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I'm curious what moral distinctions (if any) exist between, for example, the

I'm curious what moral distinctions (if any) exist between, for example, the Venus de Milo or the Birth of Venus and "soft" pornography like Playboy?

Well I'm definitely no expert here, but often in our moral evaluations we take into account intention/motive (as perhaps one factor among others). And if one might arguably hold that "art" aims for some kind of "higher" purposes beyond merely sexual stimulation/titillation, then at least those works of art have some kind of additional value beyond their attractiveness (while, perhaps, the "soft porn" aims only for the stimulation....)

Is it possible to make a legally meaningful distinction between porn which is

Is it possible to make a legally meaningful distinction between porn which is abusive and porn which is very rough? I think this question is very relevant for our time.

Some people think that all pornography is, in some sense, abusive. Maybe that's even analytic, if one distinguishes "pornography" from "erotica", as many people do. For what it's worth, I doubt there's any very clean way to make that distinction (these look like what Bernard Williams called "thick" concepts, if ever there were any), so let me just talk about "sexually explicit media". I don't myself see any reason to think that sexually explicit media, as such, has to be abusive or degrading or necessarily bad in some other way, even if most sexually explicit media is in fact bad in some way, such as presenting abusive sex as unobjectionable or even normal.

That said, some people like their sex rough, at least some of the time, and some people even like to roleplay situations in which one of the partners is abusive towards the other. None of that is very surprising. Human sexuality is varied and complex, just like humans.

Rough sex, in that sense, is not abusive. It is (or at least can be) fully consensual. So it seems clear that there's a distinction between sex that is abusive and sex that is rough. But if so, then there is equally a distinction between sexually explicit media that is abusive and sexually explicit media that is rough, by which I take the questioner to mean: sexually explicit media that presents a sexual encounter that is abusive and sexually explicit media that presents a sexual encounter that is rough. Indeed, a quick Internet search led me to the Rough Sex series of videos created by Tristan Taormino that, apparently, feature interviews with performers who discuss their interest in rough sex before presenting them engaged in that sort of practice. Certainly Taormino, who is a well-known author, sex educator, and self-described feminist, would not regard these videos as abusive, and they seem to be carried by at least two online "toy stores" that were founded by women and that have very high standards for what sorts of videos they sell.

So, yes, I think it's clear that it is possible to distinguish porn that is abusive from porn that is rough. But I'm not sure what's meant by "very" rough, and I'm no lawyer, so I'll not try to answer the question whether there's a "legally meaningful" such distinction.

According to Hillary Clinton, "Women have always been the primary victims of war

According to Hillary Clinton, "Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat." On what conceivable grounds could such a statement be made given that dying tends to be kind "victimizing"? Has feminist discourse gone so far that it egocentrically sees even male loss in terms of female victimization? Should feminist thinking be criticized for it tendency toward sexism toward men? Or if feminism is by definition something that isn't sexist because feminism is about opposing sexism how do we address the fact that so much that is called "feminism" doesn't live up to that definition?

One might try to argue that men are typically the proponents and organizers of war and, in this sense, not really victims (because, like boxers, they bring the harm to themselves). I don't think this is empirically accurate: many men are pacifists and many women have strongly supported wars. Moreover, support for war is often manufactured with false information and cruel manipulation of people's patriotic sentiments -- producing victims even among the war's supporters. So I agree with you that this is a silly statement. Most of us say silly things sometimes; with top politicians the silly things they say are often broadcast to millions. I doubt Hillary Clinton would care to defend what she said if pressed to do so.

If a woman were to force herself sexually on a man most people would have a hard

If a woman were to force herself sexually on a man most people would have a hard time imagining how that incident would cause lasting and profound trauma for that man. Why is that?

I'm not sure that "most people would have a hard time imagining" how a woman's forcing herself sexually on a man could cause lasting and profound trauma for the man: some people might well have difficulty imagining how this could be the case. Perhaps such 'imaginative resistance' would be due to certain ingrained and long-standing assumptions about sexuality, including the canard that males always want sex, and therefore could not be forced to have sex. Even if some do share such assumptions, I myself do not find it difficult to think that a woman forcing herself sexually on a man would be no less a violation than a man forcing himself sexually on a woman: what's crucial in these cases, to my mind, is that the sexual relationship is in some way coerced and, hence, is not freely entered into by both parties. (To be sure, the nature of the coercion might differ in the two cases: whereas one might think that a man forces himself by force on a woman, in most cases, given the disparities in strength between the sexes, it is difficult--although not impossible--to imagine a woman forcing herself by force on a man, although there are, to be sure, many ways in which coercion can be exercised that have nothing to do with pure physical power, and it is the coercive nature of the sexual relationship that, to my mind, makes it problematic.)

What's wrong with rape jokes?

What's wrong with rape jokes?

Nothing at all, they can be hilarious. Just like racist jokes, jokes which poke fun at disabled people, women and religion. The point of jokes is to transcend boundaries of good sense and social propriety. It is alright to object to them if they are objectionable, but that does not mean they fail to be funny. In fact, I suspect that a joke which is not objectionable would not be very funny, unlikely to result in a guffaw.

Only rarely is there a movie that comes out where there is a main female

Only rarely is there a movie that comes out where there is a main female character who is involved is some kind of plot that doesn't involve romantic entanglements with men. If the movie looks good then I will go see it, but it occurs to me that one of the reasons that there aren't many movies like that is because women aren't as interested in them. Could it be that feminism has it wrong when it tries to place it sole focus on blaming men for being chauvinistic pigs rather than working to encourage a vision of womanhood that is more expansive? Obviously feminism does try to do that but at the same time I don't think its directly men's fault if woman don't respond to that message.

I guess the obvious question is whether there is any actual evidence that women aren't interested in movies that in which the main female character isn't romantically involved with some man. I'd rather suspect the opposite: That it's men who won't be interested, if the woman isn't presented as a sex object.

Not only have feminists been "working to encourage a version of womanhood that is more expansive", they have had a great deal of success. Try reading Betty Friedan's famous book The Feminist Mystique, or talking to some older female relatives, if you want to know what things were like for women just half a century ago.

Since we've just passed the anniversary of Title IX: Did you know that several attempts were made to exclude funding for sports from Title IX, on the ground that women just weren't interested in sports? Fortunately for all of us, those attempts failed, and the rates at which girls and women how do participate has put the lie to that particular assumption.

With regard to opening doors many women assert that men who do so are being

With regard to opening doors many women assert that men who do so are being "gentleman" and those who don't are ungentlemanly. Likewise some feminists assert that men are sexist if they open a door for them. I've tried to research this issue very thoroughly so I know what I am talking about but among the many many websites I've read about this none have ever said that it was wrong to assume why a person is or isn't opening a door for you, until ironically while I was writing this I came across this one video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coi1Sc5ss_s where a self-described feminist does in fact acknowledge that "[I] do recognize most people do it just to be polite." In fact all of the websites other than that Youtube video I read come down under two opposed factions- those who say that men who open doors for women are sexist and those that say that men who don't open doors for women are impolite- with no nuanced opinion standing in between. On the one hand I don't like to be thought of as...

I fear you may take my answer to be flippant, but I assure you that it is not. My own practice is to open any door for anyone who might need the door opened. I open doors for people who are going to ride in my car; I open the door to my own office when I am about to go in and have a chat with a student; I open the door for people I have never met when I get to the door first. This plainly has nothing to dowith sexism, since I take the politness of such gestures to apply to any and all, regardless of gender or circumstance.

So it looks to me that practicing this minor bit of politesse is your answer: just be polite and open doors for anyone whenever it is feasible (without making a scene, of course!) to do so.

It is generally acknowledged, especially by feminists, that men in general have

It is generally acknowledged, especially by feminists, that men in general have behaviors and traits that are not good. Could a feminist name any general behaviors and traits that women have that are not good and that are also not the fault of men?

First a disclaimer--I don't speak for feminists in this response.

But something in the question piqued me a bit, but then there is also something I wanted to pursue a bit. I think that talk about "men in general" and "women in general" is already likely to deal in the sorts of stereotypes that philosophers should try to avoid. I don't disagree that there are "behaviors and traits" worthy of criticism or blame, but the generality that these may be associated with "men in general" strikes me as prejudice--or at least a likely source of such. It is simply too easy to go from "men in general" to the presumption that the next man I might meet may be assumed to be guilty before I have any evidence of such guilt. This is how prejudice works.

To pursue another line, however, I would recommend the work of feminist philosopher Claudia Card to the questioner. Much of Card's work has been focused on the nature and effects of victimization. It is to her (in modern times) that we owe the notion of the "moral damage" that can be done to victims of oppression and injustice, by which she means that it can be an effect of oppression that the victim is subsequently unable to achieve or sustain virtue or other morally desirable qualities or actions. Indeed, one of the most powerful (and devastating) consequences of Card's work is that it highlights the extent to which we can actually expect "moral damage" to be done to victims, in which case, we might expect certain kinds of the relevant deficits from those who have had to deal with systematic injustices done to them. Would these, in the case of oppressed women, not be the "fault of men"? The answer, plainly, would depend on whether it was men who had been the oppressors.

If Card is right--and I think she is--the target of blame for some bad behavior may not always be the direct agent who behaves in that way. I see no reason to think that this is restricted to issues of gender only, nor did Card ever suggest that it was.

Finally, I would also point out that the idea that the effect of injustice might be "moral damage" to the victim is one that can also be found in the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. In several places in his dialogues, Plato has his main character, Socrates, talk about how injustice is not only damaging to the agent of the injustice, but also to the victim (for example, see Plato's Republic Book I., 335b-c).

Could you write philosophical books on women? I would like to read what

Could you write philosophical books on women? I would like to read what philosophers think about women. It does not matter, it can be a book, extract. What classical philosophers think about women?

Good question! First, there have almost always been women in philosophy in the west, though their status has been very difficult owing to Patriarchy. There is an excellent four volume work called A History of Women in Philosophy, published by Springe. This largely addresses what women philosophers have thought and think (the history goes up to the early 19990s) but you can also find in it pictures of how males viewed females in philosophy. The history is sad; Aristotle was bad, Plato a bit better (he thought women could be rulers in an ideal republic). For a catalogue and examination of the grim ways women have been viewed in culture and the history of ideas, you might check out Simone de Beauvoir's classic, ground breaking book The Second Sex, published in 1949. So, the Springer History will give you a good look at the classical scene, and you might also look at Genevieve Lloyd's The Man of Reason:'Male' and 'Female' in Western Philosophy, published in 1984. For two early modern works arguing for a greater role for women, you might check out Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women and J.S. Mill's The Subjection of Women.

For the contemporary state of play on women in philosophy (and addressing questions of how women are viewed in the world of philosophy), you might check out the online website of The Society of Women in Philosophy:

http://www.uh.edu/~cfreelan/SWIP/

This will have abundant resources and links that will allow further inquiry.

Is hating men an acceptable response to male oppression? Is the degree of male

Is hating men an acceptable response to male oppression? Is the degree of male oppression such that the hatred of men is justifiable?

Hating patriarchy would be a more precise response than hating men. Some men are feminists, and some women align themselves with patriarchy.

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