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Feminism and the media

Discuss the current feminist debate about the issues surrounding pornography and censorship.

The pornography industry over the years has become very lucrative, generating over $57 billion dollars a year; which is more than media companies most major combined in America combined Pornography, by definition, is anything ranging from printed or visual material displaying sexual organs or activity. There has been an on-going debate for over 30 years regarding the severity of the material being viewed, how it affects women and the way they are being portrayed through this specific type of media. The aim of this essay is to explore the relationship between the law surrounding pornography, its audience and censorship. I will also discuss the different types of pornography, feminism and the ongoing battle against it. There are many sub genres in porn ranging from anal penetration, double penetration (simultaneous anal and vaginal penetration of one woman), lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, bondage/BDSM. You also have categories such as age, skin colour, hair fetishes and body features. There has also been an increase in child porn (also known as child abuse images) and distribution Feminism is a movement of woman rights which have been going on since the 18 century; its main focus is political, social, and economic equality. In order to understand feminism and its argument against porn its important to explore the roots of feminism and what it stands for. Feminism is the freedom and liberal status of women and their rights to equality. In the 19 century woman lived in a male controlled state which was little better than slavery. This led to the rise which was womens social and political union who bought us the right to vote. Ever since then feminism has evolved and developed different theories on what feminism stands for. There are 3 dominating theories which I will individually explain. Radical Feminism Radical feminists focus on the theory of patriarchy (the social system in which the male acts as the primary authority figure), also the theory of pornography only affecting women roots back to the portrayal of women as sex objects shows the balance of power in society being heavily weighted towards the benefit of men; men retain the physical possession over women. Their main concerns regarding pornography are; [1] (Smith, Dinitia (1993-03-22). "Love is Strange: The Crusading Feminist and the Repentant Womanizer") women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things, or commodities; women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest or other sexual assault women are presented as sexual objects tied up, cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt
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women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display women's body parts including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual

Dworkin believes that pornography leads rape, paedophilia and child porn. She feels legislation is a logical and necessary step to take in order to protect the basic rights of women. Some would label it as censorship and argue that the protection of free speech and publication is also a civil right.

Liberal feminism Liberal feminism is the continuation of the 1960s feminism that called for equality for women; they share the general liberal bias toward free speech but are in flux on pornography. Some liberal feminists like Sallie Tisdale have defended sexual freedom, but many argue that our society holds a false belief that women are less intellectually and physically capable than men. The liberal principle a womans body, a womans right underlay arguments from lifestyle rights, abortion rights and lesbianism. The main focus was upon the act of choosing rather than upon the content of any choice. They want people to know that equality does not mean destroying the current system but reforming it through affirmative action. Some liberal organizations like Feminists for Free Expression (FEE) have constantly opposed censorship in any form. Some of the views of the FEE are as follows; [2] (www.ffeusa.org/html/statements/statements_pornography.html ) Pornography is material designed to arouse and has no legal or consistent definition. Each person's definition depends on her upbringing, sexual preference and viewing context. One woman's "trash" may be another's treasure or boredom. Women interpret pornography in different ways. Some find it sexist, some find it a form of fantasy, like dreams and the movies we run in our heads when we masturbate or have sex. Opponents of sexual speech misunderstand that it is in everyone's interest to allow a variety of pleasurable materials that enhance well-being and sexual fulfilment. Historically, censorship has hurt women. Information about sex and reproduction has been banned under the guise of "protecting" women -- from the jailing of birth control advocate Margaret Sanger to the "gag rule" against abortion counselling in federally funded clinics to the attacks against National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient Holly Hughes. It has never reduced sexism or violence. Sexual images that do not meet women's needs should not be restricted. Better images should be made. The answer to bad pornography is good pornography, not any pornography at all.

FEE believes that freedom of expression is important to womens rights even though messages reflecting sexism pervade our culture in many forms, sexual and nonsexual, suppression of such material will neither reduce harm to women nor further womens goals.

Pro-sex Feminism

A number of feminists have defended a womans choice to participate in and to consume pornography over the past decade. Some of these women are current or ex sex workers such as Nina Hartley. They know first-hand that participating in pornography is an uncoerced choice that can be enriching to the woman. Pro-sex feminists share the same view as liberal feminists of womans body, womans choice and insist that every choice a woman makes with her own body is to be respected. [4] Feminist porn is out there. In my opinion, feminist porn represents a diverse cross-section of people and is woman-friendly, queer-friendly, open to many interpretations of beauty, and is, at best, political and woman-owned. Ive listed some sites that I really admire to stimulate thought and discussion. (www.feministe.us/blog/) Pro sex feminists claim issues like rape will still exist whether pornography is banned or not.

Pornography leads to violence against women

Internet pornography blamed for boy 12 raping neighbour. There have been a lot of cases of children raping children over the past year; officials blame it on the easy access to pornography on the internet. It is too easy for underage children to access porn on the internet via their smartphones which has led to an increase of sexual assault on minors, which is usually committed by minors. Viewing pornography from an early age has a detrimental effect on children which leads to them having a skewed view on what sex actually is. There is a real risk that young people are growing up with a skewed view of what sex is and sexual activity.This was an emulation of an adult act witnessed by him at this young age. He was afforded unfettered access to the internet and it has become apparent from a very young age, the age of 12, he was accessing hard-core pornography. This is the tip of the iceberg. Many, many cases throughout the country may not be identified, not reported, not coming to anyones attention. (www.iol.co.za/news/world/boy-rapes-girl-9-afterwatching-porn) This leads back to Dworkins theory on pornography. Even from a young age boys see girls as a commodity, something they can experiment on because that is what they have seen in the pornographic movies. In conclusion I feel there should be some sort of legislation put in place to protect children against porn. These is such an easy access to pornographic material now were in the technology era, most children have access to smartphones, laptops, iPads and other devices that enables them to connect to the internet where most of the pornographic material can be accessed, viewed and downloaded. I dont think it should be banned completely as it could have a detrimental effect on society as it is proven to help curb sex offenders cravings as their fantasies are being fulfilled on film so they do not have to actually have to go out and attack or offend to satisfy said craving. While many argue that porn incites men to commit rape, there's also evidence in the opposite direction: that it helps men sublimate their aggressive sexual fantasies in a relatively harmless ways.

Society needs to find a balance, we need to find a way to protect our children and also for adults to continue to enjoy something they have been for years already.

Patti O. Britton, Ph.D. Jennifer Maguire and Beth Nathanson, M.A. www.ffeusa.org/html/statements/statements_pornography.html - 05/07/2012 13: Smith, Dinitia (1993-03-22). "Love is Strange: The Crusading Feminist and the Repentant Womanizer". New York 26 (12): pp. 3643. Retrieved 2010-02-14. (Cover) www.iol.co.za/news/world/boy-rapes-girl-9-after-watching-porn-1.1309671 05/07/2012 14:35 www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/07/23/feminist-porn-sex-consent-and-getting-off/ 09/07/2012 11:00