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• Repression to Oppression • The Harm Based Definition of Pornography •The Normalisation of Pornography Representation is a political issue. Without the power to define our interests and to participate in the decisions that affect us, women – like any other group in society – will be subject to the definitions and decisions of others. (Marshment, 1993:125) Repression The Oxford English Dictionary defines repression as ‘to subdue someone or something by force’ (2001:1575). I defined repression as a system of control forced on Irish women in contradiction to the promise of equality pledged in the 1916 and the 1922 constitutions. In the Mary Immaculate Training College Annual (1927), apart from regulations governing modest dress it urged its members to abstain from; •Smoking •Immodest attitudes •Loud talking or boisterous laughter in public, coarse or irreverent exclamations •Suggestive or immodest dances •Alcoholic drink at dances or entertainment •Improper cinema-shows, plays, etc. and anything opposed to modesty in what relates to sea-bathing, and to show one’s disapproval of the same (Bourke, Angela. et al., 2002:155-156) Hanna Sheegy Skeffington summed up the situation; ‘What a time we live in! Here we are rapidly becoming a Catholic statelet under Rome’s grip censorship and the like, with a very narrow provincial outlook’. • 1971; A group of women formed the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement (IWLM) and succeeded in creating a national dialogue on issues which had never been addressed in public before. • 1972; Ireland voted to join the European Union (EU). • 1983; The introduction in of a referendum on a pro-life amendment to the Constitution and a challenge to the Constitutional ban on divorce lead to the development of Ireland as a more pluralist society. (Keogh, 1995:366-369). • 1986; A commission on the status of Women gave women a first opportunity to review their position is society. (Barry, 1998:357). Oppression The Oxford English Dictionary defines oppression as ‘keep in subjection … exercise of control on a minority or other subordinate group’ (2001:1302). I define oppression a system of power which exploits and imposes itself upon a minority or subordinate group. ‘The fantasy woman and women being sexualised’ •women’s bodies as sex objects •creation of an unequal society •women’s reality not reflected The harm based definition of pornography I position myself pornography as: with feminists who see •sexually explicit violent material in which women are not alone raped, abused, or tortured but also seen to enjoy this violence. •sexually explicit non-violent material which is degrading to women and defines sexual relationships based on women’s subordination and men’s dominance. (Itzin, 1992:562). Re-defining the sex industry • Prostitutes become sex workers • Pimps and traffickers turn into businessmen • Men who buy women’s bodies become customers • Eventually the sex industry becomes a legitimate economic sector which makes it both acceptable and respectable. (Raymond, 2004:1-5). • Japan’s profits in the sex industry average 4.2 trillion yen in recent years. • Ukrainian and Russian women, earn criminal gangs about US$500-1000 per woman delivered. These women can be expected to service an average 15 clients a day and make about US$15,000 per month for the gangs’ (Marchand, 2000:98). • In Thailand, it is estimated that there are 300,000 female prostitutes under the age of eighteen (Barry, 2005:) It is important to recognise that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries like Thailand will reflect the sex tourism industry without reflecting the nature of women’s exploitation as a large part of that industry. ‘Men becoming desensitised’ • Highly sexualised way • Consequences on the lives of women • Pornography normalises sexual abuse and often in its most extreme form, sexual abuse can be seen to equal sexual pleasure. ‘Pornography being normalised’ • • • • • ‘In your face’ ‘Sexualising of young girls’ Huge profits Career option for young girls Playboy logos on children’s pencil cases • Lads Mags = harmless fun? • Popular culture - Friends ‘The belief that pornography inhabits its own physical and mental world is an illusion. Nothing restricts its effects. Yet the protective myth of its spatial separation and cognitive confinement endures, even as pornography visibly takes over more and more public space, invading homes and offices and transforming popular culture’ Catherine A. MacKinnon, “X-Underrated,” Mines Higher Educational Supplement (London, May 20, 2005).