Essay Topic Four
Varying Perspectives on Pornography
PHSE337: Body, Culture and Society
Student ID #2700120
Word Count: 2448
In modern society, pornography is readily available in a wide variety of forms, from adult films to erotic novels, and can now be accessed at the click of a button thanks to the Internet. It has even begun to infiltrate our daily lives, with sexually explicit material appearing in our television shows and magazines. Due to the varied nature of pornography, it has resulted in a range of definitions; ask your neighbour, your friend and your colleague what their definition of pornography is and it is likely you will receive three different, subjective answers. This is because they will have formed their opinion based on their individual ideas, beliefs and personal experiences surrounding sex, sexuality and pornography. This increased exposure to pornography in modern society and the contentious nature of the term itself has resulted in a range of positive and negative perspectives being developed on the topic, which will be explored in this essay. I will endeavour to discuss the radical feminist, anti-censorship, conservative and pro-sex perspectives on pornography, and how their stances are a reflection of their views on sex and sexuality. Based on my prior knowledge and the research conducted for this essay, I will then identify my own perspective on pornography and argue why I hold this stance. There are many different perspectives on the place of pornography in modern society, however in general it cannot be denied that it now holds a prominent place due to the advancement of technology. The invention of the Internet can be considered as a turning point for the place of pornography, which now makes up twenty-five percent of online search engine queries (Ropelato, 2006). It increased the accessibility of pornography exponentially, enabled the creation of new production techniques and influenced the popularity rise of hard-core porn, which has now become more mainstream and socially acceptable (Garlick, 2011). We are now considered to be living in a pornified culture, with Paul (2005) noting “the all-pornography, all-the-time mentality is everywhere” (p.5), which is evident from erotic novels such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series taking the world by storm and the soft-core pornography we are so often exposed to through mainstream media such as advertising, films and television. The place of pornography in modern society has also become quite a contentious topic, as it has become difficult and complicated to separate pornography from non-pornography. In the 1940’s, Marilyn Monroe was photographed naked for a sexually explicit calendar distributed in the United States which was considered pornographic and banned in two states; fast forward fifty years and the naked photograph of Monroe appeared in an issue of Life magazine which was considered artistic, not pornographic (Rea, 2001). This is a prime example of the acceptance of pornographic images and tendencies in modern society, which is in part due to it being a very subjective term. Research carried out by Michael Rea (2001) has found that the many and varied definitions of pornography found across literature on the topic can fit into six different categories: “(i) those that define ‘pornography’ as the sale of sex for profit, (ii) those that define it as a form of bad art, (iii) those that define it as portraying man and women only as sexual beings or objects, (iv) those that define it as a form of obscenity, (v) those that define it as a form of oppression and (vi) those that define it as material that is intended to produce or has the effect of producing sexual arousal” (p.123). The mere fact that the term pornography can be defined in so many different ways suggests that there are a number of perspectives surrounding the controversial topic that are up for debate in modern society. Radical feminists can be...
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