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My topic is Pornography and Sexual Violence and my research comes from Taking Sides Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Human Sexuality, by Robert T. Francoeur and William J. Taverner. An issue presented in the text asks if pornography is harmful to women � is the use of pornographic material directly linked to physical and sexual abuse to women? (Francoeur & Taverner, 000). Ill provide both sides to the argument and let the debate begin.


Researcher Elizabeth Cramer says yes to the relation between porn and violence. She states the theory of pornography…using pornographic materials actually teaches the user that women are there for the gratification of men, and that women enjoy the sexual liberation that violence brings, (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 0). Cramer offers results from a 188 survey of 45 adult-only, X-rated films, and found that 60% of the video time showed explicit sexual acts, and of these actions, 8% were considered exploitive, with men doing 80% of the dominating/exploiting. A womans rape was shown in over 50% of the films with a male rapist leading the attack 0% of the time. Physical abuse appeared in 7% of the videos, and men were usually portrayed as professionals, while the women were housewives, students, or secretaries. Cramer believes the message these videos send is a distorted characterization of both male and female sexuality that is particularly degrading to woman. (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 0). To that, I say, No S # % T!


Cramer also provides the findings to a 14 Relationship Inventory, assessing the status of relationships including information about pornography use. The survey was given to 87 women who had pressed physical abuse charges against her intimate partner and four questions with a yes/no option were asked (1) Does the man who abuses you EVER use pornographic magazines, films, or videos? () Does the man who abuses you EVER show you or make you look at porn in magazines, films, or videos? () Does the man who abuses you EVER ask you or force you to act out the pornographic scenes he has looked at? (4) Does the man who abuses you EVER ask you or force you to pose for pornographic pictures? The results are scary - forty percent reported pornography use, and of these, 5% had been asked or forced to reenact scenes they had been shown. Thirty-six women had been raped, and of these, 74% stated that their partner used pornography, and 6% were reminded of porn during the attacks (Francoeur & Taverner, 000). In considering the findings, Cramer emphasizes, …pornography was defined by saying, We are talking about when women are held down and hurt, thus making sure that the women were not reporting on simple nudity. Second, the entire sample was women who had been physically or sexually assaulted by their male partner within the previous 1 months (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 07). Bottom line, according to Cramer and her associates, sex coupled with porn can lead to increased violence and trauma for a woman.


Now for the other side. Law Professor Nadine Strossen claims, the perils of pornophobia…is the notion that that sex is inherently degrading to women. (Francoeur & Tavener, 000, p. 00). Her theory, based on thoughts from writers Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, and Betty Dodson, is …women should not be seen as victims in their sexual relations with men but as equally assertive partners, just as capable of experiencing sexual pleasure…the condemnation of pornography can be carried too far and universal censorship is not the solution to end violence against women (Francoeur & Tavener, 000, p. 0). Strossen suggests that censorship in any form derails feminism, and credits law professor Catherine McKinnon and writer Andrea Dworkin with the idea that …sexist concepts of marriage and family, or pent-up rage - is the preeminent cause of discrimination and violence against women. Their solution is seemingly simple suppress all pornography. (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 0). Strossen disagrees with the pornophobic feminists who believe sex � even consensual and non-violent � is an evil from which women must be protected. In other words, she is asking that we dispute the Victorian idea that woman are sexual victims and that men are ravenous fiends.


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Strossen rallies against pro-censorship feminists and distances herself from the old school family values champions like Jesse Helms and Phyllis Schlafly, saying they are less interested in protecting women than in preserving male dominance, a common hatred of sexual expression and fondness for censorship unite the two camps. (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 10). The pro-censorship feminists base their efforts on the assumption that ridding society of porn would reduce sexism and violence towards women; according to Strossen, the opposite goal will result, and states, This mutually reinforcing relationship does a serious disservice to the fight for womens equality. It lends credibility to and strengthens the right wing and its anti-feminist, anti-choice, homophobic agenda…there are no consistent correlations between the availability of pornography in various communities, states, countries and their rates of sexual offenses. If anything, studies suggest an inverse relationship a greater availability of sexually explicit material seems to correlate not with higher rates of sexual violence, but with higher indices of gender equality. (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 10). Note that Singapore has tight restrictions on pornography yet a higher increase in rapes than does Sweden, a country with relatively liberal obscenity laws (Francoeur & Taverner, 000). Is it simply about exposure � no pun intended?


This is a tough call for me to make � I am a firm believer in the First Amendment providing freedom of speech, and I appreciate the fact that I can listen to, read, write, or pretty much engage in any activity that I choose. In my opinion, pornography is subjective � I couldnt say it any better than former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he said, I shall not today attempt further to define obscenity and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it (Francoeur & Taverner, 000, p. 0). Like beauty, pornography is in the eye of the beholder, and these days, is not just contained in plastic behind the counter at your local 7-11. All I need to do is click my remote and I am deluged with images of chicks with little clothing, song lyrics all about f-ing, and the idea that hot is cool and less is more. Porn? Yes. Connected to violence? Sure � just because you look like you want it doesnt mean you do � the old adage that no means no still rings true.


Some questions for debate


Is porn a tool � like any other tangible weapon � for violence during sex?


How does the media � dont get me started � encourage sex and violence?


Is it simply a case of the First Amendment and the notion that porn doesnt hurt � people do?





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