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Top 5 Feminist Movements


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The Feminist Sex Wars
Hugh Hefner is shown here surrounded by Playboy bunnies. Anti-porn feminism in the late 1970s advocated for the banning of pornography.
Hugh Hefner is shown here surrounded by Playboy bunnies. Anti-porn feminism in the late 1970s advocated for the banning of pornography.
Central Press/­Getty Images

­Anti-porn feminism arose in the late 1970s, pioneered by Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. At that time, pornography had become more readily accessible, and to some feminists, the overtly sexual portrayal of women violated their civil rights and promoted sexual violence. Anti-porn feminist Robin Morgan put it bluntly: "Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice" [source: D'Emilio and Freedman]. According to anti-porn theory, heterosexual intercourse is a form of male domination and must be totally altered in a way that it isn't harmful to women.

­That notion didn't sit too well with other feminists who believed that a woman's total liberation included sexual freedom [source: Tandon]. Consequently, sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminism, surfaced the early 1980s. These feminists, including Betty Dodson and Gayle Rubin, sought to reclaim heterosexual intercourse as a mutually pleasurable experience for women and men. Sex-positive feminism has evolved to cover not only intimate physical relationships, but also the sex industry, including pornography and prostitution. On the opposite end of the spectrum from anti-porn feminism, some strands of sex-positive feminism consider sex industry work a means of empowerment, not degradation.


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