Porn Is Not the Problem | Letters | Chicago Reader

Porn Is Not the Problem 

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To the editors:

[Re: "Against the Law," February 5]

There are many flaws with the puritanical antipornography branch of the feminist movement. One of the biggest being that it fails to put pornography in the context of the media as a whole. The problems of sexually explicit books, magazines, and films are extremely similar if not the same as so-called mainstream books, magazines, and films. Pornography at least is more likely to feature safer sex. The "mainstream" cannot say the same. Most mainstream media will not even accept advertising for condoms let alone include condoms in the shows.

The Chicago judge who said "depictions of subordination tend to perpetuate subordination" is absolutely right. I suggest that he along with other antipornography feminists sell their televisions, stop going to any movies, stay away from most magazines and books, and by all means stay out of the adult bookstores. There are many problems with the depiction of women in the media across the board, but just because pornography is an easy target aimed at by fundamentalists, politicians, and guardians of everyone else's morality but their own does not mean that feminists must take aim as well.

Along with the movement's failure to contextualize is the movement's failure to pay attention to the details of pornography and realize that the industry has changed and grown significantly. The movies being made today are very different from the movies of 20 years ago. I've watched a lot of films--obviously antipornography activists have watched very few--and the only rape scenes that I have viewed have been from very old movies. It is much more unlikely to see rape scenes in a well-made modern product. I'm not talking about something from the schlock, fly-by-night production companies consisting of some guy who could afford a video cam. I'm talking about the old respected companies that produce a quality product.

Pornography--like any other aspect of the media--reflects the world that created it, and the current product reflects women in stronger roles. Most don't just lay down and take it. When they say no, they mean no, and when they say yes, they mean yes.

Now more than ever there are women behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. Men are in front of the camera as well as behind. Women made for women pornography is a small fledgling aspect of the industry. Women are learning more and more about their sexuality and are taking control. Adult material for far too long has been a male domain where men learn about their sexuality. But women need to know about sexuality too. Women need to be more a part of this industry, not less.

Men do rape, and men must take responsibility for their actions. Laws, like the ordinance in Indianapolis, make it too easy for men to say, "I did it because I saw this" or "I read this." Men rape. Men must be held accountable for their actions. There are no excuses. They have no one to blame but themselves. It is not the fault of the women walking down the street in a skirt, be it ankle length or thigh high, nor is it the fault of the woman who has sex on film. Her film is a fantasy, and most children are taught the difference between fantasy and reality. I refuse to believe that males by the time they are adults have not learned the difference. Men must be held accountable. Men must take responsibility for their actions.

Victoria Stagg Elliott

W. Sherwin

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