“He’s Not That Into You” – There Oughta Be A Law …

Posted on March 12th, 2009 by Katherine Franke
 1 comment  

Grace Tabib is a third year student at Columbia Law School and offers these thoughts on the regulation of pornography – K. Franke

tabibAs in other areas of gender study, Catharine MacKinnon’s extreme view once again forecloses the possibility of women controlling their own sexual impulses. When MacKinnon argues that all pornography is abusive to women, she is taking an absolutist position akin to an unwavering pro-life position. The Model Anti-Pornography Law, of which MacKinnon was a principal drafter, bars women from consenting to participation in a pornographic performance. She essentially likens pornography to slavery and maintains that women do not have the ability to willingly participate in its production. Furthermore, in defending the Model Anti-Pornography Law from First Amendment objections, she asserts “if a woman is subjected why should it matter that the work has other value?” Catherine A. MacKinnon, Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech, 20 Harv, Civ. Rts.-Civ. Lib. L. Rev. 1, 21 (1985). Her refusal to allow women’s consent coupled with her underlying contention that the viewing of pornography is an act of male superiority reflects a closed-mindedness that refuses to acknowledge the individuality of women to engage in sexually liberating activities not because of men’s desires, but because of their own. Sallie Tisdale captures the alternative view that women can and should be free to make free sexual thought when she writes: “What a misogynistic worldview this is, this claim that wome who make such choices cannot be making free choices at all … Feminists against pornography have done a sad and awful thing: They have made women into objects.”

Pornography is not one-sided, but it becomes so if women are not free to have their tastes and preferences reflected by it. Candida Royalle’s initiative in founding Femme Productions and catering to a women’s market allows women to explore their sexuality within their own comfort zones. In this way, viewers of Femme films can use pornography to liberate their sexual selves. Royalle argues that the key to her films is sensuality. She understands that women approach sex in a different way from men and moves the focus away from penetration and into a holistic experience. Many groups of women – whites, blacks, lesbians, transgendered – can embrace pornography to explore sexual experience without a simplified ejaculatory conclusion.

Lynn Chancer in her article Feminist Offensives: Defending Pornography and The Splitting of Sex from Sexism, reflects a more realistic view towards pornography and its potential to liberate women. She seeks to legitimate pornography while exploring other realms of society in which women are repressed. For me, pornography should not be a focal point for women’s empowerment. Other areas of media can be much more harmful to the portrayal of women and the conceptualization of women’s role in society.


Although I am embarrassed to admit it, I saw the film “He’s Just Not That Into You” last weekend with a friend. The movie portrays women as men-obsessed, naïve, weak, and pitiful. Leaving the movie, I could not understand how any of the actresses could have agreed to participate in such a project. Maybe an ordinance against He’s Just Not That Into You – like movies would be more effective towards combating female submission.

Grace Tabib

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