Suppose you had money and wanted to do something to help people and relieve suffering.  If you’re a really good person you might, I guess, go for some sort of optimal charitable contribution.  But if you’re like most people (and me, I confess) you might want something that is a more a reflection of your personality, even if that’s not really an optimal way of spending money to relieve suffering.

Here is something you might try. Sexual deprivation causes a lot of people a lot of suffering.  Suppose you set up the Sex Fund.  Pay people to make atractive porn and give it away over the Internet (I guess there are people already doing this (link NSFW), albeit on what looks like a fairly small scale).  Distribute sex toys to needy people and give free education workshops in their use (paging Betty Dodson!).  Perhaps you could even pay professional sex workers to provide comfort for the lonely and despairing.

You’d probably relieve rather a lot of suffering.  You might even non-coercively prevent a few suicides.

You’d also be publicly vilified from sea to shining sea, and might find the police at your door with a warrant.

Maybe Robin Hanson is right.  Charity isn’t about helping.

6 Responses to “Philanthropy that would be hated”

  1. Or give money to Project Prevention, which I do on a regular basis. As a supporter of radical feminism, I can’t say I support porn, but sterilization is something we can all get behind I think.

  2. Sterilization does real good for future generations; porn is palliative against the suffering of this one.

    It must be hard for poor and/or homeless people to find private space to masturbate or get laid.

  3. Pornography does not reduce present suffering, because it contributes to the objectification of women, women-hatred, and the rape culture. It leads to more suffering for women as a whole. But I entirely agree with you on your point about private spaces for homeless people and others as well.

    • The claim that porn causes violence toward women is, however, not empirically supported.

      Also, how does gay porn, a very important if not always acknowledged part of porn contribute toward the objectification of women?

      Did On Our Backs contribute to woman hatred and rape culture? Really?

      • “The claim that porn causes violence toward women is, however, not empirically supported.”

        I agree, much like how violent movies or video games do not cause crime, but rather sublimate it. But that wasn’t my point anyway, so… ?

        “Also, how does gay porn, a very important if not always acknowledged part of porn contribute toward the objectification of women?”

        I don’t know anything about gay porn, so I’ll leave that point for someone else.

  4. There are a lot of variables here, I think. Even if we ignore the fact that the main reason your philanthropy would be hated is sexual taboos, there would be a lot of problems left. While porn itself may not cause anything, it is definitely the case that people do end up in sex work of various kinds for reasons that have little to nothing to quite a bit, but still not 100% to do with their independent choice. How many heirs/heiresses with an Ivy league education do you see in porn or sex work? Not many, I would guess. There is such a stigma attached to sex work that you would have to radically reeducate people about sex before you could be sure your charity is actually doing more good than harm, overall.

    Distributing free sex toys or giving free workshops strikes me as having no problems, however.

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