Those of us who want to think in a more sophisticated way about pornography won’t get there simply by adopting a pro-pornography position, an argument that, say, sex is inherently good, that everyone has a right to it, that we should rid sex of shame. Such a position advances its own kind of dogma, imposing the view that sexual pleasure is essential to full human potential, and thus potentially alienates those who – for any variety of religious, cultural, gendered or physical reasons – have a more reserved or alienated relationship to sexual activity. Moreover, pornography proliferates tenaciously and resiliently across media forms and doesn’t suffer existential crises. It doesn’t worry about people who don’t like it.
A more open and ecumenical approach, invested in neither condemning nor defending pornography, encourages us to tolerate looking at pornography without knowing in advance what we’ll find.