Rape, Pornography, and the American Way | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Rape, Pornography, and the American Way

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To the editors:

Charles Earp's letter of March 26 failed to validate censorship. That Mr. Earp, "as a leftist . . . accept[s] the feminist arguments against pornography more readily than those of the puritanical right" is insignificant. His contention that "pornography is offensive to the majority of Americans" might be true, but it's equally insignificant. But rest easy, fellow leftists. Mr. Earp claims his argument on behalf of censorship "has the virtue of removing literary pornography from the issue and focusing on photography of sexual acts." It is important that we, the literate elite, save Bret Easton Ellis's description of a man fucking a woman's eye socket from the bonfire of demeaning pictures that depict "real genitals [making] real contact."

Mr. Earp is right when he says capitalism exploits sex. And I agree that many pornographers are manipulative, unethical, often criminal businesspersons who exploit women and men. Capitalism exploits everything and everyone. But isn't it the economic system that "the majority of Americans" prefer?

Mr. Earp claims that human sexuality is "sacred domain." How so? Is it more sacred than eating, laughing, urinating, or breathing? How do the majority of Americans feel? Is heterosexual sex more sacred than homosexual sex? Is human sex more sacred than sex among other animal species? Are humans more sacred than animals? Are men more sacred than women? Is the Adam and Eve allegory getting a bit tired? Can we stop teaching little boys that the Earth was created for them to rule?

Our goal should be to discard both patriarchal misogynist attitudes and sexual taboos. After all, men developed a two-dimensional sacred image of women--barefoot and pregnant--several thousand years before the advent of photography. Pornography induces masturbation, not date rape. Rape is about real violence, power, and humiliation. Without pornography, rapists will still rape, and people will still masturbate. And boys will still learn how to be misogynist at school, in the Scouts, at church, and everywhere else where they may be exposed to American/world culture. In a patriarchal society, women will be seen by most men as Virgin Mother/whore, whether they are photographed for Family Circle or Screw. After we eradicate everything that "most Americans find offensive," we will still be stuck with the sexist, racist, homophobic viewpoints held by the majority of American men. That's what I find offensive.

And, yes, Mr. Earp, "the ever-vigilant ACLU [defends] the rights of the pornographers and to the devil with democracy." The Bill of Rights and the tenacious ACLU defend us from democracy, witch-hunts, and other forms of mob rule. As a self-proclaimed leftist, maybe you'll appreciate the ACLU when Pat Buchanan/Robertson ride into office on a wave of morality.

Chris Hanley

S. Desplaines

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