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Debating Pornography$
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Andrew Altman and Lori Watson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199358700

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199358700.001.0001

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Obscenity and Pornography

Obscenity and Pornography

(p.51) 2 Obscenity and Pornography
Debating Pornography

Andrew Altman

Oxford University Press

The law traditionally treats sexually explicit material under the category of “obscenity.” This chapter explains and criticizes the development of obscenity doctrine and contrasts the legal understanding of obscenity with a feminist account of pornography. Several definitions of “pornography” are examined, some feminist and some not so. The chapter argues that, although the feminist definitions have important advantages over non-feminist ones and anti-pornography feminism is superior to obscenity doctrine, the claim made by many feminists that pornography has the power to eroticize inequality is dubious. The chapter concludes with an account of how and why pornography consumption is a form of sexual activity.

Keywords:   pornography, obscenity, sex, gender inequality, freedom of expression

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