[Bernard Harcourt, guest-blogging, May 4, 2007 at 7:37pm] Trackbacks
Carceral Notebooks, Volume 2: Exploring the Carceral Zone with Nussbaum, Sunstein, Stone, Leitzel, McAdams, and Others.

Before unplugging and returning to my luddite existence, I wanted to share one last bit of information about the space where deviance gets criminalized. The Carceral Notebooks explore precisely that liminal space between morality and crime -- focusing on the puzzles surrounding the criminal and legal enforcement of morality.

If you are interested in that space zoned carceral, you may be interested to know that a new volume of The Carceral Notebooks is just out, available to browse on the web here and also in print.

The new volume has several extremely provocative essays about the regulation of morality, especially the regulation of sexuality, as well as terrific response essays from some of our leading social thinkers. Martha Nussbaum has a wonderful essay on Narcissism and Objectification, Cass Sunstein on Equal Sex, Geof Stone on Placing Consent in Cultural and Historical Context, Jim Leitzel on Secret Deviants, and Richard McAdams on Guilt and Crime.

There is also a virtual art exhibit that accompanies the volume with remarkable artwork by Virgil Marti, Mia Ruyter and others. The artwork is arresting, and I invite you to visit the space.

Thank you to Eugene Volokh and his conspirators for inviting me to discuss my work on asylums and prisons. I'll now return to the library and to that little green paperback Census Bureau volume, Patients in Hospitals for Mental Disease, 1923.

This was a very interesting set of posts, thank you for guest-blogging here!
5.4.2007 9:06pm
Agreed -- thanks for the great posts.
5.4.2007 9:10pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):

From the Narcissism and Objectification essay:

Before the pathbreaking research of Masters and Johnson both men and women used to believe there was something called a "vaginal orgasm" produced in women via vaginal intercourse alone, without clitoral stimulation.
After Masters and Johnson, however, anyone could learn that women never have orgasms without clitoral stimulation...

This is simply false. A majority of women may not have orgasms without clitoral stimulation but women can have orgasms only from stimulation of the g-spot. While this has been backed up by some research I know from first hand experience. One of my girlfriends would have extremely intense orgasms from fingering that didn't involve even incidental stimulation of the g-spot.

Frankly beginning an essay with this sort of categorical statement tells me the person writing it is more interested in their political point of view than in factual investigation of human sexuality. Clearly this writer thinks it is important to believe that the vaginal orgasm is totally non-existent to assuage some sort of misplaced guilt because some women feel they are defective for not having one.

Also this objectification, as defined in this essay, is a clearly incoherent notion. The author wants to define objectification as:

treating as an object someone who is really a person

Now there is surely a notion of objectification that means some complex combination of degrading sexual interest and active unconcern for their dignity. However, you simply can't try and connect this notion up with 'treating someone as an object'. Every time you ask someone to stand on something to hold it down for you or hold something for you you are 'treating them as an object' yet we don't want to call that objectification.

Now you might object that I am merely quibbling but this carelessness with the definition hides real logical fallacies. Because merely recognizing that a person is also an object (hence can stand on things, hold things, and look pretty) doesn't qualify as objectification one can't infer that sexual attraction or interest in someone as a result of physical beauty or looks is 'objectification' unless it comes along with an active disregard for their feelings as a person or desire to degrade them. Thus it is invalid to label much male sexual interest as objectification because it may depend on purely physical properties of the individual since it lacks these extra features necessary to truly be objectification.
5.5.2007 12:52am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
ops should have been clitoris in my post not g-spot (didn't involve even incidental stimulation of clitoris)
5.5.2007 11:38am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
I would love to read and comment on those articles from the Carceral Notebooks, but the links don't work. Any ideas?
5.5.2007 4:43pm
I only read one of the notebooks, it seemed smug and sophomoric.

It psited some alternate worlds where wmen could never oragsam with men, because the men always finshed too fast and the women took far too long. From this it reached to a conclusion that on that fact alone, any rull prohibiting female/female sex would be clearly unconstitutional...

Let's assume that there is a world where some of the population cannot achieve orgasm unless they torture someone of the oposite sex to death. Clearly any rule prohibiting torturing people to death would be unconstitutional...

Let's assume that there is a population that cannot achieve orgasm unless they do have sex with little boys. Surely any law that prohibits sex with little boys would be prohibiting an entire class of the populace from having orgasms. Therefore this would be unconstitutional.

I do not believe that orgasms, or the lack thereof, have any mention in the constitution. I do not beleive even happiness does, only the persuit of same.

Perhaps I have worked on a college campus for too long, but I get uneasy around those who try reduce all humans to the belly, and the phallos, and all rights to pleasing the first two. My experience is they have a low tolerance for any other, more meaningful rights.

Perhaps it could go back to the old saw "The the godless, sex is the only sacrament" - and she could make those arguments on Second Amendment grounds.
5.5.2007 6:03pm
Michael Martin (mail):
Great posts! Great to catch up with what Prof. Harcourt's been doing.
5.8.2007 10:01pm