Statement of Judith Becker, Ellen Levine and Deanme Tilton-Durfee

Part: 
One
Chapter: 
3

We are three women, who have, in varied ways, devoted our lives to the welfare of children and families: one as a specialist in the treatment of those who sexually abuse women and children, another as a journalist covering the diverse issues facing contemporary American women and the third as a specialist in the prevention and treatment of child abuse, neglect and molestation.

We share a deep concern about the effects of pornography on American women. Nevertheless, we found these issues troublesome because those women who testified before us were so deeply divided. Many condemned pornography as an ultimate offense against women, others opposed censorship categorically and defended women's rights to consume and perform in pornography. Although each of us has her own very strong negative, personal reactions to the various pornographic depictions, we believe our acceptance of service on this Commission carried with it the responsibility to enter this arena with an open mind, to weigh fairly the evidence presented to us and to set aside our personal biases in order to develop credible and balanced recommendations for the Federal Government regarding this extremely controversial subject.

We have, throughout the Commission's hearings, witnessed devastating testimony from women victimized in the production or forced consumption of pornography, and we have seen material that is offensive to the most permissive boundaries of our imaginations. Much of this material violates the very fabric of our own ethical and moral standards.

We wish to express our strong personal objections to the offensive and totally inaccurate materials that portray women as eager victims of abuse or as beings of less competence or value to society than men. We disapprove equally of media depictions that discriminate unfairly against men, or against specific races, cultures or those with physical or mental disabilities. After consideration of the evidence presented, we conclude that those who exploit women's vulnerability in the production or consumption of pornography are inflicting harm that profoundly violates the rights of women, damages the integrity of the American family and threatens the quality of life for all men and women.

We abhor the exploitation of vulnerable people and condemn those who profit from it. We respect, however, the rights of all citizens to participate in legal activities if their participation is truly voluntary. We reject any judgmental and condescending efforts to speak on women's behalf as though they were helpless, mindless children.

Our most profound desire is that the women of America be provided an environment that encourages their sense of selfworth, self-respect and their ability to make genuine choices. We consider both the limitation of choices and sexual exploitation to be degrading attacks on the basic value and dignity of women.