A number of critics have responded to the arguments put forth by people like MacKinnon and Dworkin (Kaminer, 1992; Posner, 1993; Wolf, 1991). First, many argue that a restriction against pornography cannot be separated from a restriction against writing or pictures that show other oppressed minorities in subordinate positions. Once we start restricting all portrayals of minorities being subordinated, we are becoming a society ruled by censorship. Many Hollywood movies, television shows, and even women’s romance novels portray women as subordinate or secondary to men; are all of those to be censored, too? MacKinnon seems to make little distinction between Playboy and movies showing violent rape; are all sexual portrayals of the female body or of intercourse harmful to women?
Also, what about lesbian pornography, in which the models and the intended audience are female, and men almost wholly excluded? Many of these portrayals are explicitly geared toward resisting society’s established sexual hierarchies; should they also be censored (Henderson, 1991)? Once sexually explicit portrayals are suppressed, anticensorship advocates argue, so are the portrayals that try to challenge sexual stereotypes.
A more complicated issue is the antiporn group’s claim that pornography harms women. One response is to suggest that such an argument once again casts men in a more powerful position than women and, by denying women’s power, supports the very hierarchy it seeks to dismantle. But the question of whether it can be demonstrated that pornography actually harms women is a difficult one.