Radical Feminism in Political Action: The Minneapolis Pornography Ordinance

Author(s)
Emily Warren
 
Date
N/A
 
Source
 
Abstract
In the city of Minneapolis, in the early 1980s, a series of events occurred that would throw this progressive city into the national spotlight. The mayor of Minneapolis, Don Fraser, had to decide whether or not to veto a proposed ordinance that contained a novel approach to the problem of pornography. Frustrated by the increasing number of adult entertainment businesses in Minneapolis, local feminists and community activists decided to fight back. Members of the community felt that the increased visibility of pornography in Minneapolis was a threat to women and caused neighborhood devaluation and decay. They enlisted the help of radical feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who were living in Minneapolis while teaching at the University of Minnesota. MacKinnon and Dworkin wrote a controversial ordinance for the city that defined pornography as sex discrimination in violation of a woman's civil rights. The ordinance included a broad new definition of pornography that some thought impinged upon the constitutional right to free expression. This case study looks at the contents of the ordinance, and the events in Minneapolis that led to the ordinance's creation. It also examines the relationship between First Amendment rights and the rights of women to be safe from sexual violence.
 
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