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Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights

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Reissued with a new foreword and introduction by the author Traditional explanations of why pornography must be defended from would-be censors have concentrated on censorship's adverse impacts on free speech and sexual autonomy. In contrast, Nadine Strossen focuses on the women's rights-centered rationale for defending pornography. Reissued with a new foreword and introduction by the author Traditional explanations of why pornography must be defended from would-be censors have concentrated on censorship's adverse impacts on free speech and sexual autonomy. In contrast, Nadine Strossen focuses on the women's rights-centered rationale for defending pornography.


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Reissued with a new foreword and introduction by the author Traditional explanations of why pornography must be defended from would-be censors have concentrated on censorship's adverse impacts on free speech and sexual autonomy. In contrast, Nadine Strossen focuses on the women's rights-centered rationale for defending pornography. Reissued with a new foreword and introduction by the author Traditional explanations of why pornography must be defended from would-be censors have concentrated on censorship's adverse impacts on free speech and sexual autonomy. In contrast, Nadine Strossen focuses on the women's rights-centered rationale for defending pornography.

30 review for Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Lee

    This one is difficult for me to rate. I didn't like it, because of my anti-porn politics, but I acknowledge that is well written and the arguments well articulated. Mostly. She refers to anti-pornography feminists as "MacDwokinites." Using such churlish name calling--as if her opponents are women from another planet--diminishes her writing considerably. This one is difficult for me to rate. I didn't like it, because of my anti-porn politics, but I acknowledge that is well written and the arguments well articulated. Mostly. She refers to anti-pornography feminists as "MacDwokinites." Using such churlish name calling--as if her opponents are women from another planet--diminishes her writing considerably.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    There's a lot more to being a feminist than hating men, sex, and free speech. Anyone who doesn't buy in to Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin's perception of sex should read this book, to provide a different persepective to the feminazi stance. There's a lot more to being a feminist than hating men, sex, and free speech. Anyone who doesn't buy in to Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin's perception of sex should read this book, to provide a different persepective to the feminazi stance.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    "The cure for every excess of freedom of speech is more freedom of speech." Molly Ivins, quoted in Defending Pornography. "The cure for every excess of freedom of speech is more freedom of speech." Molly Ivins, quoted in Defending Pornography.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Crider

    As someone who regularly defends sex work and sex workers, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately it was quite a disappointment. I have actually read some Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin (the book's chief foils) and I found Strossen's treatment unfairly dismissive of these serious thinkers. For more than the first hundred pages of the book, the radical feminist ideas aren't even laid out in any detail. They're just gestured at with strong insinuations of their (apparently obvious) As someone who regularly defends sex work and sex workers, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately it was quite a disappointment. I have actually read some Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin (the book's chief foils) and I found Strossen's treatment unfairly dismissive of these serious thinkers. For more than the first hundred pages of the book, the radical feminist ideas aren't even laid out in any detail. They're just gestured at with strong insinuations of their (apparently obvious) absurdity. Strossen would fit in well with the so-called "Intellectual Dark Web" in how she identifies feminists--*some* feminists, who have "gone too far", to be sure--as a far greater threat themselves than the threats they speak out against. I kept having to remind myself that the book was written in the 90s (published 2000) and the live controversies were very different theb. Authorities in popular culture and in government really were antisex and censorious. Radical feminists were certainly a legitimate target given the kind of common cause intellectual heft they afforded regimes with real power to censor. But then I got to the chapter about how the feminists--*some* feminists, of course--have just gone too far with "sexual harassment". Strossen worries that threats of sexual harassment have created a chilling environment for everyday sexuality. In the MeToo era, of course, this just seems utterly blind to the very existence of power dynamics. And there is no reason to suspect that power and hierarchy worked differently in the 90s than they do 20 years later. I'd have given the book a lonely star but the second half of the book is much stronger, perhaps because Strossen is more in her element. This part of the book explores the strong libertarian and legal cases against censorship. Overall I'd give the book a pass, but if you do read it, make sure to endure through to the later chapters.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Megan Snodgrass

    Starting this book I came in with no specific viewpoint on pornography and how that fit into the feminist agenda. With that said, my mind was quickly awakened to the rhetoric on both sides on how pornography relates to women's rights, violence, and views on women. I think Nadine Strossen does a great job laying out the framework to the current issues (re: 1995 I should say), finding a balance of research to support her views, and highlighting to the reader how pro-censorship can be a slippery sl Starting this book I came in with no specific viewpoint on pornography and how that fit into the feminist agenda. With that said, my mind was quickly awakened to the rhetoric on both sides on how pornography relates to women's rights, violence, and views on women. I think Nadine Strossen does a great job laying out the framework to the current issues (re: 1995 I should say), finding a balance of research to support her views, and highlighting to the reader how pro-censorship can be a slippery slope in regards to free speech and free sexual expression. I myself think we as a society need to do a better job educating individuals about sex and at removing the feeling of shame people feel about being open sexual beings. I liked that Strossen touched on this and how if we begin to censor porn, and free sexual speech in art, literature, etc. we are only pushing things further in the dark which can be worse than having everything in the light. I would love to see how Strossen would speak about this issue nowadays. With internet being so prevalent, and porn being so accessible, it's not really feasible to censor it. Overall I think it's a fascinating read because it touches on all the potential ramifications censorship could bring. I do think it gets repetitive and could potentially have been shorter and still got its point across. Further, she notes that but I still think it's important to echo, in that I don't think porn in itself causes men to assault individuals, but I also don't think it's necessarily showing people uneducated in how sex works how to treat women well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    i had to read this for a women's history class i took in college. i found it to be pretty interesting - different. i had to read this for a women's history class i took in college. i found it to be pretty interesting - different.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caterina Ambrosio

    Nadine Strossen, docente di diritto Costituzionale alla New York Law School, scrive quest’opera come reazione ad alcune tesi del femminismo radicale guidato nell’America degli anni 90 da Catharine MacKinnon e Andrea Rita Dworking. Le due donne, femministe militanti, si sono rese protagoniste del dibattito pubblico americano, a seguito della loro proposta di legge che prevedeva l’abolizione della pornografia in quanto “forma di sesso violato”. Questa motivazione, che parrebbe in apparenza logica, Nadine Strossen, docente di diritto Costituzionale alla New York Law School, scrive quest’opera come reazione ad alcune tesi del femminismo radicale guidato nell’America degli anni 90 da Catharine MacKinnon e Andrea Rita Dworking. Le due donne, femministe militanti, si sono rese protagoniste del dibattito pubblico americano, a seguito della loro proposta di legge che prevedeva l’abolizione della pornografia in quanto “forma di sesso violato”. Questa motivazione, che parrebbe in apparenza logica, in realtà nasconde una serie di falle che costituirebbero in ultima istanza un passo indietro nel percorso emancipativo delle donne, guadagnato con fatica dalle nostre madri e nonne nella seconda metà del 1900. Nadine Strossen propone le sue idee in chiave storico-legislativa con il supporto, nella parte conclusiva del libro, delle scienze sociali. Tra le idee proposte come reazione al punto di vista pro-censura mi hanno particolarmente colpito due punti: il primo riguarda l’infantilizzazione della donna nel femminismo radicato e il secondo riguarda la disconnessione tra i reati sessuali e il consumo di materiale pornografico. È innegabile che vi siano forme di violenza nel sesso (che sfavoriscono principalmente le donne) e soprattutto nell’industria pornografica, problemi che vanno sicuramente scoperti e osteggiati. C’è però anche l’altra faccia della medaglia ovvero la maggiore libertà in ambito sessuale che le donne hanno conquistato anche tramite il porno. Tra i pregi del libro rientra sicuramente la scioltezza della scrittura, in effetti è possibile leggere tranquillamente questo libro pur non disponendo di molte informazioni pregresse riguardo l’argomento. Ciò che ho trovato fastidioso è il discorso ridondante in certi punti e carente in altri: la Strossen ha scritto questo libro di getto, come risposta immediata a una proposta di legge che stava acquisendo sempre più consenso. Credo che il libro sarebbe stato più interessante se l’autrice avesse approfondito meglio il suo pensiero femminista, chiarendo al meglio le diverse posizioni all’interno del femminismo americano.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chiara Lou

    A very interesting insight into the censorship debates that followed the sex wars but definitely outdated and very American.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gab

    While Strossen writes with an authentic and clear voice, she refuses to seriously engage with what she dubs the “McDworkin” school of thought, instead mocking the assertions made by her fellow academics. While I agree with Strossen’s 1st Amendment arguments, the work falls flat when Strossen refuses to acknowledge what the science says, that exposure to pornography is associated with negative feelings toward women, violence against women, and other longer term side effects for the male viewers t While Strossen writes with an authentic and clear voice, she refuses to seriously engage with what she dubs the “McDworkin” school of thought, instead mocking the assertions made by her fellow academics. While I agree with Strossen’s 1st Amendment arguments, the work falls flat when Strossen refuses to acknowledge what the science says, that exposure to pornography is associated with negative feelings toward women, violence against women, and other longer term side effects for the male viewers themselves. Overall this is very much a liberal, “choice” based feminism approach to analysis, relying on the anecdotal evidence that “some women love it,” rather than branching toward class analysis.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rhian

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Calkin

  14. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cormac Flanagan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bracken

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Abruzzese

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lukas Evan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tania Hossain

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  23. 5 out of 5

    Colin Kline

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra Vona

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trisha Olson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Philip Taj

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  28. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

  29. 4 out of 5

    Highlyeccentric

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anne Driscoll

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