email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
The Philosophy of Pornography: Contemporary Perspectives edited by Lindsay Coleman and Jacob M. Held offers a wide range of articles on differing views on pornography as it reflects some of today's discussions of the topic.
Different topics presented deal with the "pornification" of media, the impact of pornography on society, speech and subordination in pornography, friendship in pornography, black women in pornography and much more.
In short it appears somewhat fair to claim that the majority of chapters in this book are either for or against porn. This is a very simple way of analyzing the texts because the issue is not that simplistic but patterns emerge throughout the different articles with authors arguing either for or against pornography based on several different ideas.
When reading this book I find myself leaning quite heavily toward the number of articles discussing the risks and downsides of pornography, the "against" side. I tried to keep an open mind but found the "against pornography" claims stronger and more persuasive. Two must read chapters in order to understand some of the risks with the culture and production of pornography are the second chapter Pornography Makes the Man by Matthew Ezzell and chapter four: Pornographic and Pornified by Robert Jensen. Ezzell discusses how pornography use (in general in the studies that Ezzell references) affects men's view of women and of sexual relationships. Ezzell states that the majority of today's pornography is created for heterosexual men and that studies have suggested that many men's consumption of pornography follows a pattern of desensitization and escalation in that these men over time search for more extreme material. The author also provides examples of comments made by consumers to show how young men can falsely believe that the types of sex displayed in pornography is what all young women want and deserve. Jensen speaks about what types of expectations stereotypical pornography places on men and women, for example that men are naturally dominant and that women are naturally submissive, that all women always want sex from men and that women like all the sexual acts that men perform or demand.
The against pornography arguments presented in the various articles deal with the negative impact on the women in pornography, on women in general, on men and also discusses how pornography silences women (for example by suggesting that no means yes) and much more.
The "for pornography" arguments also discusses these topics but claim that the majority of women in pornography, or women in general, are not harmed by the stereotypes and representations of women in pornography, most men will not treat women badly after watching pornography and perhaps most importantly, producers and consumers should be free to produce or watch whatever they want in privacy and that it is a problem that some women attempt to speak for all women (for example feminist scholars that argue against porn by claiming that it negatively affects all women without considering the women that voluntarily engage in pornography and enjoy it).
I understand the arguments both sides put forward but I simply cannot accept the argument that is repeated quite a few times: that other medias too are stereotypical and sexist and that pornography is not the only such media and therefore does not deserve any blame. In my opinion, findings showing negative effects on women by men due to pornography cannot be ignored or treated as less important in comparison to the fact that consumers should be allowed to watch whatever they want. I also interpreted these texts to mean that nothing can be done, there is no compromising when it comes to pornography, and very few alternatives or solutions very provided.
It is not surprising then that the article I had the most trouble agreeing with was chapter ten: Porn, Sex and Liberty. This is a revised and fictionalized contribution constructed from interviews between Held and Hartley. The problem here is that I do not find the dialogue productive, it does not offer arguments that I can engage with. Here pornography is partly understood as negative in many ways but the dialogue, in my opinion, simply states that: "yes it is negative and harmful but so are other types of media". Quotes taken front his piece state that: "Porn is not misogynistic. It's misanthropic. It takes an equally dim view of both genders…." (p. 182), "Female fantasy, aka "romance" is equally limiting to men, equally fantastical and unrealistic, equally silly and fake" (p. 183), and "Porn's not to blame for equality. Men's disrespect of women has been embedded in culture over millennia long before the advent of commercial porn. We've made some progress in certain parts of the world toward changing that. We can now report rape and be believed. Women can say no and have the bastard arrested if he persists" (p. 186). Perhaps these comments are included to provoke and for me they really do. They offer a simplistic and exaggerated view of women's rights and how far we have really come in terms of women not being "victim blamed" or "slut shamed" when reporting rape.
One article on the more "for pornography" side that stood out in a sense that it not simply provided a theoretical defense of pornography was Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves: Black Women and the New Pornography by Ariane Cruz. Cruz discusses a type of "new" pornography and does so by highlighting the work of black (mostly feminist) pornography producers that portray variations in ethnicity, gender, body size and so on to move away from stereotypical pornography and the portrayals of black women as "ghettoized"and violently objectified. Here focus is on portraying black and queer sexuality. I like this article since it focuses on the positive sides of pornography without encouraging stereotypical pornography that is created by and for men with hegemonic masculinity in mind.
The topic is surely a difficult one and this book really caused me to think, analyze and be critical of the arguments proposed in the book. Therefore it would be very useful in the classroom setting on various topics concerning for example sexuality. Single chapters could also be pulled and used in teaching. For example, Ezzell's and Jensen's chapters, that I mentioned above, would be very appropriate for discussions in Men and Masculinities or Women's Studies courses.
© 2016 Elin Weiss
Elin Weiss has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from University College Dublin.