April 1st, 2000

Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight For Women’s Rights

Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight For Women’s Rights (New York University Press, May 2000)

by Nadine Strossen

Reviewed by Geneva World

“If you love freedom and like sex, censorship is bad news.” K. Peratis

Let’s take a little test:

  1. Pornorgraphy

What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you read that word?

  1. Bondage. Lesbians.

Do the above words make you feel and think the same?

  1. Sex. Health Books. Pregnancy.

Now, do these words make the same impact as the word, “Pornography?”

If all three questions had you hot and ready to start marching and praying for my soul, please start doing so and find yourself a better suited book review. For everyone else who were not completely offended, please continue.

“If Pornography is part of your sexuality, then you have no right to your sexuality” C. MacKinnion

You may have been angry or indifferent to the word “Pornography” but words like “sex” and “pregnancy” probably felt comfortable. Afterall, those two words are a large part of the human experience and are honored in a variety of ways. There is a verbal war out against pornography and marital sex as well as motherhood and art are being sucked into mean the “p” word. They also wear the “suppression of women” stamp. The Anti-Pornography movement isn’t just after kiddie porn and bondage scenes. They are out to get anything remotely sexual involving women. Anti-Porn advocates have already overpowered Canada and they are setting their sites on the U.S. Just think, no more Cosmo,Joy of Sex, or breast exam pamphlets. Remember porn is anything that reduces a woman to her parts or talk in a sexual explicit way. It is also based on a community’s basis of morality. Sex Education will be rather boring as well as a museum full of landscapes and bowls of fruit.

“Pregnancy is a confirmation that the woman has been fucked. The display marks her as a whore. The vagina (is) saved to serve the husband.” A. Dworkin

Perhaps you are wondering who the middle aged men are? The men who would actually believe such great artworks like the Venus de Milo should be banned. These men are out to make all women dress from head to toe and live like poor Arab women “protected” and excluded from the male gaze and opportunities. The worse enemy is two women: Andrea Dworkin & Cathine MacKinnion. Their call is that porn is bad for women. They believe that when women are presented in books and art they are “reduced to their parts” and therefore unequal. Girls don’t like sex and those who support it are pawns of men.

“It is ironic that just as women are finally making inroads into such a male exclusive venues. We are being told we cannot handle dirty pictures, and certainly would never enjoy them.” Feminist for Free Expression

This book wasn’t written by Larry Flynt to sell more Hustler subscriptions. This isn’t a self-serving cry against censorship. This is probably one of the most important books about censorship and it pleads the case for one of the least supported vices and virtues in America, porn. Nadine Strossen has decided to make an announcement that women like sex. Women like to look at it., like to see it, and don’t mind being in it. It does not mean women want to physically, mentally or emotionally hurt. Strossen is David trying to slay Goliath, except she uses her pen instead of a slingshot.

“Intercourse with men as we now them is increasingly impossible. It means remaining the victim forever annihilating all self-respect…” A. Dworkin

Dworkin’s arguments were disturbing and make one wonder, “How bad was her first time?” As a reviewer, if I wasn’t disgusted, I was turned on. Funnily enough, I’m not the only one. Strossen uses a couple of examples. A woman commented after reading the Meese Commission’s Report on Pornography, she came three times. A poster for Anti-Porn advocates was asked to be removed from New York Subways (it was a picture of a woman in bondage) because it made the passengers uncomfortable. When it was taken down, the advocates pressed censorship charges. So while the Anti-Porn advocates may present images and words to the public of what they are against, women cannot. Hey, the First Amendment doesn’t include all of us, right?

“Physically the women in intercourse is a space invaded, a literal territory occupied. Even if there was no resistance.”  A. Dworkin

Maybe you think the Anti-Porn movement still has potential. Why don’t we take a little tour into the underbelly with Strossen.

“Once there was a reproduction of Goya’s Nude Maja in a classroom at Pennsylvania University. Professor Nancy Stumhofor felt uncomfortable so it was removed – – -from the school! To explain herself, she sent materials to the staff and school body about how the female figure is only the object of male desire. Included were several pictures of nude women. Stumhofer was accused of sexual harassment from two men. She made them feel ‘uncomfortable.’

Asian lesbain Dawn Wan chose to appear painted in flames on the cover of the lesbian magazine On Our Backs. The Dykes Against Porn picketed and destroyed stores who had copies because it promoted violence against women, such as burning then.”

Sexual harassment in the workplace has lead to laws banning people from brining sexual materials to work, even if you keep it in your purse, desk or locker. Also, no comments and no talking about breast exams or last night’s fling. Shhhh! A downside now is managers are getting frightened of hiring women because of potential lawsuits and extra maintenance.

A favorite example is exercise tapes and books. If you aren’t going to have sex, why look good? As said by M. Mead, “I see poses of Jane Fonda sitting on her buttocks with her legs raised in air in a V. The message clearly is ‘I’m powerful but I’m still a woman who needs a man.’”

Anti-Porn advocates are so strong in Canada, don’t bring Debbie Reynold’s exercise video Doing It Debbie’s Way or the spicy cookbook Hot, Hotter, Hottest. You won’t get in.

“From a feminist perspective, there is no choice between equality and freedom of expression.” T. McCormack

FEMbooks recommends this book to all feminists, closet porn freaks, homosexual activists, sex slaves from choice, law students, Playboy Bunnies, and First Amendment supporters. Get mad. Get turned on. Get enlightened and make a choice. It’s still a free country.

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