Blue Politics: Pornography and the Law in the Age of Feminism

Blue Politics: Pornography and the Law in the Age of Feminism

by Dany Lacombe
     
 

ISBN-10: 0802028543

ISBN-13: 9780802028549

Pub. Date: 05/28/1994

Publisher: University of Toronto Press

In 1985 the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, the Fraser Committee, recommended the criminalization of violent and degrading sexually explicit material on the ground that it harmed women. On two occasions (in 1986 with Bill C-114 and in 1987 with Bill C-54) the Mulroney government proposed a more restrictive approach to the regulation of

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Overview

In 1985 the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, the Fraser Committee, recommended the criminalization of violent and degrading sexually explicit material on the ground that it harmed women. On two occasions (in 1986 with Bill C-114 and in 1987 with Bill C-54) the Mulroney government proposed a more restrictive approach to the regulation of pornography. Despite the support of various feminist and religious/family-oriented organizations, the government's attempts at law reform failed. Obscenity provisions were neither repealed nor replaced by a law criminalizing pornography. Blue Politics looks at the social and political mechanisms that initiated, shaped, and finally defeated the controversial legal proposals of the Conservative government in the 1980s.

Dany Lacombe documents the emergence of a feminist definition of pornography, analyses the impact this definition had on the debate between conservative and civil libertarian organizations, and identifies the emergence of groups who strongly resisted the attempt to reform the law: feminists against censorship and sex radicals. Finally, she examines the way in which institutional practices are shaped by and yet shape the power relations between groups. The emphasis is on the way such power relations are embodied in the policy-making process.

Drawing on Michel Foucault's concept of 'power/knowledge,' Lacombe reveals how the process to criminalize pornography inaugurated a controversial politics that produced collective identities and transformed power relations. She shows law reform as a strategy that both constrains and enables action.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802028549
Publisher:
University of Toronto Press
Publication date:
05/28/1994
Pages:
490
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 9.84(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1Introduction3
Law reform and 'the order of things'9
A methodological note11
Pt. 1Pornography as an Object of Knowledge17
Ch. 2The Emergence of a Feminist Position on Pornography19
The religious and moral rationales for the prohibition of obscenity in the 1960s21
The liberal rationale for the repeal of obscenity legislation in the 1960s23
The feminist anti-pornography movement26
The language of causality and the language of rights: The mobilization of scientific and legal discourses29
The politics of science33
The politics of interpretation38
The politics of sexuality42
Ch. 3Compliance with and Resistance to the Feminist Claim of Harm45
The conservative position on pornography in the 1980s45
The mobilization of science: Facts versus morality48
The mobilization of law to restore a conservative common good52
The civil libertarian position in the 1980s53
The position of feminists against censorship56
The position of sex radicals and sex workers63
Pt. 2Institutional Practices73
Ch. 4The Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution75
The creation of the Fraser Committee75
The report of the Fraser Committee81
The composition of the Fraser Committee83
Criminal law and the protection of fundamental values86
Ambiguous logic: A feminist rationale combined with conventional ideas about criminalization89
The marginalization of alternative discourses92
The reliance on institutional expertise and practices93
Ch. 5Bill C-114: The First Attempt at Pornography Law Reform99
The impact of a change in government99
Pressure from pro-censorship forces102
The policy-making process in the Department of Justice104
The consultative process in the Tory caucus109
The centrality of child sexual abuse112
Public reaction and the death of Bill C-114114
Ch. 6Bill C-54: The Impossible Compromise117
Dissenting reactions from artists, civil libertarians, and the media118
Mixed reactions from feminists120
The revolt of the librarians123
The retreat of the conservatives129
The death of Bill C-54: Mixed results132
Five years later: The Butler decision133
Ch. 7The Enabling Quality of Law Reform137
Law reform and science139
Law reform and the politics of rights143
Epilogue: Postmodern Art in the Age of Obscenity155
Appendix: List of Sources163
Notes167
Bibliography193
Index221

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