Communication and Journalism



Document Type

Book Chapter


pornography, media ethics, media law, feminism


It takes no more than a cursory review of the literature on pornography to discover the very deep divides that permeate attitudes about the practice. Scholarship on pornography from the political, psychological, sociological, legal, economic, religious, and, of course, ethical traditions reveals that pornography has been hotly contested for years. And the debate shows little sign of ending. Like other disputed issues, most perspectives on pornography have come to represent one of two polarized positions: the strident anti-porn view and the equally strident anti-censorship view.

Part I of this chapter examines the state of scholarship on pornography framed around the two polarized perspectives. First, we include a discussion of the competing views, and we lay out various definitions of pornography for consideration. We also summarize the actions and reactions that each side has pursued to further its agenda. We then turn to a critique of the current framing and raise issues that we believe need to be considered in any discussion of pornography’s ethical implications.

Published in

The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics

Citation/Other Information

Wyatt, W., & Bunton, K. (2009). Perspectives on pornography demand ethical critique. In The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics (pp. 149-161).