Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media (WAVPM) was a feminist anti-pornography activist group based in San Francisco and an influential force in the larger feminist anti-pornography movement of the late 1970s and 1980s.
WAVPM was organized in January 1977, following the San Francisco Women's Centers Conference on Violence Against Women.Founding members included Laura Lederer, Lynn Campbell, Diana Russell, Kathleen Barry, and Susan Griffin.
It became highly active in San Francisco, picketing strip clubs and peep shows in San Francisco's red-light districts. Its first public political action was a picket of the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre, a strip club and live sex venue. The specific target of the protest was the theater's Ultra Room, which was a live show that featured women performing sadomasochistic acts on one another. WAVPM objected to "women beat[ing] each other for men's sexual stimulation."WAVPM also sponsored educational tours of pornography stores and peep shows in San Francisco's red-light districts and anti-pornography slide shows, both forms of activism later adopted by other anti-pornography feminist groups, notably Women Against Pornography in New York City.
WAVPM, like later anti-pornography feminists, was also strongly opposed to BDSM, seeing it as ritualized violence against women, and took a particularly active role in opposing it within the lesbian community. This set them on a direct collision course with Samois, an early lesbian sadomasochist group who WAVPM strongly rebuked and whose functions they sometimes picketed. Samois members felt strongly that their way of practicing SM was entirely compatible with feminism, and held that the kind of feminist sexuality advocated by WAVPM was conservative and puritanical. Samois openly confronted WAVPM with their position, and the exchanges between Samois and WAVPM were among the earliest battles of what later became known as the Feminist Sex Wars.
The group organized the first national conference of anti-pornography feminists in San Francisco in November 1978. The conference concluded with the first-ever Take Back the Night march. Andrea Dworkin gave a speech at the rally, and then about three thousand women marched through the red light district in protest of rape and pornography.
After the conference, Susan Brownmiller approached Laura Lederer and Lynn Campbell and encouraged them to come to New York City to help in organizing Women Against Pornography.Lederer decided to stay in San Francisco to edit an anthology based on the conference presentations, but Campbell took up the offer and left for New York in April 1979.
WAVPAM became less active soon after Campbell's departure, though the group stayed active for several more years.[ citation needed ] At its peak, the group had over 1000 members. The group became mired in disagreements over stances on non-violent pornography, free speech issues, and attempts to reconcile with sex worker and lesbian BDSM activists, as well as having problems with fundraising and mounting debt. WAVPM disbanded in 1983.
Sex-positive feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s centering on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom. Some feminists became involved in the sex-positive feminist movement in response to efforts by anti-pornography feminists to put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women's oppression.
Samois was a lesbian-feminist BDSM organization based in San Francisco that existed from 1978 to 1983. It was the first lesbian BDSM group in the United States. It took its name from Samois-sur-Seine, the location of the fictional estate of Anne-Marie, a lesbian dominatrix character in Story of O, who pierces and brands O. The co-founders were writer Pat Califia, who identified as a lesbian at the time, Gayle Rubin, and sixteen others.
Patrick Califia is an American writer of non-fiction essays about sexuality and of erotic fiction and poetry. Califia is a bisexual trans man. Prior to transitioning, he identified as a lesbian and as such, wrote for many years a sex advice column for the gay men's leather magazine Drummer. His writings explore sexuality and gender identity, and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture. Califia is a member of the third-wave feminism movement.
The Society of Janus is the second BDSM organization founded in the United States and is a San Francisco, California based BDSM education and support group. It was founded in August 1974 by Cynthia Slater and Larry Olsen. According to the Leather Hall of Fame biography of Slater, she said of the Society of Janus,
Reasons for opposition to pornography include religious objections, feminist concerns, and claims of harmful effects, such as pornography addiction. Anti-pornography movements have allied disparate social activists in opposition to pornography, from social conservatives to harm reduction advocates.
Gayle S. Rubin is an American cultural anthropologist best known as an activist and theorist of sex and gender politics. She has written on a range of subjects including feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, pedophilia, pornography and lesbian literature, as well as anthropological studies and histories of sexual subcultures, especially focused in urban contexts. Her 1984 essay "Thinking Sex" is widely regarded as a founding text of gay and lesbian studies, sexuality studies, and queer theory. She is an associate professor of anthropology and women's studies at the University of Michigan.
Women Against Pornography (WAP) was a radical feminist activist group based out of New York City that had an influential force in the anti-pornography movement of the late 1970s and the 1980s.
Dorchen A. Leidholdt is an activist and leader in the feminist movement against violence against women. Since the mid-1970s, she has counseled and advocated for rape victims, organized against "the media's promotion of violence against women", served on the legal team for the plaintiff in a precedent-setting sexual harassment case, founded an international non-governmental organization fighting prostitution and trafficking in women and children, directed the nation's largest legal services program for victims of domestic violence, advocated for the enactment and implementation of laws that further the rights of abused women, and represented hundreds of women victimized by intimate partner violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, the threat of honor killing, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriage, and the internet bride trade.
The feminist sex wars, also known as the lesbian sex wars, or simply the sex wars or porn wars, are terms used to refer to collective debates amongst feminists regarding a number of issues broadly relating to sexuality and sexual activity. Differences of opinion on matters of sexuality deeply polarized the feminist movement, particularly leading feminist thinkers, in the late 1970s and early 1980s and continue to influence debate amongst feminists to this day.
Laura J. Lederer is a pioneer in the work to stop human trafficking. She is a legal scholar and former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons in the Office for Democracy and Global Affairs of the United States Department of State. She has also been an activist against human trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and hate speech. Lederer is founder of The Protection Project, a legal research institute at Johns Hopkins University devoted to combating trafficking in persons.
Andrea Rita Dworkin was a U.S. American radical feminist activist and writer. She is best known for her analysis of pornography, although her feminist writings, beginning in 1974, span 40 years. They are found in a dozen solo works: nine books of non-fiction, two novels, and a collection of short stories. Another three volumes were co-written or co-edited with US Constitutional law professor and feminist activist, Catharine A. MacKinnon.
Feminist views on pornography range from condemnation of all of it as a form of violence against women, to an embracing of some forms as a medium of feminist expression. This debate reflects larger concerns surrounding feminist views on sexuality, and is closely related to those on prostitution, on BDSM, and other issues. Pornography has been one of the most divisive issues in feminism, particularly in anglophone (English-speaking) countries. This deep division was exemplified in the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, which pitted anti-pornography activists against sex-positive ones.
Feminism has affected culture in many ways, and has famously been theorized in relation to culture by Angela McRobbie, Laura Mulvey and others. Timothy Laurie and Jessica Kean have argued that "one of [feminism's] most important innovations has been to seriously examine the ways women receive popular culture, given that so much pop culture is made by and for men." This is reflected in a variety of forms, including literature, music, film and other screen cultures.
Feminist views on BDSM vary widely from acceptance to rejection. BDSM refers to bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and Sado-Masochism. In order to evaluate its perception, two polarizing frameworks are compared. Some feminists, such as Gayle Rubin and Patrick Califia, perceive BDSM as a valid form of expression of female sexuality, while other feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin and Susan Griffin, have stated that they regard BDSM as a form of woman-hating violence. Some lesbian feminists practice BDSM and regard it as part of their sexual identity.
The Barnard Conference on Sexuality is often credited as the moment that signaled the beginning of the Feminist Sex Wars. It was held at Barnard College on April 24, 1982, and was presented as the annual Scholar and Feminist Conference IX, an integral part of the Barnard Center for Research on Women. The theme of the Conference was Sexuality. The Conference was set up as a framework for feminist thought to proceed regarding topics that many felt uncomfortable talking about. As Carole Vance, the Academic Coordinator of the Conference wrote in her letter inviting the participants "sexuality is a bread and butter issue, not a frill."
Feminist pornography is a genre of film developed by or for those dedicated to gender equality. It was created for the purposes of encouraging women in their pursuit of freedom through sexuality, equality, and pleasure. Many third-wave feminists are open to seeking freedom and rights of sexual equality through entering the adult entertainment workforce. However, many second-wave feminists believe that the oppression and/or sexual objectification of women is inherent in all pornography involving them. The conflict between the two waves causes many struggles between these different feminist views of pornography.
Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis is a 1982 radical feminist anthology edited by Robin Ruth Linden, Darlene R. Pagano, Diana E. H. Russell, and Susan Leigh Star. The authors critique sadomasochism and BDSM from a feminist perspective, with most identifying sadomasochism as rooted in "patriarchal sexual ideology".
Feminist views on sexuality widely vary. Many feminists, particularly radical feminists, are highly critical of what they see as sexual objectification and sexual exploitation in the media and society. Radical feminists are often opposed to the sex industry, including opposition to prostitution and pornography. Other feminists define themselves as sex-positive feminists and believe that a wide variety of expressions of female sexuality can be empowering to women when they are freely chosen. Some feminists support efforts to reform the sex industry to become less sexist, such as the feminist pornography movement.
Honey Lee Cottrell was a photographer and filmmaker who lived most of her life in San Francisco, California. Her papers are part of the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University Library.
Darlene Pagano is a radical lesbian feminist activist, writer, editor, and librarian. She is most famous for her conversational piece "Racism and Sadomasochism: A Conversation with Two Black Lesbians" published in collaboration with Karen Sims and Rose Mason in a radical feminist anthology entitled Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis, for which she is also credited as co-editor.