What is curious to me is that debates about porn so often seek to answer questions that are flawed — and arguably irrelevant — to begin with.
Obviously, not porn is not “necessarily” degrading to women — a pretty decent percentage of it features no women whatsoever, after all. (Gay porn, anybody?)
Can porn be “empowering?” Let’s suppose the answer is no — is empowering people now a requirement for products and publications? Do tabloid newspapers “empower” the women that they routinely ridicule in their “worst beach bodies” and “best/worst dressed” articles? If not, should they be banned as “harmful?”
As much as I despise tabloids, I would never advocate banning or censoring them. If people choose to waste their time reading that trash, so be it. It's their time to waste, and it's not my place to stop them.
All things considered, these debate points are largely.... well, 'pointless,' I’d have to say.
Of course some porn is demeaning to women; some of it is quite demeaning to men, as well. The same can be said of many works of literature, many jobs, many laws, many religious texts — the list goes on and on.
If we were to hold all expressive products to the standards that these questions imply, we would have to kiss goodbye a great many works that are cherished by society — some of which are cherished by the same people that would like to see porn banned. The works of Charles Bukowski and Charles Baudelaire come to mind — hell, the Bible comes to mind, for that matter.
Forget about free speech for a minute; we’re supposed to have a free market in this country. We can buy products that gradually turn our lungs into cancer-riddled sacks, products that turn our livers into useless lumps of Swiss cheese, and food products that hardly meet the definition of “food.”
And some people actually think that providing “empowerment” is a hurdle that porn must clear? Please.