What is the Working Group?

There is intense disagreement among feminists on the question of whether there should be legal restrictions on sexually related expression. The Working Group on Women, Censorship, & "Pornography" was founded in 1992 to oppose the myth that censorship is good for women, that women want censorship, and that those who support censorship speak for all women. We do not think censorship can ever be a remedy for discrimination or violence against women. In short, Censorship Hurts Women.

A Working Group conference, The Sex Panic, was held in New York City in the spring of 1993. It brought many diverse feminist perspectives, including artistic, academic, literary, educational, political, historical, and others, to our shared belief that the First Amendment is good for women.

What are our beliefs?

We believe we shouldn’t allow government to tell women or men how we should think or write about our lives, including our sex lives. We think those kinds of laws are not good for anyone, and we know they are bad for women.

Historically, women have always been harmed by censorship. In the name of "protecting" women from "smut," birth control information has been withheld; works of art have been removed from display; books that describe women’s bodies, sex education, and information about AIDS have been banned.

Working Group members reject the suggestion that women—or any other disadvantaged group—must limit our freedoms in order to achieve equality. We consider that philosophically unsound and cruelly discriminatory.

Why is the word "pornography" in quotation marks?

Within the name of the group, "pornography" is in quotation marks because the word is generally used as though it has a widely accepted meaning. But in fact, there is little agreement on its meaning, and it has long been used to suppress literature, art, sex education, and information about women’s sexuality. Most conservatives and some feminists have been using the term as though sexually related expression is inherently "subordinating" or "degrading" to women.

Who are the members of the Working Group?

Members of the Working Group have varied experiences, interests, and views regarding sexuality, its representations, and what they individually may refer to as "erotica" or "pornography." All of us are united in the belief that censorship is bad for women.

As authors, artists, scholars, church workers, activists, bookstore owners, lawyers, teachers, and journalists, we believe that censorship hurts women by stifling vital information, creativity, knowledge, and pleasure crucial to women’s lives.

What have members of the Working Group said?

These are some quotes from Working Group members.

What you can do

These are some of the steps you can take to inform others about the dangers of suppressing sexually related materials to women.

This text is available as a pamphlet for distribution. For more information about this and other NCAC material about the Working Group on Women, Censorship, and "Pornography", contact NCAC.