Feminism And Pornography: Differing Views Essay

1486 words - 6 pages

The pornography debate has been an issue within the feminist movement that has been pushed to the periphery in recent times. It is not as widely seen on the main stage of the feminist agenda and this may be because of a division in feminist thought with regards to pornography. Generally speaking, there are “pro-sex” feminists who believe that women have the right to do what they wish with their bodies and there are “pro-censorship” feminists who believe pornography is inherently degrading and violent towards women. In this paper I am going to discuss the views and opinions held by each faction of the pornography debate and I will discuss the pros and cons of each view and discuss how every ...view middle of the document...

Pro-sex feminists say that it is not up to the government or someone other than the participant and the consumer to decide this. If someone finds a slap erotic and if no one was in actual danger than it is okay to enjoy viewing this. Anti- censorship feminists believe that censorship will be used against the least popular views and it will ultimately have only negative effects. Some pro-sex feminists believe that pornography can be positive for women; it allows women to explore their sexuality and to enjoy fantasies that they may not want played out in their own life but that they enjoy watching.
In stark contrast to the pro-sex feminists are the pro-censorship feminists. These women believe that pornography is a tool of patriarchy used to dehumanize and degrade women and can lead to violence against women in every day life. As Page Mellish of Feminists Fighting Pornography put it, “There’s no feminists issue that isn’t rooted in the porn problem.” These women see no positives in porn and many see the porn stars who are outspoken about their careers or who identify as feminists, as victims of patriarchy and male objectification. The documentary, Exxxit: Life after Porn, many of the porn stars were depicted has having struggled with depression or later feeling dehumanized about what they had done during their time in the porn industry. Not every porn star has the same experience but not all of them are as happy with their career and life outcome as Nina Hartley. Andrea Dworkin, who many see as the face of anti-porn feminists, argues that pornography devalues women and allows men to maintain power over them. As Rosemarie Tong states in her book Feminist Thought, pro-censorship (and more specifically radical-cultural feminists) view pornography as “nothing more than patriarchal propaganda about women’s “proper” roles as man’s servant, helpmate, caretaker, and plaything…” To pro-censorship feminists pornography is about power roles and women being seen as less than human, as sexual bodies meant for male pleasure regardless of the woman’s thoughts or feelings. These power roles are played out in graphic detail in pornography and then they bleed out in to the everyday lives of women who are then become victims of sexual violence, objectification, and discrimination. These claims seem extreme to some and it is the lack of research- based evidence that allows pro-pornography feminists to poke holes in the views of pro-censorship feminists. It is this lack of research that leads me to the next portion of my paper; how do every day women (i.e. those not firmly associated the feminism or not academics/scholars) view porn and what are their thoughts on the porn debate?
A small study done by Karen Ciclitira involved interviewing women of different races, ethnicities, ages, and sexualities to see how they felt about pornography. The interview questions involved how they would define pornography, their personal experiences in viewing porn, and whether porn...

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