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Feminist’s Respond on Pornography (5-End)

anti pornographyThe weaknesses of pro-sex arguments

In my opinion there are some weak arguments to the pro-sex feminist position. They claim that pornography is a representation and open to interpretation. It means thatno text or image has any objective, fixed meaning, but rather has a different meaning for each member of its audience. Different readers get different meanings about a representation (Mercer 105). However, precisely because of openness to interpretation, there is no guarantee that every viewer has a critical response to the images. One clear example is that children may unwittingly imitate unconsciously while they watching hard core porn because they do not think critically as an adult. However the same problem of lack of critical thinking can affect adult viewers too.

Censorships in some extent may be necessary to avoid the bad effects of pornography. Not all people can analyze and classify different kinds of porn as harmful, and the other as useful. This is a difficult position because when we try to classify the porn products into different category such as more violent, less violent and not violent, we will find different opinion and different argument about it.

Pro-sex feminists argue that legitimizing pornography would benefit women, particularly those who earn money from pornography industry because legal pornography would protect sex workers from danger (McElroy 5). In my opinion, this argument of legalizing pornography is automatically also an argument to legalize prostitution, whereas currently prostitution in the United Stated is illegal except in Nevada (Russell 18). Sex worker who are mostly women, are regarded as a commodity. It means that women would be valued based on their bodies, not based on other capabilities such as their intellectual ability, skills, knowledge and so forth. I think that most pornography degrades women because it sees them just as a commodity. In other words pornography perpetuates patriarchal culture that regards women as sexual objects. Much pornography represents a sexuality in which women are passive and men active, and women are desired and men desire; pornography doescontain stereotypes of women that feminism wishes to challenge. The language that usually used in pornography is bad word such as dirty, naughty etc. It means that pornography depiction perpetuates a negative stereotype of women, women are dirty.

The Frontline documentary on the porn industry in the US tells us that the link between pornography and capitalism was incredibly strong. Pornography producers have a responsibility to provide the demand for pornography culture, because the demand has increased significantly. For example, the number of hardcore titles to hit the market in 1986 was less than 2000 titles. There was a significant increase in 2000 is around 11.000 titles (source: Adult Video News).

Another weakness concerns the argument that pornography has value as a political movement. Hustler publisher Larry Flynt asserts that pornography in Hustler magazine is not merely naked women but it is political movement to attack political power, religion institutions, and class privileges (Kipnis 124). My criticism is that they use naked women for political interest. Why do they use naked women’s bodies rather than a clothed ones?

IN pornography in patriarchal culture, producers, who are mostly men, have more power to control women than women themselves as models. Therefore, I do net fully agree that “Porn is the theatrical performance of sexual risk, ritually staging pleasure and danger under remote control” (McClintock 125). For example, actresses and models in porn products perform under the direction and control of others. It means that they are not free to express their needs because the people who hold control are the producers, who are men who have the benefits of a patriarchal culture.

Pro-sex feminists criticize moral conservatives who use the rhetoric and tactics of the feminist anti-pornography project to attack gays, lesbians, and control women’s sexuality (Segal 11). Echols says that similar to anti-abortion movement, the anti-pornography movement rebels against the new sexual order (65). It means that the feminists on the left and moralists on the right have found that their political preferences regarding censorship on pornography are that far apart. My response to this is to look at ethical issues of social relations among human being. Pro-sex feminist arguments seem to say that money is more important than ethical or moral aspects. Yet ethics or morals are a significant part of human being as social beings because they teach human being to behave and communicate with others (Human being is zoon politicon). Feminist can present an ethical argument that does not create the same problems as conservative positions, and yet does not simply surrender to the market.

Alimatul Qibtiyah
Aktivis perempuan dan peneliti masalah gender. Ketua Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengembangan 'Aisyiyah (LPPA) Pimpinan Pusat Aisyiyah. Komisioner Komnas Perempuan. Anggota Majelis Tarjih dan Tajdid PP Muhammadiyah. Dosen Fakultas Dakwah dan Komunikasi (FDK) UIN Sunan Kalijaga.

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