Critical Critic

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Hegel is to modern philosophers as SNES gaming is to modern gamers. A lot of lip service is paid, but at the end of the day, the only people really firing up Chrono Trigger, or dusting off Phenomenology of Spirit, are hipsters wanting to be and the petite bourgeoisie. Which is a shame, really, because Chrono Trigger is a damn good game.

We met in a magazine. I was an editorial, she was a product placement. We met in a magazine. I was a liar, she pretended to believe me.

The Big Adventures of a Tiny Elephant: The UBC Bookstore’s English Bookstack Organizational Layout: A Rant

a-tiny-elephant:

I walked into the UBC Bookstore on Imagine Day and shook off the rain drops from my hair. I was immediately irritated at the construction and at the large numbers of confused looking first-years that clogged up the small hallways. I made my way to the English books, going over in my mind the…

Jun 2

sometimes, the people who should know better, don’t.

Apr 7
Heading to Sacramento from Davis California

Heading to Sacramento from Davis California

Apr 7
Geek porn. Posted here cuz most people irl don’t want to hear it :)

Geek porn. Posted here cuz most people irl don’t want to hear it :)

Apr 7
A reading room in the main library at UC Berkeley… That prohibits photographs…

A reading room in the main library at UC Berkeley… That prohibits photographs…

Apr 7
Apr 7

I am constantly impressed by humanity’s inexhaustible capacity to care passionately for the irrelevant.

I am a Radical Feminist: An Economic Argument Against Pornography

I am preparing for an upcoming conference presentation, the topic of which is pornography. I plan to take the radical feminist position, as elucidated by Catherine MacKinnon, and argue against the pro-sex feminist position, as elucidated by Gayle Rubin. 

I will summarize the pro-sex position as such:

1) Sexual boundaries, classifications, norms, and rules are not universal, but are constructed in social contexts

2) The dominant social context today privileges bourgeoisie sensibilities, and straight monogamous heterosexuality (heteronormativity)

3) Within such a system, we must fight for sexual egalitarianism and ensure that  heteronormative sexual expressions are not privileged above others

4) All sanctions against consenting adults engaged in sexual acts stem either from a morality rooted in normative  classifications of sexuality, or from paternalism, and therefore, are problematic.

In other words, all consensual sex is good sex, and to take a stance against a set of consensual sex acts is to take a moral, political, or paternalistic stance. So, if someone decides to leverage their sexuality as a commodity by which to gain money, nobody can fault them for that choice because it is their choice to make.

This is probably the in vogue, popular, modern liberal view on pornography.

The radical feminists, however, argue that

1) Choices and decisions made by women do not occur in a vacuum, they occur within specific social contexts

2) The dominant context of society today is that of  patriarchy and male-domination

3) Within such a system, all choices made by women are constrained choices, both limited in scope and coercive in nature; and conversely, men are the inheritors of thousands of years of hierarchical supremacy, which means they have better access to resources

4) Women who decide to become pornographic actors are doing so on a disadvantaged field (a male dominated economy) and are coerced into leveraging their bodies for money

5) Such women are not making a free choice, and the issue of pornography is not an issue of morality, it is an issue of human rights, because all pornography is demeaning to women

So in other words, it doesn’t matter that a woman can potentially make some money in pornography, and can theoretically use that money to better her life, because ultimately, she is doing so at the expense of the integrity of her person. Again, this is a critique rooted in the core tenets of liberalism.

At the core of this debate, then, are the liberal tenets of autonomy on the one hand, and the inviolability of the person on the other (which are really two sides of the same coin). Each side of the debate has strong merits. Consider, for example, when we engage in a harmful act like smoking a cigarette, drinking in excess, or even eating unhealthy foods. Surely, our autonomy is more important than society’s obligation to shield our person from harm? Few of us would argue for the State to have control over our eating habits.

On the flip side, however, there are clear limits on autonomy in all liberal societies, limits which favor the inviolability of the person above the individual’s autonomy. Consider, for example, that no liberal society exists in which one consenting adult can sell herself to another consenting adult. Even if such a contract were drafted and signed, it would not constitute a legal document, because personhood is an entrenched liberal belief, constitutionally protected, and impossible to contradict even among consenting adults. It is irrelevant that a person freely chooses to enter such a contract.

For decades now, the two camps in the feminist Sex Wars have argued eloquently for their positions.

What I plan to base my conference presentation on, however, are not the principles of liberalism, or philosophical and moral arguments. Instead, I plan to make an economic argument against pornography. Pro-sex theorists argue that by leveraging sexuality, women can empower themselves economically. I want to challenge this claim by arguing that even in the best-case scenario of a fairly-paid actress who is financially prudent with her earnings, she is in fact damaging her long-term financial prospects in the mainstream economy. I will argue that such a woman’s primary work asset, her body, is a depreciating asset which erodes over time (with her youth). Her male counterpart, say a trades worker who also leverages his body for money, sees his skills appreciate and increase in value (with his experience). The pornographic actress is limited by the short shelf-life of her prime-porn-body (18-2?), and her career lifecycle is much shorter. Finally, I want to argue that an early career in pornography severely limits and holds back women from public sector engagement (as well as the upper echeleons of the private sector) later in life, effectively keeping them out of many of the better paying industries because pornographic work is stigmatized. More importantly, it is precisely within the public sector through which men reproduce their dominance.

The reason I’m posting on here is because I want to hear your thoughts, links to relevant readings, and just get general feedback. In particular, I would love to hear insights from people in the industry. I expect a hostile audience when I present and so I would like to be as prepared as I can be, to that end, as long as you’re being productive, feel free to tear my logic apart.