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SPA Student Speaker Series: Lissa Dechakul

October 29, 2020 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Lissa Dechakul (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Is this porn? A (mostly SFW*) presentation about the sexual use of objects’
29 Oct 2020  •  5:00pm–6:00pm  •  Zoom link

Abstract: Feminist philosophers like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon have defined the term pornography along dimensions of women’s oppression through sexual objectification. Nancy Bauer has pointed out that these conceptions fail to address how the internet has impacted depictions of sexual activity, such as the spread of queer erotic content. Additionally, individuals with unconventional arousal triggers can find communities where their sexual interests are validated and encouraged. The creation of some communities reveals that the plethora of human sexual experience is not limited to sexual desires about other humans; it also includes sexual desires about inanimate objects (and non-human animals, which will not be discussed here). My aim for this presentation is not to create a new definition of the term pornography. Instead, I consider whether ordinary depictions of inanimate objects could count as pornography. In other words, instead of asking, “What is porn?” I ask, “Is this porn?” My exploration of answers to this question involves an intuitive understanding of what pornography does, including its role in the generation of desire. I also discuss beliefs and attitudes towards objects, and whether those beliefs and attitudes can negatively affect the people who hold them. I conclude by suggesting possible outcomes of expanding the conception of pornography to include ordinary depictions of inanimate objects: (i) it would make pornography better reflect the actual diversity of human sexual desire; (ii) it would counter the thought that pornography necessarily involves sexual objectification; and (iii) it would legitimize the unconventional desires that some people may have, which supports their pursuit of an authentic and fulfilling sexual life.

*This presentation is ‘mostly safe for work’ in that it will not include any sexually explicit imagery of humans or humanoid objects. However, discussions about pornography and sexual actions can naturally lead to potentially uncomfortable situations when taken out of context. For that reason, it may be beneficial to consider whether these topics are ‘safe for home’, given your particular situation during the pandemic.

Meeting ID: 817 1365 7018
Passcode: S0crat35


October 29, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Tanner Whitlow