This presentation was a follow-up on the SC242 lecture week eleven on crimes against women but the main focus to be concentrated on the subject of pornography. We chose pornography, as it is a subject of great controversial debate in contemporary societies. Our presentation was divided into two parts, with myself starting the presentation concentrating on anti- pornography and the reasons why it should be censored if not completely banned. My partner then went onto discuss the argument against censorship and individual choice within the pornography industry. We chose to carry out the presentation in this way portraying both arguments in pornography as we thought this would be the most effective way of generating an argumentative debate. The presentation lasted for about twenty minutes and then for the rest of the time a chance was given for the class to voice their opinions and to ask any questions.
Whilst preparing for the presentation, I found there to be extensive amounts on literature on the arguments for the censorship of pornography. The following part of this report is the points I used to portray my argument in the presentation. I started by discussing how many feminists have identified pornography as the “nerve centre of patriarchy.” Along with rape and domestic violence it is one of the main institutions of male supremecy over women. For many years, the issue of pornography and violence against women has been of concern both to writers in the population media and the scientific community. Organisations such as Women Against Pornography and Women Against Violence in Pornography and the Media argue that it plays a central role in the persistent repression of women as a class aswell as having a link with sexual violence.
Two quotes from feminist writers on pornography and how it encourages further crimes against women were shown on the over – head projector.
“Pornography is the ideology of a culture that promotes and condones rape, physical battering and other crimes against women.”
“Pornography material promotes a climate in which acts of sexual hostility directed against women are not only tolerated but ideologically encouraged.”
I then went onto discuss the problem of aggressive pornography. That is how feminist writers object to what they perceive as portrayal of unequal power relations between men and women, the degradation and dehumanisation of women. In other words the feminist position is that pornography contributes, although not necessarily directly to acts of violence by making such acts seem less reprehensible. They see it as sexist propaganda; “pornography is the theory and rape the practice” and is primarily intended to dehumanise and degrade women contends Robin Morgan, 1980. My argument was that it can distance men from a clear perception of what women are really like, that it facilitates a wide range of abusive and violent behaviour.
This idea is reinforced by experiments carried out by Malamuth (1978), in which male subjects were assigned to three exposure conditions. They had to read pictorial stories containing aggressive pornography, non-aggressive pornography and a neutral stimuli.
The findings of these experiments were shown on the over-head projector and were as follows:
AGGRESSIVE PORNOGRAPHY: Malamuth Expts. ( 1980)
Exposure to such materials leads to:
- Greater acceptance of rape myths and violence against women
- Has more pronounced effects when the victim is shown enjoying the use of force or violence
- Is arousing for rapists and for some males in the general population
- Has resulted in sexual aggression against women in the laboratory
I then went onto discuss the problem of pornography and the debates about legalisation. John Court (1970) suggests that changes in legalising pornography have influenced the incidence of sex crimes in numerous countries – United Kingdom, England, Australia, and New Zealand. He also refers to Japan- a country with little evidence of rape yet with a trend towards increases in violent forms of pornography. In the future years, he suggests that there maybe a rise in sexual crimes in Japan. That is that there is a “ripple effect” occurring as a result of increased exposure to Pornography, although it maybe years before the full impact is seen.
Also, to help my argument for censorship of pornography, I thought it would be effective in looking at the work carried out by sexual offenders.
Bill Seals, who has worked with sex offenders has argued that “pornography is often used by them as a stimulus to their sexually acting out. The social insecurity of sex offenders is reinforced by pornography.”
Aswell as in 1986, in the case of the “vicarage rape” in London, the offenders had been watching pornographic videos before the offences were committed.
Also, the “US serial killer”- Ted Bundy while taking full responsibility for his actions, described in some detail of how his behaviour was influenced by pornography.
The arguments by feminists that it has this effect is because it represents women merely as sexual commodities. It tells men that women enjoy sex and are always available for it- even when they deny it. It tells men that women secretly enjoy rape and other forms of physical abuse- for example, bondage, mutilation and even death. This is argued by Itzin who sees pornography acting as trigger for the abuse in that “the perpetrator is stimulated to the point where he acts out what he has experienced, seen, read or watched.”
Also, Malamuth, 1980 argues that in aggressive – pornographic depictions, the victim is frequently portrayed as secretly desiring the assault and as eventually deriving sexual pleasure from it.
Therefore, in conclusion these were the main points that were used to portray my argument for censorship against pornography. Overall, the presentation went quite well, although I think that my ending may have been a bit abrupt. This, I think may have been due to the fact it being my first presentation aswell as it being the first one carried out by the class. The references that I used helped me to form a strong argument for censorship. My argument was mainly from a feminist perspective discussing the problems associated with the legalisation of pornography and the “ripple effect” that it has to sex crimes as a result of increased exposure to pornography.
My partner also had a strong argument against censorship which after the presentation helped to generate a class debate, although most of the people in the class held mixed opinion as they agreed with aspects of both our arguments. However, if things could have been differently to improve the presentation, I would have provided handouts to the class with the quotes and references from an anti-pornography perspective aswell as providing a summary of the main points of my argument. Also, it may have been more effective to have carried out interviews or questionnaires for both males and females on their opinions and evaluated the results in comparison with each other. But my partner and I both agreed that this would be far too time-consuming and therefore, left it out. A further criticism is although I enjoyed carrying out the research for this presentation as it was a topic that I had very strong opinions on, I did not really portray them as much as I could have whilst carrying out the presentation. However, the main aim to encourage thought and participation amongst others in the class was successful and therefore was quite pleased of how the presentation went though it was my first time to stand up in front of a class.
I have enclosed with this report the over- head slide that was used in the presentation and a bibliography with the references that I used to carry out my research. My research was focused around these four books although there was extensive amounts of literature on this area of pornography.