Pornography

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Pornography is the representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal.

  • [I can't define what is pornography.] "But I know it when I see it."
    • popular paraphrase of Potter Stewart, opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964)
  • Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk.
  • I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in Braille. I used to rub the dirty parts.
  • Pornography has been so thickly glossed over with the patina of chic these days in the name of verbal freedom and sophisication… Part of the problem is that those who traditionally have been the most vigorous opponents of porn are often those same people who shudder at the explicit mention of any sexual subject… There can be no equality in porn, no female equivalent, no turning of the tables in the name of bawdy fun. Pornography, like rape, is a male invention, desgined to dehumanize women… Pornography is the undiluted essence of anti-female propoganda.
  • Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice.
    • Robin Morgan "Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape", 1974 in Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1977)
  • Pornography is about dominance and often pain. Erotica is about mutuality and always pleasure.
    • Gloria Steinem "Erotica vs Pornography", in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983)
  • The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.
  • In practice, attempts to sort out good erotica from bad porn inevitably comes down to 'What turns me on is erotic; what turns you on is pornographic.'
  • [I]n the male sexual lexicon, which is the vocabulary of power, erotica is simply high-class pornography: better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer. As with the call girl and the streetwalker, one is turned out better but both are produced by the same system of sexual values and both perform the same sexual service.
  • Pornography is used in rape - to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act.
    • Andrea Dworkin, testimony before the New York Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in 1986
  • Feminists are often asked whether pornography causes rape. The fact is that rape and prostitution caused and continue to cause pornography. Politically, culturally, socially, sexually, and economically, rape and prostitution generated pornography; and pornography depends for its continued existence on the rape and prostitution of women.
  • Women, for centuries not having access to pornography and now unable to bear looking at the muck on the supermarket shelves, are astonished. Women do not believe that men believe what pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst to the best of them, they do.
  • Pornography is the orchestrated destruction of women's bodies and souls; rape, battery, incest, and prostitution animate it; dehumanization and sadism characterize it; it is war on women, serial assaults on dignity, identity, and human worth; it is tyranny. Each woman who has survived knows from the experience of her own life that pornography is captivity -- the woman trapped in the picture used on the woman trapped wherever he's got her.
  • The pornographers actually use our bodies as their language. We are their speech. . . . Protecting what they 'say' means protecting what they do to us, how they do it. It means protecting their sadism on our bodies, because that is how they write: not like a writer at all; like a torturer.
  • Men characterize pornography as something mental because their minds, their thoughts, their dreams, their fantasies, are more real to them than women's bodies or lives; in fact, men have used their social power to characterize a $10-billion-a-year trade in women as fantasy.
  • Pornography is the essential sexuality of male power: of hate, of ownership, of hierarchy; of sadism, of dominance."
  • Pornography incarnates male supremacy. It is the DNA of male dominance. Every rule of sexual abuse, every nuance of sexual sadism, every highway and byway of sexual exploitation, is encoded in it.
  • Pornography is not a monolith, either of apolitical pleasure or of unpleasurable power.
    • Linda Williams, Hard core: power, pleasure, and the "frenzy of the visible" (1989), p 170.
  • When we fall for arguments against pornography or "obscenity", we hand repressive agents the tool for censoring our speech. It is not their speech – their remarkably sexist speech – that will be censored; it is our own. Because the view that women really do own, and have a right to control, our own bodies and our own sexuality is still a subversive and modern idea, and the legislators who support "decency" legislation don't like our idea very much. These are people who believe that women's liberation is the very Devil himself. Don't let them exploit your fears to fuel their repressions.
  • I can’t tell you how surrealistic it is to find myself and others called “puritanical”, “the new Victorians”, or “anti-sex” for the same views that got us condemned as “sexual libertarians” and “immoral women” until a few years ago. Women and men who oppose pornography for its normalization of violence will have to fight hard if we’re going to avoid the suffragists’ fate of being recorded in history as boring, asexual bluestockings... Depictions of mutual pleasure and the sexualization of equality are so rare that pornographers seem to have the franchise on sex. They can get away with claiming that to oppose pornography is to oppose sex… The answer to pornography lies not only in exposing it as an institution, but making sure that individuals who are drawn to it, but who are not hurting others, don’t feel condemned. It’s partly the feeling of being personally accused that has caused some women, including some feminists, to defend pornography.
    • Gloria Steinem, "Preface", Outrageous Acts and Everday Rebellions (2nd ed) (1995)
  • Though watching porn may seem degrading to some women, the fact is that it's one of the few jobs for women where you can get to a certain level, look around, and feel so powerful, not just in the work environment but as a sexual being. So, fuck Gloria Steinem.
    • Jenna Jameson, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
  • To this day, I can't watch my own sex scenes.
    • Jenna Jameson, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
  • What's the difference between art and pornography... a government grant!
  • No one knows what pornography is. Supreme Court says pornography is anything without artistic merit that causes sexual thought, that's their definition, essentially. No artistic merit, causes sexual thought. Hmm. Sounds like... every commercial on television, doesn't it? You know, when I see those two twins on that Doublemint commercial - I'm not thinking of gum. I am thinking of chewing, maybe that's the connection they're trying to make.
  • Listen, I'm no social scientist and haven't done a survey. I don't pretend to know what John Q citizen thinks about this. But I've lived in prison for a long time now and I've met a lot of men who were motived to commit violence just like me. And without expectation, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography. Without question, without expectation. Deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography.
    • Ted Bundy during an interview with James Dobson (1989) hours before his execution.
  • Pornography? I've been looking at it all my life and it hasn't affected me anything.
  • Pornography is literature designed to be read with one hand.
  • Men may buy pornography but women pay for it – in terms of exploitation, rape, violence, and a society that sees them as disposable sexual objects.
    • Rosalie Maggio The Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage (1991)
  • But fantasy kills imagination, pornography is death to art.
  • Pornography is pornography, what is there to see? Movies are attempting to destroy something that's supposed to be the most beautiful thing a man and a woman can have by making it cheap and common. It's what you don't see that's attractive.
  • Erotica: The depiction of naked men. Depictions of naked women are far less innocent and are known as "pornography".
    • Richard Summerbell, Abnormally Happy: A Gay Dictionary, 1985
  • What do my science fiction stories have in common with pornography? Fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world, I'm told.
    • Kurt Vonnegut, Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut (1988), Pg. 133
  • Pornography. That which excites, whether from approval or disapproval.
    • Leonard Rossiter, English comic actor. ‘...To Rossiter’, The Devil’s Bedside Book, Hamlyn paperbacks (1980) p. 46
  • Watching pornography [..] is like going to a Wikipedia page. You search for a specific thing, a specific feeling, a specific result, and that’s exactly what you find.

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