False Certainties

/Tag:False Certainties

Sexting And Child Porn

I've been meaning to talk about this for some time. I've been prompted by the debate happening now in Australia. Seems people have woken up to the absurdity of the situation and there will be changes to the law. First a bit of background. Used to be that the age of consent of 16 meant you could also consent to sexual images being taken of you. Back in the late 80's (or was it the early 90's - I forget) there was an outcry when a 16 year-old posed for Australian Penthouse, which at the time published two editions; a [...]

The Virgin Mary Breastfeeding

One of the oddest beliefs of moral conservatives is that breastfeeding is somehow obscene. I've made no secret that I regard Christianity to have some bizarre beliefs about sex and the body. One of the more bizarre is that the female breast is obscene. But at least the Catholic Church has got one thing right, that breastfeeding is perfectly natural. To encourage the practice the Vatican has asked that Catholic publications publish the many early paintings and statues of Mary breastfeeding. I can only applaud their decision. I only wish they could convince other Christians of this, especially their more [...]

Presentation Of The Virgin

Earlier in this blog I wrote a provocative entry entitled The Truth about the Virgin Mary (or why God is a paedophile).  In it I suggested the current concern of conservative Christians over teenage sex is hypocritical, given that their own tradition accepted that a girl could be married at age 12. I argued that it is possible to interpret the Gospels as suggesting that Mary could have fallen pregnant before the age of 12. The evidence is not found in the Christian Bible, which never mentions a specific age, but in supporting literature. In Judaism, the specifics of [...]

Clive Hamilton (3): Meaningful Sex

When the sexual revolution began to breach the wall of sexual repression it came first as a trickle then as a torrent, with no sign of surcease 40 years on, so that sex talk and erotic imagery pervade books, media, advertising, the internet and public discussion with a fascination that seems limitless. This is a constant theme of the moral conservatives – regret over the excesses of the sexual revolution. The problem is that they do not understand what the sexual revolution is actually about, at least, as defined the people who first used the term. The critical names here [...]

Clive Hamilton (4): Women And Essentialism

Okay, last post on Clive Hamilton. This one is prompted by an opinion piece that appeared in The Age whilst I was writing my other comments. I think it perfectly summarises his conservatism. It's called Feminism's front-line killer blow and it reveals what really motivates him, a long discredited idealist philosophy, or, in more modern terms: essentialism. Turns out Clive has some obnoxious essentialist views about women, and men. If women have their own history, we should celebrate the uniquely female rather than bury it under the demand for equality. Women's morality differs from that of men. Feminist philosopher Carol [...]

Clive Hamilton (2): Aesthetics And Porn

There is no better example of Clive's elitism than his sophisticated argument about aesthetics, which I do have considerable sympathy for. Following his general argument, art can contribute to a pleasant life, a good life or a meaningful life. In other words, ordinary art is aesthetically pleasant, but great art is aesthetically meaningful. I have sympathy with his argument because of my understanding of Indian aesthetics, which is based on precisely how art can be meaningful. Indeed, according to the great Indian aesthetician, Abhinavagupta, great art does precisely what Clive would want it to do, reveal the numinous. The intention [...]

Clive Hamilton: The Progressive Moral Conservative

Melinda Tankard Reist has succeeded in bringing together a motley group of anti-porn moralisers, each with their own quite disparate agendas. Melinda dislikes porn because it ‘offends’ her conservative Christian values, yet she has gathered support from feminists who dislike porn because it ‘offends’ their view of the good feminist. And then there’s Clive Hamilton, public intellectual, former head of the Australia Institute and current Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. His website  Clive’s entry into this debate was a surprise to me. I used to be a fan, especially of his books Affluenza and Growth Fetish. I [...]

Sexonomics Blog By Dr Brooke Magnanti

Dr Brooke Magnanti is a forensic scientist and statistician. All rather dry stuff, except she is also a sex worker and the woman behind Belle de Jour (which has been made into a TV series, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl). She runs a blog called Sexonomics in which she discusses the politics of sex. It's an interesting perspective. As a sex worker she knows what 'really' goes on. As a forensic specialist she is more than able to critically examine the evidence for any claim. So I was not surprised when she pulled apart the recent British Letting [...]

Nicholas Tonti-Filippini: Marriage Is About The Rights Of The Children

Nicholas is a well known Catholic apologist. He has often masqueraded as an ethicist, but what you get is simply conservative Catholic doctrine. He is currently an associate professor at The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. Says it all really. Recently he wrote an opinion piece for The Age, Marriage is about the rights of the children. I can understand that the Church is anxious about the growing momentum in Australia towards legalizing gay marriage. But this is not an excuse to just make shit up! Not only does Tonti-Filippini rewrite Church history, he rewrites human history. [...]

The Porn Wars: Addendum

I'm suffering from a nasty head cold and I'm not thinking clearly... There was an important point I forgot to make. The problem with the anti-porn argument is twofold: simplification and false causation. The simplification occurs by assuming that all porn is the same. The reality is that porn is enormously diverse and caters to every group. As I said in my response to Cordelia Fine, the most graphic pornography I have ever read was in a Melbourne based radical lesbian magazine. It detailed an episode of female-female anal fisting in the showers of the women's dressing room at a [...]