Renaissance Online Magaizne Bytes and Picas

FEBRUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 2



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MARC CIAMPA, a native of Alberta, Canada, is the staff sports writer for Renaissance Online Magazine.


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SEX WARS: PORNOGRAPHIC CENSORSHIP
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Sex Wars: Pornographic Censorship

Another argument put forth regarding banning pornography, specifically in Ray Risk's The Pornography Controversy, is that it reinforces negative male attitudes towards women and as a result increases the number of sex crimes. Peterson disagrees, claiming that it is the prevailing attitude of men towards women that are brought into pornography and not vice versa. Eliminating pornography will not make these negative attitudes disappear. She also claims, however, that "there are many men who hold appropriate attitudes towards women. This is evidenced by their extreme sensitivity to important feminist issues such as equal pay for women, sufficient childcare facilities etc. These same men regularly use magazines such as Penthouse and Playboy."

According to Peterson a widespread distribution and use of pornography has little to do with an increase in sex crimes. In fact, she points to Denmark in the '70s as evidence to the contrary. From that experience "we might conclude that pornography has the effect of lowering the incidence of sex crimes."

Peterson goes on to state that "individual men and women and couples, who feel free from sexual oppression, are likely to feel sexually content within themselves and their partners. Sexual frustration and anxiety can lead to depression and despair. It seems prudent to work towards a society in which individuals feel sexually free and liberated, whether they choose to be in relationships or not, a society in which the law has its place, by knowing its place."

There is no question that viewing pornography is harmful to children and if viewed in excess it could be harmful to adults. However, the same could be said of many currently legal products, for instance alcohol and cigarettes. In moderation, pornography can be enjoyed responsibly by adults and is not harmful.

Even if it ever becomes generally accepted that pornography viewed in moderation does not have a negative impact on society, there will always be those detractors who do not wish to have either themselves or their children exposed to pornography -- and rightfully so. In these cases, it should be up to the individual user -- or if the person is underage, the individual's parents or guardian -- to decide whether or not material is suitable for viewing based on their own value system. The primary audience for pornography is consenting adults. They are the ones who more often than not, and the only ones who can legally, purchase and view the material. They are the target audience.

Instead of a complete censorship ban on pornography, however, laws can be, and are, devised to prohibit such things as the circulation of unsolicited pornographic material. Actions are taken, such as putting magazines out of sight of minors in convenience stores and bookshops and restricting what displays can be put in the front of sex shops and adult video stores. Other measures that can be taken include limiting where an adult-themed store can open. Such a measure would not be considered censorship as laws are in place limiting such things as the location of gas stations, for instance.

Minors are not the target audience of pornography, and it is something that they are generally not all that interested in anyway. Cartoonist Scott Adams phrased it well in his book, The Dilbert Future:

"Kids have shorter attention spans than adults. They would never sit in front of a blank screen for hours on the slight chance that they might see something naughty at some undetermined time in the future. It's not a competitive use of time. In terms of arousal per second, there's a much better payoff from flipping through your mom's Victoria's Secret catalogs. Remember, we're talking about kids here - mostly boys -- and if they're anything like I was, all it takes is a commercial for Wheel of Fortune and you're off to the races. Hello Vanna! The Internet is overkill when you're thirteen years old."

[ CONTINUED: Internet impossible to police ]

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