The Distinction between Pornography and Obscenity - Essay Example

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The Distinction Between Pornography and Obscenity This paper will examine Catharine MacKinnon’s views on pornography and whether or not her views adequately illuminate the issues. Based on MacKinnon’s discussion, as well as other research on the subject, this paper will also address the question or whether or not the United States government or certain citizen groups should mount a concerted effort to clean up the internet by attempting to ban pornography…
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The Distinction between Pornography and Obscenity
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Download file to see previous pages MacKinnon, a feminist and an attorney, believes that society in the US applied different legal rights, lesser rights, to women as compared to men. Obscene speech is not protected under the First Amendment according to the U.S. Supreme Court, but there is much debate over the distinction between pornography and obscenity. Perhaps one of the most remembered Supreme Court Justice quotes is that of Potter Stewart, who said, I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. (Jacobellis) Linda Susan Boreman MacKinnon rose to fame when she represented Linda Susan Boreman, the actress known as Linda Lovelace, in a lawsuit that claimed that Boreman had been forced at gunpoint to perform in pornographic films by her husband. Following her appearance in the film Deep Throat, Boreman gave up the adult film industry and became a spokeswoman for the antipornography movement (IMBD). Boreman also testified before the Meese Commission in New York City to the effect that while moviegoers were watching the sex scenes in Deep Throat, they were witnessing her being raped (105-113). MacKinnon’s View Certainly a dichotomy, Catharine McKinnon felt that the First Amendment should protect the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, but she also wanted to condemn and outlaw pornography. She actively pursued civil rights remedies for victims of pornography and advocated to treat pornography as hate speech. During a PBS interview with Ben Wattenberg, MacKinnon defined pornography as, a practice of sex inequality, and defined as the sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes a list of other very specific activities. In other words, it's defined in terms of what it actually does. It subordinates women as well as being a sexually explicit medium. There are other media that subordinate women but are not sexually explicit, and therefore don't have the same effects. (PBS) The harmful effects of those who engage in viewing pornography are widely described as including the following: Harm to existing marriages, including a 25.6% greater likelihood of divorce, 3.18 times greater likelihood of having an extra marital affair, and an 8% chance of being less likely to have a happy marriage (Weiss). Higher Rates of Substance Abuse (Weiss) Higher acceptance of premarital and casual sexual behavior (Weiss) A nearly five times higher number of lifetime sexual partners than non-pornography users (Weiss). In 1985, MacKinnon wrote about the civil rights violations of pornography in the Harvard Civil rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. She asserted that the female stars in pornographic films or photographs had clearly not given consent as evidenced by the scratches, bruises, and other injuries on their bodies. She further argued that audiences respond to pornography because it is perceived as real and as such, they act out in real life the violent acts ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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