Pornographic material can generally be regarded as any sexually explicit material which is assumed to degrade women. This definition and conviction of the meaning of pornography has attracted a lot of debate regarding the effects of pornography and the call for the censure of pornographic materials.
The recent times situation has witnessed growing debate on whether pornographic materials should be removed from circulation to the public or allowed to circulate. The definition of pornography is dynamic. As the world changes to a global village, cultural values and many other social values have changed never to be viewed again in the local cultural perspectives but in global perspectives. Thus an aspect which was considered pornographic 50 years back may not necessarily be considered as pornographic now. Similarly, the debate on whether pornographic materials should be banned or not takes in dynamic perspectives depending on peoples understanding of pornographic materials and what constitutes pornography.
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I do oppose banning of pornographic materials by questioning the grounds on which the state should use the coercive powers in limiting the freedom of its citizens. Supporter of abolition of pornography form the public domain view its negative impacts in two dimensions. Some people oppose pornography from the perspective of immorality and obscenity and the moral degradation it connotes while others oppose it in view of the harm it causes to women’s social standing whenever violent or degrading pornography is involved.
Some people hold that pornography should be wholly banned while others argue that only the violent pornography should be banned. Pornography is about people and concerns people. Its role and purpose to the livelihood of the people is thus the biggest debate that should concern all interested groups. My view on this issue is that no pornography should be banned as long as completely rational adults are involved out of their will and consent. Every person should be guaranteed the freedom to do what he or she chooses so long as no harm comes to others as a result. Just as we are free to live and work where we choose, so too should we be free to express ourselves in any manner and means we choose as long as we cause no harm to others. Pornographic literature, drama, paintings and pictures are all forms of self-expression. Many people will view different things in different perspectives. Just like we are not restricted to view issues in different ways, similarly we should not be restricted to participate, view or hear things according to our conviction. If some material causes harm to some people it may not cause harm to others. To ban pornography because it is merely offensive to some is to jeopardize everyone's freedom of expression.
A lot of feminists groups have come out in protest claiming that all pornography hurts women. Dworkin in MacKinnon and Dworkin (1987: p 25) claims that women are hurt by pornography through sexual exploitation and abuse. She explains the violence that women are faced with when legs spread, hands are tied, and their mouths restrained. The feminists claim that, when women allow themselves to be viewed on this way, it is degrading and insulting in other peoples eyes. They claim that the women need to be protected trough government enforcement of the laws to abolish pornography. To my view this is asking too much in expense of individual’s freedom. It is the right of women to engage in any kind of business and activity as long as they feel comfortable. This includes the rights to pose for photos that that are incorporated in pornographic materials.
The argument that pornography is not only harmful to the women participating but also to the society is over-reached. Feminists argue that it leads to negative male attitudes towards women. Why do we equate pornography with subjugation of women? It is wrong to assume that any woman engaging in and enjoying their sexuality are degrading. In resent times feminists have come out fighting for their reproductive rights. The debate involves women being allowed o make decisions on their reproductive matters e.g. the right to carry out an abortion. Hartley, (2005: Para 7), urges that sexual freedom is the flip side of the coin of reproductive choice. Further, she argues that if a woman has the right to abort, she equally has the right to participate in pornography. Similarly pornographic materials offer a form of entertainment to some people. Restricting them from access of such material is limiting their freedom of entertainment.
A lot of pornographic materials cause sexual arousal to people. This aspect has been positively used by couples in spicing up their sexual lives by enhancing romance and love. As a result healthier relationships are created. The day to day life requires dynamic attitudes towards some issues including love making. Specialists come up with different ways to help couples and married people cope well in their sexual lives. Such newer techniques are demonstrated through words and actions by human beings and usually conveyed to the consumers through books, magazines, videos and through the internet. According to Petersen (1998: Para 7) Pornography has been used by committed heterosexual people in boosting up their romance life. The market contains materials for sexual entertainment for all types of consumers including heterosexuals, homosexuals, lesbians, and gay. The question of whether the material is degrading or not depends on the orientation of the person in terms of sexual life.
When a ban is implemented on all pornographic materials, what portion of the population will be rendered jobless? People have invested in different ways and magnitudes in production of materials regarded as pornographic. In addition others are directly employed as actors. Putting a ban on such materials will lead to a collapse of the vast industry which offers employment to a lot of people. In addition the revenue collected in the industry contributes a lot to the economies of countries. The chain of people employed directly or indirectly in this industry is endless. Starting from the actors, models, promoters, distributors, publishers, producers, printers, professional specialists, designers, and others will lose their opportunities in business and meeting needs while authorities will miss the revenue collected from the different sectors of the industry.
However not every material of pornography should remain in circulation. I advocate for the ban of pornographic materials that involve children and minors participation. Also violent pornographic materials that are degrading should be completely banned. My support for this ban is drawn from the fact that minors and children are incapable of making sound decisions and consenting. A lot of minors may get involved out of their own consent and as a form of oppression. In addition some violent pornographic materials are degrading and leads to lowering of the human dignity. This includes materials involving rape, people being sodomized, beaten or left permanently scarred. Most minors access pornographic materials from the internet. Generally being under care of their parents the children are restricted from hard materials like magazines and books. To prevent access of such materials, the government and authorities should find out modalities of restricting.
Feminists and human rights activists have for a long time been fighting for their rights. Such struggles have been in relation to their right of equal contribution in all aspects of life like their male counterparts. The world has changed and such concepts of inequality between man and women are quickly fading away. In addition the group of generation that embraced oppression and patriarchal systems has left. It can be generally agreed that not all pornographic material is degrading. In addition, there is a general consensus of existence of degrading pornography. Regardless of the flaws in pornography in recent times, feminists should fight for the rights of women by allowing them to fully express and realize their desires economically, politically, socially an sexually. If people cannot choose what forms of sexual expression they find appropriate for them, who will make the choice?
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