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descriptive, morally neutral definition: sexually explicit
material that has as its primary purpose the stimulation of
sexual excitement or interest. (p.232)
 normative, value laden definition: verbal or pictorial
explicit representations of sexual behavior that … have as a
distinguishing characteristic the degrading and demeaning
portrayal of the role and status of the human female … as a
mere sexual object to be exploited and manipulated sexually.
(p.232, from Helen Longino)
legal definition: “obscenity” defined as depictions or works
that were “patently offensive” to local “community standards”
that appeal to “prurient interests,” and that taken as a whole
lack “serious literary artistic, political or scientific value.”
(LAPS test) (p.232 from US Supreme Court Miller v. California)
J. S. Mill
 “That only purpose for which
power can be rightfully
exercised over any member of
a civilized community,
against his will, is to prevent
harm to others.”
On Liberty, 1859
Defining Issues:
 What is the harm – physical, psychological,
moral, social…?
 When is the harm serious enough to warrant
the force of law employed?
 In the case of pornography can one validly
correlate the viewing and incidence of
subsequent harmful consequences?
 Problem of conflicting interests: Would the
restriction constitute a greater harm to others?
The idea involved in
this second libertylimiting principle is
that the law may
prevent people from
doing what they wish
or choose to do when
their action causes
harm to society itself.
Susan Wendell:
 “Society has the right to
protect itself from the
disorder and oral
disintegration that
result from individuals
unduly pursuing their
sexual self-interest…the
government has the
right therefore to limit
such forms of
expression.” (p.236)
Defining issues:
 Is a society legitimately distinguishable from
its collective members?
 This principle does not require that the society
be a just or good one…should that matter?
 This principle makes a distinction between
harming the majority of its members and
harming the society itself…this implies that it
could be invoked even if only a minority of
individuals or even no individuals are affected.
Is based on assumption that we do not have the
right to offend others.
Replaces label of pornography with “obscenity” –
defined as “patently offensive” (p.235)
Assumes harm is psychic
As with the harm principle, requires determination
of sufficiency and extent of offense
Often involves issues of avoidability
Offense to minority, women or specific racial
group may be sufficient basis for restriction.
Is not easily applied to internet or video.
Posits government’s right to
restrict actions that harm
Restrictions would be based on
assumptions that viewing
pornography is somehow
harmful to the individual
Often invoked in case of
restricting access to children
May also be used to justify
labeling, advertising and
distributing restrictions
A Report of the GQ
spread with Glee Stars
on ABC News
Couric’s comments:
 http://www.cbsnews
Posits that one’s actions may be limited
because they are immoral…just because they
are immoral.
Usually applies to supposedly harmless
immoralities or so called “victimless” crimes
May raise questions regarding conflicts with
the Establishment Clause of the First
Amendment: "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion“ if
judgment of morality is based on religious
FALWELL: “Well, I have never had
any ill feelings toward him. I think
that his business is sleaze and
garbage, and I think that it's
demeaning to women and
children…. I am a Christian. My
interest is that the next time around
Larry, when he accepts Christ, he'll
really mean it and go on and get rid
of that magazine and go for God.”
FLYNT: “The type of humor
published in "Hustler" is outrageous
political and social satire and
offensive cartoons. But this is the
kind of material the people in the
workplace, the shops and the factories
are really into and find funny, and
that's who I publish the magazine -I am not publishing the magazine for
the whole country, only for my
readers. So, I was responding to that
particular market. Yeah. So, I got a
little bit of a sick sense of humor, so
hated everything he
stood for, but after
meeting him in person,
years after the trial,
Jerry Falwell and I
became good friends.”
LARRY FLYNT, the Hustler
publisher commenting on his
relationship with the late Rev.
Jerry Falwell, who had sued him
for libel after being parodied in
his magazine. Wednesday, May.
16, 2007
Andrea Dworkin:
 “Pornography creates attitudes
that keep women second class
citizens…Porn teaches men that
what they see reflects our
natural attitudes.”
Catherine MacKinnon:
“Pornography eroticizes
hierarchy.…It makes
dominance and
submission into sex.”
'How many women's bodies have to stack up even to register
against male profit and pleasure presented as First Amendment
“…the pornography industry is an industry of trafficking women, and
it's covered up as a form of speech, and it defended as therefore a First
Amendment right. So the ways in which women are hurt by it begin with
the women in it who are being prostituted through it and are typically
gotten into it either as children or through a whole range of coercive
means, all the way from physical force through economic coercion to
being victims of sexual abuse, typically as children, and a whole range of
means, and then exploited in it.
The materials that are made through that abuse and exploitation that feed
on it, that is to say, a lot of the women are being raped in the materials
even when they aren't being presented as being raped,….”
Is being treated as a sex object commensurate
and inextricably linked with being a harmed
What is the relationship between loosing
respect and being treated as a sex object?
Can pornography be produced and distributed
in a non-sexist & non-degrading manner?
Could non-sexist pornography be used as an
instrument for social change?