Porn at work is not ok

Submitted by Anon on 28 June, 2007 - 9:00

Cath Fletcher's article in Women’s Fightback 2 "What's wrong with liking porn?" is the flip side of what Sofie Buckland described (Women’s Fightback no. 1) as campaigning against porn as a way of "expressing distaste". Whilst some anti porn campaigners base their viewpoint on their dislike of porn, Cath seems to be basing her arguments on women liking porn. Like or dislike is really not the point.

We need more open discussion of sex and sexuality in our society, as Cath says, but the availability of pornography does not in itself promote that discussion. The objectification of women's bodies in pornography interacts with sexism in society. By merely concentrating on the issue of the availability of pornography (which Cath seems to think is the hallmark of a liberated society), she trivialises some key issues.

How pornography is used in the workplace is an issue that cannot be dismissed as a matter of overly sensitive women workers, as Cath implies in her article. In many (mainly male dominated) workplaces porn is used to humiliate, intimidate and exclude women at work.The placing of pornographic images in women’s lockers (or sending it by email), the putting up of pornographic calenders in public work areas, the holding of works dos in venues where there is erotic dancing, the showing of pornographic videos at residential training events etc., are all designed to tell women workers to know their place.

I have experienced all of these, and I haven't had it too bad for a woman who works in a "traditionally" male job! This sort of low level hassle is only the thin end of the wedge that can and does lead to bullying, sexual harassment and assault at work. These are real problems that cannot be dismissed by appealing to libertarian values.

To tackle these issues it is right to regulate the display of pornographic images at work. Pornography in the workplace is nothing to do with the freer expression of sexuality. It's got everything to do with sexism.

Maria Exall

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