Pornography ethical issues. In doing so, I will

Pornography has remained a heavily
discussed topic in philosophy today regarding its morality. There are various
types of pornography, including but not limited to: hentai, incest pornography,
homosexual pornography, rape pornography, bondage pornography, reality pornography,
and gang-bang. I argue that, although there are drawbacks to porn, it is moral
because the benefits outweigh those drawbacks. I do think that it is oblivious
for those who claim that porn is immoral to not admit the many cases where
people who watch porn, roughly 75% of men and women, do not encounter an urge
to commit sexual violence. I also want to raise awareness to how it is mistakenly
argued that porn is moral only because the participants are consenting to any
violence or humiliation done to them, masking the true corruption of the porn
industry. In my paper, I will first begin to present the topic of pornography
and how it raises ethical issues. In doing so, I will construct my own definition
of pornography which is intended to provide an up-to-date perspective that
includes the many categories of porn. Then, I will discuss and refute arguments
presented by Helen Longino and Mark Wicclair in their papers which present
their stances on pornography. My discussions of their positions will lead to my
defense on the morality of porn and what needs to be done about it.

            I
define pornography as a representation of behavior meant to stimulate sexual
arousal in the intended audience. Popular mediums of pornography include:
videos, books, photographs, movies, and shows. Specific genres of porn that are
normally associated with being immoral are the ones that are based around women
shown being humiliated, abused and otherwise subordinate. These genres would
be: gang-bang, rape porn, bukkake, bondage and anything similar. The ethical
issues brought up by genres like these is the sense that it damages specifically
women’s social standing and harms their image. Helen E. Longino, Professor of
Philosophy at Stanford University, focuses her argument in her paper, “Pornography,
Oppression, and Freedom: A Closer Look”, around the idea that pornography
represents women only as a means to sexually please men. Longino provides her
definition of porn, which is that it is strictly a demeaning portrayal of
females, only shown dependent on men and only shown pleasing the men and never
the other way around (154). She is entitled to perceive porn in any way she
wants to, however her definition is problematic because it completely disregards
homosexual porn, as well as other genres that may either show the man in a
demeaning way or even show equal passion between the two members. The definition
I provided earlier may seem too general or simple, but I argue that it is necessary
to provide a definition of porn that includes any type of porn, even the ones
that go against a certain view. Longino providing a definition that directly
supports her view only leads to circular reasoning because she is assuming what
she is arguing for.

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            I
claim that porn is immoral because the drawbacks do not outweigh the benefits.
These drawbacks include: the effects porn has on the expectations of both men
and women, and the act and imagery of violence towards men and women. The
benefits of porn are: the sexual pleasure given off, and the great contribution
pornography has on entertainment through movies, shows, and video games. The
lack of proof that pornography harms women beyond a hypothetical argument
weakens the value of the drawbacks that pertain to this subject, such as the
ones I presented. Longino states that pornography is analogous to lying about
women’s roles, and since lying is considered an immoral act, so is pornography
(156). I counter this claim; pornography does not “lie” to manipulate or deceive.
Pornography shows what it shows or, in other words, presents exactly what the
intended message is.  Whether this
message is accepted by the audience or not is not an important factor in debating
the morality of pornography. Rather, this is an issue regarding free speech,
which is undoubtedly protected.

            The
lack of empirical evidence that proves any correlation with viewing violence in
pornography causing sexual violence against women or men only adds on to my
support that porn is moral. Even Longino admits that there lacks evidence
regarding her claim that porn is linked to rape and abuse (157). This serves as
my deciding factor, if there exists empirical proven data that supports the
link between pornography and an increase in sexual violence towards women or
men, then I would assert that porn is immoral. If this was the case, then it is mandatory that the
consequentialist argument shifts because harm is directly being caused from watching
or listening to pornography. Nonetheless, I do not expect this to occur since
there is such a substantial amount of people watching pornography and data
still has not shown anything yet. However, I will not completely disregard the
problems that violent pornographic material, such as bondage, are unsafe to the
actors themselves.

            People
are misled to believe that the actors are either not actually getting hurt, or
are completely agreeing to the harm being done to them. Although I believe that
porn is moral, the claim that the actors are exempt from harm should not be an
argument made to solely claim the
morality of porn. The porn industry performs many shady actions that abuse
their power mainly against women.  Many
porn actors who reflect on their previous involvement with the porn industry
expose the manipulation and brutal inequality they go through. Common
experiences include how if the pain became intolerable for the actress, they were
still forced to continue due to a contract and the threat of not getting paid
for their work. Therefore, one mandatory regulation for porn in order for its
morality to be clearer lies with the stricter supervision of the porn industry
and their actions towards the adult film stars. The reason this subject does
not shift my view on porn being moral is because of the enormous ‘grey area’
that exists, because pornography does not only pertain to videos by adult film
stars. Even those videos by adult film stars do not always involve any harm
done to anybody. Still, a safer environment for the actors allows for porn as a
whole to become more guilt-free, even for those who declare porn as immoral. Although
this is a required step to take in the near future for pornography, I believe
porn should definitely not be censored.

            I
argue that more harm is done if pornography becomes censored. There do exist
potential problems within pornography, it is unrealistic to claim there do not
exist any. However, the First Amendment
protects free speech, and porn falls under free speech. Similar to the claim
Mark Wicclair, Professor of Philosophy at West Virginia University, presents in
his paper, “Feminism, Pornography, and Censorship”, the freedom of expression
is necessary to keep individuality and the arts freely explored. The removal of
that right means that the idea of porn being degrading would be forced upon
everybody. Wicclair brings this point up, stating that everybody has different
criteria for determining what is degrading or harmful (328). What I may declare
to be humiliating or degrading, one might be naturally sexually aroused by, and
vice versa. Furthermore, the censoring of pornography would also lead to the suppressing
of many famous movies, television shows, books, and even video games. Shows
like Game of Thrones and video games such
as Grand Theft Auto portray acts of
violence and subordination of sexes through pornography in the same scope that
Longino presents in her paper. The issue with suppressing those forms of
entertainment lies with the fact that there is no seen proof of either leading
to any harm done, although there have been many attempts to find that causal
link. In addition, the case of not censoring porn to protect freedom of
expression can be related to the recent widespread debate about whether hate speech
should become an exception to the First Amendment or not. Similar to my defense
on porn, just because something is harmful to one person, does not mean it
should be completely censored from everybody, especially when there is
something to gain from it. Shielding the public from pornography only leads to
the loss of many forms of entertainment and will be a substantial drawback to
human rights.

            Longino
provides a counter-argument to my claim that pornography is included in free
speech, stating that there are exceptions to the Frist Amendment, such as
slander and libel, and pornography fall under an exception (159). She believes
this because it is more like false advertising or violence rather than a work
of art or speech. Again, in order for this argument to even be considered,
there needs to be valid observed evidence that pornography increases violent
acts in its audience. Until them, pornography falls under free speech that does
not harm anybody, which makes it protected. Wicclair also discusses this in his
paper through using philosopher John Stuart Mill’s ‘Harm Principle’ in his book
“On Liberty”. Wicclair references the ‘Harm Principle’ in order to reinforce
that a right can only be taken away if it prevents harm done onto others (326).
Wicclair uses this to reaffirm that porn should not be censored because there
is no causal connection between pornography and harm done from viewing it,
similar to what I discussed earlier.

Another reason pornography should not be censored is the
chance that people that use porn to satisfy their violent sexual pleasures will
potentially resort to finding a different way to please their desires.  This may result in actual sexual violence, such as rape, which goes directly against
what those who argue for censoring porn aim to prevent. Relating to this issue,
a recent debate emerged regarding hentai porn depicting images of children. The
debate revolved around if those forms of hentai fell under child pornography,
which is undoubtedly illegal, or if they were protected because it consists of
only animations. Hentai is complicated because it falls under artistic
expression, which is protected under the First Amendment, regardless of what is
illustrated. I believe that the most important factor in this debate is that at
least, those who feel the need to satisfy their sexual fantasies towards anyone
underage have a legal and safe way of doing so. Stripping this away brings up
the chance of those people resorting to actual violence towards children.
Wicclair elaborates on this claim in his paper, stating that if any censorship
is allowed, it becomes difficult to control the desirable actions that might
emerge, calling it the ‘slippery slope’ (327). This shows the issue with
censorship and how it can allow exactly what is trying to be prevented.

            Pornography
is moral because there is no harm done to anybody directly from consuming it.
Until empirical data proves there exists a link between the two, then claims
like those made by Lingino that porn is harmful to women remain easily refutable
and weak. Wicclair adds to the discussion that, even though there is no
conclusive evidence, even ‘playing it safe’ by censoring anyway is not
effective (326). This is because of the major consequences of censorship of a
form of free speech, and how it does not prevent anything. He states that it is
foolish to think that banning antisemitism in pornographic material would have
prevented the Jewish suffering during Hitler’s Germany (327). The comparison is
blunt, but it effectively weakens the argument that censoring rape-type
pornography would stop rapes from happening. The effects of porn on the social
standing of women and sexual violence are inconclusive, but the consequences of
taking away the freedom of speech is definite. Those consequences should only
be tolerated if the effects of porn are conclusive. Moving forward, the
treatment of porn stars in the porn industry is an issue that should deserve
urgent attention. A solution would be to make stricter involvement by the
government mandatory to ensure the safety and equality of those involved in
pornography.