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Pornography Censorship

The censorship of pornography has been an issue that has been under constant
debate in our society. There are many arguments for and against the censorship
of pornographic materials. In the broadest of explanations, the argument
supporting an increase in censorship is rooted in the belief that such material
may cause direct and/or indirect detriments to society. Advocates for freedom of
expression feel that increased censorship violates many basic human rights and
consequently may harm our society. In looking at a topic such as this, one must
take a close look at the positions of various individuals and groups. At that
point it will become apparent that the debate on this issue cannot be confined
by the broad explanation given earlier. As mentioned, it is important to examine
the views of specific individuals and groups in order to gain a better
understanding of this topic. For these purposes, this paper will attempt to
summarize and evaluate the position of the author Wendy McElroy. The articles
that will be examined are entitled: Liberal Feminist Arguments Against
Censorship and Individualist Feminism: A True defense of Pornography. McElroy
discusses various issues concerning pornography as they pertain to feminism. It
is a popular belief that pornography through its negative portrayal of women has
impeded the feminist movement. What McElroy attempts to argue through her
articles is that pornography does the exact opposite of this. She attempts to
explain that increased censorship of such materials in fact hinders the feminist
movement. In the article liberal feminism: the glimmer of hope McElroy raises
issues concerning the differences between the views of liberal and radical
feminists as they pertain to the topic of pornography. It is her view that
liberal feminist organizations such as the FFE are responsible for strengthening
the feminist movement through their strong anti-censorship stance. The liberal
feminist stance is one that supports anti-censorship, consequently freedom of
speech and expression even as it pertains to the issue of pornography. McElroy
outlines in detail the position of liberal feminists and their arguments against
censorship. She states that there are three main articles in support of
anti-censorship. In this article she introduces two of these arguments, the
third is discussed in her second article; Individualist Feminism; A True defense
of Pornography. The two arguments raised in this article are that Freedom of
speech is a necessary condition for human freedom and The suppression of
Pornography will hurt women. In the first argument McElroy points out that in
using the argument for anti-censorship of pornography one is not necessarily in
support of pornography but rather that one feels that the right of freedom
should not be sacrificed despite their disapproval on this issue. McElroy points
out that once the basic right of freedom of speech is breached through
censorship then many works of art and literature would be scrutinized and in
many cases banned. She also points out that this would put a damper on political
expression and creative culture. McElroy?s second argument against censorship
is rooted on the notion that the suppression of pornography will hurt women. In
support of this argument she raises and addresses a serious of concerns. McElroy
cautions against increased censorship as it may lead censors to include
homosexuality under their definition of degrading material. It his her view that
censorship may also lead to the banning of feminist literature. The author cites
previous examples in history such as works by feminist author Margaret Sanger.

McElroy also warns that censorship will be used against those who hold the least
popular views. McElroy also feels that the anti-pornography crusade perpetuates
the myth of women as victims. She feels that the pro censorship stance is often
supported by the notion that women need protection under the law. This according
to McElroy implies that women are helpless and require the protection that
censorship provides. She is also states that many radical feminists in their
pursuit in strengthening their anti-pornography position are compromising the
feminist movement by siding with anti-feminists conservatives. McElroy points
out the dangers in adding to the credibility of groups that may turn on a dime
against them. It is also the position of the author that many radical feminists
are in fact diverting many of the real issues confronting women today.

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