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Interpretation Of A Feminist View On Pornography

2113 words - 8 pages

Interpretation of A Feminist View on Pornography


The article that I will be breaking down in the following paper is “Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech” by Catherine A. MacKinnon. I believe the best area to start is to briefly describe MacKinnon and her article. MacKinnon is a professor of law at the University of Michigan. The article deals with the affects of pornography on society. MacKinnon feels that some pornography should be illegal. Her reason for this view is not that she finds it offensive, but rather that she considers it as a form of sexual discrimination. There are many different views on pornography ranging from the belief that it is harmless fantasy all the way to it being a prime factor of the deterioration for society. MacKinnon says that pornography subordinates women and institutionalizes male supremacy. She even goes so far as to say that it is a political practice. Advocates of pornography claim its ultimate end to be pleasure, but MacKinnon says that the actual end is power. The article will attempt to prove a correlation between pornography and the violence taken against women, as well as their social and economic inequality. I feel that the article itself is poorly written, but will attempt to make her points a little easier to understand. I feel the necessity to state that the feelings of the paper are that of my views on MacKinnon’s article. They are not my views and may in fact be, misinterpretations of her views. To spare us the confusion, I will rebut it with my views that pornography is harmless, at the end of the paper.

The article starts with a brief passage on sexual equality in society. Her presentation of the argument is to explain it as if she agreed with it, only to refute it by saying that it is an article of faith for most people. She attributes this statement to natural law thinking: if we are inalienably equal, we can’t “really” be degraded. She continues on to explain how her thoughts on society’s views of free speech. She says in out society, everyone has a right to free speech, and if that right is not chosen, then it is assumed that it has been done so for a reason. To her, the law of sex discrimination, and the First Amendment, operate largely within the realm of these beliefs.

MacKinnon defines feminism as the discovery that women do not live in this world, that the person occupying this realm is a man, even more of a man if he is white and wealthy. She has an obvious distaste for the structure and the beliefs of modern society. She says that in a society that allows people to reap the benefits, it is merely men whom do all the reaping. Feminism is a discovery because it is the first movement to take seriously the role of women in society. She is steadfast in the belief that women live in a world of inequality.

To state such a theory, and not back it up, would be pointless, so she follows with some numerical data. The article delves into specifics about rape, but what seems most...

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