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Porn - Why all the hate?

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This one has always confused me.

But first let me confess my bias. I love porn. It's a wonderful thing.

But what's strange is Pekov seems to really hate porn. In OPAR he implies that porn is something frustrated and desperate men turn to and that porn wouldn't exist if men lived forfilling lives.

(This is not an exact quote, if my memory is misrepresenting the facts here, please correct me)

Common' now. Porn? What could possibly be wrong with porn! B)

I re-read the passage and I couldn't find any observations that supported his claim that porn was somehow unhealthy. He seemed to be trying to dispute an idea that porn would pour into the airwaves if the airwaves weren't regulated by saying that porn would have no value in a free society. Doesn't that seem hard to believe considering porn is a multi-billion dollar industry dispite the fact that it's suppressed by regulation?

[bASIC QUESTION MODERATOR'S EDIT: Corrected topic title spelling to "Peikoff."]

Edited by BurgessLau
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This one has always confused me.

But first let me confess my bias.  I love porn.  It's a wonderful thing. 

Well, why do you love porn? What rational reason do you have to say you love it?

But what's strange is Pekov seems to really hate porn.  In OPAR he implies that porn is something frustrated and desperate men turn to and that porn wouldn't exist if men lived forfilling lives.

(This is not an exact quote, if my memory is misrepresenting the facts here, please correct me)

First of all, his name is Peikoff. Second, I would challenge you to provide the quote you are referring to, as the way you are quoting it is out of context with other comments he has made on the subject, most notably in his lecture, Love, Sex, and Romance.

Common' now.  Porn?  What could possibly be wrong with porn!  B)

It depends on what you're using the porn for. I'm not a psychologist but I'm sure that there are many instances in which it could be said a man or woman is using porn as an excuse to evade the issue of their self-esteem.

However, if you would like the full story of how Leonard Peikoff feels about self-esteem, I would recommend the lecture I provided the link for above.

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But what's strange is Pekov seems to really hate porn.  In OPAR he implies that porn is something frustrated and desperate men turn to and that porn wouldn't exist if men lived forfilling lives.

1. Cite the page number, please -- or withdraw your so far unsubstantiated claim.

2. Please define "porn." What is the genus? What is the differentia?

(For readers not familiar with the nature of definitions see Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ch. 5, or at least "Definitions," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 117-121.)

3. Learn to spell words correctly, especially the name of the world's greatest living philosopher. Egregious misspellings are a violation of the Forum Rules.

4. What is your evidence for hatred?

[Edited to add fourth point and move a paragraph.]

Edited by BurgessLau
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Francisco's discussion with Rearden might be relevent here. I'll post an excerpt, but anybody interested should read the whole dialogue:

"Do you remember what I said about money and about the men who seek to reverse the law of cause and effect? The men who try to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind? Well, the man who despises himself tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures - which can't be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man's sense of his own value."

"You'd better explain that."

"Did it ever occur to you that it's the same issue? The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think - for he same reason - that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. [snip] But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. [snip] The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer - because only the posession of a heroine will give him the sense of achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut."

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1. Cite the page number, please -- or withdraw your so far unsubstantiated claim.

I was hoping I could get away without a page number because others would already be familiar with the passage and we could go from there. Unfortunately I purchased the book as an audio book, which therefore makes it difficult, if not impossible to cite specific pages for reference. Even quoting is made extremely time consuming by the fact that I must fast-forward and rewind the material in order to get to the parts I need. If a page number and direct quote is required to continue the discussion, I will resurface my question when my printed copy of OPAR arrives.

2. Please define "porn." What is the genus? What is the differentia?

I would define porn as entertainment for the sole and exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.

3. Learn to spell words correctly,

I did not mean offense. I generally participate in forums on other subjects that emphasize volume of posts and not quality. I will better learn to adapt to the environment here.

I would ask however that you reconsider the phrase "learn to spell words correctly" as it implies that I currently do not posses this knowledge.

4. What is your evidence for hatred?

Because he correlates a desire to view pornography with a lack of self esteem. If a lack of self esteem is a negative character trait, then it would be logical to assume that he would disapprove of the vices cherished by that flaw. Therefore I surmised that Piekov dislikes pornography.

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Several years ago when Dr. Peikoff hosted a radio show, he had a general discussion of sex. I do not recall specifically what was stated and do not want to misrepresent Dr. Peikoff's views by paraphrase or faulty attribution. My recollection is that in an intial extemporaneous comment, Dr. Peikoff did not morally condemn pornography as such. In a subsequent show, however, he noted that after futher consideration, and discussions with his listeners, he had changed his viewpoint on this. I recall that the focus of his comment had to do with the moral status of those who participate in the making of pornography. The key to understanding this, I believe, is in the quote above cited by Oakes. As a viewer of such pornography, one would be sanctioning the immoral actions of the participants.

If someone else has a tape or transcript of the radio show or remembers this differently, please correct me.

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I think a brief quote from OPAR is required here:

Fantasy, in sex as in other departments of life, is a form of imagination and thus legitimate, as long as one does not drop the distinction between fantasy and reality.

I think you need to read the book a bit more carefully.

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Hangnail,

I think the root of the problem with pornography is that it isn't achieving the kind of value that sexual acts are meant to achieve. Using pornography as a substitute for something which is a challenge to obtain, such as a partner who shares your values and embodies your view of the world, obliterates the meaning of earning that value. It is no coincidence that the majority of porn stars are interchangeable heads on a body - there is nothing special, memorable, or valuable about them and a man whose self-esteem is fully intact will not be aroused by this indiscriminant wringling of flesh.

With this said, obviously you are aroused by pornography - it is simply a fact is that it turns you on. Now you can choose to figure out why it turns you on, decide is that is a valid reason, and if it isn't you can work to change your view of it by learning more about your values and self-esteem.

Some useful questions might be:

-What am I getting out of watching this?

-What about it do I find arousing?

-What mental state am I in when I am motivated to watch this?

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It depends on what you're using the porn for. I'm not a psychologist but I'm sure that there are many instances in which it could be said a man or woman is using porn as an excuse to evade the issue of their self-esteem.
I completely agree with your premise. People have various underlying reasons for their actions. And we can all agree that people do consume porn for self-distructive reasons. My question would be... why assert that all people consume it for these reasons? Perhaps in the lectures you suggested there is more detail than what I found in OPAR.

Well, why do you love porn? What rational reason do you have to say you love it?

Perhaps I should have asked this question as a hypothetical, as to avoid being the object of the discussion. I guess it's too late now...

As a male, I have a set of instinctual desires which act as a force on my mind. Examples of these would be consuming food, copulation, urination, defecating, and breathing. Each of these desires serve my physical bodies needs and are coupled with a pleasurable reward for addressing them.

Peikoff very correctly states that human beings get a great deal more joy out of enhancing these experiences of pleasure with contributions from our mind, with his analogy of gnawing on raw meat in a cave vs. eating at a fine restaurant. Therefore he explains that romantic love makes sex so much more than just the primal act of mating. (again, if you guys need direct quotes and page numbers I'll drop the subject and come back when I have them)

As a man however, my sexual instincts differ slightly from that of women. Mine encourage me to spread my seed over many partners, which directly contradicts a women's instinct to find a single mate. Because of this I will always have a somewhat contradictory value system with a female mate. Contradictions which are an impediment to the perfectly corresponding values which I need to feel romantic love.

Pornography enables me to address the instinct that encourages me to cheat on my girlfriend with attractive women who I share no values with. Therefore, I like pornography because it allows me to indulge an instinct that would have dramatically poor consequences in my life if I obeyed it.

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I asked you to say why you believe Leonard Peikoff hates pornography. This is what you said:

Because he correlates a desire to view pornography with a lack of self esteem.  If a lack of self esteem is a negative character trait, then it would be logical to assume that he would disapprove of the vices cherished by that flaw.  Therefore I surmised that Piekov dislikes pornography.

Hatred is not mere "disapproval." It is an emotion arising from a certain antithetical evaluation of an object, accompanied by a desire to totally obliterate the object. Islamofascists hate Western Civilization. They see the total, at-root opposition it presents to their own views, and consequently they wish to destroy it.

You have not proved your case. What facts of reality led you to conclude that Dr. Peikoff hates pornography? If you have no proof, then I suggest you withdraw your claim about his alleged hatred. Or is that what you are now doing by switching to the word "dislikes"?

P. S. -- You have once again misspelled the name of the foremost Objectivist and the greatest living philosopher in the world. Do you not value him even enough to spell his name with care? Everyone makes occasional spelling errors, but to misspell his name after a clear caution is egregious.

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[...] (again, if you guys need direct quotes and page numbers I'll drop the subject and come back when I have them)

Yes, do come back after you have located the facts that are the basis for your claims. The beauty of these forums is that these threads never die. You can always revive them.

Pornography enables me to address the instinct that encourages me to cheat on my girlfriend with attractive women who I share no values with.  Therefore, I like pornography because it allows me to indulge an instinct that would have dramatically poor consequences in my life if I obeyed it.

Be sure also to read the excerpts under "Instinct" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 222. You are completely misusing the term/idea.

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What are you basing this off of? I'm a rational male animal and I have no "sexual instinct" to "spread my seed over many partners."

I too am a male and have no desire to "spread my seed over many partners". I find many different women attractive but that does not mean that I desire to have sex with all of them, even if the opportunity presented itself.

Hangnail, you cannot lump all males into one category of sexual appetite just because you fall into that particular category. There are many men who think the same way you do, but there are also many men that do not. The same goes for your categorization of all women only wanting one sexual partner.

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I asked you to say why you believe Leonard Peikoff hates pornography. This is what you said:

Hatred is not mere "disapproval." It is an emotion arising from a certain antithetical evaluation of an object, accompanied by a desire to totally obliterate the object. Islamofascists hate Western Civilization. They see the total, at-root opposition it presents to their own views, and consequently they wish to destroy it.

I have made several errors in the way I pursued this topic.

1. I misspelled Peikoff's name twice, which was a very unfortunate mistake. I know that all of you here don't take this lightly, so I apologize.

2. I began my argument with a statement "Peikoff hates pornography" which is indefensible. He clearly does not hate it, but probably more accurately dislikes or disapproves of it. This was clearly a failure on my part to articulate my premise in an accurate way.

3. I never supported my claims with facts, hoping that they would be accepted and discussed without consideration of their origin. I considered this innocent because I thought I was asserting what I believed to be "common knowledge", however I wasn't and my premise turned out to be wrong. Big a mistake.

Lesson learned. I'll return to the subject when I have a printed copy of the material to cite. To those who were offended here... I do sincerely apologize.

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As a male, I have a set of instinctual desires which act as a force on my mind.

This is a factual error. Human beings don't HAVE instincts, this is precisely the reason we need philosophy to guide our actions, and a rational philosophy, based on reality, at that. A desire is not an instinct, it is an emotion.

Emotions are evaluative in nature, but after a time they become automatized so that you are no longer aware of the evaluation taking place, only of your physical response to it. It is not acceptable to make random generalizations from the behavior of non-conceptual animals, in fact, I could point out a few exceptions to disprove your statement:

1. Several kinds of male insects (praying mantises and black widow spiders, to provide examples) are EATEN by their mates during copulation. I recall vaguely some research on the spiders in particular that fertilized eggs are MORE likely to result if the female decides to snack on the male. Promiscuity plays no part in that sexual relationship.

2. Look at the proportion of drones to queens among hive insects like bees and termites.

3. Geese mate for life.

Sexual strategies evolve dependant on how successful they are at propagating genes, which in its turn is based on the factors affecting such propagation. However, these examples are largely immaterial, I merely mention them to further demonstrate your erronious assumptions.

To discover the reason for your interest in porn you need to answer the questions based on your own experiences, not on fictional generalizations that do not apply.

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I was hoping I could get away without a page number because others would already be familiar with the passage and we could go from there.  Unfortunately I purchased the book as an audio book, which therefore makes it difficult, if not impossible to cite specific pages for reference. . . .

What you’re referring to is on pages 408 and 409.

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Because he correlates a desire to view pornography with a lack of self esteem.  If a lack of self esteem is a negative character trait, then it would be logical to assume that he would disapprove of the vices cherished by that flaw.  Therefore I surmised that Piekov dislikes pornography.

Bad logical inference. What you did there is called affirming the consequent. Peikoff may not like pornography, but I think why you are watching it plays more of a factor. Things is inherently evil, its how you use them.

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It was noted that I may have offended someone with this post, so I removed the post.

I recieved a message indicating it was I who may have been offended. However, I didn't read your post so I had no oppurtunity to form an opinion one way or the other. If you do take issue to what I have said in this thread and are interested in discussing it you are welcome to PM me, but understand that I post here happily and benevolently in hopes that my insight can be of aid to other people who are interested in learning about Objectivism - and particularly in this post because I'd be benefitting greatly from having more men in the world with self-esteem and the ability to objectively evaluate women for potential partners.

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[. . .] I'd be benefitting greatly from having more men in the world with self-esteem and the ability to objectively evaluate women for potential partners.

This is a great statement, Elle. I certainly sympathize and agree.

I think the root of the problem with pornography is that it isn't achieving the kind of value that sexual acts are meant to achieve. Using pornography as a substitute for something which is a challenge to obtain, such as a partner who shares your values and embodies your view of the world, obliterates the meaning of earning that value. It is no coincidence that the majority of porn stars are interchangeable heads on a body - there is nothing special, memorable, or valuable about them and a man whose self-esteem is fully intact will not be aroused by this indiscriminant wringling of flesh.

I like a lot of what you say here, too — though I think you conclude with a gross and potentially dangerous over-generalization.

Lately I've been writing a great deal about rationalism in romantic love, and I've frequently cautioned against using syllogisms to arrive at knowledge about sex and human relationships. Intended or not, the paragraph quoted above boils down to an if-then statement: If a man is aroused by pornography, then he has a self-esteem problem — a conclusion utterly unsupported by facts, your own or any others.

It's also a conclusion which is shared by many men, and is the cause of no end of unearned guilt and suffering.

The statements you make in your post about pornography, while interesting and no doubt true for many people, are themselves an oversimplification. Though at one point you speak of using pornography as a substitute for human relationships (which would seem to imply that there are other ways one could use it) your other statements, and especially your conclusion, don't allow for any alternative possibility.

I would ask you the same thing BurgessLau asked the initial poster: What is pornography? Is it, as the initial poster defined, "entertainment for the sole and exclusive purpose of sexual arousal"? If so, does every man who finds himself aroused by the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue necessarily lack self-esteem? If no, what about a man who is aroused by Playboy pictorials or videos?

If no to these as well, then what is the essential difference between these and other, more explicit types of pornography — other than, perhaps, that you find them distasteful?

For the record, I find very explicit pornography distasteful too, and I'm entirely unimpressed by the "porn star" types you mention. Still, being a guy myself, I know how easy it is for a man to become aroused, especially by visual data. Merely the thought of sex, or even a brief glimpse of a naked female body can begin the process of arousal, which for a man can be virtually instantaneous compared to that of a woman.

(More than that, I would say it's nearly impossible for a man not to be aroused to some extent on almost a daily basis by the sexual imagery in our culture. Here in Los Angeles — in addition to the onslaught of sex on TV, in movies and popular music — there are naked women on billboards, at bus stops, and crawling up the sides of buildings. Of course there are also thousands of actual women who delight in dressing extremely provocatively, and then have the nerve to go out in public and cross the street. I would defy any woman, could she miraculously experience life as a man for twenty minutes, to drive from Hollywood into Beverly Hills via the Sunset Strip — without getting into an accident.)

I bring this up particularly because I know that this forum is read by many young men who are still discovering and forming their view of sex, who to some extent may be in the clutches of hormonal changes, and who very likely find themselves powerfully fascinated by pornography — sometimes even to the point of what may seem like an obsession. It's usually temporary, and is completely normal, and in no way at all indicates a problem with self-esteem.

One of the toughest tasks a young man faces is to develop a positive, guiltless concept of sex and of his own sexual responses — a task which is made considerably more difficult by sweeping generalizations and hasty moral condemnations. If we want to see more men in the world with high self-esteem and a healthy sense of sexuality, let's take care not to inadvertently make ourselves part of the problem.

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I would define porn as entertainment for the sole and exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.

I'm not convinced that the purpose or intent of the entertainment is sufficient to classify it as porn. I have thought about a better definition but have nonoe to offer yet. Does anyone else have ideas for a better definition?

Also, at first, I thought the meaning of "sexual arousal" was obvious. Not so. When I start to think of examples from reality, I find that the referents are not obvious after all. If a man sees a photograph of a woman's face and admires it as he would never admire the photograph of a man's face, would that be "sexual arousal". If not, why not? I find myself stumbling on the idea of "sexual arousal".

Nor do I think saying "purely" sexual arousal would clarify it.

PS: I remember that Ayn Rand has written about this. I only remember that she was defending the right of publishers or porn. I forget what else she said. Does somone here have a reference?

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I am not a regular, and I usually just drop by occasionally to read what appear to be the most provocative threads; this qualified. Being a young, hormone-addled adolescent, I felt the need to throw in my 2 cents.

I am still studying life; I am still studying Rand. However, I see the value of my life and the independent nature of existence as intellectual primaries, foundations that are urgently required for any man that has chosen to stay on this earth and fight. I am a man of self-esteem, and while young, and capable of stumbling and falling on occasion, I have always found the wisdom, and thus the strength necessary, to rise from my scrapes and laugh at the insignificance of my previous vulnerabilities. I am a romantic realist in the epistemological sense of the term: I accept what is as an urgent prerequisite in my progress as a human being to making my existence tolerable, enjoyable, euphoric, and I refuse to tolerate that which is opposed to the joy of life on earth.

I realize this doesn't make me an Objectivist. I never said I was one. Like I said, I am still studying, studying in so many facets of life that the word designated for the activity of study usually only implies. Now, however, you get an idea of where I am coming from.

I have had my share of "romantic" relationships, but I have yet to find that special person. I long for that day; there are moments that my heart aches for that moment, and the strength to achieve for one more 24-hour cycle is made real only by the thought that, somehow, I will make that person real, in my life... someday, and I best be ready to be a man capable of honoring her.

In the meantime, however, between working 30 hours a week at Tiger Direct Computers, studying to maintain my 4.0 GPA, writing essays and assembling the required material to apply for scholarships to 4-year Universities, training three times a week to improve my physical capacities, and trying to complete, in reading and in understanding, the requisite works for the Ayn Rand Institute's Academic Center , I do not have the luxury of searching for the actual fulfillment of my fundamental romantic needs as a being that must guide his existence with values, every moment I feel the need for simple sexual satisfaction.

I do not see anything about pornography as necessarily evil or anti-life. I do not see it as a substitute for human relationships, romantic love, or as an escape for an evalution of myself or my life. I see it as a tool, an implement, a toy, a temporary substitute. Like an imprisoned man that might read Mickey Spillane or Stephen King, I utilize the imagination when reality. If I could read The Man Who Laughs while I suffered in a wasteland, I would; but for a man living in a wasteland of values in terms of romance, any diversion with even an approximate facsimile of honesty and intimacy will do. Our culture has gone far from Marilyn Monroe, and that esthetic element to sexual fantasy will probably not see a return to the public consciousness for a long time. But if a man without love can find a trivial, mildly alleviating satisfaction in the examination of a mindless bimbo, and he recognizes the relative triviality of such an exchange, and allows it its proper place in the context of a life oriented by its proper values, there is certainly nothing immoral about it. That this idea has been perverted by the bad ideas surrounding love and man in general in our culture, does not indict the idea as such. For an example of an indictable idea, observe virtually any gentlemen’s club, and the lies and self-destructive fantasies within. I have never, and will never enter one. They are dishonest, and hope to destroy the spirit of man by suggesting that _this_ is every man’s desire, in its totality: the gyrations of a mindless bimbo. That is what is wrong and deserving of disapproval; not a temporary substitute for man who has no alternative at the moment. I have befriended an "exotic dancer" who is a person of absolute integrity, and would startle many readers on this board. She understands the value of what she offers, and puts it in its proper context; no lies, no fallacies, no context dropping. She is happy to alleviate, in part, the sexual frustration of many decent men that, while honorable and ambitious, are, for whatever reason, unable to find physical companionship of any spiritual substance. She cannot be an adequate replacement, but she can provide an adequate substitute, a mildly alleviating fantasy, for a short time. Again, while this simple, ethical ideal has been perverted in actuality, it does not follow that a man that views pornography is immoral, nor does it indicate psychological flaws on his part.

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Again, while this simple, ethical ideal has been perverted in actuality, it does not follow that a man that views pornography is immoral, nor does it indicate psychological flaws on his part.

For Lone Wolf and all others in this thread, I ask once again: What is pornography? This thread should go no further until the subject under discussion has been defined.

P. S. -- I have deleted an offensive post from this thread. I will also give official warnings to anyone who breaks the Forum Rules. For individuals new to ObjectivismOnline, I should note that an official warning is a step toward the exit door.

BASIC QUESTIONS FORUM MODERATOR

[Edited to add: "I should note that"]

Edited by BurgessLau
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For Lone Wolf and all others in this thread, I ask once again: What is pornography? This thread should go no further until the subject under discussion has been defined.

BASIC QUESTIONS FORUM MODERATOR

The previous definition supplied was:

I would define porn as entertainment for the sole and exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.

I think this fails to differentiate pornography from milder forms of eroticism (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, for example). Perhaps adding the differentia, "containing graphic displays of sexual behavior," would help clarify it.

Material designed for educational purposes would already be distinguished from pornography by not belonging to the genus "entertainment."

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drsm, I believe you have made an excellent start. A definition should meet not only the genus and differentia requirements you allude to, but should ideally be easy to remember. That is part of the function of a definition, to help us focus on key aspects.

For drsm or anyone else: In light of drsm's contribution, what would you suggest as the most succinct genus and differentia definition of pornography -- particularly as distinct from its supposed sibling, erotica?

As "man is a rational animal," so pornography is _________________.

BASIC QUESTIONS FORUM MODERATOR

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