Gay Does Not Necessarily Mean Good: A Critique of Jeffrey Sherman's Love Speech: The Social Utility of Pornography
7 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2006 Last revised: 6 Nov 2008
Date Written: 1996
Pornography cannot be classified as good or bad on the basis of the sex of the featured participants. This article criticizes Professor Jeffrey Sherman's claim that gay male pornography, unlike heterosexual pornography, provides the consumer with a necessary component to a 'flourishing life,' and that there is no inequality in gay male pornography. In his recent article, "Love Speech: The Social Utility of Pornography," 47 Stan. L. Rev. 661 (1995), Sherman reasons that because gay men are of the same station within a gender hierarchy, then gay pornography cannot contribute to or perpetuate inequality. However, Sherman ignores the fact that sameness of gender does not necessarily mean parity of power; men, like women, can be coerced. Sexual partners, though of the same sex, may differ in terms of race, class, age, or power in a relationship. Sherman ignores certain categories of images that he does not find praise-worthy and fails to make a meaningful distinction between erotica and pornography. Sherman also portrays sexual identity as a fixed, immutable construction and places himself in a privileged position which uniquely enables him to determine what images are good for gay men. This has the effect of cutting off debate and ignoring questions about the harms that pornography perpetuates.
Keywords: pornography, women, feminist, feminism, sexuality, gay
JEL Classification: K10, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation