First published in 1998. No other issue has divided the feminist movement in the past two decades quite like pornography. By providing the first book to engage in an empirical investigation of the pornography industry itself, the authors--each grounded in the radical feminist anti-pornography movement--move beyond the rhetorical bomb-tossing of an often polarized debate.

The authors engage in a systematic examination of the politics, production, content, and consumption of contemporary mass-market heterosexual pornography, thereby contributing to a fuller understanding of pornography's role in the cultural construction of gender, racial and sexual identities, and relations. They begin with an overview of the social and political history of the feminist anti-pornography movement and the debate over pornography within feminism. Then they address the various rhetorical dodges--definitional, legal, and causal--used to distort the fact that institutionalized pornography helps maintain the sexual and social oppression of women within a patriarchal system.

Exploring the beginnings of the commercial pornography industry, the book focuses in part on the history of Playboy magazine. It also analyzes the content of contemporary mass-market videos. Dines, Jensen, and Russo argue that the sexual ideology of patriarchy eroticizes domination and submission, with pornography playing a significant role in how these values are mediated and normalized in American society. They discuss the effects of pornography on the lives of those who use it and those against whom it is used. In so doing, the authors hope to contribute to creating a world in which sex is not a site of oppression but of liberation.

chapter |7 pages


Pornographic Dodges and Distortions

chapter |27 pages

Feminists Confront Pornography's Subordinating Practices

Politics and Strategies for Change

chapter |27 pages

Dirty Business

Playboy Magazine and the Mainstreaming of Pornography

chapter |46 pages

Using Pornography

chapter |7 pages

“Feeding People in All Their Hungers”*

One Woman's Attempt to Link the Struggle against Violence with the Struggle for Sexual Freedom

chapter |4 pages

Living in Two Worlds

An Activist in the Academy