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On the Discourse Between Catharine MacKinnon

On the Discourse Between Catharine MacKinnon

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Published by: nanshed on Feb 15, 2010
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07/01/2012

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On the discourse between Catharine MacKinnon's SEXUALITY,PORNOGRAPHY AND METHOD:
"Pleasure Under Patriarchy",
andAmalia Ziv's
היפרגונרופ לע תטסינימפה תקולחמה :םיינימ םיטקייבוסל תוינימ תורוחס ןיב
In these two articles the feminist debate on pornography is surveyed. While both recognizethe traditional definition of pornography as material that is sexually arousing; feminists thatalign themselves with the
anti-pornography
agenda, as elaborated upon by CatharineMacKinnon in her article, recognize the critical feature of all pornography as the victimizationof women and violence, humiliation, degradation and other explicit forms of abuse. Feministssiding with Amalia Ziv's
anti anti-pornography
theory put their emphasis first on femalesexual subjectivity and on women as sexual objects in the making. The objection that much of pornography is demeaning to women surfaced early in thecontemporary feminist movement, particularly in Kate Millett's 1970 book Sexual Politics. Theanti pornography movement that flourished in this climate reached its most stringent formwhen feminist activists Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon drafted the IndianapolisAnti-Pornography Ordinance in 1984. This ordinance defined pornography as anything that presents women as sexual objects, asenjoying pain, humiliation or rape, or as being physically harmed. It also identified aspornography material that depicts women in "scenarios of degradation, injury, abasement, ortorture" and as "filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes theseconditions sexual." Underlying the ordinance is the assumption that pornography plays animportant role in causing rape and domestic violence, and therefore is not only demeaningbut constitutes an overt physical threat to women. The ordinance would have permitted anywoman who felt degraded or victimized by pornographic literature or film, to have a courtinjunction issued against the booksellers, theater owners, publishers and distributors toprevent the marketing of the offending material. The efforts of MacKinnon and Dworkin have helped us recognize the inadequacy of themisogyny in pornography, and revealed how extensive pornographic images are in ourculture. They also revealed the harsh truths regarding the abused participants inpornography, their continuous manipulation for the purpose of enormous cash revenue, whichmade this "business" more than just a commercial commoditization, but rather a modernaspect of human trafficking.However, because the ordinance called for a form of censorship, some feminists feared thatthe censoring of sexually explicit materials would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. Some lesbians have objected to the ordinance out of fear that it wouldserve to permit certain expressions of sexuality and discourage others. Another argumentwas that such ordinance would give the impression that women cannot make choices aboutsexual matters for themselves but need the paternalistic protection of the law.Amalia Ziv contends that history shows that censorship and suppression work directly againstfeminist goals and are often used to limit women's rights in the name of protections.Censorship and suppression of any kind are in direct conflict with feminist principles of freedom and tolerance. Of all people, feminists should be the most outspoken and stanchdefenders of the First Amendment – because feminism and civil liberties are, by definition,totally inextricable. Feminists claim to possess the exclusive ability to distinguish

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