Pornography and Feminist Fight for Women’s Rights
There was a complaint in 1992 about having The Nude Maja in a classroom. The complaint came from a feminist English professor who stated that the painting made her students, as well as herself, uncomfortable. Another incident occurred at the University of Arizona when a female student’s photographic artwork consisting of self portraits in her underwear was physically attacked by feminists. There was also an occurrence at University of Michigan when some of their law school feminists organized a conference “Prostitution: From Academia to Activism”. This group removed a feminist-curated art exhibition held in conjunction with the conference. They felt that videos showing prostitutes at work was pornographic and unacceptable(Faigley & Selzer, 539).
The influential feminist pro-censorship movement threatens the women’s rights movement it professes to serve. It is led by law professor Catharine MacKinnon and writer Andrea Dworkin. The feminist movement thinks that sexually oriented expression-not sexist concepts of marriage and family, sex segregated labor, or pent-up rage is the cause of discrimination and violence of women. Their solution is to suppress “all” pornography. These are not the beliefs of Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is an organization that is famous for defending the rights of U.S. citizens in the First Amendment. She is claiming that pornography is a way to strengthen womens rights. I don’t see how displaying women as objects, and putting them in films portraying the abuse of them in a sexual manner is helping to protect their rights(Faigley & Selzer, 540).
Strossen also states that censorship is never a simple matter. The offense must be described first, and how can a person define something so deeply personal, so infinitely variable, so uniquely individualized as the word, the image, and the fantasy that causes sexual arousal? For decades the Supreme Court has tried to craft a definition of obscenity that the lower courts can apply with some fairness and consistency. Former Justice Potter Stewart summed up the dilemma best with the now famous statement: “I shall not today attempt further to define (obscenity); and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it”(Faigley & Selzer, 540). I think that the “offense” Strossen is trying to describe, or rather not describe is act of making love. Making love is a very sensual and unidentified beautiful feeling, but what is portrayed in porn is nothing beautiful, and I believe it can very easily be defined. It is the misuse of women’s sexuality.
She also states that the censorious feminists are not as modest as Justice Stewart. They have already created an elaborate definition of pornography that encompasses more material than the currently recognized law of obscenity. In their model law...