to sell clothes or cigarettes or cars or music doesn't mean that I thereby am objectifying women (or men) more generally, or that viewers will. (Some might make this argument -- feminists who have problems with porn often do have broader objections to the kinds of images of women that are common in advertising, say -- but it's not dealt with in the routine "porn objectifies women" (and men, I'd assume) objection that operative made and that is common.

This seems especially relevant if all sexually-explicit images are being grouped as the same (as suggested by the inclusion of the Playboy image). And again raises an issue -- why not the Sears catalog image? Song of Solomon? (Your breasts are like two fawns!)

Objectification for the sake of good sex (pretending that there is no underlying depth or caring, even if there is) can be quite exciting to many, and I would not be surprised if it is at the heart of alot of the appeal of bondage.

Like I said to Jeff, I suspect that what you are talking about here would not actually meet my definition of "objectification," because of the greater context in which it takes place (the relationship, the nature of the consent).

I can also see where even the objectification of a person WITHOUT any deeper feelings is also ok. People who are consentually interested in NSA play or swingers, prostitutes, strippers etc.

Yeah, this seems to me more clearly objectification, and I do have a problem with it, or at least major portions of it.

yet for many men it is a total fantasy to be objectified in ways that most girls would find creepy.

I suspect this is because it's so uncommon and thus part of a fantasy rather than some reality. I think objectification as part of a fantasy can be a turn on, sure, even to many women. But that's different than doing it to a real person (and men generally don't appreciate it when it's done to them in the ways -- non-sexual -- that it is).

So it's possible that the argument is that sex is different, but I'm not convinced -- I think sexual imagery and such do spill over into how one relates to real life people, at least when they are commonly-encountered ones. So instead, in that I don't think occasionally viewing Playboy is harmful (or appreciating attractive people in Vogue or GQ or a PG- or R-rated movie), I think I'm going to argue that you can extrapolate from seeing a photo as an object, for a particular purpose, to the objectification of a human being, unless there's more.

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2011, 02:16 PM
Mostly to play devil's advocate here:

(1) it's clearly wrong to treat people as objects, as important only because of how they affect you sexually,

Why? Say I find a woman who has fantasies of being treated in ways that would be considered "objectification" and I want to indulge her and we are both informed and in agreement, what makes that "wrong?"

It seems to me that the leap is made from "the photo is used as an object" to "men who use photos of women in this way must then learn to treat real life women in such a way." But I don't see how that follows. A photo is an object, and that I use a photo of an attractive woman (or man) to sell clothes or cigarettes or cars or music doesn't mean that I thereby am objectifying women (or men) more generally, or that viewers will.

I would say that what I was referring to a person (let's say it's a man) who looks at a picture and fantasizes about actions that are borderline degrading, impersonal, and would generally be discomforting to many women. He gets very turned on by the particular act. He then gets out into the real dating world and treats women in a manner that conforms with his fantasy, and with little regard to social propriety. That is the main way I could see porn actually having a negative effect on society. In short: guys thinking that women should (or do) act the way they do in the videos and pictures to which the guy has fantasized. Probably not a huge problem though.

stephanie
05-04-2011, 02:39 PM
Say I find a woman who has fantasies of being treated in ways that would be considered "objectification" and I want to indulge her and we are both informed and in agreement, what makes that "wrong?"

Same reason it would be wrong outside of the sexual context. Human beings shouldn't be treated as less than full humans, as important only due to their benefit to you. I'd say this is the case even if they consent in exchange for money (as if one employed a servant under such terms), say -- indeed, its an important corrective to how easily in a capitalist society one could focus on economic relationships over human ones.

With your example, the context given (we both think this would be fun and agree to play this role) might actually mean that it doesn't really fit what I've been talking about, or at least arguably might not if one has trouble with objectification more generally and yet don't find it quite the same thing. (For example, if people are in a mutual relationship in which they respect each other and treat each other as full human subjects, yet decide it would be fun to playact or engage in certain types of sex in which they play at one or the other being objectified, the context seems to me to preclude any true objectification.) If the context is more one person advertises for someone to perform in a particular way and that's their only connection, I'd be more likely to see it as objectification and something that strikes me as wrong (which is not to say that I'm claiming it should be illegal).

I would say that what I was referring to a person (let's say it's a man) who looks at a picture and fantasizes about actions that are borderline degrading, impersonal, and would generally be discomforting to many women. He gets very turned on by the particular act. He then gets out into the real dating world and treats women in a manner that conforms with his fantasy, and with little regard to social propriety. That is the main way I could see porn actually having a negative effect on society.

Yeah, I get this part. The question here, it seems to me, is whether viewing particular types of porn (or porn in general) encourages this.

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2011, 03:12 PM
If the context is more one person advertises for someone to perform in a particular way and that's their only connection, I'd be more likely to see it as objectification and something that strikes me as wrong (which is not to say that I'm claiming it should be illegal).

I guess this is still the thing that I don't get. Let's say a girl likes to have somebody pour cold water on her head (I know, silly but rather than using real-world, graphic examples that would cloud the issue with our own emotional responses, and upset our admins ;) ). She gets turned on by this act of humiliation. Then there is a guy out there who really loves to do this. They have zero interest in any meaningful relationship. They just share this strange fetish. Perhaps they both are in stable yet open relationships and their partners say more or less "if you wanna indulge that desire, that's fine, but go do it with someone else." Or perhaps they are both single and not looking for any relationship. Those details don't matter, I just want to clarify that they are both perfectly normal and respectful people generally and have no issues with treating everyone else in their lifes appropriately. If these two people meet up somehow, and want to mutually enable their fantasy, I still have a tough time seeing where the moral "wrong" exists. Apologies, if the answer is somewhere upthread in something I simply missed (no need to spell it out again). I have been bouncing around with many tasks while reading/chiming in.

stephanie
05-04-2011, 03:38 PM
I guess this is still the thing that I don't get.

Ah, okay. This is the one on which I'd say we can just A2D, because I suspect it goes back to different views of sex and morality.

What I'm kind of wondering about is whether it's really an issue of objectification, though -- that is, presumably we'd both agree that I could advertise for and hire someone to mow my lawn, and that wouldn't be objectification, absent something else in the relationship that suggested it. (Or at least I wouldn't consider it objectification.) Similarly, there would still be some context to the interaction between your two that presumably no decent guy would simply think of her as unimportant or irrelevant beyond her function as someone who would sexually pour water on him (or whatever).

Yet, it does still trouble me, since to me, inherent in a sexual relationship should be some greater link and caring about each other as humans, something not essential in a healthy "lawn owner" and "lawn mover" relationship. Thus, to have sex with someone you don't care about as a person, even if mutually enjoyable, strikes me as using the other in some sense that I'm not comfortable with. But I'm not going to try and convince you of this, since it follows from other beliefs that aren't going to be commonly shared, probably. (In other words, I'm admitting to being basically a prude.)

But anyway, I think we've put to bed (as they say) this "mere object" response to pornography, even if from quite different views of the topic.

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2011, 04:37 PM
Ok, we can add A2D to the list of sexual slang!! ;)

I used to be more confident of my own moral views on this stuff until I started talking with people who have all kinds of different relationships, some that frankly I don't "get" at all, but seem to work wonderfully for those involved. I increasingly realize that people just see these things differently (as we do) and that it's very hard (except in cases where there is an obvious victim) to find any ground where the matter is clear-cut morality, rather than one of personal taste/comfort.

Ocean
05-04-2011, 06:02 PM
yet for many men it is a total fantasy to be objectified in ways that most girls would find creepy.

I suspect this is because it's so uncommon and thus part of a fantasy rather than some reality. I think objectification as part of a fantasy can be a turn on, sure, even to many women. But that's different than doing it to a real person (and men generally don't appreciate it when it's done to them in the ways -- non-sexual -- that it is).

I have been reading your discussion and I will only add one minor comment.

The objectification fantasy that uncle is referring to may be found mostly in men, and it may have to do with the way men and women experience their sexual-emotional interactions differently (to a certain degree).

Stereotypically* men, at least in their younger years, view relationships with women as difficult because of the higher emotional involvement that women seem to need before they accept a sexual interaction. So, in some way men pay the high price of courtship in order to get sex.

The objectification fantasy is exactly the opposite. It doesn't require any effort or even involvement from the man. It gives the clear message that the goal for the woman is exactly the same as for the man: sex, and not that the woman is somehow going through an emotional transaction in which she's interested in "love" while the man is interested in sex.

Of course, there are a whole bunch of people that just don't fit those stereotypes.

* I say "stereotypically" because many men and women may not exactly follow this pattern but otherwise it's very typical at some stage.

uncle ebeneezer
05-04-2011, 07:05 PM
Thanks for the input, Ocean. This sounds right to me. Just curious, if the nature of the fantasies stems from adolescent viewpoints of relationships etc., do you think these fantasies persist in older men even after they've gotten past that stage, emotionally? I ask because while males mature and change their viewpoint they still may view porn, and it seems like porn still consists of a really high amount of this element.

Also, I would be curious as to where you think the female version of this fantasy derives? Though much less common, I have known a good number of gals who have admitted to similar fantasies. Of course with the females it seemed to be a much less often/prominent element of their interest than to their male counterparts. More of an occasional indulging of a taboo rather than a significant part of their sexual worldview.

Ocean
05-04-2011, 08:01 PM
Thanks for the input, Ocean. This sounds right to me. Just curious, if the nature of the fantasies stems from adolescent viewpoints of relationships etc., do you think these fantasies persist in older men even after they've gotten past that stage, emotionally? I ask because while males mature and change their viewpoint they still may view porn, and it seems like porn still consists of a really high amount of this element.

Perhaps, although over time people integrate various needs (love, friendship, companionship, sex) on one person, they still can long for a less involved, less troublesome sexual engagement, with no strings attached (no pun), so to speak.


Also, I would be curious as to where you think the female version of this fantasy derives? Though much less common, I have known a good number of gals who have admitted to similar fantasies. Of course with the females it seemed to be a much less often/prominent element of their interest than to their male counterparts. More of an occasional indulging of a taboo rather than a significant part of their sexual worldview.

It probably has similar roots in terms of reducing the interaction to the most minimal pure sexual expression. It may have to do with experiencing themselves as sexually attractive. I really don't know. It's so much easier to understand a man's psyche! ;)

miceelf
05-05-2011, 08:56 AM
to me, inherent in a sexual relationship should be some greater link and caring about each other as humans, something not essential in a healthy "lawn owner" and "lawn mover" relationship. Thus, to have sex with someone you don't care about as a person, even if mutually enjoyable, strikes me as using the other in some sense that I'm not comfortable with.

I suspect this is one of those fundamental things that will reach the A2D point, as it's kind of a fundamental assumption about the nature or purpose of sex, and opinions differ.

(A2D? You crazy kids :-) )

stephanie
05-05-2011, 11:08 AM
(A2D? You crazy kids :-) )

I thought we were at A2D back at 53. :-)

(In other words, yeah, I think you are right.)

miceelf
05-05-2011, 11:11 AM
I have to admit, I've been quasi- devil's advocating on this. My own views regarding sexuality are probably somewhere between yours and operatives, and my life has generally conformed to that.

However, I have been fortunate enough to know a pretty diverse set of people, and a lot of different ideas in this particular area. I have trouble seeing how some of the arrangements would work for me, but it seems to work for them, and most of them I regard as very moral people, so I feel obliged to represent.

:-)

stephanie
05-05-2011, 12:03 PM
My own views regarding sexuality are probably somewhere between yours and operatives, and my life has generally conformed to that.

I'm sure I'll regret saying this, but to be clear I've not really gone into my own views in any detail (including on pornography -- more been setting the framework for what I think the argument is). For example, if we are talking about our personal views, I'm not sure you know the extent to which my views differ from operative's or Jeff's or uncle eb's, in that most of us -- op would be the exception, I guess -- haven't been talking about our own personal choices. I generally am uncomfortable with that kind of revelation or change of focus, although perhaps that's silly. (In other words, I don't see much problem with Playboy, true, but I hope my arguments haven't been taken to suggest I'm a big reader thereof -- I'd assume not, but who knows -- simply because that's not true. And plenty of pornography that I'd defend based on First Amendment values and simply being unconvinced of any policy-related harm therefrom would still offend me or bother me on a personal level, I'm sure. I'm not even thrilled with plenty of mainstream beer ads and so on. The Sears catalog is okay, though.)

The views I ended up sharing aren't simply "how I live my life," but more universal claims, although claims that I don't think are especially arguable, so ones I'm not going to try and push on others once I recognize that we have a different starting assumption. Ultimately, it doesn't much matter, since we are talking about a side issue and not public policy at all (I'm not proposing or defending any law, although I suppose we could turn to such a discussion and I'd have to come up with reasons beyond "I think it's wrong"). However, I just wanted to make clear that my view is not merely "this works for me and I assume that it works for everyone." I obviously know people lead their lives in very different ways (and even if I can't get my head around some of them as positive choices, I generally live and let live). However, that does not mean (again) that to me my moral claim is just what's moral for me. (No more than my claim about relating to people as objects in non-sexual contexts was a purely personal claim.)

(But I don't much feel like arguing it now, and again I'm not interested in trying to impose it through laws beyond what currently exist and possibly not even some of those.)

miceelf
05-05-2011, 01:16 PM
I'm sure I'll regret saying this, but to be clear I've not really gone into my own views in any detail (including on pornography -- more been setting the framework for what I think the argument is). For example, if we are talking about our personal views, I'm not sure you know the extent to which my views differ from operative's or Jeff's or uncle eb's, in that most of us -- op would be the exception, I guess -- haven't been talking about our own personal choices.

Sorry, when I said your views, I meant those you expressed on this thread (specifically, this: "to me, inherent in a sexual relationship should be some greater link and caring about each other as humans, something not essential in a healthy "lawn owner" and "lawn mover" relationship. Thus, to have sex with someone you don't care about as a person, even if mutually enjoyable, strikes me as using the other in some sense that I'm not comfortable with.")

I made no assumptions about personal choices. And sorry if I misinterpreted the above as closer to home for you than you intended.

I just meant that I actually agree with the above statement of yours, and for me, my own view of sexuality includes ideally marriage, but I don't assume it does for most people. (the marriage part is where operative comes in, in case that's not clear).

stephanie
05-05-2011, 01:49 PM
I just meant that I actually agree with the above statement of yours, and for me, my own view of sexuality includes ideally marriage, but I don't assume it does for most people. (the marriage part is where operative comes in, in case that's not clear).

Yeah, I get that and am cool with it, though I wouldn't have assumed that your personal views were different merely because you took issue with me making a more universal statement. I just got weird because I felt like you were assuming I'd staked out a position regarding my personal moral views that allowed me to be pegged on a continuum, when I didn't really say that much. Don't mind me. :-)

uncle ebeneezer
05-05-2011, 02:05 PM
For the record, I make very few if any assumptions about people's personal views based on hypothetical arguments and discussions like these (unless they explicitly state "here's how I choose to live" etc.) That said, I generally assume that almost everyone is more conservative than I am on these things, as I am about as far to the one extreme as it gets in my attitudes.