Women Against Pornography  

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"Women Against Pornography is a New York-based group that offers guided tours of 42nd Street."--"Soft-Porn Culture" (1980) by Ann Douglas

"The group that eventually became Women Against Pornography emerged from the efforts of New York radical activists in fall 1976, after the public controversy and pickets organized by Andrea Dworkin and other radical feminists over the public debut of Snuff. It was part of a larger wave of radical feminist organizing around the issue of pornography, which included protests by the Los Angeles group Women Against Violence Against Women against The Rolling Stones' sadomasochistic advertisements for their album Black and Blue (see below). Founding members of the New York group included Adrienne Rich, Grace Paley, Gloria Steinem, Shere Hite, Lois Gould, Barbara Deming, Karla Jay, Andrea Dworkin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and Robin Morgan. These initial efforts stalled after a year of meeting and resolutions over a position paper, which they hoped to place as a paid advertisement in The New York Times, expressing feminist objections to pornography, and distinguishing them from conservative complaints against "obscenity"."--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Women Against Pornography (WAP) was a radical feminist activist group based out of New York City that had an influential force in the anti-pornography movement of the late 1970s and the 1980s.

WAP was the most well known feminist anti-pornography group out of many that were active throughout the United States and the anglophone world, primarily from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. After previous failed attempts to start a broad feminist anti-pornography group in New York City, WAP was finally established in 1978. WAP quickly drew widespread support for its anti-pornography campaign, and in late 1979 held a March on Times Square that included over 5000 supporters. Through their march as well as other means of activism, WAP was able to bring in unexpected financial support from the Mayor's office, theater owners, and other parties with an interest in the gentrification of Times Square.

WAP became known because of their anti-pornography informational tours of sex shops and pornographic theaters held in Times Square. In the 1980s, WAP began to focus more on lobbying and legislative efforts against pornography, particularly in support of civil-rights-oriented antipornography legislation. They were also active in testifying before the Meese Commission and some of their advocacy of a civil-rights based anti-pornography model found its way into the final recommendations of the commission. In the late 1980s, the leadership of WAP changed their focus again, this time more on the issue of international sex trafficking, which led to the founding of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. In the 1990s WAP became less active and eventually faded out of existence in the mid '90s.

The positions of Women Against Pornography were controversial. Civil liberties advocates opposed WAP and similar groups, holding that the legislative approaches WAP advocated amounted to censorship. In addition to this, WAP faced conflict with sex-positive feminists, who held that feminist campaigns against pornography were misdirected and ultimately threatened sexual freedoms and free speech rights in a way that would be detrimental toward women and sexual minorities. WAP and sex-positive feminists were involved in conflict in the events surrounding the 1982 Barnard Conference. These events were battles in what became known as the Feminist Sex Wars of the late 1970s and 1980s.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Women Against Pornography" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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