Ritið 2/16

Ritið 2/16 - 2016

Sólveig Anna Bóasdóttir: Objectification, human sexuality and pornography

During the 8th and 9th decade of last century an intense feminist debate took place in which radical feminists criticized sexual objectification in pornography for being a form of forced sex, a practice of sexual politics and an institution of gender inequality. Liberal feminists objected to such interpretation, arguing that it was both implausible and extreme. The philosopher Martha Nussbaum who has reviewed this debate highlights the ambiguity of the concept of objectification and puts forward the hypothesis that objectification is a prerequisite to delightful sex. The article asks whether objectification must always be morally evil or whether it can be justified in certain contexts. Radical and liberal feminist views from this period are examined and the former rejected on the basis that they are too extreme and not grounded in evidenced-based knowledge. it is argued that negative attitudes toward human sexuality have characterized Western culture for centuries, and that traces of these can be found in radical feminist discourse which describes the sexual domain as both problematic and dangerous for women. This view is rejected and the more liberal view embraced which interprets women´s sexuality more positively, stressing autonomy, freedom and agency, also in the sexual sphere.
Key words: sexual objectification, pornography, immanuel Kant, radical feminists, liberal feminists
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