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< Back to question How do feminists view pornography Show more Show less

Feminist views on pornography range from condemnation of all of it as a form of violence against women, to an embracing of some forms as a medium of feminist expression. This debate reflects larger concerns surrounding feminist views on sexuality, and is closely related to those on prostitution, on BDSM, and other issues. Pornography has been one of the most divisive issues in feminism, particularly in anglophone (English-speaking) countries. This deep division was exemplified in the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, which pitted anti-pornography activists against sex-positive ones.

Feminism should be sex-positive Show more Show less

Sex-positive feminists view many radical feminist views on sexuality, including views on pornography, as being equally oppressive as those of patriarchal religions and ideologies, and argue that anti-pornography feminist discourse ignores and trivializes women's sexual agency.
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Pornography should be permitted on free expression grounds.

Whatever ones views on pornography, censorship is not the answer. The attempt to fix social problems through censorship, diverts attention from the substantive causes of social ills and offer a cosmetic, dangerous 'quick fix.' Critique of censorship has become especially prevalent in China, where pornography is strictly prohibited, and the ownership or sale of pornographic materials can mean life in prison. Feminists like Li Yinhe openly oppose the censorship of pornography and advocate for its decriminalization. Looking to many western countries as an example, Yinhe emphasizes the importance of freedom of expression and cites the 35th article of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China in declaring the right to pornography as a form of free speech.
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The Argument

Pornography should be permitted as a matter of free speech. Free speech is protected by the First Amendment, and since pornography is an expression of speech, it shouldn’t be censored. The feminist movement relies on free speech—the birth of the movement saw change brought about by rallies and writing. Though the ideas were considered by some to be radical, they were protected under free speech laws. The feminist movement still relies on the protection of free speech since, without it, it might become difficult or even impossible to put forth new ideas that question the status quo. [1] Censoring pornography would mean that some kinds of free expression, particularly sexual expression, ought to be controlled by the government. Removing pornography from the market sets a dangerous precedent for other forms of expression to be censored. Additionally, if some people are offended by pornography, they can simply choose not to consume it. When people are offended by other forms of free expression, like music or opinion blogs, they choose not to consume that media. Pornography ought to be treated the same as these other forms of free expression. [2]

Counter arguments

Censoring pornography does not mean that other modes of free speech will be censored. Additionally, it is not clear that pornography can even be considered free speech since it is a sold product rather than a person's or group's expression. Pornography, especially pornography that depicts violent or dominating scenarios, may encourage violent sexual behavior; since free expression that encourages violent behavior should be censored, pornography should be censored.


Rejecting the premises




This page was last edited on Monday, 14 Sep 2020 at 22:25 UTC


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