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Is porn really biologically beneficial for human sexuality? A response to popular conception

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current graduate student
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psychology
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Goucher...

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  1. Introduction
  2. Siri Steiner
  3. The codes for 'sperm acting competitive'
  4. The conception of competition
  5. Conclusion

I will present a critique of the conception of male sperm in contemporary popular science media; in particular my critique will address the idea that porn is somehow biologically beneficial for human sexuality. On one level, my motive in doing this is to demystify the systematic but almost impossibly subtle use of language that both exemplifies and justifies the pervasive social condition that typifies female sexuality in relation to (in opposition to) the notions of competition and domination. Scientific popular discourse constructs itself in such a way that members sharing its epistemic standpoint are apt to argue that the biological concept of competition, for instance, has little or nothing to do with the sense of competition in some other, more public context.

[...] This is simply bad science: it is bad in that it involves a serious conceptual confusion and it is even worse in that it anthropomorphizes the behavior of objects that cannot be said to exhibit any sort of behavior at all, or at least not behavior describable with complex descriptors like ?sperm winning a fertilization contest? or fastest swimmer.? Assuming that the phenotype/genotype distinction holds some water, the notion of a sperm's drive to compete is a phenotype in that the criterion for something ?having a drive to compete? is not biologically reducible to sequences of base pairs; it is a complex behavior. [...]


[...] One of the causes is apparently bit of panda porn.? Researchers increased panda breeding by showing giant panda's ?uninitiated males DVDs of fellow pandas mating.?[3] This AV approach to increasing mating amongst a species of animal is supposedly very natural in that it attempts to have captive animals view members of their species partaking in reproductive acts: all the acts are shown the wild.? Zhang Zhihe, a researcher who adopts this method, describes the AV approach as ?trying to imitate nature better.?[4] But what really is the meaning of ?viewing It is immediately clear that there is a disjunction between what it apparently means for pandas (?showing uninitiated males DVDs of fellow pandas mating?) and what it means for humans: pornographic activities are not restricted to mating in the sense of mating for a reproductive purpose. [...]


[...] So the distinctly male conception of competition is a double-edged sword for females: apparently, on the one hand, it can protect them (normally, it might be said, so long as there are other males with which to compete, a given male will not be likely to lash out at his female associates), but on the other hand, it is solely males and their natural inclination to competitiveness that determines if and when a given female will be the object of male aggression. [...]

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