Sexual objectification & exploitation Scott Stewart PHILOSOPHY 2103
Is it wrong to sexually objectify someone? • Kant: sexual desire overpowering • treating someone solely as a means to an end • Instrumental vs. intrinsic value • Treating people as things (Nussbaum): (1) a tool; (2) deny self-determination, (3) deny agency, (4) interchangeable with other objects, (5) lacking boundaries, (6) something that can be owed or sold, (7) something that lacks feelings or inner states. • Marriage • Other ways to avoid objectification? • Recognize partners as unique indivisuals with their own ends, values, goals, feelings, boundaries, intrinsic vale, etc.
Is consent a sufficient condition for moral sex? • Consent requires: a mentally competent adult who has adequate information and is not coerced. • What constitutes adequate information? (STD status? Long term goals? Relationship history?) • What constitutes coercion? Obvious cases – physical force or threat of it. Less obvious cases – psychological pressure, patriarchy, socio-economic disparity, etc? (Catherine MacKinnon)
Commercial sex • Is it truly consensual? • Does it avoid Nussbaum’s seven points regarding treating people as things? • Is sex itself the problem or is it something else? Nussbaum claims we need to abandon our irrational stigmas regarding sex. • Debra Satz: female prostitution perpetuates pernicious stereotypes regarding women and exacerbates existing gender inequalities. • Sex workers not really free • Seiriol Morgan: consent not enough e.g., Cruel Intentions/Dangerous Liaisons, Casanova. The complete cad.
BDSM and consent • Women as submissives • Mental health
Setting the consent bar too high? • Sexual contracts? • Government interest in public health and protection of its citizens?
Commercial Sex Again • Can we distinguish b/w voluntary adult sex work and trafficking in persons? • Recent Ontario court case regarding prostitution laws (specifically ones prohibiting sex-trade workers from operating a common bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution) as violating Charter of Rights and Freedoms by violating the security rights of prostitutes. • Does decriminalization/legalization of (certain types of) prostitution) lead to greater trafficking? Greater safety?
What does it mean to have sexual autonomy? • Up in the Air • Ryan Bingham, (his girlfriend) Alex, and (his young co-worker) Natalie • Freedom from and connection to: liberalism vs. communitarianism • Do our relationships constrain us help to give our life meaning?
What is the connection between “exoticizing” and “eroticizing” someone? • The Exotic Other – foreign, mysterious, strange • Sex tourism • Interracial dating sites • Sticking to ‘our own’? • Personal taste vs. prejudices