​Pornography & Prostitution: Philosophers Facing the Sex Industry

Jeanne Proust at Online

Thu, May 7 at 8 p.m.   |   Two sessions, 75 minutes each
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors

Do pornography and prostitution directly lead to the sexual objectification of women by men? These two phenomena and trades of the sex industry are obviously different, but there seems to be a tacit agreement about their common immorality. Why have prostitution and pornography so often been believed by the majority of people to be harmful? Join us for a two-part series as we delve into it.

Join professor Jeanne Proust for a two-part Olio as we delve into the sex industry from a philosophical point of view. 


Do pornography and prostitution directly lead to the sexual objectification of women by men? These two phenomena and trades of the sex industry are obviously different, but there seems to be a tacit agreement about their common immorality. Why have prostitution and pornography so often been believed by the majority of people to be harmful?

In this Olio, we will explore different arguments that have been conveyed by philosophers who are in favor of an abolitionist view, and those against it, while trying to closely decipher our moral feelings and prejudices about the commodification of sex.

Session one (5/7) - Prostitution: Selling One's Body?
Prostitution has always been believed by the majority of people, including the ones who take part in it, to be extremely harmful. Let’s try to put our prejudices aside, and explore the nature of this belief, and its consequences on prostitution itself. Why is prostitution so often morally condemned?
One of the main arguments against prostitution is that sex should have to do with something sacred, intimate. But is it morally unacceptable to have casual sex for the mere sake of pleasure, without long-term commitments and emotional attachments? Does the money aspect bring something else into the equation?


Session two (5/14) - Porn: Promotion of Women's Objectification?
Porn seems to be less problematic than prostitution, though the easy access to obscenity on our smartphones and the content of mainstream hardcore porn raises many ethical questions. We'll be discussing issues around porn’s role in gender and race discrimination, and about the impact of porn on sexuality.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jeanne Proust's research focuses on Théodule Ribot’s Diseases of the Will, both in philosophical and psychological perspectives. While teaching at different universities here in New York, Jeanne is advocating for a widening of philosophical education beyond the academic frontiers.


Venue: Online

Zoom link will be sent upon signup.


Add to Calendar May 7, 20208 p.m. May 7, 2020 America/New_York Think Olio | ​Pornography & Prostitution: Philosophers Facing the Sex Industry Do pornography and prostitution directly lead to the sexual objectification of women by men? These two phenomena and trades of the sex industry are obviously different, but there seems to be a tacit agreement about their common immorality. Why have prostitution and pornography so often been believed by the majority of people to be harmful? Join us for a two-part series as we delve into it. Online

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


Cancel Culture

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Aug. 9, 2020, 2 p.m.

'A Poem About My Rights': Reading June Jordan

Location: at Online

Teacher: Christina Katopodis

Aug. 12, 2020, 8 p.m.

Know Your Rights! A Constitutional History of American Protest

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

Aug. 13, 2020, 7 p.m.

The Great Revelator: The Exploitation of the Black Body from Slavery to Covid 19

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jamie Warren and Sheldon Applewhite

Aug. 16, 2020, 4 p.m.

Marx Was Right: Capitalism Failed

Location: at Online

Teacher: Hadas Thier

Aug. 19, 2020, 8 p.m.

Embracing Uncertainty: Writing the Hybrid | Found Forms

Location: at Online

Teacher: Amanda Krupman

Aug. 20, 2020, 8 p.m.


Stay in Touch


Instagram Mailing List Contact

Get Involved


Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.