Chris Hedges on pornography and prostitution articles

Philosophy of Love and Sex

Question 1

Drawing from the 3 articles by Chris Hedges on pornography and prostitution, as well as his interview with Rachel Moran (October 20 readings in course syllabus), either agree or disagree with what you believe are 4 main claims he is making.

Provide examples, expert opinion, case studies, analogies, or other evidence to either agree or disagree with each of these 4 claims. Provide at least 6 points of evidence for each of the 4 claims.

• Please see attached Articles

o Truthdig – ‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

o Truthdig – Amnesty International_ Protecting the ‘Human Rights’ of Johns, Pimps and Human Traffickers

o Truthdig – The Whoredom of the Left

o Video – (Please watch and incorporate findings)

In the article “The Whoredom of the Left”, Chris Hedges argues that legalizing prostitution as some countries have done takes the world a step closer to global capitalism or neoliberalism. Chris Hedges’ assertion is right basing on a number of reasons. Prostitution does not entail freedom to do what one wishes with her body, but it is a form of economic slavery. This is because as Chris Hedges argues, those who engage in prostitution do so not by choice, but out of desperation and coercion. Laite (2015) argues there exists an inherent link between prostitution and modern capitalism. This link can be established by the development of prostitution around mining regions. Another reason for supporting Hedges’ assertion is that prostitution leads to severe physical and emotional consequences for those involved. This is a point that Hedges makes quite clear. Holmstrom (2014) argues that in the capitalist and patriarchal society, women’s bodies are often “objectified and commodified” (p. 1). Holmstrom (2014) further asserts that global capitalism contributes to great inequalities, with women on the marginal end of the inequality, and part of the reason they enter prostitution.

Chris Hedges’ article “Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like” expounds the idea that pornography is an extension of the global capitalistic ideas. Pornography promotes abuse of women, and propounds the notion of hyper-masculine power. Chris Hedges highlight credible points concerning pornography and dehumanization of women. Pornography promotes dehumanization of women and propagates the idea that women are just but objects of pleasure, as Chris Hedges asserts. In an interview with Rachel Moran, is clear that women who engage in prostitution undergo physical and emotional abuse. Men who buy sexual favors hold the notion that it is right to abuse women. Majority obtain these notions from watching pornography where women experience physical abuse. For example, Moran (2015) talks about a “client” who would insist on biting her nipples until blood gushed came out. According to Calfas (2015), pornography acts as a “slippery slope to take to the next step to abuse and exploitation” (p. 1). Pornography influences the minds of children and adults, and increases their propensity to abuse of women, rape, and other sexual maladjustments.

The article “Amnesty International ….” by Chris Hedges highlights the notion that those women who engage in prostitution are victims rather than criminals. This is true in light of the fact that those who benefit from prostitution are the traffickers and pimps involved in the trade. Moreover, majority of women are forced by circumstances to engage in the illicit trade. In the interview, Rachel Moran reveals that majority of sex workers are disproportionately black. These women are unable to endure racial marginalization, and the only alternative available for them is prostitution. For example, in Minnesota where 10 percent of the population is black, it is surprising to find that a prostitution facility may be having up to 70% as black young women. Majority of people may be surprised to learn that slavery still exists in the 21st century. But how? Kristof (2015) examines the case of Poonam Thapa, a teenage girl forced into prostitution at age 12. Thapa is from Nepal, and had to contemplate with the impacts of working in a brothel. Thapa is just one of the 20.9 million people into forced labor worldwide, and most of them children.

Chris Hedges also espouses the idea that prostitution denies women their basic rights. This is true because a big fraction of women in prostitution is forced into the illicit trade. Worse still, majority those engaging in prostitution are minors who do not understand their basic human rights, and whom the government ought to protect. Moreover, the pimps and traffickers benefit the most from the trade. In the U.S., there have been international criminal organizations involved in trafficking women, and including underage women. Rosenberg (2016) explores the sex trafficking groups operating in Mexico and the United States. The offenders would seize their victims in Mexico, isolate them from their families, and physically and sexually abuse them. They would also force their victims into prostitution. These are the worst forms of abuse that women may go through. It is also a case of denying such women their basic human rights.

Question 2

 Choose 3 theorists Brian Faucette is citing in “Taking Control: Male Angst and the Re-emergence of Hegemonic Masculinity in Breaking Bad” and agree or disagree by using examples from the “Pilot” episode of Breaking Bad.

This article was covered in class and has been posted on our course page.

• Please see attached Article

o Taking Control Male Angst and the Re-emergence of Hegemonic Masculinity in Breaking Bad

o Watch the Pilot Episode –

Brian Faucette cites a number of theorists in the “Breaking Bad” series season 1, episode 1. One of the theorists is Judith Butler. The series draws from Butler’s gender performativity theory in the first episode. This theory holds that gender is socially constructed through one’s own repetitive performance as per his/gender. Butler’s view is that there is no stable gender identity – gender identity tends to be dynamic, and changes with time. As such, gender identity is formed through “stylized repetition of acts” (sss.n). Judith Butler’s theory clearly expounds a number of scenes in the “Breaking Bad” series. The “acts”, in the context of Butler’s theory, represents Walt’s (main actor) speech acts as well his behavior or physical acts. Walt’s language as he interacts with others develops his unique identity and also highlights his masculinity. Walt’s interactions with his competitors depict a complicated man, one with a peculiar masculinity that he wishes to protect. Walt is depicted as an anti-hero, with sympathetic shows of masculinity, even when he is angry or violent.

In the opening scene, Walter is seen as commanding. He meets an adversary in the drug business, Declan, where he boasts that he is the finest “cook”. Walter insists that Declan must know his name: “That’s right. Now, say my name.” This scene depicts Walter as commanding, a true show of his masculinity. Again from the opening scene, Walter is depicted as a family man, and a breadwinner to be precise. Walter works as a chemistry teacher in one of the schools, but due to low pay, he works at a local car wash where students demean him. Walter performs masculinity by working hard to fed for his family, since he believes it is his sole responsibility. Throughout season 1, Walter struggles to increase his masculinity. This he achieves by undergoing a transformation of character, whereby he shifts from a chemistry teacher to a renowned drug maker.

Brian Faucette draws from J.L. Austin who developed the theory of speech act. This theory can be traced to Austin’s performance utterances views. According to the theory, the speech act is merely a replication of a number of acts conducted at once. The only distinguishing factor is what the speaker actually intends. For instance, the speaker may say something but in saying it, he is actually trying to affect the listener in a particular way. Austin’s theory clearly demonstrates the re-emergence of hegemonic masculinity. In the first episode, Walt appears with a gasmask, frantically trying to escape the police but unfortunately lands in a ditch. As the sirens draw near, he records a goodbye message meant for his family. The message helps in establishing the who, when, and what of the whole series. A good example of speech act theory in the pilot series is the utterances between Declan and Walt. Walt insists to Declan: “say my name”, and repeats this phrase one more time. This statement that Walt repeats is only an imperative form of statement. Walt, on the other hand, performs a type of illocutionary act, which seems to fit the speech act theory.

Another theorist that Brian Faucett is citing is Heinrich Popitz, by examining the role of Walter as a man, and the idealized masculinity in the society. Popitz’s theory on institutionalization of political power argues that power maybe in some ways become depersonalized. Power is inherently connected with the positions and functions that oversteps the individual. In “Breaking Bad”, masculinity is depicted as undergoing a crisis, which helps in elaborating the relationship between the role a man plays in the family. While Walt engages in the pursuit of his role in the family, the basic tenets about the role of the man are disregarded (Poggi, 2014).

Question 3

What is Kristen Hatch arguing in “Girl Meets Boy”? State this in one sentence. Choose examples to support or refute her from the “Pilot” episode of Breaking Bad.

• Please see attached Article

o Girl Meets Boy

o Watch the Pilot Episode –

Kristen Hatch’s main argument is that true happiness can only be attained in the pursuit of love, that is, individuals must learn to balance career and family to find ultimate happiness and meaning in life.

In the “Breaking Bad” series, masculinity is highly criticized. Walter learns that he has an incurable form of lung cancer and can only expect a few years to live. Walter descends from the popular anti-hero character to a distasteful villain on learning that he has a few years to live. Walter suddenly transforms from a protagonist to an antagonist. As a protagonist, Walter has lived a humble life as a chemistry teacher. He has limited power and Skyler, his wife, controls most aspects of the family and his life. Hank, Walter’s brother-in-law, presents an overhyped masculinity, which diminishes that of Walter even further. Soon, Walter finds an area he can assert his influence and power. This makes his ego grow tremendously as he becomes the best drug maker in the region. For instance, Walter boasts that he is “the man who killed Gus Fring”, meaning he chased him out of business.

Walter now works in an industry where violence is the order of the day. As a result, the audiences’ empathy towards Walter is diminished as he descends in character to a disdainful villain. As his ego grows, he becomes increasingly preoccupied with manhood. For example, Walt and Skyler purchase the car wash from Walt’s former boss at $800,000. The car wash is used as a money laundering facility. Another reason Walt decides to purchase this particular car wash is to spite his former boss. The transformation into drug business is the best indication that Walter has changed in character from the timid chemistry teacher to an arrogant and ruthless drug dealer.

It is clear that Walter can do anything to earn money to support his family. It is even surprising that he opts to team up with Jesse Pinkman, a former student, to conduct the drug business. The drug business is a tricky one, and a show of masculinity is evident throughout season 1. The drug business is mainly conducted by men, and is full of risks. As Jesse sells Meth to some dealers, they take him hostage and force him to reveal the lab where they make the meth. Walter uses his ingenuity to make a poisonous substance that he uses to knock out the dealers. As they try to hide the two bodies, they realize that one of them is actually not dead. The soft side of Walt is seen as he struggles with the idea of whether to kill him or not. Eventually, they decide to lock him up in the basement. Walt’s masculinity is evident when he refuses money for his cancer treatment, which is seen in season 1 episode 5.

Question 4

Choose either “Abandon Ship” by Susan Pinker or “Licensing Parents” by Hugh Lafollette. Take what you believe to be the 3 most important claims the author makes and support or refute them by giving evidence.

• Chosen article is Licensing Parents by Hugh LaFollette.

• See article attached

o Licensing Parents

Licensing in general

Hugh Lafollette first makes the claim that there in need to license a number of things in everyday living. For instance, one is required to have a license before being allowed to drive. This is because the act of driving may cause harm to others. Requiring that a person must hold a license in order to drive simply means that a large number of bad drivers are removed from the roads. This reduces the incidences of harm or accidents. In areas such as medicine, professional therapy, gun ownership, childcare and others licensing is still required. The main reason for licensing these activities is that if anyone could practice them, it could lead to massive harm. Unqualified people may bring more harm. Thus, in order to ensure that only professionals engage in these practices, licensing is required.

The reason for licensing parents

Hugh Lafollette argues that there is a great need to license parents. It is worth noting that licenses are issued for serious activities, which may lead to harm if conducted by unqualified persons. In order to obtain a license, one is required to undergo formal training and qualify for the license. Lafollette argues that parenting too requires a license, since, if not done properly it might lead to harm. Bad parents can abuse their children both physically and emotionally. Bad parents can also bring up a child in an unsafe environment. As such, it is clear that parenting meets the standard criteria for requiring licensing. In line with the standards of licensing, some people could be denied the chance for parenting due to failure in meeting the minimum requirements. The parenting license can significantly improve the way children are brought up. This may reduce crime and other forms of delinquent behavior in the society.

There could be objections to licensing

Hugh Lafollette also makes the claim that various objections to licensing may emerge. There are individuals who may emerge seeking for the rights unlicensed individuals. The first main objection raised is that there is no standard criterion established for distinguishing the adequate and inadequate parents. For example, majority of people lack knowledge on child development and psychology. Another key objection is that there is no way to tell a potentially bad parent. For instance, parents may be good at the beginning but then begin mistreating their children in future. Since there exists no predictor, licensing parenting remains a dream. The last objection relates to misuse of a test, if at all it could be discovered. Administrators may likely misuse the test, thus reducing its efficacy.


Calfas, J. (2015, July 14). Pornography foes: make this a health issue. USA Today. Retrieved        from         health-crisis/30152095/

Holmstrom, N. (2014). Sex, work and capitalism. A Journal of Modern Society & Culture, 15(1):            2-3.

Kristof, N. (2015, Oct. 24). Meet a 21st –century slave. The new York Times. Retrieved from     slave.html?_r=0

LAITE, J. A. (2009). Historical Perspectives on Industrial Development, Mining, and       Prostitution. The Historical Journal, 52(3), 739-761.

Moran, R. (2015). Prostitution: being raped for a living. Retrieved from               4&jumival=14917#pop1

Poggi, G. (2014). Varieties of political experience: Power phenomena in modern society. Colchester, U.K: ECPR Press.

Rosenberg, E. (2016, Nov. 1). 7 men accused in sex-trafficking ring in U.S. and Mexico. The       New York Times. Retrieved from         accused-in-sex-trafficking-ring-in-us-and-mexico.html


Philosophy of Love and Sex-Kristen Hatch