2 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 321 (1983-1984)
Not a Moral Issue

handle is hein.journals/yalpr2 and id is 327 raw text is: Commentaries
Not A Moral Issue*
Catharine A. MacKinnon**
Pornosec, the subsection of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap pornography
for dittribution among the proles . . . nicknamed Muck House by the people who
worked in it . . . produce[di booklets in sealed packets with titles like Spanking
Stories or One Night in a Girls' School, to be bought furtively by proletarian
youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal. ***
A critique of pornography' is to feminism what its defense is to male
supremacy. Central to the institutionalization of male dominance, por-
•  Prior versions of this commentary were given as speeches to the Morality Colloquium,
University of Minnesota, February 17, 1983; Women and the Law Conference, panel on
pornography, April 4, 1983; and Conference on Media Violence and Pornography, Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education, February 3-5, 1984. The title of this article is a play on the
title of the anti-pornography film by the Canadian Film Board, Not a Love Slog (1983).
**  Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Law School; author of Sexual Harassment
of Working Women. Professor MacKinnon, with Andrea Dworkin, conceived and wrote the
civil rights anti-pornography ordinances passed by the Minneapolis and Indianapolis city
councils.
***  G. ORWELL, 1984, at 108-09 (1949).
1. This text as a whole is intended to communicate what I mean by pornography. The
key work on the subject is A. DWORKIN, PORNOGRAPHY: MEN POSSESSING WOMEN (1981).
No definition can convey the meaning of a word as well as its use in context can. However
what Andrea Dworkin and I mean by pornography is rather well captured in our legal defini-
tion of the term. Pornography is the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women,
whether in pictures or in words, that also includes one or more of the following: (i) women are
presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things or commodities; or (ii) women are presented
as sexual objects who enjoy pain or humiliation; or (iii) women are presented as sexual objects
who experience sexual pleasure in being raped; or (iv) women are presented as sexual objects
tied up or cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or (v) women are presented in
postures of sexual submission, servility or display; or (vi) women's body parts-including but
not limited to vaginas, breasts, and buttocks-are exhibited, such that women are reduced to
those parts; or (vii) women are presented as whores by nature; or (viii) women are presented
being penetrated by objects or animals; or (ix) women are presented in scenarios of degrada-
tion, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that
makes these conditions sexual. The ordinance also defines the use of men, children or tran-
sexuals in the place of women as pornography. Pornography, thus defined, is discrimination
on the basis of sex and, as such, a civil rights violation. This definition is a slightly modified
version of the one passed by the Minneapolis City Council on December 30, 1983. Minneap-
olis, Minn., Ordinance amending tit. 7, chs. 139 & 141, Minneapolis Code of Ordinances
Relating to Civil Rights. The ordinance was vetoed by the Mayor, reintroduced, passed
again, and vetoed again in 1984.
Many of the ideas in this essay were developed and refined in close collaboration with
Andrea Dworkin. It is consequently difficult at times to distinguish the contribution of each
of us to a body of work that-through shared teaching, writing, speaking, organizing, and
political action on every level-has been created together. I have tried to credit specific con-

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