Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Cyclical Impact of Porn"

In the above video, youtube user anewchristian72 essentially tells us that porn affects young men's sexuality by filling them up (npi) with unrealistic expectations about female sexuality. I won't go into the fact that he equates porn with heterosexual porn, and bad het porn at that (and how about written erotica? How about comics?). Let's let him pass on that.

While it's not surprising that a christian rants against porn, I would like to point out a few aspects that I found particularly interesting with this little video:

One is that he only talks about the unrealistic portrayal of women in porn. I won't deny that this is true for the  vast majority of heterosexual pornography (one absolutely amazing exception being comstock films - if you have additional examples of porn that is actually good, please let me know). I would like to add, though, that the portrayal of men in het porn is at least as unrealistic. If we are to assume that this wrongful imagery influences young men in bad ways by way of false expectations, then shouldn't we assume that the portrayal of their own gender, with extremely huge cocks that are always ready, always erect, and their owners always horny and willing no matter what, is even more devastating to those young souls?

I was about to write, in accordance with anewchristian72's opinion and feminist mainstream, that the portrayal of women in het porn is a lot more denigrating than that of the male protagonists - but is this indeed true? Men are reduced to sex machines who have nothing on their minds except fucking women - how is this not supposed to be denigrating to my gender? Maybe there is some difference in quantity here, but certainly not in principle.

A second observation: He does not present any facts, he doesn't quote any studies, he doesn't even reference personal experience. I'm always amazed when that happens. How does he know what he claims to know? How can we test his claims to be true? As mentioned before, I like it when people qualify their claims with regard to their supposed ontological status.

Thirdly, I find it interesting how people just assume that young minds are impressionable, and therefore, whatever they see in whatever erotic product of their choice will be directly reflected in their sexual behaviour. I wonder if that is indeed the case. People don't go all panicky just because of some sci-fi flick. People don't run into the streets with guns after watching Die Hard. On the other hand, people are affected by advertisement, of course. I would like to know things like that in a little more detail, before starting off with sweeping judgments about the whole erotica industry based on a lot of ideology and little factual knowledge.

So, yeah, that's it. No punchline here, as I have to go home now and spend some quality time in bed with my girlfriend, the porn star.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Of The Most Important Questions You'll Never Answer

What I don't get is how people manage to KNOW all that stuff.... I mean, they just... somehow... KNOW that only life-long monogamy can be the way to go for everyone, that black people are stupid, that women are superior, that intelligence is the measure of a human, that empathy is extremely important, that rape is a faith worse than death, that god exists, that Jesus died for our sins, that Mohammed was the last prophet, that a huge pandemia is coming, that homosexuals can't raise kids...

(Hint: I do share at least one of those beliefs. Challenge: Find out which one.)

How does one do that?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"...destroys it..."

This is a reply to faithquestions' youtube video entitled "The Foundation of Atheism Destroys It".

Starting this off, let me say that I never quite understood the rhetoric of "destroying worldview X with one argument". Not even getting into why (in this specific case) atheism is not exactly a worldview, it is an illusion to think that a person's views are so easily shattered. People adhere to their views for many reasons, the fewest of which are rational. Moreover, our worldview is something akin to a mental home. Throwing it away can cause severe discomfort to most people. So you'd have to do a lot more than pointing out one logical fallacy in order to shake the views of more than a small handful of people.

Now, let me agree with you: Yes, the fact that we have no absolute foundation for human morality is a severe problem. It means that we cannot rely on each other to share the same morality. It means that my neighbour might find it acceptable to beat his wife. It means that, beside the threat of punishment, I have no strictly rational means of convincing him that his behaviour is wrong. The only hope I have is that he has access to his basic human faculties of empathy and reason, and that I can get him to see how his behaviour violates those.

I find it interesting, and somewhat unsettling, that so many people seem to have a very specific set of demands towards a worldview: that it provide them with a sense of meaning, that it provide them with a foundation for their morality, that it tell them that human life has intrinsic value.

I believe that this is putting the cart before the horse. My worldview, quite literally, is how I see the world. And the one prime directive in choosing how I see the world is... whether this is in accordance with the facts. Can I show that there is intrinsic meaning to human life? Can I show that domestic violence is absolutely wrong? If so, then it is the case that these absolutes do exist. If not, they don't.

We don't seem to be able to show that an absolute foundation for morality (not to be confused with objective morality; those are two very distinct concepts!) actually exists. So we have to assume that it doesn't, regardless of whether this suits our tastes and titillates our religious sensibilities or not. We have to be guided by facts, not by assumptions.

And then we have to work from that.