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Early Political Perspectives of Pornography
Conservative perspective-preserving traditional sexual mores, moralityLiberal perspective-freedom of sexual expression
The Porn Wars
Liberal Feminist perspective-anti-censorship “it’s my body it’s my choice,” pornography as empowering, financially rewarding, and defying traditional mores of sexual purity of womenRadical Feminist perspective-American Booksellers Association Inc. VHadnut, pornography viewed as violation of civil rights, sexually objectifying and degrading to women
Manifesting in modernSex trafficking Debates…
Radical Feminists/ Abolitionists-Largely support simultaneous abolition of pornography and prostitution. They are viewed as inextricably linked. Pornography fuels sexual objectification and commodification of women’s bodies, and demand for bought sex, resulting in sex trafficking.Liberal Feminist/Neoliberal perspectives- Sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography are distinct. If it is a free choice, then it should be supported.*note, these are discussed in general terms. There are liberal feminists who are anti-porn and radical feminists who are not.Like while Republicans are generally thought to be anti-abortion, there are some Republicans who are pro-choice.
Key Areas of Pornography Debates and Sex Trafficking
DemandViolence AgainstWomenInequality and GeneralDegradation
Researchdoes not supportthat pornographyincreasesdemand for bought sexChild Pornography is a form of sex trafficking, thus demand for child pornography inherently creates sextrafficking of children in this context
Violence Against Women
Worst case scenarios(death, torture, mutilation)areuncommon, but do exist. They are already punishable bylawFrequency of violence in pornography depends on how violence ismeasuredWomen are disproportionately targets of verbal and physical aggression in pornographyResearch does not support “Harder Hit”argumentsResearch tends to be exclusionary of LGBTQ* pornography
Inequality and General Degradation
Inequalitybetween men and women in giving and receiving sexualpleasurePlayingthe dominant or subordinate role insexUnequallyconducting or receiving acts of“degradation”Debates about whatqualifies asdegradation
What is power? How do we define it?Use this definition to determine the difference between sexually empowering images and sexually disempoweringimagesLet’s find some examples…
Culture and Advertising
Heteronormativity andandrocentrismin advertisingSexual subject vs sexual objectMen and women are both sexualized, but in differentwaysRelate this material to liberal feminist, radical feminist, and intersectional feminist thinking
Cultural normalization, Blurring the Linesand DMST
LolitaTeen pornSchoolgirl fetish“Just turned 18,” “jailbait,” “barely legal”Toddlers in Tiaras
Child Pornography as Sex Trafficking
According to the US TVPA, any commercial sex act involving a minor is sex traffickingThis includes pornographyCreating something of value makes it a commercial sex actBuying, selling, trading images, creating, possessing and distributing, it can be viewed as sex traffickingDemand for child pornography creates sex trafficking to make it.Existing legislation on child pornography
Supreme Court
Supports pornography as a form of free speech, excepting child pornography and subjectively determined breaches of obscenity.Anti-censorship
Discussion Questions
Describeat least three key radical feminist arguments used to justify eradication of pornography, and the research supporting or refuting these arguments.What is the Supreme Court’s determination about pornography and censorship? Do you agree or disagree, and why?In what waysmaysome types of pornography contribute to cultural desire for young adult female bodies?





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