Pornography and Violence
In today s society women are viewed very often as objects of sexual pleasure. This view has been around for many years and because of it many groups have popped up throughout the past fifty years. Does pornography lead men to commit violent acts towards women or is something that we will never find the cause for? In order to try and help ourselves, we must try to find out if it is true or not or if we just don t like it because it may make us uncomfortable.
The liberal position is one view that women can take towards pornography. This group feels that pornography does not have anything to do with violent acts against women. They believe pornography is . . . sexually explicit material designed for sexual arousal (6). The liberals also feel that since there is not hard evidence that pornography leads to violence towards women, they see no reason in banning it: While pornography may offend many women and men, it brings harmless pleasure to others (6). Since there are countless people out there that are offended by sexually explicit material the British Williams Report wanted to limit the public display of pornography in the interests of those who might find it offensive (6).
Another group that has a different view from the above is the Moral Right group in Britain. Their definition of pornography is a very different from that of the liberals. They see it as representations of sex removed from what is believed to be its legitimate function and context: a symptom of preoccupation with sex which is unrelated to its purpose (6). The Moral Right group feels that it is a threat to the traditional family values that are struggling to exist today. They feel that anything that has to do with the naked body or with sex out of marriage should be banned from any public view. Also, the Moral Right still seeks to suppress information on birth control, abortion and sex education in schools (6). Another one of their views is against homosexuality. They see anything that has to do with being homosexual or anything that might be sexual in any way as threatening family life and creating general social and moral decay (6). Because of the AIDS scare during the 1980 s this view became very popular with many people. During 1982, guidelines were given to local counsels in order to control the amount of licenses that they gave out for sex establishments (6). Unfortunately, although this group got a lot of changes for their cause, censorship on videos also, they do not have any scientific evidence that pornography leads to violence against women.
The feminist point of view does not worry about the decay of family values. Instead, it focuses on how women are represented in sexually explicit material. Feminists hate the way women are portrayed in mainstream heterosexual pornography. Women are portrayed as passive, perpetually desiring bodies or bits of bodies ubiquitously available for men s insatiable sexual appetites (7). During the 1970 s a women by the name of Ruth Wallsgrove stated: I believe we should not agitate for more laws against pornography, but should rather stand up together and say what we feel about it, and what we feel about our own sexuality (7). This belief did not last very long. It was soon overshadowed by the belief that something must be done about male violence. A very popular saying came out in the mid-1970 s: Pornography is the Theory, Rape is the Practice (7). This one phrase subjected men to the same thing that women have been subjected to for years, which is not giving them a separate identity. Male sexuality is male violence and the key to their being dominant is also their violence was the image that these women were portraying with this quote. The feminist helped to redefine pornography as material which depicts violence against women, and is in itself violence against women (8). Andrea Dworkin s book, Pornography: Men Possessing Women is an extremely influential book for feminists view of pornography. Dworkin feels that pornography lies not only behind all forms of female oppression, but behind exploitation, murder and brutality throughout human history (8).
On the other hand, some feminist believe that we should just leave pornography alone because men s cultural contempt for and sexualisation of women long predated the growth of commercial pornography, and is a product of the relative powerlessness of women as a sex (8).
After reading this article and taking in all the different views, I think that part of me agrees with the Moral Right group when they say that it is destroying family values and I also believe that violence towards women is somewhat related to pornography. When men watch sexually explicit videos or movies, they see that the men in those movies view the women as objects that they can do as they please with. Many men take this into their everyday lives and think that just because they saw something in a movie that it is the same way for them. Say a boss tells a woman that is working under him that the only way she can get a raise is if she sleeps with him. In a porno, of course the woman will submit, but in real life, I hope that they would not do such a thing. If they do, they are just enforcing what they men already believe about women and are not helping themselves any. I think that if men are going to watch pornography, they should realize that it is just a movie and does not pertain to real life.
Women are not just objects that are there for the sexual pleasure of men; we also have minds of our own and a sexuality, which is still trying to be defined today. We should not accept what men tell us about our sexuality, like in Dreamworlds 2, that we want sexual attention and we want to be the object of sexual desire. We need to form our own beliefs about our own desires and bodies.