Opposition to pornography

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Anti-pornography protest on Oxford Street, London

Reasons for opposition to pornography include religious objections, feminist concerns, and claims of harmful effects, such as pornography addiction. Anti-pornography movements have allied disparate social activists in opposition to pornography, from social conservatives to harm reduction advocates. The definition of "pornography" varies between countries and movements, and many make distinctions between pornography, which they oppose, and erotica, which they consider acceptable. Sometimes opposition will deem certain forms of pornography more or less harmful, while others draw no such distinctions.

A 2013 Gallup survey reported that, of U.S. adults, 66% believe that pornography is "morally wrong" while 31% believe that it is "morally acceptable".[1]

Religious views

Most world religions have positions in opposition to pornography from a variety of rationales,[2][3][4][5] including concerns about modesty, human dignity, chastity and other virtues.

Feminist views

Some feminists are opposed to pornography, arguing that it is an industry which exploits women and which is complicit in violence against women, both in its production (where they charge that abuse and exploitation of women performing in pornography is rampant) and in its consumption (where they charge that pornography eroticizes the domination, humiliation, and coercion of women, and reinforces sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment).[6] They charge that pornography contributes to the male-centered objectification of women and thus to sexism.[7]

However, many other feminists are opposed to censorship, and have argued against the introduction of anti-porn legislation in the United States - among them Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, Karen DeCrow, Wendy Kaminer and Jamaica Kincaid.[8] Some sex-positive feminists actively support pornography that depicts female sexuality in a positive way, without objectifying or demeaning women.

Harm-based views

Zillmann Fig 7.png Zillmann Fig 8.png Zillmann Fig 9.png
Figures 7, 8, and 9 in Zillmann, Dolf: "Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography", 1986.[9]

Dolf Zillmann argued in 1986 publication "Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography" that extensive viewing of pornographic material produces many unfavorable sociological effects, including a decreased respect for long-term, monogamous relationships, and an attenuated desire for procreation.[9] He describes the theoretical basis of these experimental findings:

The values expressed in pornography clash so obviously with the family concept, and they potentially undermine the traditional values that favor marriage, family, and children... Pornographic scripts dwell on sexual engagements of parties who have just met, who are in no way attached or committed to each other, and who will part shortly, never to meet again... Sexual gratification in pornography is not a function of emotional attachment, of kindness, of caring, and especially not of continuance of the relationship, as such continuance would translate into responsibilities, curtailments, and costs...[10]

A study by Zillman in 1982 also indicated that prolonged exposure to pornography desensitized both men and women toward victims of sexual violence. After being shown pornographic movies, test subjects were asked to judge an appropriate punishment for a rapist. The test subjects recommended incarceration terms that were significantly more lenient than those recommended by control subjects that did not watch pornography.[9]

Some researchers like Zillman believe that pornography causes unequivocal harm to society by increasing rates of sexual assault,[9] a line of research which has been critiqued in "The effects of Pornography: An International Perspective".[11] Other researchers believe that there is a correlation between pornography and a decrease of sex crimes.[12][13][14]

Pornography is often criticized for presenting an inaccurate picture of human sexuality. While the educated or sophisticated may recognize that pornography is not a representation of reality,[speculation?] young or uneducated viewers may take it as a guide for their behavior.[15] This is part of what has been called "the pornification of America".[16][17]

See also

Further reading

Anti-pornography advocacy


  • Susie Bright. "Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World and Susie Bright's Sexual Reality: A Virtual Sex World Reader", San Francisco, CA: Cleis Press, 1990 and 1992. Challenges any easy equation between feminism and anti-pornography positions.
  • Betty Dodson. "Feminism and Free speech: Pornography." Feminists for Free Expression 1993. 8 May 2002
  • Kate Ellis. Caught Looking: Feminism, Pornography, and Censorship. New York: Caught Looking Incorporated, 1986.
  • Matthew Gever. "Pornography Helps Women, Society", UCLA Bruin, 1998-12-03.
  • Michele Gregory. "Pro-Sex Feminism: Redefining Pornography (or, a study in alliteration: the pro pornography position paper) "[21]
  • Gayle Rubin, "Dangerous, Misguided, and Wrong: An Analysis of Anti-Pornograph Politics." In "Bad Girl and Dirty Pictures," ed. Carol Assuster (1993).
  • Andrea Juno and V. Vale. Angry Women, Re/Search # 12. San Francisco, CA: Re/Search Publications, 1991. Performance artists and literary theorists who challenge Dworkin and MacKinnon's claim to speak on behalf of all women.
    • "A Feminist Overview of Pornography,Ending in a Defense Thereof"[22]
    • "A Feminist Defense of pornography"[23]
  • Ley, David, Prause, Nicole, & Finn, Peter. (2014). The Emperor Has No Clothes: A review of the “Pornography Addiction” model. Current Sexual Health Reports, manuscript in press.[24]
  • Annalee Newitz. "Obscene Feminists: Why Women Are Leading the Battle Against Censorship." San Francisco Bay Guardian Online 8 May 2002. 9 May 2002[25]
  • Nadine Strossen:
    • "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women's Rights" (ISBN 0-8147-8149-7)
    • "Nadine Strossen: Pornography Must Be Tolerated"[26]
  • Scott Tucker. "Gender, Fucking, and Utopia: An Essay in Response to John Stoltenberg's Refusing to Be a Man."[27] in Social Text 27 (1991): 3-34. Critique of Stoltenberg and Dworkin's positions on pornography and power.
  • Carole Vance, Editor. "Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality". Boston: Routledge, 1984. Collection of papers from 1982 conference; visible and divisive split between anti-pornography activists and lesbian S&M theorists.


  1. Newport, Frank; Igor Himelfarb (May 20, 2013). "In U.S., Record-High Say Gay, Lesbian Relations Morally OK". Gallup.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Slick, Matt. "What does the Bible say about pornography? Is it wrong?". Retrieved 6 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Freeman, Tzvi. "What's Wrong With Pornography?". Retrieved 6 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Mujahid, Abdul Malik. "Islam on Pornography: A Definite No-No". Retrieved 6 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Smith, Neil. "The Science Behind Negative Effects of Masturbation (and Pornography)". Retrieved 8 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Morgan, Robin (1974). "Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape". In: Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist. Random House. ISBN 0-394-48227-1.
  7. MacKinnon, Catharine (1987). Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 146–150.
  8. http://www.fiawol.demon.co.uk/FAC/harm.htm
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Report of the Surgeon General's Workshop on Pornography and Public Health: Background Papers: 'Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography' (August 4, 1986)
  10. Zillmann, pages 16-17
  11. The effects of Pornography: An International Perspective
  12. "Pornography, rape and the internet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. D'Amato, Anthony (2006-06-23). "Porn Up, Rape Down". Archived from the original on 13 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. The Effects of Pornography: An International Perspective University of Hawaii Porn 101: Eroticism, Pornography, and the First Amendment: Milton Diamond Ph.D.
  15. http://pornaddictionend.tumblr.com
  16. John W. Whitehead, "Miley Cyrus and the Pornification of America", The Rutherford Institute, https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/miley_cyrus_and_the_pornification_of_america, retrieved 2014-09-07
  17. Don Aucoin, "The pornification of America. From music to fashion to celebrity culture, mainstream entertainment reflects an X-rated attitude like never before" Boston Globe, January 24, 2006, http://www.boston.com/yourlife/articles/2006/01/24/the_pornification_of_america/?page=full, retrieved 2014-09-07
  18. http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/get-the-facts
  19. About Shelley Former Porn Actress Shelley Lubben
  20. "Out of Pornography and Into the Light". CBN. Retrieved 2010-04-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. http://witsendzine.com/musings/michele/ppp.htm
  22. WendyMcElroy.com: Content / Individualist Feminism - Theory / A Feminist Overview of Pornography
  23. A Feminist Defense of Pornography
  24. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11930-014-0016-8
  25. sfbg.com
  26. Nadine Strossen (November 1995). "Pornography Must Be Tolerated". The Ethical Spectacle.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. The Columbia reader on lesbians and ... - Google Books