The AntiPornography Feminist Movement Essay Research Paper

The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement Essay, Research Paper The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement ?I don?t need statistics to tell me that there is a relationship between pornography

The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement Essay, Research Paper

The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement

?I don?t need statistics to tell me that there is a relationship between pornography

and real violence. My body remembers.? This chilling testimony from a female rape

victim to a grand jury in 1983 represents the evils that pornography represents in the

United States. There are strong correlations between sex crimes and pornography that

have divided feminists over whether free speech is worth the sheer magnitude of

sex-crime victims. Free speech is protected by the First Amendment and most people

have differing views on its meaning. One thing that cannot be ignored is the fact that

90% of sexual offenders have used pornography ?frequently.? I believe that the

anti-pornography movement is not only just, but essential. I would like to explore

various aspects of the anti-pornography movement including the history, players, rhetoric

and the impact. I believe that shedding light on the ways that pornography effects human

beings, we will feel differently about the ?freedom of speech.?

In the 1960?s and 1970?s, debates over pornography mirrored the

counter-culture?s battle with conservative values. The 1969 case Stanley v. Georgia,

?community standards? were challenged and the court upheld the civil rights for

consumers to possess pornography in their homes. However, the 1970?s brought about

the VCR and feminists began to redefine pornography to explore the impact of the porn

industry on women and their place in society. Though many feminists were frightened by

the prospect that they may be working hand in hand with conservatives to regulate this

practice, many women jumped to action when new surveys and statistics were revealed

about pornography and women. To most of these women, the immorality was not the

sexual content, but its violation of a woman?s dignity, a lie about who women are and

what they want.

Out of these theories, writers like Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon and

Dr. Diana Russell founded and encouraged many anti-porn groups around the country.

Though movements against pornography had existed prior to feminist anti-pornography

groups, they were previously conservative or moral majority inspired. Then came groups

such as the Anti-Porn Feminists (APFEM) and the Women Against Violence in

Pornography in the Media (WAVPM). These groups had limited following because of

the feminist ideology of freedom of speech and expression. Due to this lack of

agreement on terms and standards, the supporters have never been centralized.

Supporters may be varied and polarized but most believe that there is a real problem and

there must be suitable action.

The reason that this movement exists are due to findings of surveys and studies as

well as testimony of women who have suffered from pornography at one time or another.

The studies are varied and numerous. To provide examples of these surveys I would like

to illustrate the findings of several of them.

The first finding comes from a 1983 study by Edward Donnerstein. He polled

male high-school and college students on 37 states and came to the following conclusion.

25% to 30% of male students who admit that there is some likelihood that they would

rape a woman if the could be assured of getting away with it, increases to 57% after

exposure to sexually violent images depicting women enjoying rape. This means that as

a result of one brief exposure to pornography, the number of males who are willing to

consider rape as a plausible act for them actually doubles.

On such brief exposure to pornography also increases male subjects? acceptance

of rape myths and interpersonal violence against women. This essentially means that

porn viewers have lower inhibitions than exist in the absence of pornography. They are

more likely to act out violent desires and fantasies including submissive and domination

sex. This evidence is overwhelmingly supported by a follow-up study from an

independent source.

Larry Baron and Murray Straus undertook a 50-state correlation analysis in1984

about the rates of rape as they relate to pornographic magazines. The eight pornographic

magazines with the highest circulation are Playboy, Penthouse, Chic, Forum, Gallery,

Genesis, Oui and Hustler. A highly significant correlation was found between the

reported rape rates and the readership of pornographic materials. According to the

findings, a ratio of +64% was found in men who read pornographic material that those

who had little or no exposure. However, out of this survey came more shocking results.

The levels of rape were higher in regions that had few or no laws governing the sales and

distribution of pornographic material. This is evidence that legal intervention may be

directly related to rape in an area or city. Since 64% more men who read or watch

pornographic material would entertain rape then making pornography hard to come by

would certainly reduce the rate of rape.

In another study, Michelle Goldstein and Harold Kant found that incarcerated

rapists had been exposed to extremely hard-core pornography at an earlier age than males

presumed to be non-rapists. Nearly 30% of convicted sex offenders experienced

hard-core pornography before adolescence (11 years-old), while only 2% of non-rapists

were exposed to porn at such an early age. Another 34% of convicted sex offenders were

exposed to pornography before the age of 15, while non-rapists showed only 7% had

been exposed that early age. The most startling fact is that 90% of convicted sexual

assaulters, encompassing rape, forced sodomy, sexual attacks and other felonious sexual

acts, were frequent users of hard-core pornography. Unfortunately, another 4% had used

it sometimes and the remaining percentage refused to classify their usage. The rate of

non-rapist porn use was 12% used sometimes and 6% used pornography often. Due to

this study, we can draw the conclusion that a male exposed to pornography early and

frequently is much more likely to commit a sexual offense than a person seldom exposed

to pornography.

(Please refer to above information for statistical logistics.)

I would also like to cite a few testimonies of men and women who both

participated in pornography and were negatively affected by pornography. In one case, a

man who had participated in over 100 pornographic movies testified at the Commission

hearings in Los Angeles as follows: ?I, myself, have been on a couple of sets where the

young ladies have been forced to do even anal sex scenes with a guy which is rather large

and I have seen them crying in pain.? This is a forgotten angle of the anti-pornography

movement. Not only do women suffer sex crimes resulting from pornographic ideas, the

actual porn subjects are often raped without anyone knowing. There are many women

who are abused, manipulated and drugged for the sake of pornography. Though many

people would feel that this is freedom of expression, it is many times not done of free

will. According to the anti-pornography Commission hearing in Los Angeles, many films

have no script and the female actress is unaware that she is to be intimate by more than

one man at a time or sodomized. Anonymous testimony from the same hearing indicated

that the surprise factor is actually what makes these scenes more exciting for men

because of an insinuation of rape.

One of the most mind-blowing testimonies cane from researcher Edward

Donnerstein after his 1983 study. ?The relationship between particularly violent sexual

images in media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the

relationship between smoking and lung cancer.?

In spite of these studies and testimonies, the movement has only gained

momentum in the past ten years as the ?date-rape epidemic? has spread through our

country. Though many people believe that the frequency of rape may be relatively

constant and that the epidemic is actually the number of women coming forward and

pursuing legal action. Many arguments of our desensitized culture have been blamed for

the rape epidemic and so it should. Not only hard-core pornography is detrimental. The

way that women are perceived in the media is equally disturbing. The anti-pornography

movement has gained strength by aligning themselves with other groups. Though the

feminists want to keep clear of the religious right and other conservative movements,

they have used their power and abilities to make some gains in their quest. For these

reasons, the anti-porn feminist position aligns itself with the move to censor pornography

by making its unwanted presence an actionable offense. In its extreme formulation, the

anti-porn feminist position would ban its production and prohibit its dissemination.

For these reasons, the anti-porn feminist group would be considered co-opted and

in the system. Since they have taken some allies on to further their cause, they have

certainly shared goals to achieve their end. They have also started to support legislation

to reduce pornography in many fashions.

The main area that I would like to focus on is the rhetorical strategies of the

movement. The anti-pornography movement uses petition of the establishment,

promulgation and polarization. I would now like to provide some examples of how the

movement uses these strategies and other ways that they use rhetoric to accomplish their


The anti-pornography petitions the state by supporting and supplying the

framework for legislation across the country. Though their solidification is shaky due to

the plethora of ways to deal with disrupting the pornography trade in America, they still

have many different ways to solve problems. The main way that they approach these

changes to legislation is through local government. It is far easier for these various

groups to alter the world community at a time than try to destroy the entire enchilada at

one time. The anti-porn movement has legislation that has passed in many cities and

counties that they use as framework. San Diego, New York and other large cities have

place extensive limitations on the production and marketing of pornographic materials.

The easiest way to explain these changes is by taking the First Amendment out of the

formula. Considering that the main disagreement over the allowance of pornography is

that it may set limitations on First Amendment Right, the anti-porn feminists have

decided that they would attack the uses instead of the theory. After all, this is a fight to

save dignity, safety and even lives for women in this country so any achievement is

considerable. They simply try to abolish pornography in areas where the people do not

want pornography in their yards. This is easy when it comes to a small vote by a council

or board. Most Americans are assumably in favor of First Amendment rights but that

doesn?t mean that they want pornography in their neighborhoods. This could be

considered grass-roots activity but I feel that it is far more significant than simply stated.

Another way that the anti-porn movement petitions the state is by employing

people such as Dr. Diana Russell. Though Dr. Russell does many important things for

the movement, she does one thing that has had a wide impact on the ideas of the state.

She is the nations top expert witness in court cases involving rape, sexual harassment and

rights of victims of rape and incest to have abortions. This may seem small in

comparison to the task that this movement deals with but it certainly is not. She has been

so effective in persuading juries and judges for years that many judges use what is

referred to the ?Russell Doctrine.? This document is a woman?s bill of rights when it

pertains to any of the aforementioned issues. She has changed the way that certain

jurisdictions view cases involving women as sexual victims.

The second way that the anti-pornography movement uses rhetoric to achieve

their goals is by promulgation. This is essentially the spreading of ideas. The main way

that they spread ideas is through their surveys and studies. Their findings have spread not

only ideas but terror to the decent people of this country. The fact that they state that

there is a more prevalent link between porn and rape than there is between smoking and

lung cancer has many people thinking more about this subject. Since the country has

been going through the ?date-rape epidemic,? people have been wondering why these

things are starting to happen more and more. The anti-porn movement has meet those

questions with answers. Since their counter movements have clung to the First

Amendment defense, it has been rather easy for the anti-porn movement?s ideas to be

accepted. This means that there are few or no studies or statistics to counter those that

the anti-porn movement has found.

The anti-pornography movement has also found a loop-hole that they believe that

they can use nationally. The linkage between pornography and sex crimes, if it could

become universally established, would fulfill J. S. Mills harm principle. This would

make the First Amendment argument null because the First Amendment does not allow

expression that directly relates to the harm of others. Though referred to as fighting

words, the J. S. Mills principle limits the protection that pornography would be granted

under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, as powerful as most of these statistics are,

the majority of feminists will not budge in their fights against conservative attempts to

help moral material in this country. Unfortunately, most of the feminists have lost track

of their purpose in my opinion. I feel that they are institutions created to protect various

aspects of women?s rights. I personally think that they are just wrong for ignoring the

fact that there are real victims that may or may not care about the way that interest groups

battle for their good. They only know the reality of what a sex crime has done to them.

These victims know that they have been robbed of their dignity and safety. This seems

much more important than mere policy.

Another way that the anti-pornography movement uses promulgation is by using a

statement entitled ?Facts and Myths Concerning Pornography.? The first myth is that

obscenity and pornography are protected in many countries as ?free speech.? The fact is

that hard-core pornography is and has never been protected by free statutes in the United

States. The Supreme Court has continually upheld the fact that legal protection does not

apply to pornography. The second myth is that pornography is a victimless crime. The

fact that 683,000 forcible rapes occur to woman over 18 in the United states and

estimates reveal that more than twice that number are casual and date rapes. Not only do

90% of rapists list porn as their main sexual interest, but 81% of serial murderers do as

well. The third myth is that if it is in a local store, it must be legal. The fact is that even

illegal materials are readily available when laws against them are not readily enforced. If

the citizens demand legal action, local officials will enforce them. The fifth and final

myth is that there is nothing that the public can do about it. The fact is that many cities

have eradicated hard-core pornography outlets from their communities by passing

effective anti-pornography laws. Dramatic drops in sex-crime levels has resulted. The

best part is that these efforts have been started by only a few individuals.

The third way that the anti-pornography movement uses rhetoric is by

polarization. They have split from the main stream feminist groups for the reasons that I

have discussed in the previous paragraph. The anti-pornography groups feel that their

rivals are perpetuating the most dramatic abuse of women. The anti-porn movement

feels strongly that their adversaries within feminism are attacking ?small rights and

gains? when the most basic human rights of safety and dignity are being withheld. One

opposite viewpoint is patroned by Betty Friedan who argues that what one woman may

view as sensual another may view as pornography. While Friedan does express concern

over some content of porn, she expresses greater concern over the anti-porn feminist

movement. She believes that to further censorship in the United States to suppress

pornography is extremely dangerous to women. She believes that the danger is due to the

fact that this movement aligns the liberal woman?s movement with the right wing of the

conservative agenda. Friedan believes that only the conservatives have anything to gain

from such an alliance. By examining the counterpoints on this issue, it is very easy to see

why polarization is widely used.

I would now like to focus on the movement ideology. I would like to take a

closer look at the ideology itself, the barriers faced and the prevalent ideology which is to

be overcome.

The ideology supported by the anti-pornography movement is complicated.

While they are a feminist group and would not want censorship to prevail, there is

undeniable evidence that pornography hurts women. The anti-porn movement focuses on

the way in which women are portrayed in this medium. They also focus on the way that

sex crimes are caused or promoted by the use of pornography. This makes for a varied

support system for the movement. While a great majority of this country does not use

pornography and would not suffer in its absence, it is still an issue of freedom which

must be addressed. The anti-pornography has one major complaint against the present

status of pornography in this country. This is that women are being hurt by the use of

pornography. While they do express concern over the actresses involved in the making

of the films, they express more concern that this sex and violence against women

perpetuates itself to everyday lives and effects innocent women.

The main ideology that the anti-porn movement seeks to advance is to seriously

limit the production and consumption of pornography. They feel that this is not an issue

of censorship and must be dealt with by legislation. The J. S. Mills principle is one

theory that legislators have used in their attempts to ban suggestive material in the past.

The anti-porn movement believes that this principle directly relates to their task because

it limits the First Amendment rights in the event that people are being abused as a result.

The greatest barriers that the anti-porn movement faces are those of their fellow

liberals. Main stream feminists and other liberal movements and groups feel that this is

putting a stumbling stone in the way of the freedoms that they have collectively fought

for. There has been much conversation between the groups but neither side is wavering

on their beliefs. The strange part is that for the first time in my recollection, the anti-porn

movement, a part of the feminist movement, has aligned itself with a conservative

viewpoint. The main barriers are internal in my opinion. I feel that the average person in

this country would not really care about the lack of pornography. If people knew the ills

surrounding the pornography industry most people would surely support legislation to

limit its use and abuse. However, liberal followers are not willing to cooperate with

other groups that usually have opposing view points. This reminds me of a story about

two feuding farmers that both die in a flood along with their families because they

refused to join forces and bank the rising river. Because even many members of the

anti-porn movement are hesitant about crossing the bridge to join the conservative right

on this issue, women are being harmed. I apologize for the injected idea in this section

but I feel that when viewed from afar, every situation becomes more reasonable and at

the same time irrational.

The questions on page 75 in the text book Contemporary Movements and

Ideologies by Roberta Garner bring up some very good points about the anti-pornography

movement. First, I believe that the anti-porn movement would define the good society as

one where there are equal rights for women in all situations. More importantly, I believe

that the movement would state that safety and dignity for all people would be a very

cement norm in the good society. The current existing societies, after all, are neither safe

nor fair for women. The new set of beliefs and practices would be much more

complicated. The anti-porn movement is a feminist movement and would thus contain

many of these beliefs. The difference would be that laws would exist that would

maintain the dignity of all people through better portrayal of women and homosexuals in

a variety of media. The result would be less sex crimes and rape within the good society.

The way that we can change our society to make it correspond to our vision of the good

society is to limit the production and consumption of pornography which furthers the

abuses that the movement is against.

The ideological critique of the state is not yet clear cut. This issue blurs the

traditional way in which we like to divide our politics; the right against the left.

However, the economic sphere would be impacted by the passage of anti-porn

legislation. There would be protest because, after all, this is a business to many. There

would be no hunger or famine associated with the passage of such legislation so it is

arguable that, in the grand scheme of things, there would be little impact. Politically,

things are vastly different. I stated before that there are altering ideas that are both

holding back and advancing the movement. While some of the movement is hesitant

about aligning themselves with the conservative right, some of the movement adores the

idea. They like the idea because of the conservative rights ability and numbers. I feel

that if they split the left on this issue then the legislation would pass easily. Culturally,

the anti-pornography movement would further us as a people. Since some of our largest

set backs in the area of equality are in seeing others as objects, this movement would

greatly limit that impulse. Social reproduction would be very hard to estimate what

impact this movement would have on the sphere of social reproduction. In some

manners, it may limit the sex lives of some people who use pornography to enrich their

sex lives. In another way, it may help to make sex more sexual instead of an act.

Hopefully, there would be a new appreciation for life both existent and future.

In my opinion this movement is very easy to support. The evidence is

overwhelming that pornography harms people. I use ?people? here because, as a male, I

feel that there are many ills suffered by my sex as well. Altering perceptions about

women is horribly but, to have your perceptions altered unconsciously is almost as bad.

Men who are unaware that what they do hurts people are dangerous. There is nothing

innocent about pornography. There is nothing free about pornography. Pornography

hurts people. The freedom of a certain few to perform these acts has placed many people

in a position of suffering. Though I have never really used pornography, I have had

brushes with it back in my fraternity days. I had friends that relished in the gruesome art

that always turned my stomach. I feel very bad for those friends that I had who honestly

believed that pornography was okay. I wish that I hadn?t written this paper. I stayed up

late at night and read the articles and then thought until the wee hours of the morning.

There I found something that I hadn?t seen before. I found a country that can turn a blind

eye and not intervene in spite of the statistics. I found people who were completely

unable to see the disgusting residue that pornography leaves all over this country every

day. I found anger. Anger towards the users of pornography because they just don?t

know any better. Anger directed at the feminists who will fight to the grave for equal pay

while their sisters are robbed of their dignity, safety and lives. How do we expect to have

anything equal if we can?t even recognize these simple things? A person places their

hand on a hot stove and gets burned; this we understand. An angry loaner is convinced

that women just want to be bent over and screwed then when he rapes some woman on

her way through a parking lot we act surprised. I feel that this movement is going to gain

rapid support as soon as some of these findings are more main stream. I also would

believe that as more of these findings are discovered and researched this country would

increase efforts to help its own citizens. I can?t forget the quote by researcher Edward

Donnerstein after his 1983 study. ?The relationship between particularly violent sexual

images in media and subsequent aggression…is much stronger statistically than the

relationship between smoking and lung cancer.?


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