We are feminists who believe the First Amendment is good for women. Women's freedom, equality, and safety are best served by the broadest availability of sexual speech — that means Our Bodies, Ourselves, Debbie Does Dallas, lesbian strip shows, the novels of Judy Blume, and Andrea Dworkin's antiporn polemic Intercourse.
To be sexually free, women must be able to discover and legitimate their own sexualities through representing and seeing them represented in a vast variety of ways. We don't want the U.S. government, or Andrea Dworkin, telling us which representations are "good" and which ones "degrade" us.
To be equal, women must take control of their bodies, aided by information about contraception, abortion, and AIDS that today, as in the past, is so often attacked.
To be safe from sexual violence, we must be able to publicly describe it in every obscene detail.
We know that when the censors are unleashed, they censor us. Jesse Helms' attacks on the NEA targeted lesbians, gay men, and feminists making art about sex and sexual violence. Since Canada's Supreme Court upheld censorship of pornography, using MacKinnon and Dworkin's arguments, there have been prosecutions and convictions against lesbian and gay expression, and Canada Customs has seized much lesbian literature at the border. They also seized two books by Andrea Dworkin.
We anticensorship feminists hate misogynist representations of women — whether in advertising, sitcoms, or pornography. But we don't all agree on what's misogynist.
And we hate rape and abuse even more. But pictures are not themselves violence. And censorship will never stop violence. In fact, the most monstrous regimes in history used censorship to help carry out their aims. Hitler was especially unhappy about "degrading" images of women and eager to wipe out smut.
To win equality and freedom, women should stand up for free speech — theory and raunch, petitions and art, unfettered expression of minds and bodies.