1979 October 20

Women Against Pornography March on Times Square

 

A feminist anti-pornography movement arose in the 1970s as a result of the explosion of widely available pornography in the U.S., following a series of Supreme Court decisions that struck down old censorship law. On this day, activists conducted a march in Times Square in New York City. Before the area was redeveloped several years later, Times Square was the center of adult movie theaters and book stores. The march drew between 5,000 and 7,000 demonstrators.

The feminist anti-pornography movement sparked a conflict with civil libertarian feminists over the First Amendment and the rights of women. See the Women Against Pornography conference on November 17, 1978. The most tangible product of the Women Against Pornography movement was an Indianapolis, Indiana, ordinance, which would have allowed women to sue producers and distributors of pornography for damages. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law a violation of the First Amendment in American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut, on August 27, 1985; the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

Read the civil liberties position on pornography: Nadine Strossen, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights (1995)

Read the feminist anti-pornography position: Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981)

 

Learn more about the myths and facts about pornography: Marcia Pally, Sense and Censorship: The Vanity of the Bonfires (1991), http://mediacoalition.org/files/Sense-and-Censorship.pdf

Learn more about the history of sex and civil liberties: Leigh Ann Wheeler, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2013)

 

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