February 9, 1984 · Cavalier Daily

Women Dehumanized by Pornography

This opinion article discusses feminist advocacy in favor of banning pornography, and the common counter argument that doing so constitutes an infringement on freedom of speech. However, the writer asserts that pornography is an abuse of first amendment rights in its depictions of violence against women, female subservience, and physical objectification, and should therefore be banned.


1984-02-09 Women Dehumanized by Pornography.pdf
Wallie Mason
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Women Dehumanized by Pornography
For many years religious organizations have been at the forefront of the campaign against pornography. The major arguments put forth by these groups revolve around the twisted belief that sex and nudity are evil and dirty.
Though many women have long felt uncomfortable about pornography, we’ve refrained form speaking out because of our fear of being associated with these reactionary church leaders or for fear of being labeled “prudes.”
But in the past few years this has all changed. As our understanding of the true nature of pornography has deepened we have learned to articulate our protests. Though our education has at times been painful, w e now recognize that the real theme at the heart of all pornography is the degradation and de-humanization of women.
Because of this, many feminists – including myself – advocate the banning of pornography. Our protests are usually countered with the argument that censorship would be an infringement of the first amendment right to freedom of speech.
But this line of reasoning is actually an abuse of this constitutional right. The First Amendment was not designed to protect material which advocates violent or criminal acts against any group, whether it be Jews, Blacks, or women. In varying degrees, all pornography in some way depicts violence against women.
The violent nature of pornography is most shockingly revealed in “Snuff” movies. These movies, which first surfaced in the U.S. in 1976, contain footage of the actual murder and dismemberment of women. Though they are an extreme example, sex and violence are seen in all pornographic material, taken to its logical conclusion.
In less graphic movies, women are often shown being spanked, bound, beaten or raped. On top this degradation, pornography promotes the lie that women actually like this treatment. Here lies the fundamental reason why pornography is so popular amongst men.
In all pornographic movies, women respond to male sexual desires as if they are commands. The filmmakers define female sexuality in terms of these male desire. The movie Deep Throat, in response to the male desire to be stimulated orally, depicts a woman whose sexual feeling is conveniently located in her throat.
In addition to offering a perverted representation of female sexuality and portraying violence as a legitimate means of expressing superiority, pornography also participates in the objectification of women.
In pornographic material, women’s genitals and breasts are often shown as disconnected objects which exist for men to touch, manipulate or mutilate for their own sexual gratification. By objectifying their bodies in this way, women are de-humanized. (Many psychologists agree that the first step for a rapist, before he commits his crime, is the de-humanization of his victim.)
Violence against women and the objectification of women are prevalent themes in our society. When we see an album cover with a picture of a woman in orgasmic ecstasy with a noose around her neck (Ohio Players) or a James Bond movie poster with a picture of the macho hero pointing a gun at a woman’s crotch, we witness evidence of this.
Our goal should be to eliminate this woman-hating from our culture all together. This is a monumental task but it must be done. For now, the banning of pornography would be a step in the right direction.
[College graduate Wallie Mason writes a biweekly column for The Cavalier Daily.]
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Date Added July 23, 2016
Date Modifed December 12, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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