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The Aspects toward Pornography: Positive vs. Negative



Pornography is a battlefield in U.S. law. For decades, courts have struggled to find a middle ground between opponents of obscenity and defenders of free speech. This debate began to shift in the 1970s as feminists introduced new theories.

Pornography, as defined by Wikipedia, is "the explicit depiction of sexual subject matter with the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer". This means it excludes erotica, which some purists insist on, because erotica is different in that it has an interest in doing more than merely providing sexual excitation.


1. Sexual freedom
2. It allows people to view different sexual lifestyles.


1. Porn is a drug that leads to addiction.
-Men often consume more and more porn, which can lead to distancing themselves from their loved ones, losing their jobs, etc.
2. Porn is a form of sexism.
-Women are commoditized and objectified in porn, which puts them on an unequal footing with men.
3. Porn portrays all women in one of four degrading, dehumanizing categories.
-It gives you the most insidious view of women.This can lead to an inability to form meaningful romantic relationships and even violence against women.
4. Porn cultivates a single standard of beauty that no real women can live up to.
-This leads men to be mistakenly dissatisfied with reality as it pertains to sex.

The Smitten Kitten


The Smitten Kitten is a feminist-owned adult sex toy/equipment boutique located on Lyndale and Lake in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. describes the Smitten Kitten as, "Valuing "human dignity and the creative expression of gender, identity and desire," the Smitten Kitten is more than a sex toy boutique; it is an open source for information on issues of sexuality, sexual health, and feminism."

Staffed by a team of Sex Educators, the Smitten Kitten is committed to selling only the safest products to its clientele. Jennifer Pritchett, the founder/owner of the Kitten formed the Coalition Against Toxic Toys in 2005, a non-profit that aims to create awareness of the hazardous materials and production practices of the existing sex toy industry. CATT can be found at

The Smitten Kitten is an open, accepting environment offering toys, books, zines, DVD's and more to a widely representational audience in the GLBTQ community as well. In addition to their product catalog, their website hosts an events calendar and blog filled with great resources for anyone wanting to explore sexuality in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

The site (and the store!) give a much better look into their mission/vibe/general awesomeness than I could ever do here, so check them out!

The Smitten Kitten

Through the years, scientific studies have been used by individuals, institutions and governments to support positions on both sides of sex war debates on pornography. Studies have produced seemingly opposite conclusions at times giving each camp ammunition for their own side, and leaving the curious individual to wonder if they can really be used to draw any conclusive evidence about pornography at all.

How to Use a Study:
The first reason for the problem we have in conflicting studies, is because of the tendency to take a study out of its context and draw more conclusions from the results of a study than we are really able to. Epidemiological studies often study the effect of something on a population, but stress that assigning the root cause is a very complicated matter. Over-simplifying the results of a study by making simple one cause-one effect conclusions is an error of logic. But, sadly this is the way that many sides approach studies in an effort to support their arguments. Often, many more follow up studies are needed to determine the actual cause of the result in a study, or to rule out and consider other factors present. For example: "The Effects of Pornography: An International Perspective" was a large study that found that the rate of sex crimes dropped with the legalization of pornography. This influenced the legislation of some governments who then believed that pornography was not having a negative effect on their populations, but this has been critiqued as an error of logic and misuse of the study because other factors were also present at the same time that significantly contributed to a reduction in sexual crime, such as increased targeting by law enforcement. These other factors were not accounted for in the study, and no follow up was done to determine the specific cause and effect relationship.
Not All Studies Are Equal:

The second problem with the use of studies is the assumption that you can compare their results equally. Each study approaches its experiment or question in a particular way. With the question of pornography and violence, scientists have a number of factors to contend with when framing a study.

One: A situation in a lab is very different from a real life experience, so how do scientists get data that will most accurately translate to real life? Experiments vary in their ability to accurately assess real life data.

Two: Because of the nature of the study, (exposing men to varying degrees of sexual content and violence, and then measuring their aggression towards women, and measuring their change in arousal patterns) there are ethical concerns in what the men are exposed to, how to test their aggression to women, and the inability to test on adolescent youth who might be most responsive. These ethical issues inform the studies and limit the studies at the same time from getting the most accurate information. It takes careful thought and creativity to address these issues.

Three: The number of variables accounted for in a study is an indicator of the quality of the study. As shown earlier, the more cause and effect factors you are able to account for the more accuracy you are likely to have. Many of the differences between results in studies on pornography are simply a difference in number of variables. For example: A study linking pornography use to violence will result in high numbers if the sample population is taken from a group of prison inmates. Where as, a group of middleclass white college students might result in a low link between pornography and violence. The study in each case would be flawed and highly unreliable in its ability to give us a true picture of the effect of pornography because of the low number of variables.

Meta-Analysis is a useful method that combines multiple studies and compares data using statistical analysis to give us a more accurate picture of study results than any one study could give us by itself. Once again, not all studies are equal, so which studies you use are important, but if you put in balanced studies with multiple variables, then you will get the most accurate data from the combined results of all the studies put together. I read the results of a meta-analysis by N.M. Malamuth, T. Addison, and M. Koss looking at the results of 16 experiments on pornography and sexual aggression. They were especially concerned with this issue of inaccuracy in interpreting and conducting studies, and they wanted to know if there really is any hard proof one way or the other on pornography. Their article is called "Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Are There Reliable Effects and Can We Understand Them?" (Warning: this link is to download the pdf, and this is a long dense article, but it is wonderful material).

There was too much material to include in this blog entry, but I will summarize some of the results of their meta-analysis. First of all, they found over 50 variables that were likely to contribute towards sexual aggression, coercion and violence against women. Pornography (whether it was soft, hard, rape/violent) by itself was the largest single variable contributing towards aggression against women (12%), but this could increase depending on the factor it was combined with: delinquency, sexual promiscuity, child abuse, social isolation, group dynamics etc. Each man has many factors influencing him and some of those combine to result in aggression towards women, while other men who use pornography while having a 12% increase in their likelihood of aggression towards women, never actually display this behavior because they do not have enough other contributing factors. Interestingly, nudity was found to be distinct from pornography, and had the effect of lowering aggression.

How Pornography hurts women and everyone


My group has chosen to focus on porn. I am taking the stand that porn, as well as prostitution, are ways in which women are further victimized and hurt by men. Why do we call it "prostitution" when "sex" that is the product of coercion and/or the threat to one's life is legally defined as rape? This is something that as a feminist I am truly bothered by. I am not opposed to sex positive thinking for women, but what I am opposed to is the commercialization of women for the pleasure of men.

The myth that porn is just and image and doesn't affect other women is not true-
21% of women subjected to abuse, (rape, and battery) knew the harm was a direct result of the perps use of porn, meaning when women are assaulted by their partners there is a link between their viewing of porn and the harassment and assault of the woman or man. Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler are delivered to over 200 million homes annually becoming informal sex education for young men which gives them a great start as seeing women as objects and not subjects.

The Myth that women choose porn is also often misunderstood
One of the most famous women in porn is named Linda Marchiano aka Deep Throat. During the filming of this porn classic a gun was held to Marchiano's head, she also received NO MONEY from this film even though it is the largest grossing porn film ever made. Women are photographed and videotaped without their knowledge and then these videos are played on the internet. Systematic childhood abuse provides conditioning for continuing abuse in porn/prostitution- 75% of women in porn are incest victims. Porn justifies and reinforces rape myths that women enjoy and deserve pain, humiliation and violence.

Andrea Dworkin makes this very apparent in her essay which we read in class. Dworkin says, "Porn is the institution of male dominance that sexualizes hierarchy, objectification, submission, and violence." This creates inequality.

In an essay written by Rebecca Whinsnant she writes about how porn hurts women and what we all need to do to confront it and stop it. In 1972 porn was a 7 million dollar business. By 2000 it has gone up to a 12 billion dollar business- that is a thousand fold increase- this cannot be a good thing even if it means women are making money from this. Because of porn's effect no persons understanding of sexuality or experience of sex can be unaffected. Large companies like GM and AT&T own the companies that make and produce porn; they are the ones making the money off of women, not the women.

We need to start listening to the men and women who are hurt by porn. This is not a free speech issue, not when people are being hurt, battered, humiliated and raped. Not when it reaffirms men's idea that women WANT to be treated like objects. MEN- Stop using porn- Throw it away and start dreaming your own dreams about women and men- don't think that by saying you don't watch the bad stuff that makes it better- it is all bad and harmful. Look at these women in these videos! Do you really believe that they WANT two penises in the anus at a time while another one is in her mouth! Challenge friends who use porn! Tell them you don't want to be a part of something that hurts women and men and makes it hard for all people to see sex as something healthy and consensual. Women- Don't lie to yourself and think that it is OK because it is her choice- Have the ability and the courage to see that this is not choice- all women are subject to this treatment and we do not need porn reinforcing this attitude towards sex.
Porn is getting more and more violent as more men are not satisfied with regular old male dominated sex- there has to be an extra kick. For feminist who worked against porn know that this is such a deep form of violence and contempt against women- As a whole it is a form of hate propaganda whose effects are especially powerful because it bypasses rational thought and goes straight for the jugular conditioning the viewer to respond sexually to a repressive sexual ideology.

The Price of Pleasure is a documentary about sex work. It is a gritty real look at how the sex industry opreates, who benifits and who gets hurt. Check out the link to the trailer.

Noam Chomsky Talks about Porn

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We have been having a discussion about porn being a choice and since women are paid to do it it is alright. I think that Noam Chomsky, a respected media critic, sums it up in a really good way...more to come on this subject in out presentation on sex wars....

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