Censorship and porn

Pornography and the Sex Censor

censorship and porn

This list of Internet censorship and surveillance by country provides information on the types Yemen censors pornography, nudity, gay and lesbian content, escort and dating services, sites displaying provocative attire, Web sites which. Censorship: Politics and Pornography. Social Implications of Computers. Harmful Speech. Everyone has some kind of speech they consider harmful. What do. May 24, This week, we're talking about pornography regulation. Need a primer? Happily, the left appears ready to take up the censor's task. Campus.

The enforcement of the Production Code led to the dissolution of many local censorship boards. Meanwhile, the US Customs Department prohibited the importation of the Czech film Ecstasystarring an actress soon to be known as Hedy Lamarran action which was upheld on appeal. InJoseph I. Under Breen's leadership of the PCA, which lasted until his retirement inenforcement of the Production Code became rigid and notorious.

Breen's power to change scripts and scenes angered many writers, directors, and Hollywood moguls. The first major instance of censorship under the Production Code involved the film Tarzan and His Matein which brief nude scenes involving a body double for actress Maureen O'Sullivan were edited out of the master negative of the film.

Pornography censorship – News, Research and Analysis – The Conversation – page 1

Another famous case of enforcement involved the western The Outlawproduced by Howard Hughes. The Outlaw was denied a certificate of approval and kept out of theaters for years because the film's advertising focused particular attention on Jane Russell 's breasts. Hughes eventually persuaded Breen that the breasts did not violate the code and the film could be shown.

Some films produced outside the mainstream studio system during this time did flout the conventions of the code, such as Child Bridewhich featured a nude scene involving year-old actress Shirley Mills. Even cartoon sex symbol Betty Boop had to change from being a flapperand began to wear an old-fashioned housewife skirt. Inin the case of Joseph Burstyn, Inc. Wilsonthe U. Supreme Court unanimously overruled its decision and held that motion pictures were entitled to First Amendment protection, so that the New York State Board of Regents could not ban "The Miracle", a short film that was one half of L'Amorean anthology film directed by Roberto Rossellini.

Film distributor Joseph Burstyn released the film in the U. That in turn reduced the threat of government regulation that justified the Production Code, and the PCA's powers over the Hollywood industry were greatly reduced. His film The Moon is Blueabout a young woman who tries to play two suitors off against each other by claiming that she plans to keep her virginity until marriage, was the first film to use the words "virgin", "seduce", and "mistress", and it was released without a certificate of approval.

He later made The Man with the Golden Armwhich portrayed the prohibited subject of drug abuse, and Anatomy of a Murder which dealt with rape. Preminger's films were direct assaults on the authority of the Production Code and, since they were successful, hastened its abandonment. InJoseph Breen retired and Geoffrey Shurlock was appointed as his successor. Variety noted "a decided tendency towards a broader, more casual approach" in the enforcement of the code.

Billy Wilder 's Some Like It Hot and Alfred Hitchcock 's Psycho were also released without a certificate of approval due to their themes and became box office hits, and as a result further weakened the authority of the code. President Barack Obama said on December 19, that Sony "made a mistake" in pulling its film The Interview from distribution following a cyber-attack that American officials may have linked to North Korea.

The Pawnbroker and the end of the Code[ edit ] In the early s, British films such as VictimA Taste of Honeyand The Leather Boys offered a daring social commentary about gender roles and homophobia that violated the Hollywood Production Code, yet the films were still released in America. The American gay rightscivil rightsand youth movements prompted a reevaluation of the depiction of themes of race, class, gender, and sexuality that had been restricted by the Code. Despite the rejection, the film's producers arranged for Allied Artists to release the film without the Production Code seal and the New York censors licensed The Pawnbroker without the cuts demanded by Code administrators.

The producers also appealed the rejection to the Motion Picture Association of America. The exception to the code was granted as a "special and unique case", and was described by The New York Times at the time as "an unprecedented move that will not, however, set a precedent. In his study of films during that era, Pictures at a Revolution, author Mark Harris wrote that the MPAA's action was "the first of a series of injuries to the Production Code that would prove fatal within three years".

The spectre of state intrusion into the private lives of individuals underpins much of the liberal discomfort about censorship of pornography. Like the right to freedom of speech, the liberal commitment to privacy is not absolute. It can be overridden if the private activities of individuals are such as to cause significant harm to others.

Thus, if there is reliable evidence to suggest that the voluntary private consumption of pornography causes sufficiently great harm to others then- providing this harm is sufficiently great and that state prohibitions are the only effective way of preventing it-the state would have a legitimate interest in prohibiting it. But-and this is the third prong of the traditional liberal defence-pornography is comparatively harmless. Hence, the publication and voluntary private consumption of pornography is none of the state's business.

These three central ingredients in the liberal defence of pornography find their classic expression in a famous and influential passage from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty In this passage, Mill sets out the principle that underpins the prevailing liberal view about when it is justified for the state to coercively interfere with the liberty of its citizens. It is a principle that continues to provide the dominant liberal framework for the debate over pornography and censorship. The only principle for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise or even right.

Category:Censorship of pornography - Wikipedia

These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him, must be calculated to produce evil to someone else.

The only part of the conduct of any one for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute.

It protects the freedom of all mentally competent individuals to live and shape their own lives in accordance with their own preferences and beliefs, so long as they do not harm others in the process.

It is generally thought to follow that child pornography, which is taken to involve the actual sexual abuse or exploitation of children with or without their apparent consentcan legitimately be banned in order to protect the interests of children, who are not yet competent to fully understand the nature of the choice they are making or to grasp the impact of their decisions on their present and future interests. This is not entirely uncontroversial, however: For the same reason, liberals think that children can quite rightly be prevented by parents or by the state from purchasing or viewing pornography, if this is thought likely to harm them.

That child pornography should be banned is common ground between liberals and conservatives. However, pornography that involves the simulated abuse of children for example, consenting adult actors dressed up as schoolgirls cannot legitimately be prohibited under the harm principle, unless there is good evidence to suggest that consumption of this material causes significant harm to people other than those who consume it: We are now in a better position both to see what it would take for liberals to think that censorship of pornography is justified and why liberals have been so unsympathetic to the sort of argument against pornography that conservatives make.

Conservatives wish to prevent mentally competent adults from publishing and consuming pornography on the grounds that the choice to consume pornography is deeply morally misguided. Neither the state nor moral majorities are entitled to restrict the private choices and activities of individuals against their will simply because, in the opinion of state officials or the social majority, that way of life is unworthy or unrewarding. However, following Mill, liberals are generally happy to allow that considerations of the individual or common good may entitle the state to use other, so-called non-coercive means to persuade citizens to make wise or better choices.

While others cannot force an individual to do something or to forbear from doing it when they are not harming others, it is entirely legitimate to seek to advise, instruct or persuade them. So, if there are reasons to think that pornography is not good for the individual who consumes it say, because it makes them less likely to be able to have successful loving or long-term relationshipspublic education campaigns to warn consumers of these dangers may be justified.

Indeed this-education and debate-is precisely the solution that liberals typically recommend to counter any harm that pornography may cause. For Mill, the individual person is in the best position to judge what is in his or her own best interests; and, even if individuals may sometimes make bad choices, it is better in general that they be left free to make these mistakes.

The fact, if it is one, that the majority of people in a society prefer that pornography be banned because they regard it as immoral or offensive is not a legitimate reason for interfering with pornographers' freedom of speech or for preventing consenting adults from consuming it in private. It would give moral majorities the power to dictate how members of minority or non-mainstream groups can live on the basis of the majority's opinions about what sort of people are most worthy and what sorts of lives are worth living, and this violates the basic right of all individuals to be treated with equal concern and respect.

Justifying restrictions on the public display of pornography However, Dworkin thinks, considerations of offence may provide some justification for preventing or restricting the public display of pornography so as to avoid its causing offense to non-consenting adults who might otherwise involuntarily or unwittingly be exposed to it. Joel Feinberg, another well-known liberal defender of pornography, agrees. But Feinberg thinks that such restrictions must be justified by a separate principle to the harm principle, for he thinks that certain sorts of unpleasant psychological states are not in themselves harms.

Feinberg calls this additional principle the offense principle. For a more detailed discussion see Feinberg Like Dworkin, Feinberg thinks that the voluntary private consumption of pornography does not cause harm to others.

Hence, wholesale criminal prohibitions on the publication and private voluntary consumption of pornography cannot be justified. Since the harm-or rather, pseudo-harm-of pornography is the offense it may cause unwitting viewers involuntarily exposed to it, the solution is to restrict its exhibition to domains where such involuntary exposure will not occur, such as inside well sign-posted adult bookshops and cinemas where those who will be offended will know not to venture.

Although this may prevent pornographers from distributing their opinions as widely as they might like, and may also cause some minor inconvenience to consumers who may have to go further out of their way to find and view pornography, or suffer the embarrassment of having to sneak into known adult bookstoresthese costs may be relatively small compared with the level of offense that involuntary exposure is likely to cause.

Such restrictions on the public display of pornography would not amount to censorship, for pornographers are still free to publish and distribute their opinions. Nor would they violate consumers' right to privacy, for pornography would be freely available for willing consumers to view in private. Susan Wendell also agrees that the public display of certain sorts of pornography-visual, audio and written material that depicts and condones the unjustified physical coercion of women or other human beings-should be prohibited, although her particular concern is to remove the anxiety that involuntarily exposure to such coercive material is likely to cause women and the harm it is likely to do to their self-esteem Wendell Liberal defenders of the right to pornography may thus allow that restrictions on its public display may be justified.

But only if pornography can reliably be shown to cause significant harm to people other than those who voluntarily consume it will there be a legitimate case for prohibiting its voluntary private consumption. When an individual's private activities cause harm to others then they become no longer merely a private matter, but of legitimate public interest; and the state may be justified in regulating them.

Thus, Dworkin says, were excessive consumption of pornography shown to cause absenteeism from work, then the public and the state might have some legitimate interest in preventing it. Hence, pornography satisfies only harmless personal preferences for sexual gratification; and is therefore none of the state's business.

Many liberal and feminist objections to censorship of pornography point to the practical costs and dangers of censorship, arguing that even if pornography does cause some harm to others, the risks involved in censoring it are too great. For further discussion see WilliamsSchauerEaston, These are serious dangers; and they need to be carefully taken into account in weighing the costs and benefits of censorship as a solution to any harm that pornography might cause.

But it is worth noting that they are inherent in many existing forms of legislation, and are not always taken to be insoluble or to constitute a decisive reason against censorship in themselves. Recent liberal dissent Although traditional defenders of a right to pornography have been liberals, it is important to note that not all contemporary liberals defend such a right. Indeed, the question of whether there might be good liberal grounds for prohibiting or otherwise regulating the voluntary private consumption of some pornography has become the subject of increasing and lively debate.

Inspired by more recent feminist arguments against pornography, some scholars argue that the liberal commitment to protecting individual autonomy, equality, freedom of expression and other important liberal values may in fact support a policy that prohibits certain kinds of pornography, rather than the permissive stance that liberals have traditionally favoured.

These theorists do not normally reject the harm principle, broadly understood: They generally agree that the crucial question in determining whether censorship of pornography is justified is whether there is reliable evidence to show that the publication or viewing of pornography by consenting adults causes sufficiently great harm to significant interests of others.

Rather, they are open to the legitimacy of censorship because they think that the production and consumption of certain sorts of sexually explicit material—in particular, violent pornography and non-violent but degrading pornography—may in fact cause sufficiently significant harm to others, particularly women. These theorists often follow social science researchers in drawing more fine-grained distinctions within the general category of pornography i. They often distinguish between 1 violent pornography; 2 non-violent but degrading pornography; and 3 non-violent and non-degrading pornography, since there is some evidence to suggest that some of these materials e.

I will summarize some of this important evidence shortly. One important dimension of the disagreement between those liberals who defend a right to pornography and those who think that liberals should be open to the legitimacy of censorship is empirical: But frequently they also disagree about some important conceptual matters as well. In particular, they may disagree albeit sometimes implicitly about how three central elements of the harm principle should be understood: In other words, they disagree about how the harm principle should be interpreted and applied.

Many argue that more traditional liberal conceptions of the interests or rights that individuals have, and so of what activities can cause harm to them, is too narrow. It ignores the way in which threats to individuals' interests can come not just from the state, but also from other social practices and circumstances e. The state may thus have a legitimate role to play in promoting the social conditions that enable individuals to exercise their rights in meaningful ways, and in regulating such activities of non-governmental agents or groups as may serve significantly to infringe them.

Unlike moral conservatives, who object to pornography on the grounds of the obscenity of its sexual explicit content and its corrosive effect on the conservative way of life, the primary focus of the feminist objection to pornography is on the central role that pornography is thought to play in the exploitation and oppression of women. Anti-pornography feminists, however, do not object to pornography's sexually explicit content per se. Unlike conservatives, anti-pornography feminists have no objection to material which is merely sexually explicit i.

For sexually explicit material of this sort does not harm women. The objection is to pornography: Intwo of the most prominent anti-pornography feminists in the United States, Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, drafted an anti-pornography ordinance at the behest of the Minneapolis Council.

Articles on Pornography censorship

A similar ordinance was passed by the Indianapolis City Council inbut later overturned on appeal by the U.

Supreme Court, on the grounds that the ordinance violated pornographers First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Importantly, the ordinance did not seek to impose criminal prohibitions or sanctions on pornography: MacKinnon and Dworkin thought that criminalizing the production, publication or consumption of pornography would be counterproductive, serving to drive the industry underground, thereby only further obscuring the harm it causes to women.

Rather, the ordinance sought civil remedies that would enable women who are harmed in the making of pornography, or as a result of its consumption, to sue for a future ban on sexually explicit material demonstrated to be harmful and to collect damages from pornographers for provable harm done by that material. There is some argument about whether the proposed legislation would have amounted to censorship, strictly speaking, since it did not seek to place a prior ban on the publication of pornographic materials.

But insofar as the legislation allowed for courts to award and enforce injunctions against publication of material demonstrated to be harmful, many think that the legislation may have been functionally equivalent to censorship in practice assuming that courts would in fact have been willing to award and enforce injunctions.

The ordinance has been the subject of a heated debate among feminists, many of whom are dubious both about the centrality of pornography's role in the subordination of women and about the desirability of employing strategies of legal regulation in the pursuit of feminist goals. But the ordinance was significant, not least for reconceptualizing the question of pornography in the public arena in feminist terms: It also provided the definition of pornography that has since featured most prominently in feminist discussions.

We define pornography as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes i women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things, or commodities; or ii women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; or iii women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest or other sexual assault; or iv women are presented as sexual objects tied up, cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or v women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display; or vi women's body parts — including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks — are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts; or vii women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or viii women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual.

Dworkin and MacKinnon allow that sexually explicit material that treats men, children or transsexuals in sexually dehumanising or subordinating ways also counts as pornography.

The Dworkin-MacKinnon definition has two parts or stages. I draw attention to the two-stages of the definition to reinforce a point made in section 1: I think this might help to defuse some of the frequently acrimonious debate in feminist circles surrounding MacKinnon's now famous claim that one cannot genuinely be a feminist and be pro- or at least fail to be anti- pornography. For of course feminists are opposed to anything that subordinates or oppresses women.

Yet there is surely room for reasonable disagreement about what, if any, sexually explicit material does this, and whether pursuing legal regulation of it is a desirable feminist strategy. The harms that most concern anti-pornography feminists fall into two broad categories: In Ordeal, Marchiano tells of how she was abducted, hypnotized, drugged, beaten and tortured in order to perform her starring role.

Marchiano was one of a number of women who testified about their experience of the harm caused by pornography at the Minneapolis hearings into pornography in The transcript of the hearings is published as Pornography and Sexual Violence: Evidence of the Links Marchiano's case is a particularly horrifying and extreme example of how women may be harmed in the making of pornography; and much of what was done to Marchiano the abduction, the beatings and the torture are criminal offences in their own right.

Many, both liberals and feminists, think that since these physical assaults should not be allowed, enduring pornographic representations of these crimes that cause further harm to the victim's interests should not be permitted to be distributed or consumed either See e.

Of course, not all women who perform in pornography are literally physically coerced as paradigm slaves are, and as Marchiano was.

The pornography industry may take unfair advantage of underprivileged women, preying on their psychic and economic vulnerability, to reap enormous profits at their expense. MacKinnon puts the point graphically: Some of the women who perform in pornography vigorously reject the claim that they are exploited. At least in their own case, they argue, the decision to become a porn star was a genuinely autonomous one.

See Gruen and Panichas They regard the claim that they are victims of exploitation as offensively patronizing and paternalistic, implying that pornography is not a worthwhile or valid career choice, and portraying the women who act in pornography as hapless dupes of patriarchy. In reality, female porn actors may be fully autonomous and intelligent citizens pursuing a perfectly valid and rewarding career of their own choosing.

Banning pornography, they argue, would constitute unjustified paternalistic interference with their right to pursue their career of choice. Of course, that the decision to pursue a career in pornography is a free and fulfilling one for some women does not go to show that it is necessarily a free and fulfilling choice for all or even most of the women who perform in pornography.

Even if the pornography industry does exploit some of the women who perform in it, however, there is a question about whether this justifies disallowing it.

censorship and porn

As a number of feminists and liberals have noted in reply, other industries such as supermarkets or fast food chains may likewise take advantage of workers with few alternative opportunities. Should these too be banned on grounds of exploitation? Surely not, they think. The best solution to such exploitation is arguably not to ban pornography or fast food chains. For this would only further deprive those already deprived of one more option, and one that they might prefer over others of the limited range available to them.

We may do better to focus our efforts on redressing the underlying economic and material conditions of disadvantage that make exploitation possible, so that the choice to perform in pornography might be made, if it is made, as a genuinely free one, under fuller conditions of equality. Second, anti-pornography feminists point to a range of harms to women that result from the consumption of pornography.

For a variety of analyses here see A. These may include, but are not limited to, pornography's role as a cause of violent sexual crime. Some feminists in the U. Some have suggested that pornography can be viewed as a sort of false advertising about women and sexuality, or as being akin to libellous speech: They argue that women as a group have a right to civil legal protection from these harms, and to claim for compensation for such harm as pornographic speech can be demonstrated to have produced.

See LonginoHillMacKinnon For criticism see Soble This is a promising strategy for anti-pornography feminists, since many liberals already accept that individuals have a right to protection from libellous or defamatory speech.

Other feminist arguments focus on the related role pornography may play in restricting women's autonomy, by reproducing and reinforcing a dominant public perception of the nature of women and sexuality that prevents women from articulating and exploring their own conceptions of sexuality and of the good life.

EastonDyzenhaus Rae Langton also seeks to use liberals' own theoretical commitments to make a liberal case for the legitimacy of censorship, though her chosen liberal is Ronald Dworkin. Langton seeks to turn the tables on Dworkin's argument in an ingenious way, arguing that a consistent application of Dworkin's own principles actually supports a policy that prohibits pornography, rather than the permissive policy he himself favours. For preferences to consume pornography necessarily depend on external preferences about the inferior worth of women that violate women's right to moral independence.

Furthermore, positive arguments for prohibiting pornography may aim at securing social equality for women. If this is the goal then, by Dworkin's own lights, pornographers would have no rights against a prohibitive policy.

Many of these concerns figure in a somewhat new light in a significant, rights-based strand of feminist argument, associated most prominently with Catharine MacKinnon. Since this approach has provoked particular interest and discussion among both liberals and feminists, and has come to constitute a dominant framework for much of the contemporary debate between liberals and feminists over pornography, it is worth examining it in more detail. According to MacKinnon, pornography harms women in a very special and serious way: In particular, pornography subordinates women or violates their right to equal civil status; and it silences them or violates their civil right to freedom of speech.

Pornography subordinates women by sexualising their inequality. Pornography both expresses the view that women exist primarily as objects for men's sexual gratification-that they are men's sexual slaves, and frequently their willing sexual slaves-and it propagates this view, by conditioning consumers to regard women's subordination as a sexy, natural and legitimate feature of normal heterosexual relations.

By authorizing and legitimating the subjection of women, pornography makes the very real harm of women's subordination invisible as harm: The view of women and sexuality that pornography helps to form and perpetuate manifests itself not simply in crimes of sexual violence against women, but in discrimination against women more generally: Men treat women as who they see women as being.

By conditioning consumers to view and treat women as their sexual subordinates, pornography undermines women's ability to participate as full and equal citizens in public, as well as private, realms. One significant dimension of this inequality is that women's speech, where it occurs, lacks the credibility, authority and influence of men's. Women as a group are systematically and differentially silenced, MacKinnon thinks; and pornography contributes to this in at least three ways MacKinnon First, pornography silences women by helping to shape and reinforce a hostile and uncomprehending social environment which makes many women reluctant to speak at all.

Thus, for example, rape, sexual harassment and other violent sexual crime is significantly underreported by women. Second, pornography creates a social climate in which, even where women do speak, their opinions are frequently paid little serious attention-especially where what women say contradicts the picture of women contained in pornography.

Thus women who do report sexual crime are often disbelieved, ignored, ridiculed, or dismissed as neurotic. Third, pornography may silence women by causing their speech to fail to be understood, or to be misunderstood.

censorship and porn

In a social environment in which this expectation is prevalent, women may not be able to successfully communicate the idea of refusal to others: Pornography may thus prevent women from communicating their ideas to others, not by preventing them from producing or distributing sounds and scrawls, but by preventing those sounds and scrawls from being understood by hearers as expressing the idea they were intended to express.

For replies to Hornsby and Langton, see JacobsenBird If pornography silences women in this way, there may be some reason to be sceptical that the solution preferred by many liberals and feminists of countering the harms of pornography with more speech-protest, satire, education and public debate-will be effective. For MacKinnon, then, a desire for pornography and sexual violence is not an epiphenomenal symptom or side-effect of other material and social conditions that lie at the root of women's subordinate position in society, as some other feminists are inclined to think.

Rather, it is a central cause of the subordinate position of women in society.

  • Subcategories
  • The Conversation
  • Navigation menu

So long as there is pornography, MacKinnon thinks, women will remain subordinate and silenced. One novel and strategically ingenious feature of MacKinnon's argument against pornography and one that has provoked much of the more recent interest and debate is her conceptualisation of the harm of pornography as the violation of women's civil rights, of which sexual violence against women may be but one, albeit significant, dimension.

The violation of civil rights is a harm that most liberals have special reason for taking very seriously. On this broader, interest- or rights-based interpretation of the harm principle, any speech or conduct that wilfully or negligently interferes with important interests or rights of others is harmful conduct.

On this interest-based interpretation of the harm principle, the state is entitled to pass laws against conduct that deliberately or negligently interferes with the rights of others, just so long as the rights-violation is sufficiently serious and the harm cannot effectively be prevented by other, less costly means for example, through public education or debate.

Of course, how this version of the harm principle applies depends crucially on the nature and relative importance of the rights that individuals have; and this is the subject of much ongoing debate. Some liberals have accepted that pornography may contribute to women's subordination: They grant that this may contribute to discrimination against women in society, and that it may prevent women from having the same social and political influence that men generally possess.

But, they argue, this harm is not sufficiently great to justify interfering with pornographers' freedom of speech. The right to freedom of expression is a more important right. So, if we have to choose between the right to equality of women and the right to freedom of speech of pornographerswe must choose freedom of speech.

We now seem to have a conflict of rights: Why should pornographers' right to freedom of expression take precedence over women's? I will return to the debates surrounding this question in the next section. The question of pornography and censorship has divided feminists, just as it has begun to divide liberals.

Some feminists argue that pornography is an important form of sexual expression that does not harm women, and may even benefit them by liberating women and women's sexuality from the oppressive shackles of tradition and sexual conservatism.

Pornography, on this view, is an important tool for exploring and expressing new or minority forms of female sexuality. Far from making downtrodden victims of women, pornography may have a vital role to play in challenging traditional views about femininity and female sexuality and in empowering women, both homosexual and heterosexual, to shape their own identities as sexual beings.