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Battling Pornography


  • 19 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 0 pages

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 (ISBN-13: 9781139064378)

Pornography catapulted to the forefront of the American women's movement in the 1980s. In Battling Pornography, Carolyn Bronstein locates the origins of anti-pornography sentiment in the turbulent social and cultural history of the late 1960s and 1970s. Based on extensive original archival research, the book reveals that the seeds of the movement were planted by groups who protested the proliferation of advertisements, Hollywood films and other mainstream media that glorified sexual violence. Over time, feminist leaders redirected the emphasis from violence to pornography to leverage rhetorical power. Battling Pornography presents a fascinating account of the rise and fall of this significant American social movement and documents the contributions of influential activists on both sides of the pornography debate, including some of the best-known American feminists.

• Connects changes in American political, cultural and social life to the rise of feminist anti-pornography sentiment • Utilizes original archival research that documents the evolution from a feminist movement focused on mainstream media violence to one focused on pornography • Challenges the common assumption that the anti-pornography movement enjoyed widespread and unanimous feminist support


Introduction; 1. Seeds of discontent: the failed promise of the sexual revolution for women; 2. Male violence and the critique of heterosexuality: the influence of radical feminism on the anti-pornography movement; 3. Have you seen Deep Throat yet?: the growth of the commercial sex industry in 1970s America; 4. 'I'm black and blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it!': WAVAW and the campaign against media violence; 5. Something inside me just went 'click': women against violence in pornography and media and the transition to an anti-pornography movement; 6. Growing pains: the emergence of Women Against Pornography and new directions for the feminist anti-pornography movement; 7. Porn tours: tensions and triumphs for WAP; 8. The new lay of the land: WAP assumes leadership of the movement and faces challenges from within and without; 9. Anti-pornography comes undone: the rise of the feminist pro-sex countermovement; Conclusion: porn is here to stay: the feminist anti-pornography movement in the 1980s and beyond.


'Bronstein corrects the assumption that the American anti-pornography movement focused exclusively on state regulation and censorship. Bronstein restores historical texture and detail to our understanding of the feminist responses to media violence as part of a larger movement to expand women's equality. She offers a richly detailed portrait of a multifaceted movement concerned with protecting free speech and women's sexual freedoms while still holding media corporations, pornographers, and consumers responsible for distributing and consuming images of violence against women. This lesser known history casts new light on the more infamous sex wars of the 1980s and adds archival heft to our histories of women's activism in the 1980s, including the entrance of conservative religious women into the ranks of Women Against Pornography in the mid-1980s.' Jane Gerhard, Mount Holyoke College

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