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38 N. Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 319 (1993)
What I Didn't Get to Say on TV about Pornography, Masculinity, and Representation

handle is hein.journals/nyls38 and id is 325 raw text is: WHAT I DIDN'T GET TO SAY ON TV
In April 1993, shortly after the University of Chicago Law School
conference on pornography and hate speech,1 I was a panelist on Jerry
Springer's television talk show.2 The topic of the show was whether
pornography causes rape. The first speaker, a Christian youth pastor,
divulged that he was driven to attempt rape after viewing pornography. He
also confessed to having been sexually abused as a child. Next, a debate
between a male anti-censorship lawyer and a male anti-pornography
lawyer ensued. The former invoked free speech to justify his position,
while the latter claimed that sex-crime rates drop when porn houses are
closed. A middle-aged woman then detailed the unpleasant ways in which
her boyfriend hurt her. He imitated the sadistic pornography to which he
was addicted, she explained, to the point of threatening her life. As a
Women's Studies professor, I was the last speaker on the show. I
recounted a discussion I once had with a local video store manager in
which he had explained to me how the videos on his shelves were divided
into three categories: (1) action movies, which he defined as containing
violence; (2) horror movies, which meant some girl takes off her shirt
and then gets killed; and (3) catch-all movies-including porn-which he
judged to be less violent than the rest. The host's show-ending monologue
reminded the audience that Americans prize free speech and that
pornography doesn't rape people, other people do. Reason thus concluded
an hour in which most of the camera's and audience's attention was fixed
on lurid stories of sexualized violence by men against women.
The format of the show encouraged soundbites and colorful examples
instead of analysis. It presented two camps and allowed them to trade
* Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago. For
their comments on this topic, I thank Albert Alschuler, Noel Barker, and Linda
1. More than 700 people attended the conference, entitled Speech, Equality, and
Pornography: Feminist Legal Perspectives on Pornography and Hate Propaganda. See
Mark Wukas, Violence Linked: Activists Seek Tighter Restrictions on Porn, Ci. TRIB.,
Mar. 21, 1993, at 1, 11. Among those attending the conference were University of
Michigan law professor Catharine MacKinnon, feminist writer Andrea Dworkin, and
Leanne Katz, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. See id.
Despite the wide diversity within the feminist community, Katz stated that feminists with
opposing views (such as herself) were not asked to speak at the conference. See id.
2. The Jerry Springer Show: Pornography Ruined My Life (NBC television
broadcast, Apr. 9, 1993).

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