The Complicated Relationship Between Pornography and Feminism

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Pornography and feminism have had quite an odd relationship. Feminist writers such as Gloria Steinem have denounced the sex industry while it has continued to expand exponentially. Due to technological advances such as the internet and cell phones, pornography is easier to access then ever before. Some publications even estimate that gross annual sales for pornographic videos would exceed four billion dollars (Rich 2011: 1). With this much money being invested into an industry that operates in a capitalistic society, it would be ignorant to hope that it would cease to exist. The truth is that pornography is not going anywhere. The issue that feminists from many different strains are debating is if porn is detrimental to women. And if so …show more content…
For example, in some places within the United States some photograph could be regarded as pornographic in nature whereas if that same photograph was in another part of the country, it would be looked at as art. For the purpose of this paper, pornography will refer to videos and images depicting explicit sexual acts with the sole purpose of sexual gratification for the viewer. Art that depicts sex but does not have the intention of arousing the spectator will not be discussed.
Since there has been a definition established there can now be an analysis of why the topic of pornography is such a confusing issue for feminists. For some, the answer lies in the realization that the only way to combat vulgar images would be through the use of censorship. As Katz herself writes, “The illusion that supporting feminism means advocating the censorship of sexual materials is a dangerous one. […] [Feminists] realize that women’s rights and sexual free speech are indivisible” (Katz 1993: 9). Her stance is one of a radical-libertarian viewpoint. For a radical-libertarian feminist there is no correct way to approach sexual behavior and instead believe that women should have the right to explore their sexuality in whatever way they see fit (Tong 2009: 3). To repress these sexual freedoms would simply be another form of oppression in the mind of a radical-libertarian feminist. This has turned this specific paradigm of feminism into the one that…

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