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Dear Amy,

I was reading through some questions on the subject of pornography because it is the one issue I am most curious about in regards to the feminist stand point. I agree when you say that there is no official stand point because all feminists have different views. I am a very big fan of pornography and have enjoyed it as long as I was old enough to buy it. I have a collection that exceeds most men I know.

In reading your answers you said that "pornography is exploitation" and I have a problem with this. Any job can exploit women and yes, pornography does that too. But it is also the one job I can think of where women make significantly more than men and also have a lot more control. I know of many women directors and women that own their own companies and magazines. They control their careers more than any other out there. Of course this does not mean that women should all be going out to become a porn star, but I think it's unfair to make such a statement as to say that pornography is exploitation. Not that it can be, but that it is.

And lastly, one woman wrote in asking about starting an anti-porn campaign in her home town. One of your responses is that she should focus on children and that aspect of the industry to get more support. I find that to be an abhorrent idea. That is purposefully manipulating facts to get to the emotions of a group of people. People who work in the sex industry are strictly checked about their age especially after the situation with the actress Traci Lords who was underage during the time she filmed almost all of her movies. Bringing up the point of children, even to suggest that they might see pornography, (which isn't especially likely since it's all bagged and most children are noticed if they wander into an adult store) is focusing on a minor and irrelevant point to win support. This girl should stick to what her problems are with pornography and work with that. Not manipulate people's feelings.

I am reading your book and have thus far enjoyed it. But I do not agree with influencing people with a flimsy argument just to get them on your side. As feminists we need to fight for equality but we have to do that fairly so people take us seriously. If someone approached me with an anti-pornography idea and used children as any objection they would lose all credibility in my eyes. And the eyes of many educated people who enjoy pornography.

I know this isn't a question but I wanted to write you and tell you how I felt. I am pro-pornography and pro-women. Women have the right to choose to be involved in the sex industry and I've met many women who are proud of what they do. Most women I've met in fact. To me, being a feminist has always been about demanding equal rights but also about being who you are. Whether that's someone who fights pornography in Austin Texas or someone who loves being a stripper. I'll probably write to you again because I am looking to start a feminist group on my college campus and would appreciate any help I could get. I think it would also be empowering if you or Jennifer were able to speak at the group once it's established.

Thank you for you time,

Lizz, Los Angeles, CA


Dear Lizz,

In general, my take on pornography is that I have tried to watch it and it never did anything for me -- I did find it exploitative and I equally didn't find it titillating -- in the same way that I don't understand why people like wearing acid wash jeans -- it's just not my thing. Given this personal opinion, I haven't really taken any stand on pornography. However, I have also done research on pornography and this research has exposed me to the more exploitative side. Even TALK magazine recently did an interview with the A list of female porn stars and they talk about how even though they have "no fisting" clauses in their contracts. These clauses are broken every time -- and yes these types of job discriminations happen in any job. I don't follow your argument that because it happens everywhere it isn't exploitative. I would argue the opposite -- that because exploitation happens in every profession, doesn't mean that it isn't still exploitative. But as I said earlier, I'm not an expert on pornography and I try to make this clear in my emails. I usually try to refer people on to those who do have more information -- and perhaps you want to be a resource for future questions.

Right now, I refer people to Cake -- and to Diane Russell -- two opposite sides of the issues. Let me know. I hope all is going well with your club -- and actually would be curios to learn more.

Jennifer and I are working on another book on activism -- kinda picking up where Manifesta left off. We want tangible tools to get people more involved. Perhaps you will discover some of these as you move forward with your club -- keep us posted. Good luck -- and thanks again for writing. I really do appreciate it.

- Amy


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