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The Complicated Relationship Between Pornography and Feminism

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Pornography and feminism have had quite an odd relationship. Feminist writers such as Gloria Steinem have denounced the sex industry while it has continued to expand exponentially. Due to technological advances such as the internet and cell phones, pornography is easier to access then ever before. Some publications even estimate that gross annual sales for pornographic videos would exceed four billion dollars (Rich 2011: 1). With this much money being invested into an industry that operates in a capitalistic society, it would be ignorant to hope that it would cease to exist. The truth is that pornography is not going anywhere. The issue that feminists from many different strains are debating is if porn is detrimental to women. And if so, how truly immoral is it? In this paper there will be an examination of how the two different radical-feminist theories have dealt with pornography while also discussing why the issue of pornography can be seen as such a confusing topic for feminists as a whole.
For the purpose of clarification there must be an examination of what pornography actually constitutes. As stated by Leanne Katz in her essay entitled “Women, Censorship, and Pornography” she says,
“‘Pornography’ is frequently — and incorrectly — used as if there were widely agreed upon legal and/or common definitions. In fact, neither is true: the term is not used in American law, and it is considered by most legal scholars and critics even more vague than the legal concept “obscenity,” long infamous for its lack of clarity.” (Katz 1993: 9)
This quote provides the essential issue with defining what pornography is. The Supreme Court case Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) contained a concurrence in which Justice Potter Stewart stated th...

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...dical and Libertarian Feminists.” Signs (Autumn): 106-112. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/3174240.pdf? acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true (May 2, 2014).
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Katz, Leanne. 1993. “Introduction: Women, Censorship, and ‘Pornography.’” New York Law School Review: 9-18. http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/ nyls38&div=5&id=&page= (May 2, 2014).
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