The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
Instagram

Upholding the Right to Choose Pornography

Upholding the Right to Choose Pornography

Playboy’s recent presence in Dallas and in The Daily Campus has caused all sorts of uproar, calling into question decency and morality, sexual boundaries, and the concept of newsworthiness. However, we seem to have ignored one of the most important underlying issues: freedom of choice. This is not meant to label pornography as either good or bad, both relative terms, but to reveal how imperative it is to have the right to choose, or not choose, pornography.

Russell Allsup, in his article Moral Fiber and Pornography: Should We Lighten Up?, says, “We must, as stewards of liberty, act prudently and follow certain principles (morals) lest we forfeit our autonomy.” This is hypocritical and preposterous to the utmost; how can we claim to be “stewards of liberty” if we attempt to restrict the liberty and freedom of others?

Is it not one of the canons of American democracy that every man and woman has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness? Who determines whether we are acting prudently, and to whom are we forfeiting our autonomy?

Once you begin to regulate and control the lifestyles and beliefs of the individual, it is a slippery slope down to subjugation. The ruckus caused by Playboy’s recruitment in Dallas seems to have caused some to forget that one person’s definition of a sound moral decision is not universal.

Allsup says, “It is our responsibility to admonish…the choice to audition for a pornographic magazine.” This is judgmental almost to the point of being unconstitutional; who are we to interfere or attempt to suppress one’s personal expression, which is technically a demonstration of free speech?

Like it or not, pornography is here to stay, and it has the right to stay; it may be one of the most extreme and outlandish examples of free speech, but the fact that it is backed by the Constitution ought to reassure us of our own rights. As Larry Flynt, founder of Penthouse, said, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.”

The porn industry is a legitimate, and lucrative, business and art form. Just because some people find it offensive does not mean it should be abolished, or the people involved in it reprimanded. But defending the presence of pornography is not the same as advocating it. There is no denying subversive and exploitive side of pornography, which is rightfully illegal and socially destructive.

However, when it comes to legally produced pornography, one must consider its role as a vehicle for the positive power that comes from sexual liberation. To have the nerve to pose naked for everyone to see is an act of complete confidence. Why shower these women with disapproval for being proud of their bodies, for revealing themselves as sexual beings?

Everyone, from the woman in the pages of Playboy to the most conservative WASP, is a sexual being. To deny one’s sexuality is to deny a part of oneself; why frown upon the people who choose to celebrate their sexuality as opposed to hide it?

This is by no means the path for everyone-individuals have the right to explore and choose their comfort level with sexuality-but those who do pursue this lifestyle should not be persecuted for it. To try and put boundaries on sexuality, to make certain acts taboo or call them morally wrong, stifles the individual’s right to be a sexual being, and implies that sex and the body are essentially shameful.

Assuming that “nakedness and sex are to be enjoyed, but only under certain boundaries-that is between man and wife” disregards individual rights by attempting to control one’s body and desires.

You have the right to be naked, all day if you want to, which is why there are nudist colonies. You can have sex with whomever you want, man or woman, regardless of your gender or marriage status. As long as it is practiced safely between consenting adults, no one should be able to rebuke you for it.

Allsup says, “if we do not make correct moral judgments, then we are foolish: lacking the maturity to even possess freedom.” It is true that responsibility and accountability come hand in hand with freedom, but what is foolish is to assume that there is only one correct judgment, moral or ethical.

Maturity does not only come from the ability to make sound decisions, but also from realizing that there are a multitude of opinions in the world, and accepting that one kind of lifestyle is not going to be right for everyone.

About the writer:

Liza Oldham is a senior art history major. She can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover