5 thoughts on “Week 4 Day 1 Discussion Question 1

  • March 2, 2022 at 2:26 pm
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    After reading both pieces from Morgan and Snitow, I found Morgan’s writing style to be more persuasive. She starts off very strong and the sentences early on stick in my head more than those of Snitow. The essay begins off with a section which says “Rape is the perfected act of male sexuality in a patriarchal culture–it is the ultimate metaphor for domination, violence, subjugation, and possession,” (Morgan, 134). This line stuck in my head as it is a powerful line which brings the reader in. She does go on to mention how this is not applicable to all cultures and further explains herself as this is a strong statement. But this means that the piece is incredibly powerful. She also puts scenarios into the readers head which can be relatable to some or also open up the eyes of those who it isn’t relatable to. “How many times have women wished just to sleep instead or read or watch ‘The Late Show’? It must be clear that, under this definition, most of the decently married bedrooms across America are settings for nightly rape,” (Morgan, 137). In comparison to Morgan’s piece, I found Snitow to come across as less persuasive and intense. It was written in a formal way with less ways to bring in the reader. While it was still a piece that was interesting to read, from a persuasive point of view, this felt less like an opinionated piece and more political.

  • March 2, 2022 at 1:52 pm
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    Both authors make compelling arguments regarding pornography. Robin Morgan’s voice is much stronger and radical, which could make her piece more persuasive in the long run as it is a memorable piece. However, I do not entirely agree with her “expansive” definition of rape. She writes and claims that “rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman out of her own genuine affection and desire” (136). This is too much of a strong statement as both men and women can be the ones to initiate or to not initiate in the bedroom depending on a multitude of factors that can be very personal to individuals. As a whole, though, the patriarchy is symbolic power over women, which is what results in exploitation of women in pornography; Morgan’s expansive and theoretical views on this make sense. She writes that “Pornography is the theory, and rape the practice” (139).

    Ann Snitow takes a much less radical approach to explaining pornography. She argues that by only demeaning pornography and refusing to look at this issue in a more complex manner we ourselves are essentially reducing women to objects that are only receiving harm and “only [being] objectified” (16). She puts down Morgan’s views a bit, writing that “Instead of seeing connections among very different elements in our culture, some antipornography activists conflate things, see them all running together down a slippery slope” (16). Essentially, it seems to be that Snitow is not saying that these are very real issues (the kinds of problems that are at the root of pornography are also at the root of imperialism, etc), but she is asserting that we must break down, calmly and objectively, how to regain agency for women while also condemning rape and pornography.

    Both pieces are very informative and persuasive (I was not aware that Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon took their anti-pornography ordinance all the way to the Supreme Court). Both pieces are highly persuasive in their own ways, and I agree with elements of both pieces.

  • March 2, 2022 at 9:41 am
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    After reading both “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape,” and “Retrenchment vs. Transformation,” I ultimately found Snitow’s argument in the latter reading more persuasive regarding the second-wave feminist pornography debate. I found that some of Morgan’s arguments and statements that she offered in “Theory and Practice” were so fueled by emotion – namely anger – that she greatly over-simplified many of her arguments and underestimated the power and sexual expression that a woman does hold in the bedroom. Yes, there is no denying that women are objectified in our society, but I felt that Morgan diminished the woman’s role to only and always the object – she could not conceive that a woman could ever be the subject in any given situation. Morgan similarly over-simplified the role of men as a brutalizing character, constantly sex-hungry, and dominating/coercing a woman into having sex; however, a man can be just as tired or “not in the mood,” wanting to “Watch the Late Show” and drift off to sleep as a woman can. Simplifying women to sexual objects and men to sexual creatures is equally unproductive. I realize some of Morgan’s arguments are outdated since she published this in 1974. Since then, there exists broader porn categories (including feminist porn), there is an embrace of sex work as a profession (including pornography), and women’s sexual expression in avenues like pop culture is seen as empowering (for example, the popular podcast “Call Her Daddy” or song by Hailee Steinfeld, “I Love Myself” which celebrates female masturbation).

    What I found more persuasive about Snitow’s argument is her more logical and objective approach to the pornography debate. Snitow notes that emotions of “female rage, fear, and humiliation in strategic directions are not in the long-term best interests of the movement.” Snitow acknowledges that women are victims or rape and objectification; however, she wants to fight her oppression effectively – not by victimizing herself/women, but by taking some control of the narrative. This is why Snitow praises the work of feminists that focus on things like demanding the right to a sexuality that is more centered on female pleasure. Snitow disagrees with the thinking of feminists like Morgan that emphasize how “women are victimized, how all heterosexual sex is, to some degree, forced sex, how rape and assault are the central facts of women’s sexual life.” Snitow criticizes the oversimplification as men as oppressors and women as victims that Morgan bases her argument on. Speaking to the effect the porn has on men’s actual expectations for sex, Snitow notes that
    “we can indulge in fantasies without having these define the entire field of our consciousness or intentions.” That argument is similar to current accepted views on the relationship between porn and sex. In general, I found Snitow’s argument (writing in 1983) as more hopeful/optimistic; she believes the feminist movement needs to “set about building the nonrepressive sexual culture we hope for, one in which women’s sexual expressiveness – and men’s too – can flourish.”

  • February 28, 2022 at 10:06 pm
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    After reading both Robin Morgan’s piece, “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape,” and Snitow’s “Retrenchment vs. Transformation,” I believe that Morgan’s argument is a lot more persuasive. Morgan uses a lot of vivid imagery and emotionally stirs the reader to sympathize with the campaign against pornography. She also forces the reader to reflect on their upbringing, specifically how women were taught to be forgiving even if they were attacked. Morgan also rallies women to fight against pornography because she believes that “pornography is the theory, and rape the practice (139)” A downfall of Morgan’s piece is that she presents very radical ideas, especially for the era. For example, she frames rape in a broader context and suggests it commonly happens in bedrooms across the country. The root cause of this increased violence by strangers and loved ones alike is pornography which objectifies women. In the end, Morgan continues to unite women against pornography by urging them to rethink their everyday experiences — such as encounters with the sidewalk verbal hassler.
    In contrast, Snitow presents the argument against pornography through a more formal and academic forum. While she tries to remain objective, the reader senses an urge to condemn the pornography industry through the repetitive use of “we.” However, for the everyday reader, the piece is not as effective and provoking as Morgan’s is.

  • February 27, 2022 at 9:45 pm
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    In addition to agreeing more with the sentiments in Ann Snitow’s piece “Retrenchment vs. Transformation,” I also found her argument to be more persuasive than Robin Morgan’s case in “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape.” While some of the points that Robin Morgan made did resonate with me, her piece was quite “radical” and she did not acknowledge the shortcomings of her argument or how a good case could be made for the opposing side. Morgan’s all-encompassing definition of rape coupled with her claim that “the violation of an individual woman is the metaphor for man’s forcing himself on whole nations (rape as the crux of war)” made me feel like she was an unreliable narrator (Morgan, 140).
    Contrastingly, Ann Snitow’s begins “Retrenchment vs. Transformation” by sympathizing with anti-pornography feminists by stating that their “heated feelings recall the passions that fueled the early days of the present wave of feminism…. As a veteran of those years, I remember how empowering that anger was” (Snitow, 1). She goes on to say, however, that “nonetheless, [she wants] to argue here that… today’s anti-pornography campaigns achieve their energy by mobilizing a complex amalgam of female rage, fear and humiliation in strategic directions that are not in the long-term best interests of the movement” (Snitow, 1). Snitow’s ability to recognize the opposition’s feelings while still proving her point makes her argument more persuasive. Furthermore, she makes a good point in questioning how feminists in favor of the anti-pornography movement can generalize and state that “violence and rape are the fundamental causes of sexism” (Snitow, 2). Snitow cites how a new light cast on sexual assault has instilled fear in many women instead of empowering them, and that this enlightenment has brought some women to see sexual harassment as running rampant in society, leading to the view of pornography as violence against women. Snitow finishes her piece calling for unity, calling out exploitation and saying that all feminists agree that women should “own [their] sexual selves” and they must build “the non repressive sexual culture we hope for, one in which women’s sexual expressiveness—and men’s too—can flourish” (Snitow, 8).

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