Pornography Censorship The censorship of pornography has been an issue that has been under constant debate in our society. There are many arguments for and against the censorship of pornographic materials. In the broadest of explanations, the argument supporting an increase in censorship is rooted in the belief that such material may cause direct and/or indirect detriments to society. Advocates for freedom of expression feel that increased censorship violates many basic human rights and consequently may harm our society. In looking at a topic such as this, one must take a close look at the positions of various individuals and groups.
At that point it will become apparent that the debate on this issue cannot be confined by the broad explanation given earlier. As mentioned, it is important to examine the views of specific individuals and groups in order to gain a better understanding of this topic. For these purposes, this paper will attempt to summarize and evaluate the position of the author Wendy McElroy. The articles that will be examined are entitled: Liberal Feminist Arguments Against Censorship and Individualist Feminism: A True defense of Pornography. McElroy discusses various issues concerning pornography as they pertain to feminism.
It is a popular belief that pornography through its negative portrayal of women has impeded the feminist movement. What McElroy attempts to argue through her articles is that pornography does the exact opposite of this. She attempts to explain that increased censorship of such materials in fact hinders the feminist movement. In the article liberal feminism: the glimmer of hope McElroy raises issues concerning the differences between the views of liberal and radical feminists as they pertain to the topic of pornography. It is her view that liberal feminist organizations such as the FFE are responsible for strengthening the feminist movement through their strong anti-censorship stance. The liberal feminist stance is one that supports anti-censorship, consequently freedom of speech and expression even as it pertains to the issue of pornography.
McElroy outlines in detail the position of liberal feminists and their arguments against censorship. She states that there are three main articles in support of anti-censorship. In this article she introduces two of these arguments, the third is discussed in her second article; Individualist Feminism; A True defense of Pornography. The two arguments raised in this article are that Freedom of speech is a necessary condition for human freedom and The suppression of Pornography will hurt women. In the first argument McElroy points out that in using the argument for anti-censorship of pornography one is not necessarily in support of pornography but rather that one feels that the right of freedom should not be sacrificed despite their disapproval on this issue. McElroy points out that once the basic right of freedom of speech is breached through censorship then many works of art and literature would be scrutinized and in many cases banned.
She also points out that this would put a damper on political expression and creative culture. McElroys second argument against censorship is rooted on the notion that the suppression of pornography will hurt women. In support of this argument she raises and addresses a serious of concerns. McElroy cautions against increased censorship as it may lead censors to include homosexuality under their definition of degrading material. It his her view that censorship may also lead to the banning of feminist literature. The author cites previous examples in history such as works by feminist author Margaret Sanger.
McElroy also warns that censorship will be used against those who hold the least popular views. McElroy also feels that the anti-pornography crusade perpetuates the myth of women as victims. She feels that the pro censorship stance is often supported by the notion that women need protection under the law. This according to McElroy implies that women are helpless and require the protection that censorship provides. She is also states that many radical feminists in their pursuit in strengthening their anti-pornography position are compromising the feminist movement by siding with anti-feminists conservatives.
McElroy points out the dangers in adding to the credibility of groups that may turn on a dime against them. It is also the position of the author that many radical feminists are in fact diverting many of the real issues confronting women today.