Comparing Catherine MacKinnon's Not A Moral Issue and Sallie Tisdale’s Talk Dirty to Me

Powerful Essays
Comparing Catherine MacKinnon's Not A Moral Issue and Sallie Tisdale’s Talk Dirty to Me

Professor’s Comment: This powerful essay contrasts the views of two feminist, Catherine MacKinnon and Sallie Tisdale, each of which perceives pornography in widely divergent ways. While MacKinnon's 'Not A Moral Issue' explains the adverse impacts of pornography to women and society as a whole, Tisdale's 'Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex' is receptive to pornography despite these adverse impacts, suggesting in fact that the solution to the problems associated with pornography is a greater role of women in production of that pornography.

Breasts and booties, buns and knockers. Type these words into a search field and be prepared. The presence of pornographic and "obscene" material is rampant: in commercial advertising, on primetime television, and in every Danielle Steel novel. Such an over-abundance of disputed material introduces many questions for discussion. One must ask, why there is such a demand for these products and why have they created a forum of controversy from left- and right-wingers, as well as feminists and chauvinists?

What, then, is pornography? Is it the art of sex, a struggle against morality, the world's leading epidemic of sexual violence, or the ongoing struggle for First Amendment rights? Pornography, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is "sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal". This definition, however, lacks the clarity of realistically differentiating between pornography and erotica, and leaves room for interpreting the true meaning of "explicit." The issue at debate, however, is neither the naming nor identifying po...

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... modern sexual revolution, but also to a third wave of feminism, is understandably disgruntling for right-wing conservatives. The questions about the unknown effects of this controversial media are endless. What if pornography poses such a great threat not for it's graphic sexual depictions or 'immorality', but for it's potential to encourage both men and women to lead lives of sexual freedom, without the antiquated ideals of nuclear families and desk jobs? Perhaps it is pornographic and sex-trade industries, which are blamed for the loss of contemporary social morality and ethics, that will prescribe new ideals of life in the future.

Works Cited

Catherine MacKinnon 'Not A Moral Issue' 1993

Martha Nussbaum Sex and Social Justice Oxford University Press, 2000

Tisdale, Sallie. Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
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