Canada: Criminalizing Pornography Essay

Submitted By Jamesdarwin
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Pages: 8

During the 1950's there was a social movement against the pornography industry in Canada. Religious and Feminist groups were concerned about the harmful effects regarding the danger and degradation of women. The opposition to this movement was that pornography was a freedom of expression and sexual orientation. This brought about many political debates and controversies about what is ethically right and what is a personal freedom. This created many problems for the Canadian government on how to legislate pornography and up hold the Common Rights of Canada.
First Legislation on Obscenity and Criminal Law
In 1959 the Canadian government passed the first law regarding obscenity after a social movement by feminist groups. The Canadian law stated "For the purpose of the Act, any publication of a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence shall be deemed obscene." The addition of this law did not settle the conflict between Liberals and Conservatives over the value of pornography and sex itself. Everything was based around one question: Were representations of sex socially and morally dangerous or sexually liberating?
Feminist Movement
During the 1980's another Feminist movement began because they felt the current law didn't do anything to protect women and it didn't criminalize pornography in any way. Feminist groups argued that pornography oppressed women and it would influence men to believe that this degrading behavior portrayed in adult entertainment is acceptable and something must be done to change it. However, not all Feminist believed in this movement. This particular group went under the name Feminist Against Censorship. This special group was opposed to censoring pornography because it would give power to the men in the Canadian government power to control women's rights: it's the epitome of sexism.
Some of the Feminist leaders in North America said that current laws interpret text in such a way that the government ignores the realities of women's lives. In other words, the Feminist group says, the law is too subjective and it must be thrown out and a completely new law be instated that will do away with pornography completely. In order for women to change this law they would have to prove that men who consume pornography also behave in this way by degrading and dehumanizing women. At this point in time there was no evidence supporting that if a man watched pornography that he was going use violence or demeaning behavior towards women. The other side of this argument is that pornography is the reality of sex and that it is a normal practice of sexuality. Pornography is some thing that both men and women enjoy and is used to shape their own human sexuality. It could be argued that the laws in a free society cannot limit or take away the right to read or watch something unless it is proven to harm another human being. It is the freedom of press that allows pornography to remain legal in North America.

Conservative Stance
Another group that had an opinion on this matter was the conservative religious groups. They argued that pornography was a danger to marriage and good moral values. These religious groups believe that sex is a gift from God and should only be between a man and his wife. However, conservatives did agree with the Feminist Against Censorship on the fact that sex does not degrade or dehumanize women when practiced in the right context. Sex is something that is equally shared between a man and women. The religious groups were fighting to protect what was given as a gift from God and not for it to be abused as entertainment for the public eye.
Mobilization of Science: Fact vs. Morality
Both Feminist and Conservatives joined forces to censor pornography on the basis that it degrades sex and oppresses women. In the late 1980's R.E.A.L Women of Canada stated that "scientific research was now