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Ask Tara 1 — The Crossroads of Thailand, Iran, America, Journalism, and Women’s Rights


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/17

Tara Abhasakun is a colleague. We have written together before. I reached out because of the good journalism by her. I wanted to get some expert opinion on women’s rights, journalism, and so on. I proposed a series. She accepted. Abahasakun studied history at The College of Wooster. Much of her coursework was in Middle East history.

After graduating Tara started blogging about the rights of women, LGBT, and minorities in MENA. She is currently a freelance writer. She is of Thai, Iranian, and European descent. She has lived in Bangkok and San Francisco. Here we talk about the main attacks on women’s rights in the US, pornography and ethics, and incorporation of feminism into religion.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What are the main attacks on women’s rights in the United States?

Tara Abhasakun: I think the most timely issue is the Kavanaugh confirmation. Kavanaugh was confirmed without a full FBI investigation into his possible sexual assaults of three women. On top of that, as we all know, he was nominated by a president who claimed to have grabbed women “by the pussy” so there’s that too. I don’t even know what else to say about either of these things, because they are both so utterly ridiculous, yet they’re apparently both possible, and real.

Jacobsen: The socio-political Left, in general, view pornography with mixed emotional and intellectual evaluations. One branch sees this as legitimate paid work and, in some way, a means for economic independence of some women. Another view argues these are abuses of and exploitation of women. Still, others argue pornography is a branch of sexual liberation, and so on.

People have admired female forms for millennia. They have abused and degraded women for the same time. Also, these have been a basis of economics and trade, even with women as chattel or property to be bought and sold — including for sexual slavery.

Pornography reflects these histories and human propensities as if a prism for renewed reflection of ethics. What seems like the best position to take on pornography in the modern period?

Abhasakun: Firstly, let me acknowledge that there may be many women who truly enjoy working in the porn industry. I think the issue, however, is what “consent” truly means. When there is money involved, and someone knows that they will be paid to perform certain sexual acts, it means that they may feel pressured to perform those sexual acts in order to maintain their livelihood. Is that really consent?

One could argue that this same logic could be applied to any job, and that we all have to have a job, however, I believe that sex is different because sex is something that we usually acknowledge must be wholeheartedly consented to, unlike a desk job in which many people think “I don’t really want to go to work today, but I have to.” In ordinary sexual situations in which no money is involved, we acknowledge that people must give full, enthusiastic consent to sex, and not feel pressured into it. I have a hard time believing that everyone who works in the porn industry is giving their full, enthusiastic consent, when there is money being dangled in front of them.

I have begun to hear more about feminist porn, and porn being done in more ethical ways. I have not done much research on this, and therefore don’t want to give a definitive answer on what I believe the right answer is. This notion of “feminist porn” however, I want to believe that it’s possible. As of right now, I’m just not entirely sure of how this is being facilitated.

Jacobsen: Following the question on religion and the incorporation of feminism, how might religions incorporate feminism? How can arguments for a higher power help with this?

Abhasakun: People of faith must begin by looking at their holy texts from objective standpoints. This means that secular education is crucial. All children must be taught to simply read texts, and then come to conclusions, rather than approaching any text with a preconceived idea that it is from God.

People can then begin to view religious texts from a historical standpoint. They can begin to think, “Maybe the treatment of women in this holy text exists because this was written in a backward time period.” Then the question can become “What can I draw from this book that is useful today, and what do I need to discard?” From there, the understanding of God will hopefully move away from a judgemental guy scowling down at all of us, to a force that permeates through the universe.

If the understanding of God remains the same as it is for so many religious communities now, then it will be best to lose God entirely. I just happen to think that many people do still need a belief or hope in a higher power.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Tara.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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