Thursday, December 3, 1998

Pornography helps women, society

BENEFITS: ‘Dirty’ media relieve sexual tensions, but subject to
unjust law

Repressing sexuality seems to be a hallmark of our country.
Whether it’s the impeachment of "Blow Job" Bill or slapping letters
of approval on movies, this nation finds it necessary to control
issues of carnal knowledge.

Pornography falls under this paradigm. There is a false idea in
our society that controlling pornography is somehow beneficial to
us. Pornography is an issue that serves as a scapegoat for the ills
of society. It is one of the few, if not the only, issues where
religious reactionaries and radical feminists agree. The religious
right blames it for moral bankruptcy while the militant feminist
division blames it for the continued subjugation of women.

Both these arguments warrant a closer examination.

The religious right takes a stance against pornography in hopes
of enforcing good Christian values among people. What this means is
that people should not be having sex, and that women belong back in
the kitchen baking pies and knitting sweaters.

Then there are the radical feminists, who regard pornography as
an endangerment to women. What they argue is that women cannot
possibly consent to sex, since we live in a male-dominated society
which renders consent impossible. This has led to action by this
bloc to impede any production of pornography.

One example of this is a Minneapolis anti-porn ordinance issued
in 1983. This ordinance stated that all women who worked in porn
were coerced and could sue the producers and distributors, whether
or not the woman was of age, was fully aware of what she was doing
and had signed a release. This ordinance claimed that women were
incapable of rendering decisions for themselves and needed the
government to protect them. The ordinance even stated that
"Children are incapable of consenting to engage in pornographic
conduct, even absent physical coercion and therefore require
special protection. By the same token, the physical and
psychological well-being of women ought to be afforded comparable
protection." (Wendy Mcelroy, "Banning Pornography Endangers Women",
December 1997)

So this is what hundreds of years of feminism has brought us to
- women are no smarter than children.

Some anti-porn crusaders also argue that pornography poses a
physical threat to women. They claim that the viewing of
pornography leads to violence against women. A number of problems
exist with this argument. First, there is no real method to
objectively measure the impact of pornography on a person’s
actions. Sexual responses are endemic to the individual and cannot
be accurately measured by a laboratory setting.

Also, pornography can serve as a mitigating factor in sexual
violence. It provides a healthy release for those with pent up
sexual frustration. Who is going to sexually assault a person after
they have just masturbated in their living room? Without this
release, sexual frustration builds up and can easily manifest
itself in the form of violence.

Research by the The National Research Council’s Panel on
Understanding and Preventing Violence has shown that there is no
demonstrated link between pornography and violence against women.
Also, research by Larry Baron and Murray Straus has shown that
there is a negative correlation between pornography and gender
violence. For example, look at Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both have
strict anti-pornography laws, yet they still have high instances of
violence against women. Compare that with countries such as Denmark
and Germany – in both countries pornography is readily accessible,
yet they have some of the lowest rates of violence against women.
(http://www.carnell.com/

feminism/pornography/porn001.html)

Some may blame this discrepancy on cultural differences. But
remember, Denmark produced the Vikings – and we all know what
Germany was capable of – so it is wrong to say that violence is not
a part of their cultures.

To further illustrate this point, look at Medieval Europe. This
was a period when rape was at its highest levels. Penthouse did not
exist at this time. Neither did "Debbie Does Dallas." Yet violence
against women persisted, since men did not have a safe place to
release their sexual frustration.

In addition, blaming pornography diffuses responsibility away
from the culprit. Anyone tried for sexual assault can blame
pornography and say that he was not in control of his actions.
Videotapes do not rape, people do, and responsibility should be
assigned as such.

In fact, rather than harming women, pornography actually brings
them a number of benefits. This is one of the few industries where
women are paid more than men. Also, pornography allows for
experimentation and breaks orthodox standards of sexuality. The
idea of lying in the missionary position while counting the stars
is flouted, and instead the enjoyment of sex is encouraged.
Restricting pornography limits the choices that a woman has and
invokes the repression of Victorian times.

This relates to another important point. Despite the common
stereotype, the greatest number of people renting porn are couples.
This is shown in the increase of "chick porn," which is pornography
geared especially toward women. These media emphasize the female
sexual experience and encourage couples to experiment. There is no
violence or degradation, just people enjoying themselves.

Also, compare pornography to other things that are legally
available, and see which is worse. For example, one can go to
Blockbuster and rent "Faces of Death," yet one can not rent the
original version of "Showgirls."

I see the logic: watching animals getting disemboweled is
healthy, whereas watching people voluntarily having sex is not.

In fact, our anti-porn laws have gotten so ridiculous that a law
now exists that prevents the simulation of child pornography. This
means that if the people involved appear to be under 18, the act is
a crime.

The actors involved could both be 35, but if they look underage,
the act is a crime.

Who decides whether they appear to be underage? Generally it is
the government, abiding by another subjective law that has no
concrete basis, but rather it exists on ambiguous criteria.

And do not forget the issue of freedom of expression.
Pornography involves consenting adults who so choose to be involved
in this field. The First Amendment does not say anything about
protecting what is morally proper, but rather the choice of the
individual to express himself or herself in whatever legal manner
he or she pleases. For some, pornography is this means of
expression. If one is offended by porn, do not watch or look at it.
There is no law saying you have to. Therefore, it is no one’s
business to regulate what a person decides to do with his or her
own body.

Anti-porn crusaders do nothing more than degrade women. By
pushing for legislation, these factions serve to promote the idea
that women cannot make decisions for themselves and need the
protection of the patriarchal state.

Mathew Gever

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