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NCJ Number: 97737 Find in a Library
Title: Feminism, Pornography, and Law
Journal: University of Pennsylvania Law Review  Volume:133  Issue:2  Dated:(January 1985)  Pages:497-534
Author(s): E Hoffman
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 38
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article evaluates the feminist argument against pornography and argues that insofar as the law plays a role in defining and shaping social values, antipornography legislation recommended by feminists may well have some value.
Abstract: Liberal and conservative approaches to pornography are contrasted: the liberal view tolerates a wide variety of sexual activity; the conservative view isolates images of sex from the context of love, decency, and commitment. The U.S. Supreme Court's persistence in maintaining, since Roth v. United States, that 'obscenity is not protected by the freedoms of speech and press,' is noted. Issues which distinguish liberal and conservative positions on pornography are identified: (1) the nature and meaning of sex, (2) the function of sexual imagery, and (3) the proper role of law in the regulation of sexually oriented materials. That feminists differ considerably from both conservatives and liberals in their responses to all three issues is highlighted. These differences are attributed to the feminist view that pornography actually focuses on power rather than on sex. Feminists arguments that pornography causes harm and libels women as a group and that pornography constitutes hate literature are considered. Several challenges to the feminist interpretation of pornography, including the feminists' universalization of 'men' and 'women' are addressed. Proponents of this challenge deemphasize gender and emphasize that responses to pornography vary among individuals. Finally, questions about the use of the law to suppress pornography are raised; for example, by advocating regulation, feminists condone the use of government to evaluate speech. Included are 196 references.
Index Term(s): Conservatism; Feminism; Legislation; Liberalism; Pornography; US Supreme Court decisions
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