As the amount and severity of sexually explicit materials grows in our society questions of these materials hurting people have risen. It is said that men get explicit ideas from certain types of music, movies, and pornography. As a result of these explicit ideas, men force women into what they want them to do and to degrade them. The idea that men use force in their relations due to pornographic substances is preposterous. Men who use force in their relations with women have done so for centuries before the camera [was invented] (Pally 24).
It is obvious that men have abused women before pornography but people still say that some of abuse against women is a result of pornography. Pornography has many positive aspects some are commonly overlooked. In the debate over the issue of pornography and its negative characteristics, rarely does anyone hear the benefits that society has from pornography. Pornography has been seen to help relationships and create more stable and long lasting marriages (Christensen 311). People have preset beliefs about pornography without ever looking at the facts.
The belief that pornography is evil in itself is simply wrong (Christensen 309). Although sometimes thought otherwise, pornography is not harmful to women and has many positive effects, such as helping relationships and creating more stable and longer lasting marriages. Pornography has been around ever since people began to mold clay into human shapes (Cothran, 15). Eventually people began to paint pictures of women in the nude as a form of art. This was also initially seen as crude and as an early form of pornography.
Eventually with the invention of the printing press, pornography could easily be given out among the masses, which brought about controversy. In the 1700s an English editor Thomas Bowdler, removed passages from Shakespeare because he thought they were obscene (Cothran,15). Continuing the pornographic evolution was the VCR. The high accessibility to a VCR in the 1980s started the X-rated video market. Today the Internet has millions of pictures, movies, and online catalogs of sex movies for anyone to access creating an even deeper mountain of deliberation on the issue.
In response to pornography, society has tried to come to a conclusion that satisfies all, but this seems more and more unreachable due to the fact that there are many different moral and religious views on the subject. Over the years there have been attempts to pass laws on pornography and some have even brought crusades against it. Through all of the controversy there have been many tests to determine if pornography is harmful to society and, the general conclusion of the U. S. Commission was that no adequate proof had been provided that pornography was harmful to individual or society(Simons 143).
Also the commission stated for further incidents if a case is to be made out against pornography [in 1970] it will have to be made on the grounds other than demonstrated effects of a personal or social nature(Simons 143). As more tests and findings have become uncovered about pornography the controversy began to grow larger. In 1983 the Toronto Task Force on Violence Against Women asked Thelma McCormack, a feminist open to pornography in society, to study pornographys relationship with sexual aggression.
Her results showed that pornography might reduce the incidence of rape so her report was discarded (McElroy 85). Numerous tests and government run commissions have been attempted and regardless of the findings, the people choose their own conclusions. There have been several cases about the dangers of pornography, many of which have gone all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court (Showers 21). After the many court cases and trials, 29 cities and the state of Utah have taken hardcore pornography and made it illegal to have (Showers 22).
These actions are consistently always under fire because of the possible violations of the First Amendment. It is easily seen that pornography is not harmful to women and many studies show this very fact. Also a main fear of pornography is that it poses a threat to women and children because men become violent from it. However this is not the case. In fact, obscene materials provide a way of releasing strong sexual urges without doing harm to others (Cairns 134). If pornography is harmful to women then what about the hundreds of thousands of women in pornography; were they forced into it?
To address this question Wendy McElroy, former president of Feminists for Free Expression, brought it to women in pornography where violence was most likely to occur (as in S/M). She then said, in the hundreds of such adult women I spoke with, every single one said they had not been coerced into performing pornography, nor do they know of a women who had been(McElroy 86). It is obvious that most women in pornography have not been harmed by it. Furthermore if the women in pornography do not condemn it, why do other women?
In regards to typical views against pornography McElroy believes that most are degrading to women. As McElroy reflects anti-pornography beliefs she states their degrading view of women by saying, if a woman enjoys consuming pornography, it is not because she comes from another background, has a different psychological makeup, different goals in life or an unusual perspective. No; it is because she is mentally incompetent. Like any three-year old, she is unable to give informed consent regarding her own body(McElroy 87).
This theory is unbelievably degrading to women. This theory completely sacrifices the reputation that women have built for themselves for over hundreds of years. It was said best when Nina Hartley, author of Pornography at the Millennium remarked, Pornography does not degrade the people in it, our society degrades people for desiring it (Hartley 29). It is clear that pornography is an issue that people have tried to change and move towards the goal of forming it into something more appropriate.
If pornography stays the way it is and the way it should be, then it is possible that millions of people would be positively affected in some point in their lives. The key to getting the most out of pornography is not to censor it at all. The evidence suggests that censorship of any material increases an audiences desire to obtain the material and disposes the audience to be more receptive to it (Strossen 89). Pornography has many benefits to women. For example, pornography is one of the few fields that women get paid more than men (Gever 55). Also, pornography accepts peoples growing sexuality.
Restricting pornography limits the choices that a woman has and invokes the repression of Victorian times(Gever 55). Pornography also is given a stereotype that it causes all or almost all of sexual violence. This label that pornography has been given is not so for several reasons. First, there is no way of measuring how it effects a persons actions. Also, pornography gives a healthy release for people who build up sexual frustration (Gever 54). These reasons should help reiterate the fact that pornography is not evil and even aids in normal societys fight against sexual violence.
As the war continues against sexual violence there always has been a scapegoat and that is pornography. Critics who are against pornography say that pornography causes rapes against women. This is simply not true due to the fact that we have seen a high incident of rape in many cultures that do not have pornography. Look at Medieval Europe. This was a period when rape was at its highest levels(Gever 54). In Medieval Europe there were no pornographic magazines or X-rated videotapes for men to release their sexual frustration.
Gever says that these cultures that are known for having high instances of rape, did not have a way such as the pornography that society has today and that is why pornography is positive for society as a whole. On the side of the opposition of pornography a common excuse is that rapists and child molesters were driven to commit their crimes by pornography. According to research by The National Research Councils Panel on Understanding and Preventing Violence there is no demonstrated link between pornography and violence against women (Gever 54).
This statement continues to push the fact that pornography has become an excuse for other problems in society today. Furthermore, research by Larry Baron and Murray Straus, members of a national feminist organization, shows a negative correlation between pornography and gender violence (Gever 53). It is obviously clear that pornography does not commit any of the evils that it is accused of and has become a scapegoat for societys wrongs. The main goal in the battle with pornography is to stop the continuing sexual violence that is accused of being a result of pornography.
A way to help eliminate the sexual violence that is often falsely accredited to pornography is to have better laws for violators of this crime that has large effects on society. Also a way to improve the controversy that floats around pornography would be to have better sex education groups that can teach young adults the relationship of sex and society and themselves (Burstyn 164). It was said best by Varda Burstyn who is a writer on political and cultural issues and has been involved in the womens movement since 1967, when she said, Ending Abuse depends upon changing the way family life is lived in our society(Burstyn 164).
Pornography has been and always will be a topic of extreme controversy. People will always have opposing viewpoints on the subject and will feel strongly about it. The relationship between pornography and sexual violence against women is important to society because of the importance of feminism in society. Because women are important so are the crimes that are committed against them. Also, pornography has been subject to accusations that it does not benefit society when it clearly does.
There is no doubt that censoring pornography would have an ill effect on society because the ACLU states that, Obscenity laws, especially, have been used to suppress information and art dealing with female sexuality and reproduction(ACLU, 80). If pornography was banned or strictly enforced in America then society would be lacking of the educational values of pornography and of the sexual release that stops and possibly helps prevent sexual violence against women. The main thing that pornography does is generate sexual arousal for men. While it also can produce the same effect for women it is mostly aimed at men.
The truth is that pornography does not depict a reality for men but a sexual fantasy. If women in reality always accommodated to the sexual desires of men, if women were in fact full slaves, then the depiction of their accommodations in pornography might not arouse(Soble, 199). The fact that pornography does not paint a picture of reality to the viewer shows that pornography produces a fantasy for a release of built up and possible dangerous sexual frustration. This just goes to show that pornography is seen as a danger to women and society and actually has many positive aspects that help in turn regulate society and women in it.