Why Have Feminist Activists And Writers Confronted Pornography And What Obstacles Or Resistance Have They Faced?

2580 words - 10 pages

Why have feminist activists and writers confronted pornography and what obstacles or resistance have they faced?Man in his lust has regulated long enough this whole question of sexual intercourse. Now let the mother of mankind, whose prerogative it is to set bounds to his indulgence, rouse up and give this whole matter a thorough, fearless, examination. (Stanton, E, 1853, p21)Pornography is a complex social issue, one that many feminists disagree over. In the following essay I shall discuss the following reasons why feminists writers and activists have confronted pornography; the link between pornography and violence within society, the objectification of the woman in pornographic material, the effects pornographic material has on everyday women, child pornography, racism within the pornography industry, and the exploitation of lesbianism within the industry. I will then discuss the obstacles and resistance that feminist activists and writers have faced in challenging the pornography industry, these include the power and arguments put forth by the pornography industry and the arguments put forth by the Civil Libertarians.Pornography is the ideology of a culture, which promotes and condones rape, woman battering, and other crimes of violence against women. (Leder, L, 1980, p20) This notion that pornography is symbol of culture is a disturbing and disheartening concept for one to digest. The culture which Leder refers to is the American culture, yet her point can extend to other nations, both Western and non-Western including Australia. Within these cultures, women and men have defined social roles. These social roles have existed for centuries; however over the last two hundred years or so feminists have been challenging these roles. Considerable progress has been made, however the pornography industry is another matter. If the pornography industry is part of the 'ideology' of a culture as Leder states than it is the ideology of the patriarchal society in which we live. Within this patriarchal society men, as a whole view themselves to be the dominant sex and women the passive. This is evident in the pornographic industry, where women are depicted in passive and vulnerable situations and also often violent situations.Not all pornography is violent, but even the most banal pornography objectifies women's bodies. An essential ingredient of much rape and other forms of violence is the "objectification" of the woman. (Russel, D, 1980, p 24) The feminist activist group, New York Women Against Pornography, define objectification as, a process through which a powerful group establishes and maintains dominance over a less powerful group by teaching that the subordinate group is less than human or like an object. This preludes the powerful group from identifying with or sympathising with the less powerful group. (Jeffreys, S, 1990, p 146) Objectification is what the pornographic industry is built upon. Women are treated as animals, as holes, as pure...

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