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Obscenity - just a question of sex?

  Open Discussion  
    February 2008    

Artneuland Berlin Space - The Home for Trialogues

February 29th from 18:00 h - 20:00 h

In the context of the current exhibition Language & Gender.

Obscenity - just a question of sex?

The evening is conceived and will be moderated by Prof. Eike Gebhard

Obscene – do really just sexual images deserve this caption? Aren’t there quasi- obscene – e.g. sadistic – actions which violate someone’s integrity not sexually but tangibly, materially or physically? Is it really more important to prevent sexual contraception than to prevent wars, exploitation or disease?

Some religious institutions seem to favor the former. Whose interests are served by veiling women, genocide, and global starvation? Is a woman’s smiling face more obscene than the face of a hateful zealot triumphant at the massacre of non-believers or the self-righteous grin of a business chief refusing medication to thousands of people that cannot afford it? Taboos exist in all cultures – are the things that they protect really important and/or holy – or do they just protect the ruling ideas of the day, that is, the ideas of the rulers of the day, to cite Marx?

Those defending seemingly holy values – are they perhaps doing so merely to ensure their power? Some people suspect religious leaders are no exception to this rule, and the current Mullahs are as good an example as was the Christian inquisition or the quasi-religious propaganda of the Nazis, of Stalin or McCarthy: All of them justified witch-hunts or even genocides in the name of higher or holy values – and these, in turn, legitimated all sorts of sacrifices, including human sacrifices, human life.

How come that it is inconceivable for most people that their own values might be perceived as wrong or even obscene by others; that these values might be seen as the very cause of the lamented problems – and therefore must be fought at all cost? That one (wo)man’s freedom is another (wo)man’s offence to decency or holy commands.

Oppression of sexuality and its resulting problems are just the best-known (but by far not the only) example – eg. as one cause of widespread collective psychoses. The current glorification of wage-labor could be another – for centuries nobody seriously believed work could be any more than an inevitable evil. Whose interests do such seemingly natural self-evident or allegedly God-given “values” serve? Suppressing or ignoring certain political interests is part and parcel of those very interests, Habermas once mocked …

For further information please contact: berlinoffice@artneuland.com

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