Ethan

Singapore, Singapore

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182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
As mentioned, I will start with my response, broken into paragraphs due to the word limit: On an emotional level, I would like to agree with Mr. Gavrieli. I really do. Yet there is so much misinformation and tenuous connections being made in his arguments that create great discomfort within me and I cannot resist the urge to devote a longer reply to what he has said.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
I should sum up three points on which we are in agreement. First, I agree that the general safety and emotional wellbeing of prostitutes is important. By that, I refer to the need to have safe sex practices such as the use of condoms that help prevent STDs. Prostitutes should also be given the right to refuse to engage in sexual activities that she (or he) explicitly states as emotionally discomforting not just contractually, but culturally as well. (Of course, changing the culture is a huge political and social endeavour) Next, nearing the end of his speech he mentions that along with his rejection of pornography, “It does not mean going back to being conservative or unliberated sexually. I am all for sexual freedom.” Sexual liberty is worth supporting especially when juxtaposed with certain brands of sexually repressive models of behavior advocated by various conservative groups. An example would be the Roman Catholic churches, which has seen wave after wave of child abuse scandals… For priests who preach so clearly the virtues of what can be roughly described as sexual purity only to act in the extreme opposites…. it suggests at least partially the relevance of some level of unhealthy, unsustainable pent-up sexual frustrations which we should rebuke. Lastly, I agree that pornography can distort a person’s views of what their sex partners consider as desirable or undesirable sexual qualities or acts. But it would also be helpful to clarify that many things in life are misleading. One should not develop the impression that pornography is somehow more guilty of misleading people than, say, a movie.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
Now to begin with my disagreements. I do not believe all porn is inherently exploitative. There is a small group of women who are willing to serve as high-class escorts. They are expected to have a lot more bargaining power and control in their line of work. These women do not necessarily come from disadvantaged backgrounds, so it is rather unsavory to assume they are all damsels in distress and in need of saving. In fact, it rather reeks of a certain brand of chauvinism that assumes women are always in a weaker position. But I am aware that such escorts are a small minority compared to the rest who are indeed exposed to varying degrees of exploitation, some of which are inexcusable. However my stance remains the same: these women are not all in need of rescue because for some of them, prostitution (which results in the creation of pornography) is better than anything their society could provide for them at the moment. Take a prostitute in Bangkok for example, who has a family to feed and her own desires for a good life. Let us assume that she hailed from Northern Thailand, comes from a poor peasant family and, at the age of 25, has only studied up to primary school. Given the current state of political and economic turmoil in Thailand, by the time the government and the institutions get their act together (and that is assuming they actually do), she could very well have turned 50 without ever finding better avenues in which to acquire a better life for herself. To put it bluntly, her physical attractiveness could very well be that single asset which she could leverage. Who is Mr. Gavrieli to advocate the rejection of pornography and by extension the decline of the sex market, at the expense of women like the one I have just described?
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
There is also no clear linkage between watching porn and many of the negative symptoms Gavrieli has described such as manic depression and violence. In fact, it could very well be that people who enjoy a particularly violent form of sexual behavior already possess a predisposition towards violent behavior which happens to manifest itself in sex. In such cases, it is unlikely that abstaining from porn would have any effect in reforming such people. It is certainly not helpful to make prescriptions for issues like violence simply by linking them to pornography. Instead, this line of thinking appears to be yet another classic case of confusing correlation and causation. But even if he were to make the more humble claim that porn accentuates violence and other undesirable qualities, he has not brought forth any credible evidence to support such a claim.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
Mr. Gavrieli has also not clarified what it means to have physically safe sex. At what point does sex become “physically and emotionally unsafe”? Does it include strange fetishes such as bondage? As much as I do not derive satisfaction from the concept or practice of bondage, I am prepared to consider that two human beings engaging in sexual activity might both enjoy it. In such a case, it would be presumptuous and arrogant of me to impose my own judgments of what makes proper sex. But I would like to give Mr. Gavrieli the benefit of the doubt that his conception of “physically and emotionally unsafe” sex simply consists of one party being in disagreement of another’s sexual tendencies. Even then I am not sure if disagreement is necessarily emotionally damaging. As an example, someone may not prefer fondling, but can we then conclude that such a person is disturbed by the very practice of it? These are all grey areas in which the solutions cannot be given in the form of hard, generic rules and it is at the very least unfortunate (if not wishy-washy) that Mr. Gavrieli could not have provided more detailed descriptions as to the hard lines that he thinks should be drawn.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
As much as I am appreciative of what I perceive to be his moral sentiments, one cannot wish away these problems by dreaming up fictional cause-and-effect relationships coupled with necessarily fruitless “solutions”. No one should underestimate the rational capacity of humans. Not everyone who watches porn necessarily believes “all women love semen”, or “all women are naturally shaved” or some other notion that anyone with logic and empathy could debunk. People could very well watch porn in total spite of their logical conclusions on perceived sexual norms. In fact, isn’t it exactly because some are unable to act out their fantasies in real life that they choose pornography as an alternative avenue? The real question here is: what do you think can truly undo those sexual tendencies that you consider perverse? Will it work for the masses, or only for a philosophically enlightened minority?
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Should Porn be rejected?
It is well known that prostitution is a very old practice. Sexuality is so deeply embedded in our genes that it is physically manifested in the form of sexual organs, unlike love and kindness which has no such privilege. In this sense, it is unwise to try and put it on the same scale with any other observable phenomenon about humanity. Perhaps even our instinct to dominate and enslave others might not be as rooted as our instinctual cravings for sex. Knowing that, it is very much inadequate to appeal to our relatively weak and inconsistent impulses for empathy, which I am afraid seems to be the whole point of Mr. Gavrieli’s talk. Instead, I would be a lot more convinced of Mr. Gavrieli’s stance if he was advocating the need to provide better educational and job opportunities for these women as a prior condition to the demise of prostitution (and by extension pornography), if that is even possible. It could very well be that Mr. Gavrieli has a much more nuanced position than I have accused him of holding, but it is not apparent at least in the context of his speech at TedX. It is also important to understand that when people listen to these talks, it can be quite easy to practice at least a modicum of selective hearing in spite of efforts to be objective. I fear that the primary message quite a number will take away from his talk is not the need to practice physical and emotionally safe sex, but rather the various reasons to “Stop Watching Porn” to bolster their own cultural/religious biases, such as the need to be ashamed of having sexual desires. Notice at the same time how much attention Mr. Gavrieli has allocated to the “sexual freedom” which he claims to be in favour of: a whopping one sentence. Then you will understand why I say it can be very misleading and destructive indeed.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 1 year ago
Do ecosystems thrive on the survival of the fittest?
Hey, thanks for commenting. I know this is a really old topic to debate, but the recent IQ2 debate on animal rights rekindled my attention. I see you agree with my present conclusion that animal rights can only be enforced within the existing framework of the global meat industry to minimize the suffering of farm animals rather than to grant all animals the right to live - it is simply impractical. I suspect this is also the reason animal rights activists tend to emphasize the health benefits of vegetarianism instead of the economics of the global food industry. Beyond the practicality, though, I still think the whole concept of "moral patient" as somewhat fuzzy and open to debate. Do bugs have animal rights? Are neural systems really so crucial in deciding animal rights? Most importantly, I cannot accept that animals that kill one another can enjoy moral patienthood. Where is the moral accountability in all of this? If there is none for animals, it seems to me that all these lost lives are taken for granted as lost simply because animals are moral patients. Something just doesn't quite add up here though I cannot elaborate. I just get the feeling that this concept of moral patienthood simply grants non-human species a pass to free ride on moral laws.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 2 years ago
If it was allowed would an arena with gladiators fighting to the death prove popular in modern times?
For contemporary society to have laws in place that reject roman arenas, we must have chosen it to be so. That in itself presupposes that we detest such forms of brutality and wish never to see the light of it again, however much we may indulge ourselves in lesser forms of violent entertainment. Hence, it seems to me that you have posted a rhetorical question. For gladiators fighting to the death to be legal and thus popular, you already presupposing that societies across the world see the arena as an acceptable form of entertainment. (as this question is being posed to a global audience, I assume you mean worldwide legalisation of the arena) The act of allowing gladiators by itself already implies acceptance of extreme violence. In this way, I propose to you, Mathew, that your question has already answered itself. So, instead of debating about gladiators, we might as well be talking about human nature itself. Reading your comments, I respect your opinion and profess that I cannot fully understand the horrors of war as viewed through the eyes of a soldier. However, there is no real basis to assume that most humans would enjoy extreme violence of the kind that would result in mutilation or death. For every violent inclination that some individual possess, you can find in equal measure the inclination towards kindness and gentleness in some other individual. Personally, I am more Machiavellian on the subject of human nature, but I still see humans as complex moral agents; regardless of whether humans are fundamentally inclined towards violence or nonviolence from birth, there is no reason to despise the capacity of humans to be nurtured into kind and reasonable beings. What matters is that humans retain even till today the capacity for logical reasoning and moral reflection. Why else would you be posting this debate topic in the first place? Cheers.
182049
Ethan
Posted over 2 years ago
What contribution does mythology make towards the improvement of society?
I think a better way to phrase your question would be, "Why did humans of past generations feel the need to create myths?" By mythology, I assume we are talking about mythical gods, creation myths and supernatural occurrences. I do not think it is simply about making sense of the world, though that might form part of the motivation. Or blind superstition. Instead, I suspect it could have been a useful component of ancient political institutions that helped leaders to consolidate political power. The divine right of kings is a typical example of this. Even among secular Confucian elites of ancient China, the emperor finds himself invoking the name "Son of Heaven". If a bit of mythology is all you need to strengthen the legitimacy of your rule, why not? I also think mythologies are forms of aesthetic expression of the combined imaginations of the masses. The specific looks of various gods and goddesses reflect the artistic directions of society, while their qualities represent the desired traits of a ideal human being. An extraordinary man, even a king, perhaps would not have sufficed in meeting the imaginative needs of society. Thus it is to be expected that myths will come in to fill up the unearthly notions of mighty gods that live in the far reaches of the skies and the deepest corners of the sea, and intriguing ideas such as omniscience.