Pornography as a subject for religious studies: New directions for the field of women and religion.

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Title: Pornography as a subject for religious studies: New directions for the field of women and religion.
Authors: Downing, Marymay.
Date: 1994
Abstract: The argument of this thesis is that pornography is a subject relevant for religious studies, particularly for the sub-field of women and religion. A review of the etymological derivation and history of the word 'pornography', and of various positions in the current definitional debate, provide the basis for defining the term. Methodologically, the thesis approach is feminist because it engages with feminist theory in religion and proceeds from the premise that pornography is experienced by the majority of women as a "problem" in need of analysis. Only a few religious studies scholars have treated the subject previously; their ideas are outlined and critically assessed. Chapter Two examines the history of modern pornography's self-conscious relation of antithesis with Christianity, beginning with pornographic literature of the late 18th century and including contemporary pornographic books and magazines. A third demonstration of pornography's relevance is presented in Chapter Three by means of analyses of several feminist critiques of pornography, each of which asserts significant correspondences between pornography and the Christian religion. Chapter Four proposes that newly developing theory about gender-based differences in experiences of the sacred is supported by an analysis of women's objections to pornography. Finally, by analyzing the abstract features of pornography's content and form, the argument is presented in Chapter Five that pornography can be seen to be functioning like a religion in contemporary society. Its meaningfulness, contrary to most expectations, can be compared to multivalent religious myths and symbols. The argument concludes by noting that pornography is a relevant subject for religious studies not only because it contributes to these various aspects of theory in the study of religion, especially in the field of women and religion, but also because the discipline of religious studies offers a particularly useful perspective on the problem of pornography. By elucidating more fully the nature of pornography in its contemporary manifestations, including the manner in which it can be seen to be functioning as a replacement for religion in modern society, a religious studies perspective helps to explain why pornography should be recognized as a problem of significant dimensions that merits more serious attention and efforts at resolution. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/6523
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-11318
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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