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Anti-pornography movement

Religious objections
A protest against an adult bookstore in Uniontown, Indiana, USASome religious
conservatives, such as Jerry Falwell, criticize pornography on moral grounds. They say
sex is reserved for married couples, to be used only as the Bible says, and assert that use
of pornography could lead to an overall increase in behavior considered to be sexually

Many are opposed to pornography because of religious conventions and morals,
as exemplified by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:
"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the
partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity
because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does
grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one
becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are
involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should
prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials." Section 2354[1]

Feminist objections
Feminist positions on pornography are diverse. Some feminists, such as Diana
Russell, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Susan Brownmiller, Dorchen
Leidholdt, and Robin Morgan, argue that pornography is degrading to women, and
complicit in violence against women both in its production (where, they charge, abuse
and exploitation of women performing in pornography is rampant) and in its consumption
(where, they charge, pornography eroticizes the domination, humiliation, and coercion of
women, and reinforces sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual
harassment). Many feminists differentiate between different sorts of porn and may see
some as fairly harmless. Those that favour a complete ban on pornography are actually a
small minority, but they tend to receive more attention in the media. The majority of
feminists would consider porn to be a small issue.

Beginning in the late 1970s, anti-pornography radical feminists formed
organizations such as Women Against Pornography that provided educational events,
including slide-shows, speeches, and guided tours of the sex industry in Times Square, in
order to raise awareness of the content of pornography and the sexual subculture in
pornography shops and live sex shows.
The feminist anti-pornography movement was galvanized by the publication of
Ordeal, in which Linda Boreman (who had allegedly been abused in the making of Deep
Throat under the name "Linda Lovelace") stated that she had been beaten, raped, and
pimped by her husband Chuck Traynor, and that Traynor had forced her at gunpoint to
make scenes in Deep Throat, as well as forcing her, by use of both physical violence
against Boreman as well as emotional abuse and outright threats of violence (some made
against members of her family), to make other pornographic films. However, in the
documentary "Inside Deep Throat", directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
interviewed several people connected with the filming of "Deep Throat", including
director Gerard Damiano and co-star Harry Reems, and all stated that Lovelace was not
forced in any way to participate in the film, and specifically that they never saw a gun on
the set. Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Women Against Pornography issued public
statements of support for Boreman, and worked with her in public appearances and
speeches. Boreman's criticism focused feminist attention not only on the effects of the
consumption of pornography (which had dominated feminist discussions of pornography
in the 1970s), but also the effects of the production of pornography, in which abundant
evidence has shown that abuse, harassment, economic exploitation, and physical and
sexual violence are rampant. This evidence has received additional publicity because of
the testimonies of other well known participants in pornography such as Traci Lords, and
expressed in recent feminist works such as Susan Cole's Power Surge: Sex, Violence and
Pornography. MacKinnon applies the critical test to determine whether the production of
pornography is exploitative: would women choose to work in the pornography industry if
it were not for the money? Critics note that this test fails to distinguish pornography from
any other industry.

Some anti-pornography feminists -- Dworkin and MacKinnon in particular --
advocated laws which would allow women who were sexually abused and otherwise hurt
by pornography to sue pornographers in civil court. The antipornography civil rights
ordinance that they drafted was passed twice by the Minneapolis city council in 1983, but
vetoed by Mayor Donald Fraser, on the grounds that the city could not afford the
litigation over the law's constitutionality. The ordinance was successfully passed in 1984
by the Indianapolis city council and signed by Mayor William Hudnut, and passed by a
voter initiative in Bellingham, Washington in 1988, but struck down both times as
unconstitutional by the state and federal courts. In 1986, the Supreme Court affirmed the
lower courts' rulings in the Indianapolis case without comment.

Many anti-pornography feminists supported the legislative efforts, but others --
including Susan Brownmiller, Janet Gornick, and Wendy Kaminer -- objected that
legislative campaigns would be rendered ineffectual by the courts, would violate
principles of free speech, or would harm the anti-pornography movement by taking
organizing energy away from education and direct action and entangling it in political
squabbles (Brownmiller 318-321)
Many anti-pornography feminists describing themselves as "sex-radical" and
"sex-positive" such as Ann Simonton and Nikki Craft and other members of Media
Watch have advocated working against pornography and been arrested for public nudity
and apply civil disobedience against corporations by ripping up single copies of
magazines that contained violent pornography that they insist glorify rape as sexual
entertainment. They advocate rejecting corporate control of sexuality as exemplified in
publications like Hustler and Penthouse, protesting particularly what they see as the
dangerous conditioning practice of intermixing violence and sexuality for titillation and
entertainment as in pornography and other mainstream media for the purpose of
achieving orgasm.

The Supreme Court of Canada's 1992 ruling in R. v. Butler (the "Butler decision")
fueled further controversy, when the court decided to incorporate some elements of
Dworkin and MacKinnon's legal work on pornography into the existing Canadian
obscenity law. In Butler the Court held that Canadian obscenity law violated Canadian
citizens' rights to free speech under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms if
enforced on grounds of morality or community standards of decency; but that obscenity
law could be enforced constitutionally against some pornography on the basis of the
Charter's guarantees of sex equality. The Court's decision cited extensively from briefs
prepared by the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), with the support
and participation of Catharine MacKinnon. Andrea Dworkin opposed LEAF's position,
arguing that feminists should not support or attempt to reform criminal obscenity law.

Controversy between anti-pornography feminists and their critics grew when the
Canadian government raided and prosecuted Glad Day Bookshop, a gay bookstore in
Ontario, in its first obscenity prosecution under the Butler criteria. The bookstore was
prosecuted for selling copies of the lesbian sado-masochist magazine, Bad Attitude. In
1993, copies of Andrea Dworkin's book Pornography: Men Possessing Women were held
for inspection by Canadian customs agents [2], fostering an urban legend that Dworkin's
own books had also been banned from Canada under a law that she herself had promoted.
However, the Butler decision did not adopt the whole of Dworkin and MacKinnon's
ordinance; Dworkin did not support the decision; and the impoundment of her books
(which were released shortly after they were inspected) was a standard procedural
measure, unrelated to the Butler decision.

In Britain, the late 1970s saw a wave of radical feminism. Groups such as Women
Against Violence Against Women and Angry Women protested against the use of sexual
imagery in advertising and in cinema. Some members committed arson against sex shops.
However, this movement was short-lived. Its demise was prompted by counter-
demonstrations by black women and disabled women. Pornography was seen by the latter
as a very minor issue that had been prioritised by White middle-class women above the
discrimination that black women and/or disabled women were facing.
Feminist Criticism of the Anti-Pornography Position
Other feminists are against censorship; some describe themselves as sex-positive
feminists and criticize anti-pornography activism. They take a wide range of views
towards existing pornography: some view the growth of pornography as a crucial part of
the sexual revolution and they say has contributed to women's liberation; others view the
existing pornography industry as misogynist and rife with exploitation, but hold that
pornography could be and sometimes is feminist, and propose to reform or radically alter
the pornography industry rather than opposing it wholesale. They typically oppose the
theory of anti-pornography feminism -- which they accuse of selective handling of
evidence, and sometimes of being prudish or as intolerant of sexual difference -- and also
the political practice of anti-pornography feminism -- which is characterized as
censorship and accuse of complicity with conservative defenses of the oppressive sexual
status quo. Notable advocates of the position include sociologist Laura Kipnis, columnist
and editor Susie Bright, essayist and therapist Patrick Califia and porn actress and writer
Nina Hartley.

U.S. Government Commissions on pornography
Meese report coverIn the United States, a 1969 Supreme Court decision which
held that people could view whatever they wished in the privacy of their own homes,
STANLEY v. GEORGIA, 394 U.S. 557 (1969), caused Congress to fund and President
Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint a commission to study pornography.

In 1970, the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography concluded
that "there was insufficient evidence that exposure to explicit sexual materials played a
significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behavior." In general, with
regard to adults, the Commission recommended that legislation "should not seek to
interfere with the right of adults who wish to do so to read, obtain, or view explicit sexual
materials." Regarding the view that these materials should be restricted for adults in order
to protect young people from exposure to them, the Commission found that it is
"inappropriate to adjust the level of adult communication to that considered suitable for
children." The Supreme Court supported this view.

President Ronald Reagan announced his intention to set up a commission to study
pornography, apparently with the goal of obtaining results more acceptable to his
conservative supporters than the conclusions of the 1970 Commission. The result was the
appointment by Attorney General Edwin Meese in the spring of 1985 of a panel
comprised of 11 members, the majority of whom had established records as anti-
pornography crusaders.
In 1986, the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, often called the
Meese Commission, reached the opposite conclusion, advising that pornography was in
varying degrees harmful. A workshop headed by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
provided essentially the only original research done by the Meese Commission. Given
very little time and money to "develop something of substance" to include in the Meese
Commission's report, it was decided to conduct a closed, weekend workshop of
"recognized authorities" in the field. All but one of the invited participants attended. At
the end of the workshop, the participants expressed consensus in five areas:

(1) "Children and adolescents who participate in the production of pornography
experience adverse, enduring effects,"
(2) "Prolonged use of pornography increases beliefs that less common sexual practices
are more common,"
(3) "Pornography that portrays sexual aggression as pleasurable for the victim increases
the acceptance of the use of coercion in sexual relations,"
(4) "Acceptance of coercive sexuality appears to be related to sexual aggression,"
(5) "In laboratory studies measuring short-term effects, exposure to violent pornography
increases punitive behavior toward women" According to Surgeon General Koop,
"Although the evidence may be slim, we nevertheless know enough to conclude that
pornography does present a clear and present danger to American public health"[3]
In 1983, prosecutors in California tried to use pandering and prostitution state statutes
against a producer of and actors in a pornographic movie; the California Supreme Court
ruled in 1988 that these statutes do not apply to the production of nonobscene
pornography (People v. Freeman (1988) 46 Cal.3d 41). Some speculate that this decision
implictly condones pornography and was one of the reasons most modern American porn
is produced in California.