email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica 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 MarriagePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An IntroductionPhilosophy of Sex and LovePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornographyPornography, 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 AntiquitySex in CrisisSex in the World of MythSex 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 AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShameShamelessShy 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 Incurable RomanticThe 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 Phenomenology of Sex, Love, and IntimacyThe 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 WebUntrue VirginVirgin 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
Porn: How to Think with Kink is part of a series titled "Philosophy for Everyone" which started in 2007, edited by Fritz Allhoff. The series is part of one of the many that address popular culture in philosophical ways. They are collections of papers aimed at a general readership rather than professional philosophers. This collection has been put together by Dave Monroe, who is an assistant professor of philosophy at St. Petersburg College, Florida. It has 19 main chapters split into 7 sections, and most of them have catchy titles with a jokey flavor to them. sicj as"The Jizz Biz and Quality of Life by Dylan Ryder and Dave Monroe, "Yes. Yes! Yes!! What Do Mona's Moans Reveal About Her Sexual Pleasure?" by Anne Gordon and Shane Kraus, and "Something for Everyone: Busty Latin Anal Nurses in Leather and Glasses" by Roger Pipe. Most of the authors are teachers in small philosophy departments, although there are some in psychology and English. There's a real question of who will want to read this book. Not professional philosophers, because this isn't a peer reviewed set of papers. Maybe amateur philosophers, although if they are capable of reading the papers here, then they would do better to read peer reviewed philosophy papers published in journals and other books. It's not really clear what the point is of publishing a collection of papers written by people who seem to have a passing interest in the topic.
Nevertheless, there are some good papers here, and I'll be assigning a couple of them in my undergraduate class on the philosophy of sex and love. Many of the papers here are in favor of pornography in some way, or are critical of anti-pornography arguments. Ryder and Monroe argue that porn stars can have good quality lives; Tait Szabo argues that we should stop worrying and just enjoy pornography; Fiona Wollard argues that using pornography is very different from cheating on a partner; David Ross criticizes anti-porn arguments, and there's an interview with a dominatrix. There are papers critical of pornography: Anne Gordon and Shane Kraus argue that porn may make men bad lovers; Mimi Marrinucci argues that porn is narrow and gives a decontextualized representation of sex; and J.K. Miles argues that sexual expression is different from political expression, and the argument for permitting pornography on the grounds of political free speech does not work. A number of other papers are not obviously pro- or anti- porn, but rather address some of the complexities of the debate; Andrew Aberdein sets out some of the philosophical background to the debate over porn; Theodore Bach brings in some of the tools of cognitive psychology in suggesting that porn consumption can be understood using simulation theory; Darci Doll examines the phenomenon of celebrity sex tapes; Jacob Held surveys some of the legal debate over the nature of obscenity; both Christopher Bartel and Lawrence Howe examine the distinction between porn and erotica; Matthew Brophy discusses how porn has changed in the era of the Internet and the increased temptation it will present; Chad Parkhill uses some psychoanalytic ideas to discuss why men might enjoy watching lesbian porn; and Ummi Khan emphasizes the difference between sadomasochism and real violence.
So this is an eclectic collection of articles that makes only sporadic attempts to address the existing literature in feminist theory, philosophy, and psychology about pornography and its effects. Is this a problem? That will depend on what the reader is looking for. The book never pretends to be presenting a survey of the existing literature, and not all readers will be looking for that. It would be quite a different project if it were attempting to give an outline of the debates so far. On the other hand, the papers here do react to the current state of the debate, and especially react to what they tend to oversimplify as the feminist view, failing to recognize the diversity of ideas in feminist theories. So the lack of coverage of the existing debate is only a problem for those who are under the impression that they will learn about the philosophical debate about porn from reading this book.
These are mostly short papers of about 10 pages each, and so they don't space time to develop their arguments at great length. Some of the papers have a very minimal bibliography with just a few footnotes, while other provide more extensive references. The arguments they present are often interesting and would be worth developing further. A few of the papers seem idiosyncratic and of interest to a smaller readership, but it would be difficult to find a collection of papers that will appeal to everyone.
I liked several of the papers, such as Woollard's "Cheating with Jenna," which draws useful distinctions between cheating on one's partner and getting sexual enjoyment from porn, which makes a worthwhile point, and Roger Pipe's "Something for Everyone," which provides a useful history of porn. Both of these articles, as many others in the book, could be useful in an undergraduate course.
If there's an obvious fault to the book, it is that it does not address porn as it exists in the current world. It takes a jokey attitude to porn in its language, and does not deal with the close connection between modern porn and the degradation and dehumanization of women. This connection has been emphasized in other academic work such as the recent collection Everyday Pornography, but it is also obvious just from browsing a few porn websites. Arguably this has always been the case, but if so, it was more subtle in the past than it is now. Some of the papers make reference to this perspective, but given that it is such a central feature of current pornography, it is a blatant gap in the book that it does not make this one of the main issues. In avoiding this issue, the book gives the impression that it is missing the point, and only really addressing the theoretical question of sexual images. Still, this is useful addition to the literature for some purposes, and it shows to a more general readership the possibility of writing philosophically on the topic of pornography.
© 2011 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York