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Hi! I am a 19-year-old feminist from Austin, Texas. I have recently been reading the works of Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, Diana Russell, and Gail Dines. I have been truly inspired by their passion and insight into the issue of pornography and the harms being done to women within the industry and as a result of the consumption of this terrible form of degradation. I have been so inspired, in fact, that my goal is to form an anti-pornography organization in my home town. This has been difficult for several reasons. First, Austin is a very "liberal" town with a really laid-back attitude about sexual politics. "Anything goes" is the predominant attitude about the already enormous and ever-growing local sex-industry, including the strip clubs, adult video stores, lingerie modeling booths, massage parlors, etc. Also, I am having trouble finding support from others who view pornography as a women's rights issue, as an issue of human dignity. It seems that either people oppose it because they side with the Moral Majority who view any type of sexually explicit material as wrong, or they are all for it as just another "freedom of speech."

Do you have any advice on how to educate others and bring awareness to the abuse and exploitation that is inherent in pornography? Do you know of any organization from whom I could order flyers or something with statistics and info. exposing the harm done within and as a result of this powerful industry? I would like to pass them out on campus or even on the street.... I have always wanted to do something for the women's movement and I feel as though it is my calling to do something about this issue, especially in my city, which is in great need of some awareness and activism. Thank you so much! - Anna

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for your interest in educating others about the negative that pornography can produce. I, too, am glad that you have respect for the work of Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, Diana Russell, and Gail Dines. I feel that too often their work gets either overlooked or terribly misrepresented. I'm sorry that your efforts thus far have been met with some resistance. Unfortunately, this doesn't surprise me. Too often people are scared of things "feminist" because it implies accountability and responsibility and most people would rather remain "uninvolved." However, as you know, until we involve ourselves and know that it is something that effects our communitities--we can't begin to curb the problem.

My most immediate suggestion is for you to connect with anti-pornography groups--as they are likely to have experienced the same resistance that you are experiencing. They will have suggestions on tactics and also the appropriate statistical information. Do you have Diana Russell's book Against Pornography? In the back it has a list of such resourcs/organizations. If you don't have it, let me know and I will send it to you. I have extra copies. (Also, look at the V-Day Resource Guide --this includes some resources specific to the issue of pornography.)

I would just add to this suggestion that you should do local information on Austin's own pornography. The more local the issue, the more likely people are to get involved. They are more likely to feel that it is impacting them. Also, because people are more sympathetic to children -- and girls -- perhaps you want to do research specifically on this angle. People are more likely to want to "protect" children from the evils of society than grown women.

I hope that helps--and thank you for helping the women's movement. It probably doesn't feel like it now, but eventually, you community will be thankful. Good luck -- and let me know if you need/want that book.


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