Can we conceive of something being a psychological pollutant, in the same way we conceive of physiological pollutants?
Consider for example a clothing advert that features extremely skinny women in expensive clothing (as they often do). It seems clear that this is harmful to the consumer in a number of ways. Most clearly, it is damaging to women, who are pressured to meet unrealistic and unhealthy standards for appearance.
Being that one cannot isolate oneself from these advertisements (you can shut off your TV but you can't avoid the big billboards on city streets), does it not make sense to outlaw such billboards on the basis that they are unavoidable psychological pollutants?
And if not, is it only because it's harder for us to quantify and locate psychological damage than it is to locate physiological damage?
In the UK there are the 'Page 3' models (in case you are unfamiliar with them, they are topless models that appear everyday in The Sun , usually with snippets of text about how young they are, and suggestive speech bubbles). Because The Sun is such a widely read publication and because that particular page is so popular, Page 3 is readily accessible on the bus, in the tube, on the kitchen table, in the newsagents, etc., etc. A while ago the politician Clare Short tried to get Page 3 outlawed because she said that it promoted sexism. She quickly got shouted down by other politicans and by the public who mocked her for being unattractive and whining.
It seems to me that Clare Short had a point. If people, especially young kids, see this type of woman everywhere they go they might believe that woman are there to be eternally young and up for it, so to speak, and that it is okay to see them purely as sexual objects. Equality between men and women could be suffering from this, surely?
Or is that...