The Antipornography Feminist Movement

The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement The Anti-Pornography Feminist Movement I dont 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 1960s and 1970s, debates over pornography mirrored the counter-cultures 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 1970s 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.

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To most of these women, the immorality was not the sexual content, but its violation of a womans 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 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 goals. 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 doesnt 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 womans 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 movements 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 …


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