Term Paper: English Comp How Pornography Promotes

Pages: 12 (3641 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Morally objectionable content is not peculiar to pornography; it can also be found in non-pornographic books, films, advertisements, and so on. The question is whether morally objectionable content is necessary to pornography." (Copp et al.) So can an argument be made that pornography does not increase sexual violence against women? Most who feel that there is a direct link think this is preposterous. "The analysis of the estimates of the usage of sexual practices revealed that massively exposed (male) subjects grossly overestimated the popularity of sadomasochistic activities. Moreover, massively exposed men were more approving and supportive of pornography than were others. Such findings can be taken as suggesting that, along with all other elements of pornography, the exhibition of sexual-aggressive behaviors becomes more acceptable with excitatory habituation occasioned by massive exposure." (Zillmann et al.)

The findings regarding rape make this argument even more compellingly. Massively exposed male subjects sanctioned far less severe punishment for rape than did control subjects who were not exposed to pornography. Massive exposure to erotic materials (i.e., materials that were actually devoid of sexual coercion and other sexual-aggressive activities) trivialized rape as a criminal offense. "Irrespective of excitatory habituation and diminished transfer facilitation, then, aggression against women seems to be promoted by rather persistent perceptual and dispositional changes from massive exposure to erotica. Data collected at the end of the final session from the male subjects confirm this generalization. The men who had been massively exposed to erotica had become highly callous toward women. As measured on a sex-callousness scale developed by Mosher (1971), massively exposed males exhibited significantly greater sexual callousness than did males in the control condition. The focal point of such callousness is, of course, the sexual conquest of the female at seemingly any cost and without regard for the woman's welfare. As a behavioral disposition, sexual callousness undoubtedly promotes the sexual harassment of women." (Zillmann et al.) But whether it can ever grow to a point where it becomes the driving force in the transgressive, violent seeking of sexual access may be questioned. If men's self-disclosed proclivity for rape is any indication, a large proportion of young men seem heartless enough to contemplate rape occasionally and to shy away from the commission of sexual assaults only for fear of going to jail. Conservatively speaking, however, sexually callous men are likely to do whatever they think they can get away with, they are likely to resort to means of coercion whenever persuasion fails. "And to the extent that massive exposure to pornography, as has been demonstrated, fosters lasting dispositions of sexual callousness, such exposure can be considered to promote hostile behavior in the long run."(Allen et al.)

What laws have been passed to diminish the effects that pornography has on influencing men to commit acts of sexual violence on women? Because of the 1st Amendment, there isn't much that can be legislated in this area. Since its creation in 1791, the Supreme Court has exercised its judicial power to settle all Constitutional controversies arising in the Federal Courts and all Constitutional questions arising in the State Courts. The suppression by federal and state agents of what they feel to be obscene and/or pornographic vs. The First Amendment's Free Speech and Free Press protections is a huge Constitutional conundrum. According to the book Utterly Without Redeeming Social Value: Obscenity and Pornography Decision of the United States Supreme Court, the law has had a tough time even defining what even constitutes obscene or pornographic material. In 1712, the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted America's first obscenity and pornography law, making it a crime to publish anything judged by their courts to be "filthy." Prior to 1933 American courts, by applying Victorian England's Isolated Passage Test, found works to be obscene if they contained "any isolated passage that tended to deprave or corrupt upon those whose susceptible minds were open to immoral influences."

In 1933 a Federal District Court, applying the Impure Thoughts Test, found works to be obscene if the "tended to stir the sex impulses or lead to sexually impure and lustful thoughts." In 1957 the Supreme Court, by applying the Roth Test, found works to be obscene if "to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests." In 1966 the Supreme Court, applying the Fanny Hill Test, found works to be obscene if "they appealed to prurient interest in sex, were patently offensive to community standards relating to sex, and were utterly without redeeming social value." Finally in 1973, the Supreme Court, by applying the Miller Test, found works to be obscene if "the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; and whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." (Harrison et al.)

Some of the most recent Supreme Court cases that have been decided include:

National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (publicly funded "pornographic" art)

The First Amendment protects artists' rights to express themselves as indecently and disrespectfully as they like, but does not compel the Government to fund that speech (1998)

Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (the indecent Internet)

We presume that governmental regulation of the Internet is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship (1997)

Denver Telecommunications v. FCC (X-rated cable broadcasts)

The Government may directly regulate speech to address extraordinary problems, when its regulations are appropriately tailored to resolve those problems without imposing an unnecessarily great restriction on speech (1996)

Barnes v. Glen Theatre (nude dancing for entertainment)

Nude dancing performed for entertainment is expression protected by the First Amendment. (Indiana's) public indecency statue was an improper infringement of that expressive activity because its purpose was to prevent the message of the eroticism and sexuality conveyed by the dancers (1991)

Island Trees Schools v. Pico ("filthy" library books)

The school board characterized the removed books as "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy," and concluded that "it is our duty, our moral obligation, to protect the children in our school from this moral danger as surely as from physical and medical dangers." (1982)

FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (offensive language on the radio)

To say that one may avoid further offense by turning off the radio when he hears indecent language is like saying that the remedy for an assault is to run away after the first blow. (1978)

Miller v. California (sexually explicit mail)

It is neither realistic nor constitutionally sound to read the First Amendment as requiring that the people of Maine or Mississippi accept public depiction of conduct found tolerable in Las Vegas or New York City. People in different States vary in theory tastes and attitudes, and this diversity is not to be strangled by the absolutism of imposed uniformity. (1973)

If we can assume that both sexual and aggressive responses are well established in the mature adult male and are likely to constitute strong, dominant habits, it may be expected that the codependence between violence and pornography is not merely one of mutual intensification, but one of mutual elicitation as well." (Berger et al.) Much theorizing on the pornography-sexual aggression connection in humans has taken its impetus from Schachter's two-factor theory of emotion. "This theory emphasizes the cognitive appraisal of sensory feedback from excitatory reactions." (Copp et al.)

Pornography not only influences the perception of women's sexuality in ways conducive to sexual indifference concerning access, they also must take credit for promoting the idea that gratifying events are so because they are exciting. In other words, that great excitement is a necessary condition for great gratification. (Baird et al.) The merits of excitement maximization have become part of public consciousness. A universal desire to partake in the excitement-promising action appears to have followed such consciousness raising. In the United States, excitement seeking has become an obsession for most of us. Excitement is sought in scary and often dangerous entertainment such as roller coaster riding, car racing, rock climbing, extreme skiing, hang-gliding, elevator-hopping and Bungee jumping. Adolescent "wilding" with or without the help of experience-enhancing drugs, is on the rise and extreme just for-kicks behaviors, such as random executions, appear to be gaining popularity as well. These daring activities, are described as efforts to strengthen experiences of joyful accomplishment. Specifically, it is suggested that "players" know that they must push danger to its limits in order to attain the maximum benefit. Does such implicit knowledge enter the sexual realm of pornography? Of course it does. Nowadays this is a truism that permeates erotic entertainment. In a blockbuster movie, for instance, a detective, while tied to a bed, has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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