Defending Pornography: The Case Against Strategic Essentialism

Dymock, Alex. 2020. Defending Pornography: The Case Against Strategic Essentialism. In: C. Ashford and A. Maine, eds. Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law. Edward Elgar, pp. 484-496. ISBN 9781788111140 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter offers a critical reading of the discourses employed in the context of the distribution of obscene publications through two recent legal developments in England and Wales. Firstly, in the recent case of R v Peacock, in which a defendant was charged under indictment with six counts of distributing obscene material under Section 2(1) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA); and secondly, the recent Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and its apparent targeting of ‘perverse’ sexual practices. However, rather than focusing on the discourses employed in arguing for regulation, I will to concentrate here on those used to defend pornography against the law. I argue that while in previous cases, classical liberalism tended to be the framing device used to defend pornography on ‘freedom of speech’ grounds, these two recent developments demonstrate that defence advocates and activists alike are utilising a strategic essentialism approach, affixing pornographic representation to sexual orientation or identity. While this approach is certainly strategic, this chapter will reflect on some of the drawbacks of this approach.

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Book Section

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This is a draft chapter. The final version is available in "Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law" edited by Chris Ashford and Alexander Maine, published in 2020, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd

The material cannot be used for any other purpose without further permission of the publisher, and is for private use only.

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March 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

18 Mar 2020 09:59

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2021 00:32


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