Work in Progress
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary defines pornography as -
- 1: the depiction of erotic
behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual
excitement 2: material (as books or a photograph) that depicts
erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement.
The above definition of pornography,
although accurate, is a very broad one, and does not provide room for
interpretation. Under the above definition, any television show,
book, photograph, most anything that might cause sexual excitement to
someone, would constitute pornography.
The dilemma with defining pornography
in the United States (and most anywhere else in the world), is that pornography is subjective.
Material that one person may find patently offensive, someone else may
argue contains artistic, intellectual or even scientific value, for
which their should be an exemption.
The second dilemma inherent in defining
pornography in the United States, is the concern that minors may be
exposed to material they are too young to process, and/or that they may
be harmed by their exposure to pornographic material. For purposes
of this article, the second dilemma is not an issue, not because it is
not important, rather because it is beyond the scope of what my
knowledge at this time.
With the above in mind, perhaps a
second definition of pornography is in order, Black's Law Dictionary
- Material is pornographic or
obscene if the average person, applying contemporary standards,
would find that the work taken as a whole appeals to the prurient
interest and if it depicts in a a patently offensive way sexual
conduct and if the work taken as a whole lacks serious literary,
artistic, political or scientific value.
This is a much better definition
because it is not so general as to make it difficult for adults to
participate in adult conversations and/or activities without being
reprimanded for being pornographers. Unfortunately, upon further
inspection, this definition is also vague. The meaning of the
words "community standards" varies depending on the community. So,
although we are closer to a definition, we need to look further, to what
it is we are trying to do in defining pornography.
The harm principle:
In defining pornography it is necessary
to state what is not included within its boundaries, namely:
- Explicit sexual material depicting
minors (person(s) under the legal age, mental, or physical capacity to
- Explicit sexual material involving
any person(s) without the consent of all parties involved (i.e. Rape).
Pornography, once relieved of the above
situations, because they constitute a harm against person(s) unable to
consent, becomes a matter of individual choice, individual morality and
individual responsibility. Therefore, pornography includes any
consensually explicit sexual material involving adults. Since an
adult has the right, and ability to give consent to partake, or not, in
the activity, there is no harm.
Furthermore, the labeling of
pornography as a harm, when it concerns adults, is nothing more than
imposing one person's morality on another. Such use of power
and/or supremacy is of a greater harm, than the individual choice to
participate, view, etc pornographic material(s). Thus, when
limited to time and place constraints, pornography is not a harm.
Why then limit pornography to time and place?
Time and place
Pornography, should not be such a
nuisance that one cannot get away from it. Rather, pornography
should be something that a person (herein after, refers to a consenting
adult) needs to seek out. Such time and place restrictions would
allow for those persons who have religious, moral, ethical, or other
objections to pornography the ability to not expose themselves to it,
all the while, affording other persons who wish to expose themselves to
pornographic material the ability to do so.
In conclusion, where a consenting adult
is given forewarning and choice with regard to pornography, there exists
no harm. The individual was not forced, coerced, or otherwise
against their will, told to expose themselves to pornography. This
is a matter of taking responsibility for one's self and one's life.
As adults, we do this with several questions we face everyday,
pornography is no different.