Women

05.08.13

Feminists Torn on Porn

A proposed ban in Iceland sparks debate.

Iceland’s interior minister, Ögmundur Jónasson, proposed criminalizing hard-core, violent porn on the Web in February, and since then, feminists have taken stands all across the map. It combines sex with “abuse or degradation,” says Diana Russell, one of the first women’s-studies professors. She distinguishes porn from erotica—“arousing material that is free of sexism, racism, and homophobia.” Maxine Holloway makes “feminist porn,” which she says is OK as long as it’s for-and-by both men and women (it can still be violent, though). Professor Mireille Miller-Young says a ban would just push the operation underground, making working conditions more dangerous, especially for women of color. Similar legislation is unlikely to pass in the U.S. any time soon, but it’s worth considering the nature of the beast: 93 percent of males admit to having seen pornography online by age 18.