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Porn - Why all the hate?

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The problem I'm seeing from both sides of this argument is that each side is determining the morality or immorality of "the sex industry" based on their own values then presenting them as universal values. There are no universal values that determine "prostitution=moral" or "prostitution=immoral", at least not to my knowledge, and none that I see presented here. If you intend to establish why prostitution is moral or immoral for another person, your evidence should be how prostitution betters or worsens that person's life, not the impact it has had on your own.

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Folks this is a really funny thread, especially the last two pages. Two playboys playing poker is one hilarious image - "I match your Brazilian orgy and raise you two American girls".

On a serious note, it is without a doubt that some students of Objectivism are prude, but I think it is because of their pre-Objectivist days, not because of anything having to do with the philosophy. Many people who get into philosophy come from the quiet, thinking type, and that type is rarely known for a propensity for large numbers of female conquests. Certainly they will bring that mindset with them to the philosophy, and Ayn Rand didn't really want to write much about this issue, pros and cons thereof. However I think it's clear, from her novels etc, that she found and encouraged a healthy integrated balance between a playboy and a shy prude.

Edited by Free Capitalist
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Folks this is a really funny thread, especially the last two pages. Two playboys playing poker is one hilarious image - "I match your Brazilian orgy and raise you two American girls".

I strongly resent this characterization; and if you had taken the trouble to read my posts properly, you wouldn't have made this snide remark.

I demand an immediate retraction.

I have already spoken to Felipe about his own earlier remark.

Edited by Zeus
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This follows from the point you made about judging someone's character solely from their actions.  You said, "a person is not their actions," but you asked for a character judgement based solely on the action of a couple selling videos of themselves having sex.  And it wasn't even a specific couple, just a generalization.  What kind of response did you expect?

I think it was rhetorical--I don't remember. From now on, every time I directly contradict myself like this I will cut off one of my fingers. :)

It was a mistake to ask for a character judgement when I'm defending the morality of an action.

As for my personal opinion, I could conceive filming myself having sex with my girlfriend, but the film is sure as hell not something I would want to share with anyone else, let alone market on the internet.  I have trouble understanding why anyone would want to do such a thing.

What's not to understand about it? Two (or more, or less) people film sexual activity and there is a demand for footage of sexual activity. They sell the film. The motivation for doing so is to make money.

Edited by The Passion of the Koresh
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This thread reminds me that Ayn Rand's most memorable print interview was with Playboy. We can only speculate about why Hugh Hefner’s magazine chose Rand as a subject and why Rand agreed to talk to a writer from Playboy and appear in its pages. I can only suggest that both Rand and editor Hugh Hefner were each in her/his own way enemies of sexual prudery, and of the religious forces that fostered it.

So a question for the opponents of pornography: if an Objectivist man should come across a copy of the March, 1964, Playboy, would it be inappropriate for him to stop to gaze at the fold-out of Miss March? Or should he go straight to the interview, do not pass Go? How do you suppose Miss Rand felt about appearing in a girlie mag? Does her appearance in Playboy constitute sanctioning the immoral actions of pornographers?

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Zeus, I wasn't referring to you now as a playboy, only that you were one before. Do you disagree with that?

On this thread, it was obvious that my posts were not even about the topic of the thread: I never wrote about my own view of porn.

What I did was to go after argive99's contradictions, which I had suspected for a while now, reading his posts. My posts were largely - essentially - about argive99's sanction of the TOC-Branden-Sciabarra types.

In the course of that discussion, I wrote, in response to argive99's attempt to justify his hedonist take on sex as anti-rationalism, one or two sentences in allusion to my sexual history. This was done only as an objective exercise: the provision of evidence in support of my claims. My words were carefully-chosen and I did not dwell on sex qua sex.

So, to now take the least essential aspect of my position on this thread and use it to summarize my contribution is a misrepresentation indeed.

I don't know if you realize that your post reads that way, but it does. And I'm way beyond taking pride in being characterized as a playboy. And to top it off, you placed me side by side, in moral terms no less, with the person I was tackling.

Do you see the problem with your post?

Edited by Zeus
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What on earth does that mean? Not legally recognized? So if a chain of prostitution houses exists (like some in Nevada, or the more developed prostitution business in Japan where it is quasi legal and there are litterally thousands of "Pink Salons"; ie oral sex bars - what a great idea) and a customer receives "service" and refuses to pay, are you saying that there should be no recourse to law courts for compensation?

That is precisely what I am saying. Prostitution is not a simple exchange of goods, unless, that is, you think your body is a piece of meat, or you think women SHOULD think this.

Sex is not simply physical "services". An attempt to believe this fallacy is an attempt to institute a mind-body split; to pretend that your mind need not be involved in the actions of your body and vice versa.

I have attached an essay on prostitution that I wrote for an English class explaining my point of view.

Just to clarify: I don't think that prostitution and pornography can be equated; I think pornography is a legitimate industry because the "porn stars" are presumably acting for the purpose of their own enjoyment and the money is an added bonus.

A_Lady_Should_Never_be_a_Tramp.doc

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Zeus, if it seemed that my post made a fundamental summary of your contribution to this thread, then I'm sorry and certainly don't want to misrepresent what you were trying to say. Still, though your past escapades were not an essential component of what you were trying to say, they were a component, and that is what I was referencing. I still think it's damned funny how you two were competing about who had conquered more women, and on how many continents :)

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I still think it's damned funny how you two were competing about who had conquered more women, and on how many continents  :)

You're doing it again: I wasn't "competing" with him. But, don't worry, you won't have this opportunity in future.

[...]

Many people who get into philosophy come from the quiet, thinking type, and that type is rarely known for a propensity for large numbers of female conquests. Certainly they will bring that mindset with them to the philosophy, and Ayn Rand didn't really want to write much about this issue, pros and cons thereof.

This is a bit of rationalism here: I know many, many quiet men who are sharp with women. I would even say that you're more likely to succeed in this context the more quiet you are. I wouldn't necessarily lump "quiet" with "thinking" either: that's a package-deal.

The truth is, there are individuals across many more personality types than many people realize.

Edited by Zeus
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This is a bit of rationalism here: I know many, many quiet men who are sharp with women.  I would even say that you're more likely to succeed in this context the more quiet you are.  I wouldn't necessarily lump "quiet" with "thinking" either: that's a package-deal.

The truth is, there are individuals across many more personality types than many people realize.

Indeed . . . and which women? How do you rate "success" with women? If you are a rational man, you rate success with the opposite sex by your attainment of women that you find rationally attractive in a manner appropriate to the situation. If this amounts to a two-week relationship, fine and dandy. I don't think simply attaining women that you DON'T find rationally attractive can be considered "success".

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Indeed . . . and which women?  How do you rate "success" with women?  If you are a rational man, you rate success with the opposite sex by your attainment of women that you find rationally attractive in a manner appropriate to the situation.  If this amounts to a two-week relationship, fine and dandy.  I don't think simply attaining women that you DON'T find rationally attractive can be considered "success".

Whoa, J. Megan....

I have no quarrel with what you've written here, if I understand you correctly. Still, I'll need some more context on what you mean by "rationally attractive" women.

Please expatiate.

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Attractive by a rationally-arrived-at standard, of course. It is much the same as rational self-interest . . . not whatever you happen to think is in your self interest based on whatever whim enters into your head, but what is ACTUALLY in your self-interest and which you have rationally identified via a process of thought.

In evaluating women, it means identifying those traits that are ACTUALLY of value to you and then discovering some method for determining whether a woman has them or not.

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Attractive by a rationally-arrived-at standard, of course.  It is much the same as rational self-interest . . . not whatever you happen to think is in your self interest based on whatever whim enters into your head, but what is ACTUALLY in your self-interest and which you have rationally identified via a process of thought. 

In evaluating women, it means identifying those traits that are ACTUALLY of value to you and then discovering some method for determining whether a woman has them or not.

Oh, I agree with this. I made this integration early on.

I knew by the time I was 17 that I was far more attracted to women who were comfortable with abstraction; so, I vowed to marry a PhD (that was my way of concretizing the standard, the top-of-the-line). That hasn't yet come to pass, but over the years I've moved closer and closer to it. I've dated some really interesting and very intelligent women, and a few of them were more honest than I was - at the time.

(I don't now believe that she has to have a PhD., but I only mentioned that to convey my state of mind at the time.)

I rarely "got physical" without some fairly good reason for why I was doing it (good looks, very smart, good carriage, charm, vivacity, style, solid decision-making skills, etc.). But, there were exceptions though, some of which would be too vulgar to discuss here. Even those exceptions had some value, however -- even if only to broaden one's horizon in such a way as to be of value, in extraordinary contexts, to the woman I do settle down with. I realize that now, with the benefit of experience and hindsight.

The difficulty in making these choices is in judging a woman's value to you in the context of your entire life. As a younger man with a subjectivist bent, I didn't have the sense of direction that I have now.

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I have attached an essay on prostitution that I wrote for an English class explaining my point of view.

This essay of yours...

This is just a rough draft, right?

It is, they announce, a violation of individual rights that prostitution is not treated like every other business.  This attitude, however, conceals beneath a pleasant veneer the complete abdication of moral judgment and a vicious contempt for human beings; a contempt that would view them only as chunks of meat.

Why? Are they being eaten? I'm not being sarcastic here; the statement that beings are regarded as chunks of meat can only be taken literally in this context, as it is not analogous to any part of prostitution. Is the prostitute dead after she works?

The term prostitution refers not simply to the exchange of sex for money.  It refers equally to any sort of financial exchange that necessarily constitutes a breach of integrity.

Try using the definition that refers to the exchange of sex for money. The second definition (according to Merriam_Webster):

2 : to devote to corrupt or unworthy purposes : DEBASE <prostitute one's talents>

is a colloquial reaction to the first definition. Using both definitions obfuscates the issue.

The true evil of these acts lies not only in the breach of integrity, which is profoundly immoral on its own, but in the fact that in order for anyone to benefit from that breach, the seller must have at least the appearance of integrity.

It is evil because it destroys integrity, and because it necessitates the appearance of integrity. Okay...so how does it destroy integrity? The self esteem of the prostitute is automatically lowered when people are willing to pay for their service?

Which brings up something not in the essay:

Sex is not simply physical "services". An attempt to believe this fallacy is an attempt to institute a mind-body split; to pretend that your mind need not be involved in the actions of your body and vice versa.

So then it's a complex service. You know, I can't think of any service that in any way facilitates a split between the mind and the actions of the body.

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It is evil because it destroys integrity, and because it necessitates the appearance of integrity. Okay...so how does it destroy integrity? The self esteem of the prostitute is automatically lowered when people are willing to pay for their service?

TPOTK,

Why is prostitution such a touchy subject for you? Why are you so adiment to defend it?

If you throw everything else involved with prostitution and reduce it to a service performed in exchange for money, it doesn't sound that bad. If you look at it like that, it's like dry cleaning or an oil change. But perhaps there is a little bit more to it than that....

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TPOTK,

Why is prostitution such a touchy subject for you?  Why are you so adiment to defend it?

I could be out on a limb here, but maybe he doesn't see anything wrong with it?

I do see something wrong with it, incidently. I'll post my thoughts when I get the chance, but I think most of the reasons have been (scatteredly, inconsistently) hinted at already.

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I've been gathering my thoughts on this and waiting until I had them mostly in order before I posted.

The definitions of pornography here which have included the purpose of it are wrong. Pornography's purpose is to make the creator of it money, but that is not essential to its definition. Pornography is the depiction of intellectually, and thus spiritually, valueless sexual intercourse. It purpose is not to arouse, but to act as a substitute for actual, proper sex. Several posters have already said they are using for that purpose (i.e. "if I had a romantic partner....") If this is not true, let's see a show of hands of people who would rather use pornography than a live body? No takers?

While you've all been arguing about what pornography is and is not, you've been dancing around the real question. Since pornography is a subsitute for sex, you should be asking what sex is, and then comparing pornography's use as a substitute to the Real Thing[tm].

To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem-- a celebration of himself and of existence.  To the man who lacks self-esteem, sex is an attempt to fake it, to acquire its momentary illusion.

Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest value in the person of another -- an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire.  Such a man (or woman) in incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values.

Lexicon pg. 457-458

... which is exactly what one does when one "gets off" with porn, because the femininity a man sees in pornography-- the object of his sexual desire -- is disintegrated from the woman who could reflect his own highest values in himself. This is why the women in porn are just "pieces of meat".

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JMeganSnow:

Just answer me this: do you believe that prostitution should be legal? Let me get straight on your answer to that. If you don't, then how do you reconsile that with other Objectivist concepts, such as individual rights, non-initiation of force, etc? I want to see if you are seperating the moral from the legal/political.

Despite your disgust with prostitution, do you recognize the fact that there would be a large industry developed around it if it were legalized. [in fact, there already is an entire industry "underground" in the form of a vast network of message parlors, sex spas, and escort serives which are under the control of organized crime and of course which bribe the police to look the other way.] Shouldn't such an industry receive the protection of the courts? How can you possibly say no if you agree with the rule of law?

Prostitution is a voluntary agreement in which sex is offered for pay. If you are opposed to it, then you are using force to prevent people from entering into arrangements of their own choosing. What's the difference in priciple between you and any other statist? You stand side by side with any Bible thumping religionist.

Personally, I think in a fully rational culture, the need for prostitution (and probably even pornography) would be far, far less than it is today (allthough I don't think they would disappear completely). But in today's anti-sex, anti-pleasure world, prostitution and porn offer people (mostly men) a glimmer of hope and joy that they wouldn't receive otherwise. I consider them a giant pressure valve which releases the pent up frustrations and misery which the code of altruism creates. So I am far more lenient towards them (porn and prostitution) in my moral evaluation than you.

Edited by argive99
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I've been gathering my thoughts on this and waiting until I had them mostly in  If this is not true, let's see a show of hands of people who would rather use pornography than a live body? 

This is a false alternative. As I have said, they can be used together. In fact, with some of my early girlfriends, I used porn to free them of their sexual inhibitions, specifically those revolving around guilt. They all thanked me.

And let me say this to all those that bash porn: I know what Ayn Rand said about it, and it is the only thing she ever said that I disagreed with and for this reason. Before I was an Objectivist, I used to have terrible guilt assoiciated with sex and masturbation; the product of a religious upbringing. But it was through exposure to porn videos that I saw people having guiltless, non-procreative sex. Through porn, I saw sex as and end in itself. In one way, porn helped break religion's hold on me even before I was exposed to Objectivism. Porn showed me people having fun and enjoying their bodies and their sexuality. For that, I will always be grateful to the porn industry; as corny as that sounds.

So with all due reverence to Ayn Rand (and I do revere her), if she were in my shoes growing up and experienced the full force of religion the way I did, I think she would reach the same conclusion.

IMO

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This is a bit of rationalism here: I know many, many quiet men who are sharp with women.  I would even say that you're more likely to succeed in this context the more quiet you are. 

From my experience, this is wrong. Quiet men rarely get women. If by that we mean "pick up chicks." It is the bold, cocky, alpha males that score. In fact, one of the major issues I have with today's "dating culture" is that women are so damn superficial and non-intellectual in their choice of men, and this applies even to Zeus's vaunted phds. In fact, the more educated the woman, the higher the probability that she has been brainwashed by the academic Left in which case even if she is beautiful (and from my observation, in today's culture it is not the beautiful women that get graduate degrees, sadly) she will almost certainly be annoying (and probably intellectually corrupt).

This non-intellectuality amongst women goes even further. Most girls today, from my experience, do not reward moral behavior. In fact, they penalize it. So, if you want to be a pick up artist, all you have to do is be artistically insulting, cocky, arrogant, indifferent and in short: a bastard. Your phone will be ringing off the hook. If you are nice and decent and moral and you pick the wrong woman, to use an experession, may God have mercy on your soul.

Now I admit that there are better women out there. But they are the exception, not the rule. Especially in the US. I haven't had experience with Objectivist women largely because there aren't that many of them. But from what I read on these forums, they look like they're potential headaches too.

And to the moderators: what's with all the damn warnings? You've got to be joking. I'm the only one on the damn board making sense.

Edited by argive99
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If you throw everything else involved with prostitution and reduce it to a service performed in exchange for money, it doesn't sound that bad.  If you look at it like that, it's like dry cleaning or an oil change.  But perhaps there is a little bit more to it than that....

Yes, it's like dry cleaning or an oil change. If there's more to it, does that necessarily make it wrong?

Pornography is the depiction of intellectually, and thus spiritually, valueless sexual intercourse. It purpose is not to arouse, but to act as a substitute for actual, proper sex.

A bag of chips does not have the nutritional value that a square meal has. If you substitute a square meal with chips, then you've damaged your health, and shown little regard for your well-being. Does the use of chips require that it substitute a square meal? I don't eat a whole bag in one sitting, and I don't think Frito Lay is to blame when someone does.

If a man were to pay a woman to cuddle with him, pretend to be interested in him, meet his friends and parents, dance with him, go out to dinner with him, share her hopes and dreams with him, then have sex--that would be the disastrous substitution for romantic love you're supposing prostitution is.

As for the quote you gave, it should be clear from the way I'm defending prostitution that my enjoyment of such sexual activity would not be divorced from my values.

And to the moderators: what's with all the damn warnings? You've got to be joking. I'm the only one on the damn board making sense.

It must be because you're a sexual tyrannosaurus, and you're simply too powerful to post here.

Or, maybe, it's because you're continuously insulting.

Edited by The Passion of the Koresh
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Now I admit that there are better women out there. But they are the exception, not the rule.

Yes. But I have always wanted to marry an exceptional woman. :P

And to the moderators: what's with all the damn warnings?

You wouldn't have gotten the last two if you hadn't whined about the first. You can get more if you want to; you know how to ask for them. :ninja:

You've got to be joking. I'm the only one on the damn board making sense.

:lol: Now that's funny!

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If you are opposed to it, then you are using force
Being in opposition to something is not the same as using force. For example, I am opposed to the use of pornography for means of sexual gratification. But I firmly believe in every man's right to make that choice for himself, as long as he doesn't harm others. I would agree that prostitution ought to be legal.

This is a false alternative. As I have said, they can be used together. In fact, with some of my early girlfriends, I used porn to free them of their sexual inhibitions, specifically those revolving around guilt....But it was through exposure to porn videos that I saw people having guiltless, non-procreative sex.

This is the most morally deplorable idea I have ever read on this board, not because it uses pornography, but because you are harming others in an area of great spiritual importance. I will fight for your right to use pornography for yourself anyway you like, but when you use it in this way to damage the minds of others, it is despicable.

You have shown these women a false alternative: either sex is repressed and procreational only, or it is a mass of spiritualless hedonistic physical indulgence. You have allowed them to choose between "sex can be this, or it can be that" but you haven't showed them what sex should be.

This is not the first time I have heard the "sex can be many things" argument. It comes from the angle of identifying what exists currently in our culture. But so does altruism, socialism, and "modern" art -- and no one is saying "morality can be altruistic, so its OK if it is".

If you will then say that the ideal is not practical, I will refer you to Chapter 9 of OPAR, the section titled "Virtue as Practical".

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Does the use of chips require that it substitute a square meal? I don't eat a whole bag in one sitting, and I don't think Frito Lay is to blame when someone does.

I don't think Frito Lay is to blame either, but we aren't talking about food. We're talking about sex. Sex is properly emotional in nature, while food is physical nourishment. If you will now say that sex is nothing more than physical nourishment and contains no emotional or spiritual considerations in the same way that a bag of chips does not, then I'll agree with you.

If a man were to pay a woman to cuddle with him, pretend to be interested in him, meet his friends and parents, dance with him, go out to dinner with him, share her hopes and dreams with him, then have sex--that would be the disastrous substitution for romantic love you're supposing prostitution is.

What's the difference between that and simply not bothering to pretend to have any shared values, respect, or admiration for each other intellectually? It is, in the end, just a pretense -- the same as the sexual arousal gained from pornography is a pretense. Either way, there is no actual shared value, respect or admiration. And then with a simple substition we can say:

If a man were to pay a woman to watch her having sex...

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