If the Trumpet Sounds an Uncertain Note…


Recently a small faction of feminists veered away from that movement and launched a campaign against pornography under the makeshift banner of “Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media.” This most unfortunate diversion is an embarrassment to the feminist cause and prompted this lawyer to speak out against those insurgents.

I am opposed to all forms of censorship because I believe the American people are capable of reading and seeing anything without being morally corrupted. The President’s Commission on Obscenity, the largest task force of social scientists ever assembled anywhere in the world to investigate the influence of sexually explicit material on human behavior, reached the inescapable conclusion that even the hardest core pornography does not alter our sexual desires nor does it contribute in any way to sexual offenses.

More recently, a study conducted in the Times Square area under the leadership of Dr. Charles Winick of the City University’s Graduate School, and funded by the Ford Foundation, reached the same conclusion. This remarkable investigation confirmed that people who buy films and books involving hard core pornography are not interested in any physical contact with the opposite or same sex. If anything, sex materials tend to sublimate sexual desires rather than provoke any form of overt action.

No scientific investigation of this social curiosity has ever reached a different conclusion. The famous Kinsey Institute’s significant study of sexual offenders, one of the most comprehensive collection of interviews of convicted sex offenders ever published, revealed that pornography did not play any part in their misbehavior.

I find much of the sexually explicit material available today personally distasteful, and I recognize that some of it degrades women. The prevalence in our society today of triple-X-rated movies, smut books, peep shows, underground newspapers, and live sex performances is distressing to many. But this phenomenon apparently proves that a nation gets the kind of art and entertainment it wants and is willing to pay for. However, those who believe that this country’s new breed of publishers and filmmakers should have their mouths washed out with soap for using four-letter words or publishing pictures of nude women in obstetric poses must remember that no one is compelled to either see or read what is repulsive to him or her. Those who are appalled by these materials can ignore them. And the few who gain some satisfaction from them should be allowed that small comfort.

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Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with