Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet

Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet

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In her essay “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet,” Susan Brownmiller, a prominent feminist activist, argues that pornography should not be protected under the First Amendment (59). Her position is based on the belief that pornography is degrading and abusive towards women (Brownmiller 59). She introduces the reader to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, and explains how it relates to her beliefs on censoring pornographic material (Brownmiller 58). In addition, she provides examples of First Amendment controversies such as Miller v. California and James Joyce’s Ulysses to explain how the law created a system to define pornographic material (Brownmiller 58). She described the system that used a three-part test as confusing (Brownmiller 58). Regardless of whether or not the First Amendment was intended to protect obscenities, she and many others believe that the legislatures should have the final say in the decision of creating and publishing pornography (Brownmiller 60).
Susan Brownmiller is a feminist, the founder of Women Against Pornography, and an author of several books (57). The essay “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet” comes from the book Take Back the Night, published in 1980 (57). She clearly wants to inform and persuade the audience of this essay to believe that pornography is degrading to women. In her introduction, Brownmiller tries to gain the reader’s sympathy by stating, “Free speech is one of the great foundations on which our democracy rests” (57). However, she does not think that pornography should be protected under the First Amendment. Her reasoning is biased and based on her own moral beliefs.
In addition, she contradicts her own stance on the position when she mentions that previous literature containing sexually explicit content should not be censored (Brownmiller 59). Brownmiller paints a very strong, emotional, and offensive picture when she claims that women are, “being stripped, bound, raped, tortured, mutilated, and murdered in the name of commercial entertainment” (59). However, this statement is fallacious and does not provide any factual evidence. Furthermore, she makes the hasty generalization that pornography can make people think that certain things, such as rape, are acceptable (Brownmiller 59). Once again, her claim lacks support and relies solely on a faulty pathos appeal.
After reading “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet” by Susan Brownmiller, my opinion regarding the censorship of pornography has not changed. Although her essay was very forthright and descriptive, it seemed very biased.

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Every good argument needs factual evidence to support it, and her argument lacked this key component. I disagree with Brownmiller’s opinion on pornography in several ways. First, I think that it is up to each individual to decide whether they chose to look at porn. If someone does not like or agree with it, then they do not have to look at it or participate in any way. In the essay, Susan Brownmiller makes the statement, “get the stuff out of our sight” (60). I am not sure what type of community she lives in, but I have yet to see any pornographic images displayed publicly. Second, as far as I am aware, the government does aid in the censorship of pornographic material to minors. They prohibit the sale of pornographic magazines and videos to anyone under the age of 18. Despite regulations, technology has made porn very accessible for anyone to wants to look at it. However, I believe that it is the parents, not the government, that should be ultimately responsible for their children. I do not think the First Amendment is the problem when it comes to censorship and free speech, I think it is the people who overanalyze it.

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