“WE OPPOSE ANY OBSCENITY LAW OR REGULATION OF THE INTERNET. NO IFs ANDs OR BUTs. Furthermore, not only will we NOT align with ANYone who advocates for that approach, but if they are doing so in hopes of using feminist antipornography activists as their little foot soldiers, we will work against any individuals or organizations.
Due to these, and other concerns, anyone with any information regarding the individuals or organizations behind this 101 Things you can do to combat the harms of pornography website please comment on this blog.” —Nikki Craft, July 20, 2007
From the Feminist Perspective, Obscenity is a Moral Idea;
Pornography is a Political Practice
Obscenity law is concerned with morality, meaning good and evil, virtue and vice. The concerns of feminism with power and powerlessness are first political, not moral. From the feminist perspective, obscenity is a moral idea; pornography is a political practice. Obscenity is abstract; pornography is concrete. Obscenity conveys moral condemnation as a predicate to legal condemnation. Pornography identifies a political practice that is predicated on power and powerlessness–a practice that is, in fact, legally protected. The two concepts represent two entirely different things.”
–Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State
Regarding our email exchange [see below], I wanted to clarify that I know I have no right to demand that you remove links to my websites. Anyone can add a url without permission on any website and ordinarily it would not matter to me. In fact it’s only mattered to me once before in all the years I’ve been on the internet about who linked to my sites. Generally it just means more visitors which we all can appreciate. I also understand that I do not have the right to insist on you changing your own website or removing links that are a problem to me.
However when such a website as yours emerges so obviously the result of the recent conferences from the National Feminist Anti-Pornography group (which I have not been at all involved in since its inception because I was told that their initial planning meeting I was inquiring about was “by invitation only” and that they were intending on using an altogether new and “different approach than activism this time around”) on a page that I have such fundamental disagreements with, using my work as your page did, then the only choice I have is to publicly distance myself, which I have now done. I appreciate you allowing me to do so and I feel much more reassured knowing that you removed the six links to my work until and if we can work through our differences. Thank you. I was not sure at the beginning of our exchange if you would do this so graciously.
I hope there will be a time when I can feel good about my links being added back on your activist page. Also if and when you bring political consistency and an integrity of purpose to this site, and that I can be sure that you are not advocating approaches that prevent me from doing my own work, I would also like to assist you with other ideas and resources, as time goes on, if you are still interested in my input. I may never absolutely agree with everything on your site, and I do not have that expectation, but simply that I can go along with it. As it is, I cannot.
As I said I have much respect for your work. You have compiled a thorough and effective resource and had the vision to do so when others did not. Hard, and I’m sure most often probably thankless work, for you to do. I think you have chosen the perfect time to do it as well. Ironically, it’s precisely the unregulated nature of the internet that has enabled people critical of pornography, including yourself, to have our voices heard for the first time on this scale.
As I understand your stated values and objectives here, this is an anti-pornography website that is both pro-women’s rights and anti-state censorship, as stated at the very top of your page. Yet you guide your web visitors, uncritically, to resource links for anti-obscenity-based organizations like Morality in Media whose primary stated purpose is promoting “a decent society through law.” That is exactly the essence of what censorship is: it is governmental interference through obscenity law.
It’s one thing to assure women the right to sue if they are harmed by the production and use of pornography. However to use any legal strategy with obscenity law at its base will not ever be modified to serve feminist anti-pornography interests. Dream on. Obscenity law would have to recognize as immoral and illegal men’s subordination of women, which the world we know turns on, and is ubiquitously turned on by; in fact it is a cooptation of our work when it is ever attempted in our names.
Realistically, no matter how rephrased, when enforced by the likes of Gary Condit, who once co-sponsered a bill that called for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, Newt Gingrich, Robert Livingston, Bob Allen, Randall Tobias, David Vitter (and thanks to Larry Flynt and all that money he got off the backs of women, many more names to come soon, hopefully)/or this government (the Republicans or the Democrats), who want to see their pornography and visit their sex servicers in protected privacy would never be in the interest of feminists who want to challenge by having our say about pornography’s contents and expressed attitudes. Are you aware that some of the approaches you are advocating by linking to these right-wing organizations are in direct conflict with the approaches of myself, some of those linked from your website who are working to expose and confront violence against women, and by your own statement of purpose?
Are these conflict of interests a concern to you? They are crucial to me and not abstract by any means. Just this morning my website targeting Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone was canceled most likely because of obscenity standards enforced by Rupert Murdock, owner of Fox (pronounced Faux) News and Myspace. While not governmental censorship it is the corporate regulation of values applied in behalf of corporate interest. When the internet is regulated, these are bound to be the interests that will be represented, including and especially with any regulation of p2p file sharing. I am also on record as an adamant opponent of this type of regulation.
Yes, I can fully understand why you want your individual identity shielded and if this is an individual effort, not associated with the national feminist antipornography movement, that’s fine by me. However we note that you are publishing many other people’s names and urls on your website; people who may have to take responsibility for your judgement calls for years to come if you were to actually succeed in blurring and merging the obscenity approach with our feminist activism as your website currently does.
I think you have a great opportunity here to compile many forms of feminist activism that goes up against pornography. For example the civil rights approach, a human rights approach, a civil disobedience or direct action approach–which is obviously and admittedly more up my alley. Even though I have published much of Andrea’s work about the ordinance on my websites in order to make sure her work is preserved and readily accessible to those who need it I never did work to pass this legislation and frankly legal approaches are not very consistent, personally or politically, with my modus operandi ;^).
I realize that these issues can be bewilderingly complicated and am hoping that the passages, which follow, will help clarify the distinction between a right-wing obscenity approach and an approach that prioritizes justice for women. There’s more that needs to be discussed but for now I’ll close and await your reply.
Nikki Craft, July 21, 2007
Andrea Dworkin from Letters From a War Zone
Copyright © 1988, 1993 by Andrea Dworkin. All rights reserved.
We need civil rights legislation because the only really dirty word in this society is the word “women,” and a civil rights approach says that this society repudiates the brutalization of women.
We are against obscenity laws. We don’t want them. I want you to understand why, whether you end up agreeing or not.
Number one, the pornographers use obscenity laws as part of their formula for making pornography. All they need to do is to provide some literary, artistic, political or scientific value and they can hang women from the rafters. As long as they manage to meet that formula, it doesn’t matter what they do to women.
And in the old days, when obscenity laws were still being enforced, in many places–for instance the most sadomasochistic pornography–the genitals were always covered because if the genitals were always covered, that wouldn’t kick off a police prosecution.
Number two, the use of the prurient interest standard–however that standard is construed in this new era, when the Supreme Court has taken two synonyms, “lasciviousness” and “lust,” and said that they mean different things, which is mind-boggling in and of itself. Whatever prurient interest is construed to mean, the reaction of jurors to material–whether they are supposed to be aroused or whether they are not allowed to be aroused, whatever the instructions of the court–has nothing to do with the objective reality of what is happening to women in pornography.
The third reason that obscenity law cannot work for us is: what do community standards mean in a society when violence against women is pandemic, when according to the FBI a woman is battered every eighteen seconds and it’s the most commonly committed violent crime in the country? What would community standards have meant in the segregated South? What would community standards have meant as we approached the atrocity of Nazi Germany? What are community standards in a society where women are persecuted for being women and pornography is a form of political persecution?
Obscenity laws are also woman-hating in their construction. Their basic presumption is that it’s women’s bodies that are dirty. The standards of obscenity law don’t acknowledge the reality of the technology. They were drawn up in a society where obscenity was construed to be essentially writing and drawing; and now what we have is mass production in a way that real people are being hurt, and the consumption of real people by a real technology, and obscenity laws are not adequate to that reality.
Finally, obscenity laws, at the discretion of police and prosecutors, will keep obscenity out of the public view, but it remains available to men in private. It remains available to individual men, it remains available to all-male groups; and whenever it is used, it still creates bigotry, hostility and aggression towards all women. It’s still used in sexual abuse as part of sexual abuse. It’s still made through coercion, through blackmail and through exploitation.
Excerpted from Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Women’s Equality
by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine A. MacKinnon.
Copyright © 1988 by Catharine A. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. All rights reserved.
The format of Playboy was developed to protect the magazine from prosecution under obscenity law. Writing from recognized writers was published to meet a standard of worth that would get the magazine First Amendment protection. The First Amendment was then used by Playboy to protect its sexual exploitation of women. Playboy sells women.
The use of women as objects in Playboy is part of how Playboy helps to create second-class status for women. Women in Playboy are dehumanized by being used as sexual objects and commodities, their bodies fetishized and sold. The term “bunny” is used to characterize the woman as less than human-little animals that want sex all the time, animals that are kept in hutches.
The women in Playboy are presented in postures of submission and sexual servility. Constant access to the throat, the anus, and the vagina is the purpose of the ways in which the women are posed.
Playboy has made a specialty of targeting women for sexual harassment: working women, including nurses, police, and military personnel; and presumptively educated women, including university students and lawyers.
Underlying all of Playboy‘s pictorials is the basic theme of all pornography: that all women are whores by nature, born wanting to be sexually accessible to all men at all times. Playboy particularly centers on sexual display as what women naturally do to demonstrate this nature.
Playboy, in both text and pictures, promotes rape.
Playboy, especially in its cartoons, promotes both rape and child sexual abuse.
There is also some amount of overtly violent material in Playboy. The text often enthusiastically promotes various acts of violence against women, including gang-rape. The pictures usually include some pictures that show sadomasochism: women are hurt in them or are in some physical danger. (For example, a woman is naked with acupuncture needles all over her body, including in her breasts; or a woman is chained to a pole and surrounded by laser beams.)
Catharine A. MacKinnon:
Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Chapter 11,
Pornography: On Morality and Politics: pages 195-196.
Copyrighted 1989, by Catharine A. MacKinnon. All Rights Reserved.
Possession and use of women through the sexualization of intimate intrusion and access to them is a central feature of women’s social definition as inferior and feminine. Visual and verbal intrusion, access, possession, and use is predicated upon and produces physical and psychic intrusion, access, possession, and use. In contemporary industrial society, pornography is an industry that mass produces sexual intrusion on, access to, possession and use of women by and for men for profit. It exploits women’s sexual and economic inequality for gain. It sells women to men as and for sex. It is a technologically sophisticated traffic in women.
This understanding of the reality of pornography must contend not only with centuries of celebratory intellectual obfuscation. It must contend with a legal tradition of neutralization through abstraction from the realities of power, a tradition that has authoritatively defined pornography as not about women as such at all, but about sex, hence about morality, and as not about acts or practices, but about ideas. Uncovering gender in this area of law reveals women to be most invisible when most exposed and most silent when used in defense of speech. In both pornography and the law of obscenity, women are seen only as sex and heard only when mouthing a sexual script. When pornography and the law of pornography are investigated together, it becomes clear that pornography is to women’s status, hence its critique is to feminism, as its preservation is to male supremacy in its liberal legal guise.
The law of obscenity is the state’s approach to addressing the pornography problem, which it construes as an issue of regulation of expression under the First Amendment. Nudity, explicitness, excess of candor, arousal or excitement, prurience, unnaturalness–these qualities raise concerns under obscenity law when sex is depicted or portrayed. Abortion or birth control information or treatments for “restoring sexual virility” (whose, do you suppose?) have also been covered. Sex forced on real women so that it can be sold at a profit to be forced on other real women; women’s bodies trussed and maimed and raped and made into things to be hurt and obtained and accessed and this presented as the nature of women; the coercion that is visible and the coercion that has become invisible–this and more grounds the feminist concern with pornography. Obscenity as such probably does little harm. Pornography contributes causally to attitudes and behaviors of violence and discrimination which define the treatment and status of half the population.
Obscenity law is concerned with morality, meaning good and evil, virtue and vice. The concerns of feminism with power and powerlessness are first political, not moral. From the feminist perspective, obscenity is a moral idea; pornography is a political practice. Obscenity is abstract; pornography is concrete. Obscenity conveys moral condemnation as a predicate to legal condemnation. Pornography identifies a political practice that is predicated on power and powerlessness–a practice that is, in fact, legally protected. The two concepts represent two entirely different things.
[PREVIOUS EMAIL EXCHANGE BETWEEN ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ACTIVIST AND NIKKI]
WE OPPOSE ANY OBSCENITY LAW OR REGULATION OF THE INTERNET. NO IFs ANDs OR BUTs. Furthermore, not only will we NOT align with ANY one who advocates for that approach, but if they are doing so in hopes of using feminist antipornography activists as their little foot soldiers, we will work against any individuals or organizations.
Due to these, and other concerns, anyone with any information regarding the individuals or organization behind this “101 Things you can do to combat the harms of pornography” website please comment on this blog. You are welcome to post your concerns here for publication, however if you write a reply to me I will not approve the comment so it will be a private reply to me individually.
If necessary I will be writing up an detailed criticism in the coming weeks and it will be posted here, among other places. In the meantime we request that all feminist antipornography activists who are also opposed to the right wing approach they are gopping us with to please disaffiliate from them, if you so choose, by requesting that they remove links to your website and also by posting your own individual statements (and perhaps links to this page if you like) on your front page disaffiliating with them and why. thank u, Nikki Craft
One Response to “101 Things You Can Do to Combat the Harms of Pornography”
1. on 17 Jul 2007 at 8:22 pm1 manufacturedcontempt
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
This is a very incredible listing of resources and you’ve done some wonderful work here. I need to find out who the individual is, or what organization, is behind this website. please email me at XXXXXX@XXXX.com. I hope this comment does not go into print because it has my email on it. please write to me and let me know and also an email address I can contact someone about the contents here. thank you, nikki craft
2. on 18 Jul 2007 at 8:47 am2 antipornographyactivist
To the recent commenter to this post:
Thank you so much for the positive feedback. Anonymity and privacy are for safety reasons. I’m sure you can understand.
If you have a specific concern about this site or its contents, please comment again. I won’t post your comment or any personal information publicly. Thanks!
3. on 19 Jul 2007 at 11:45 am3 manufacturedcontempt
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Antipornography activist, please feel free to refer to me as nikki rather than the recent commenter, if you like.
It appears that you did publish my last comment even though I requested that it not go into print with my email address in it, after I requested that you not publish it and then assured me you would not print personal information about me. That’s a privacy violation. kindly remove that comment before i get put on 50 zillion porn spam lists. I get enough already. That email address was only for you to comment directly to me with.
Yes i have many _serious_ concerns that I’m about to write an article about and I have no intention to try to write the article without knowing what individual or organization I am talking about unless I am forced into it by you. I will seek out this information in other public forums and lists if you don’t reply to my sincere request.
What you have done is wonderful work and thorough research and I hope that we can work out some things amicably without too much sidetracking. I have *much* praise for what you are doing.
From what I can see you don’t even have an address people can write to give suggestions and I have no intention of continuing this conversation by posting unpublished blog comments on your page. I want to know who I am speaking to and I will agree to protect your _individual_ identity and I have been in this movement long enough that you can know there is something behind that agreement if you will reply straight up to me and send me an email address.
Nikki Craft, July 19, 2007
To all recent commenters:
Please see the full disclaimer on the sidebar of this blog regarding this blog being a work in progress and subject to revision as time allows. Also it might be helpful to review the guidelines for comments:
“Polite and respectful comments are appreciated. (Others will be deleted.) Thank you for sharing!”
5. Until (and IF ever) my concerns about your websites are cleared up kindly remove any references to the following websites that I manage:
the linnea smith playboy site
and now unfortunately I will have to spend my time alerting others about your website.
I hope this is nice enough for you.
To the recent commenter who made a request regarding links to certain sites that are managed by you:
I have honored your request and have done as you wished. Please let me know if I missed anything on either site, and/or if you would like the same done regarding the “ACLU” and Andrea library links. Thank you. I am happy to respectfully accommodate you further in this regard as needed or desired.
Please note that in the disclaimer it says:
“If you have any concerns regarding the resources on this blog, please realize that this blog, its overall content, and the list of what a person can do about pornography are works in progress and subject to revision. (As the content is further examined and considered as time permits.) If you think something should be revised or removed, (because you feel it is anti-woman, or for some other valid reason), please feel free to respectfully comment and share your point of view on the matter.”
Unfortunately so far you have given me no specific concerns about content to respond to, you just said that you had some. Please do feel free to respectfully share specific concerns here, (by commenting), so that I can will be able to address your concerns that you allude to. Thanks!
In anti-pornography solidarity,
7. on 20 Jul 2007 at 11:16 am6 manufacturedcontempt
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
thanks for respectfully removing the links from your site. I saw no links to the Andrea Dworkin website, or to the ACLU, or any other websites that I manage, but yes, please do remove links to my websites from any website you are affiliated with. thank you.
If you want to read my concerns please see the manufactured contempt blog as they will be posted there regularly.
also i meant I was now forced to organize AGAINST your blog, not ON it. sorry for the typo. : )
To the recent commenter:
No problem about the typo. I understand. ;^)
I’m so sorry that you didn’t share your concerns with me here as asked regarding other content. It would have been so helpful and likely the best for both of us and the cause in the long run.
In any case, regarding the resources that you did specifically refer to, (sites managed by you), there were indeed some “ACLU” and Andrea Library links. They have now been removed. (I replaced them with a link to the Wikipedia entry on the “Anti-Pornography Civil Rights Ordinance” and one to the Amazon.com page for “Life and Death”, a very thought provoking book and as such a very useful one in regards to pornography and sexism issues. :^))
Best wishes for continued success with your anti-pornography activism, :^)
In anti-pornography solidarity,
9.manufacturedcontempt, July 23, 2007
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
It has just been brought to my attention that this exchange is not being posted on your blog. Since it all appears in my own browser I thought the notification saying my posts are “awaiting moderation” was a bug in the system since your reply was appearing. Now I realize even though my writing was courteous, as you requested, that you’re not posting my concerns, nor your replies, on your own blog.
When I said I would not have this exchange solely on your blog and risk wasting, at some point, my energy on unpublished entries this is why I’ll be publishing it elsewhere. Thanks for letting me know that you don’t have time to reply to my concerns right now. I will look forward to your response when it is convenient. Thank you, Nikki Craft