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SkepTech Relationships Panel Transcript

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  1. SkepTech Panel - Sex in Cyberspace: Porn, Ok Cupid, and the Internet
  2. Transcript
  3.  
  4. Host:
  5. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for rising early and coming to see see the sex panel at SkepTech. Some announcements before we get started today. We do have an American Red Cross blood drive today outside in the foyer. So if you're willing and able, please participate. And number two, we have SkepTechs in the Pub, and it's going to be happening at Town Hall Brewery, and it's right next to the ??? Hotel; there are maps and so forth around here, or just ask one of the conference organizers.
  6.  
  7. Our first event of today: we have a very special panel on-
  8.  
  9. One more announcement: how to use the wi-fi here. If you don't know yet
  10. get on the UNN guest network, not the other two, and you just enter your email address. It will give you three hours of time, and then once that expires, you can do it again. Sorry we couldn't come up with a better solution, but that will give you essentially a ??? ???.
  11.  
  12. Our first panel today is "Sex in Cyberspace" featuring Jesse Galef to moderate from the SSA. We have Stephanie Zvan and Miri Mogilevsky from Freethought Blogs. As well as Ben Blanchard from SSA at St. Cloud State. And Greta Christina, of course, also from Freethought Blogs. And Jesse Menard from the University of South Carolina. So without furhter blathering from me, please take it away Jesse.
  13.  
  14. @2:09 Jesse Galef:
  15. First of all, thank you all for being up at this ungodly hour. Of course, all hours are ungodly hours. But if it weren't for the Red Bull that Ben got me, I'm not sure I'm not sure I could've here this morning and I am so ???. Brilliant idea to have this first. I'd like to thank all the panelists for taking part in this. I expect to have a lot of fun - as I furiously write questions with my laptop. This is about how technology has changed culture, and specifically sex, relationships, dating... and I think I can start with a freebie: What is the most interesting and important way that it has changed, both hookups and relationships? Do you want to start moving this way?
  16.  
  17. @2:54 Stephanie:
  18. I suppose so. I would say the most important thing is it just enabled us - particularly those of us who are a little weird in a number of ways - to get in touch with more people like us, find more people like us, sort through more people like us more quickly. And that's kinda huge. There's a little less happenstance in how people meet and go out these days.
  19.  
  20. @3:30 Miri:
  21. Yeah, I agree with that, and I also think that one of those important things is that there's no longer necessarily any connection between where we live or where you are and who you get to meet - y'know and possibly have relationships with or have sex with. And I think that's the most interesting thing because before you could say you were, I don't know, a queer person growing up in Iowa in the 1950's... you are probably not going to have opportunities to explore your sexuality; now you can meet people elsewhere, and if you can travel, you can get out of your community.
  22.  
  23. @4:04 Jesse Menard:
  24. I'm not sure I have anything to add to that. That's exactly what it is. It's made things so much easier to connect with people like yourself. I found basically ??? ??? ??? on the internet for the first time in years. I can't exactly speak to anything other than that.
  25.  
  26. @4:31 Ben:
  27. I will make note of the fact that it allows us - especially if you are queer or ???, it allows you to find people with those particular tastes and/or orientations and/or ???...
  28.  
  29. @4:50 Greta:
  30. I would also add to that. Personal ads have been around for a long time. I used to run the personal ads section for an LGBT newspaper way -
  31.  
  32. EDIT
  33.  
  34. @5:00 Miri:
  35. -yes people lie, because they do all the time in all mediums, but I feel like most of the time eventually the truth gets out.
  36.  
  37. @5:11 Jesse Galef:
  38. I mentioned exclusively online relationships. Now there seems to be a blurring between what is sex and what isn't, what is cheating and what isn't. How could couples navigate this? Obviously it's really easy to just say the couples should just discuss it and figure out what they're comfortable with, but what standards should they use, and what is a reasonable way to approach the conversation.
  39.  
  40. @5:37 Greta:
  41. I'll jump in with that. I think we have a tendency to decide are we going to be monogamous or non-monogamous (first of all that the default is monogamy, which is problematic for all kinds of reasons). But also even when you're saying, "Yes, we're gonna be monogamous," I think you need to talk about "What does that mean?" I know people for whom monogamy means you can't even look at porn, and I know people for whom monogamy means it's okay for you to spank other people, you just can't have genital sex with them. Monogamy means really different things to different people, and polyamoury and non-monogamy means different things to different people. So I think that having that conversation about what exactly do we mean, where are we because I don't think monogamy and non-monogame are either-or; I think it's a spectrum - actualkly lots of different spectrums (spectra?). We absolutely have to have a conversation, not about "Should we be monogamous or poly?" but "What is it okay to do outside the relationship, and what you want to keep exclusive?"
  42.  
  43. @6:49 Stephanie:
  44. I'd like to approach that as somebody who actually had the monogamy conversation after first getting married - probably not the right way to do it, but it was okay. So I have these male friends, and we're going out, and we're doing this, and I come home and this is what we do together... None of it really approached any fairly traditional bounds, but having that "This is what I'm doing," and making that a conversation can at least very quickly clear up any preconceptions that one partner may have when the other doesn't.
  45.  
  46. @7:40 Miri:
  47. I think what's unfortunate is that people sometimes assume if you are monogamous, just like if your sex is vanilla or non-kinky, then that means that you don't really need to talk about it because that is the culture of all. And I think that's completely wrong. I think even if you're gonna agree that you don't get to so much as hug other people, I think that should still be something that you lay out as opposed to just expecting. And to some extent that makes it harder because before we at least had some blueprint for what a monogamous relationship is even though there were obviously disagreements. People would say just don't have any sexual contact with anyone else. Granted, what is sexual contact, but that's too meta. But now, is flirting with someone online cheating. Or what if you send them a picture of yourself in an attractive new outfit, or maybe without any outfit.
  48.  
  49. Jesse Galef:
  50. Salacious position...
  51.  
  52. @8:40 Miri:
  53. I say this all the time. You need to communicate with your partner(s) always. Even if you have the most vanilla boring sex life and even if you've neve seen anyone else, You still need to set those boundaries as opposed to just assuming that they're there because that is in our culture.
  54.  
  55. @8:56 Ben:
  56. This isn't something new. There's always been the point of contention: for instance, strip clubs. Is that cheating, is that not? Is it okay at a bachelor party but not during the rest of the year. There isn't a good set rule on that. Another concept of emotional cheating. These things have been issues for a very long time. And because the internet allows us to have contact with a lot more people in a much more one-on-one situation, that just changes the scenario, but the same issues have always been there.
  57.  
  58. @9:34 Greta:
  59. I would say the internet does two things. First it adds a whole new category, a whole new set of activities that you could have to discuss, 'cause you're right. What counts as sex and what doesn't? That's been artound for a long time but also because the internet is making people more comfortable more familiar with polyamoury and non-monogamy so the whole question is on the table in a non-default way that was not as true say 20, 30 years ago.
  60.  
  61. @10:11 Jesse Galef:
  62. So that's the ethics of pornography between a couple or multiple partners. What are the ethical concerns of just porn in general, watching porn, the porn industry? Is this something that we can ethically support or to ??? ? Since we have tem minutes, y'know...
  63.  
  64. @10:32 Stephanie:
  65. Let's start with the fact that porn, like everything, is subject to Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap").
  66.  
  67. Jesse Galef:
  68. Oh goodness, I thought it was far higher than that.
  69.  
  70. @10:45 Miri:
  71. This probably won't be news to anyone, but it's important to distinguish between the pornography industry and pornography as a concept (creating visual material material for erotic stimulation, and not a textbook - you know it when you see it). There are people who will argue that porn is wrong because it promotes viewing people as objects - all that gender studies stuff. I disagree with that. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think it can intrinsically be a relly good thing. However, unfortunately in our society, you cannot talk about pornography without talking about the porn industry and all the problems with it.
  72.  
  73. @11:26 Greta:
  74. I think one of the things that the internet is doing is to some extent it's democratizing the porn industry. This is something I noticed a lot of pro-porn feminists that critiques of porn often tend to be critiques of... First of all, it assumes that porn means video porn as opposed to fiction and comics and drawings and paintings and anime and so on. It also assumes that porn is the mainstream commercial porn industry. One of the things I've noticed is the mainstream commercial porn industry is dying. It used to be a huge industry, and it's dying every year, and a lot of that has to do with that the internet is democratizing porn. The internet is making it possible to... There's always been amateur porn and there's always been indie porn, but it's making amateur/indie porn a lot more accessible, and it's making indie porn potentially a lot more lucrative. You caqn set up your own little cottage industry and make a living at it because it's cheaper to produce and have direct-to-customer sales. When people talk about the rigidity of porn, I'm like "What? Have you seen the internet? There's everything out there. Rule 34." Certainly there are still rigid issues like gender roles and stuff like that that get perpetuated, but there's huge variety because production is in the hands of the workers!
  75.  
  76. Jesse Galef:
  77. Rigidity does play a common theme in porn.
  78.  
  79. @13:33 Jesse Galef:
  80. Since there's not much time, I want to get to one of the questions I found particularly interesting in the ethics of pornography: hidden camera and voyeuristic videos. It's hard pin down the consequence if someone doesn't know it's filmed, and that's often been used as a criticism of utilitarianism. What are the ethical concerns of some of these videos being taken without somebody's knowledge.
  81.  
  82. @14:00 Greta:
  83. I'm not a strict utilitarianist. I think that there are actions that are bad even if there's no obvious or immediate effect. I think one of the effects - even if nobody ever finds out ever - is what is it turning you into? What kind of person is it turning the photographer into: it's turning the photographer into a person who thinks it's okay to violate people's bodily and sexual autonomy.
  84.  
  85. @14:43 Miri:
  86. I think there's also a broader ethical issue here of pornography that deals with non-consentual situations because you can't tell always from watching what the actors consented to do. And unfortunately that means if you are someone who enjoys certain fetishes, you may be watching porn where it's unclear whether the person had actually consented, and I think the same goes for voyeurism. You could certainly recreate that sort of feel, but it could also be non-consentual.
  87.  
  88. @15:20 Stephanie:
  89. I really really hate that kind of "what if there were no consequences whatsoever?" argument because all that means is the person taking the action is taking that risk for the other person involved. That's all that hypothetical ever means.
  90.  
  91. @15:37 Greta:
  92. If hypothetically all you're doing is taking hidden camera photos and you're the only one whose watching them, it's still unbelieveably unethical for the reasons Stephanie laid out and I mentioned earlier. But if you're in any way putting it into the public, you're creating a culture in which this is considered to be acceptable. And I can say that my reaction on this whole upskirt photography thing wasn't "Who cares as long as nobody knows that it's my pussy being looked at." My reaction was "Can I ever wear a skirt at conferences?" Because I don't know if it's me or not doesn't make me feel less vulnerable. It makes me feel more vulnerable, because I'm never gonna know. And it creates a culture in which women are seen as property of anybody who wants to have them.
  93.  
  94. @16:38 Jesse Galef:
  95. Is there any difference between videos like that and leaked celebrity videos, for example. Is there harm done to the people involved by watching it?
  96.  
  97. @16:47 Jesse Menard:
  98. I think the more public a person's personality is shouldn't affect what privacy they choose to have, unfortunately that's not always the case with paparazzi and stuff like that. But a lot of people seem to think that stars are throwing fits when they demand their own privacy - no they still have a life that's outside their public personality. And I think that leaking sexual videos that they took in their own home is still very wrong for the same reasons as any regular person because you're stil violating their privacy.
  99.  
  100. Jesse Galef:
  101. And watching them, or just leaking them?
  102.  
  103. Jesse Menard:
  104. Leaking definitely. Watching them, arguably yeah. If you know that their privacy has been violated then using it for your own purposes is still not right.
  105.  
  106. @17:58 Miri:
  107. I think it's interesting how as a culture we treat celebrities as people for cunsumption, that if someone becomes famous for one thing then suddenly everything about them and their person becomes for consumption. If someone is a famous athlete, we need to care about their sex life, we care about what they wear, we care about their house, we care about everyone they're associated with, political views... we consider ourselves to be entitled to that information and entitled to be entertained by it. And I think that that's wrong. If someone is looking at a sex tape from a celebrity that was leaked, I don't think that's as bad - there are definitely gray areas - as the person who leaked it. But I think that you should be uncomfortable with the fact that you are watching someone who does not want to be watched. And yes they don't know that you're sitting there in your room look ing at that, but if they knew, think about that.
  108.  
  109. @18:55 Stephanie:
  110. Even if you're watching something that you can tell yourself arguably the harm's already been done because this person has already been filmed, you're rehearsing that behavior. Rehearsing non-consent is not a good idea.
  111.  
  112. @19:24 Greta:
  113. If the harm that's being done is millions of people are seeing somebody's sex life who didn't want to be seen by millions of people, you're one of those millions of people. You're one-millionth of that harm being done. What kind of person is it turning you into? You are becoming someone who is participating in a non-consentual sex act. Do you want to do that?
  114.  
  115. @19:45 Jesse Galef:
  116. We have one minute left, so where do you see this going? Twelve seconds each! Where the internet is going and how it's going to continue to change.
  117.  
  118. Greta:
  119. I have no idea. I think the internet is almost entirely unpredictable. I think that we couldn't have seen even ten years ago where it is now, so I am very reluctant to say where it's going to go. Forward!
  120.  
  121. Ben:
  122. I think it's going into a place of openness, and while anonymity brings a lot of issues, it allows communities that are underprivileged to take back power. So it's a good thing.
  123.  
  124. Miri:
  125. I think we will continue to see ever more specific communities forming around different sexualities and different purposes, and we will continue learning about sexualities that we didn't even know existed.
  126.  
  127. Jesse Menard:
  128. [Agreeing with Ben and Miri]
  129.  
  130. Stephanie:
  131. I also see, and it's already started, the great moral panic. The "But I thought I was the normal one."
  132.  
  133. Jesse Galef:
  134. Thank you everybody. Let's have a round of applause.