QotD: “If reality, truth and meaning are socially constructed then it makes sense that the reality that pornography is detrimental can be obscured”
According to Lyotard (1984), post-modernity is the throwing out of experimentation and functionalism. Post-modernity makes the claim that modernism has failed and fostered an overreliance on rationality; it is an incredulity towards metanarratives (Lyotard, 1984). But what does this mean in plain English? Post-modernity has its origins in the works of French theorist Jean-Francois Lyotard – representing a break from conventional, materialist thought; a concern for the voice of the Other; a favouring of the perspective of the Other; a celebration of irony; resistance towards certainty and resolution and acceptance towards pluralism and multiple discourses (Bainbridge, 2011; Cole, 2009).
Bainbridge (2011) and McKee (2005) assert that post-modernity coexists with modernity, with “post” in this instance not meaning after, but as in a break from. That it exists as a social force and post-modernism it’s aesthetic/artistic movement (Bainbridge, 2011). Post-modernity represents contradictory viewpoints and the belief that all perspectives should get equal time – especially minority and dissenting opinions (Bainbridge, 2011). Post-modernity pretends to show us what history has attempted to hide or omit (van Zon, 2013).
In post-modernity, pornography is just another “text” representing another narrative that no competing narrative can claim superiority over (van Zon, 2013). Pornography can be elevated to the status of “art” because there is no longer a distinction between high, low, mass and popular culture (van Zon, 2013). If reality, truth and meaning are socially constructed (van Zon, 2013) then it makes sense that the reality that pornography is detrimental can be obscured. It makes sense that the truth that women are harmed by pornography can be denied, and, it makes sense that the meaning of pornography – the graphic depiction of the lowest whores (Dworkin, 1981), the objectification of women (Kappeler, 1986) can be altered to one about expressing one’s sexuality (Weeks, 2014).
The feminist philosopher Sandra Bartky shows a sensitive awareness of why it can be difficult for women in general to criticize western beauty practices. She explains that women become locked into dependence on what she calls ‘the fashion-beauty complex’ because it instills in them a sense of their own deficiencies, like ‘the church in previous times’ and then ‘presents itself as the only instrument able, through expiation, to take away the very guilt and shame it has itself produced’. It offers ‘body care rituals’ which are like sacraments. The effect is that women so locked into the fashion-beauty complex see feminism as both threatening ‘profound sources of gratification and self-esteem’ and attacking ‘those rituals, procedures, and institutions upon which many women depend to lessen their sense of bodily deficiency’.
Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny