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Controversial Pornography

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631 words
Social Issues

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English 102-060
Show a number of different people a simple piece of paper consisting of nothing
more than a red blotch of paint and ask them what they see. The responses will
vary from objects such as a cherry, to more simply, just plain red paint. This
is an indication of the individuality, or sum of qualities that characterize and
distinguish an individual from all others, instilled in every human being. Just
as facial features and hair color differ among individuals, similar
distinctiveness is found among personalities and opinions. Because of prominent
variance in belief among many individuals, a number of topics and issues have
become controversial in society today.

Similar to the varied responses to the red splotch of paint, photographs, video
tapes and paintings portraying nudity and sexual content receive a number of
clashing opinions. There are artists who paint and photograph nudity and
pornography who find the human body and sex portrayed in many forms to be
beautiful. However, there are also many extremely conservative individuals who
take offense to such "artwork" and find its contents appalling. And those who
enjoy the nudity and sexual content exhibited in pornographic materials should
marvel and delight in its details. Those who do not should simply look away. In
the words of Justice William O. Douglas, "no one is compelled to look"
(Brownmiller 663). There is no concrete manner to define materials that are
"obscene" or "offensive" because various images come to mind among individuals
when words similar to these are used to describe pornography. To classify a
distasteful picture from a beautiful one comes down to a matter of opinion and
taste. In previous instances, such as the Miller Case of 1973, the Court attempted
to define which materials could be judged as lewd or indecent:

The materials are obscene if they depict patently offensive, hard-core sexual
conduct; lack serious scientific, literary, artistic, or political value; and
appeal to the prurient interests of an average person'as measured by
contemporary community standards (Brownmiller 662).

In accordance with the opinions of Susan Brownmiller in her essay, "Let's Put
Pornography Back in the Closet," most would agree that description such as
"patently offensive," "prurient interest," and "hard-core" are "indeed words to
conjure with" (662).

Elimination of pornography is not the key to social equality, partly since no
one can define what porn is and because censorship is never a simple matter.
First, the offense must be described. "And how does one define something so
infinitely variable, so deeply personal, so uniquely individualized as the image,
the word, and the fantasy that cause sexual arousal" (Strossen 4)? Pornography
cannot be recognized as easily as the Court involved with the Miller Case
implied. "Contemporary community standards" do not exist in that individuals
and families alike have strongly different ideals and ethics on issues such as
sexual content, nudity and pornography. While some parents allow their children
to view rated R movies containing sexual content and nudity, others restrict
their children from attending sexual education classes in high school. Finding
a median between two strongly differing standards similar to these would be rare.
Thus, to accept or reject, like or dislike pornography is a personal opinionthat
is often too divided to differentiate.

Besides the difficulties of definition, there are varying degrees of intensity
in the porn images themselves. One of the more prominent arguments against
pornography is that "it represents the hatred of women, that pornography's
intent is to humiliate, degrade and dehumanize the female body ...

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