Women today have made strides in narrowing the gender gap with men, beating them in college admission (Francis), and reducing the pay-gap between the sexes by about 17 cents on the dollar over the past 20 years (United States). Despite noticeable advances for women, the notions of sexual female taboo and misogyny still remain ever present. Gender roles and sexuality are a major conflict in American politics today. In the race for the republican nomination for president, Rick Santorum has stated that "America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography (Friedersdorf).” A self-described crusader for family values, he has also detailed in his writing that "In far too many families with young children, both parents are working… Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism (Santorum)." Santorum in his platform targets a split in the female political interest, where pornography and feminism currently brush heads. It is time for the anti-pornography feminists to realize that what Santorum calls “obscenity” is a major front in the culture war for women’s empowerment.
Pornography is an engine for female empowerment. At its core pornography is explicit artwork meant to communicate explicit ideas. It is a means by which society is sexually educated, liberalized, and empowered. While some pornography today has many negative archetypes, as societies acceptance of pornography has liberalized, so to have women as a whole reaped the rewards of greater equality. Pornography has been, and still is, a means of education, communication, and role-playing which allows for taboos to be broken beyond the bedroom. Pornography has been a source of sexual empowerment for women, and a front in the culture wars over women’s place in today’s culture.
If pornography is such a positive force, why are some feminists as against it as Rick Santorum? To understand the internal debate of feminists, you have to understand the history of feminist views on sexuality. The sexual empowerment of women has seen two major revolutions. According to Leila Rupp at the University of California Santa Barbara, the first movement began in the 1910s with the push for women’s suffrage and legal equality. In the first revolution, equality was demanded for a more equal partnership within the family, and the institution of marriage. The second revolution in the 1960s gave rise to the idea of freedom and equality outside of the bounds of marriage (Rupp). The two sexual revolutions disperse at essentially the same rift which occurs in the feminist view of pornography, and at the root of the rift is a sexual identity crisis. Does free love, liberation from marriage, and breaking of sexual taboo liberate women, or is a fixation on sex a masculine idea at heart.
Women who see pornography as negative (anti-porn) focus on four major arguments against pornography as a positive force for women, the arguments include the following generalizations: “Pornography is degrading to women,...