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Copyright (c) 1995 The Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University
Stanford Law Review

ARTICLE: Love Speech: The Social Utility of Pornography

April, 1995

47 Stan. L. Rev. 661


Jeffrey G. Sherman *


Some feminist scholars have argued that all pornography instantiates male sexual supremacy and dehumanizes people of either gender who participate in scenes of sexual subordination. While traditional liberal theorists typically defend pornography as a category of First Amendment expression, they do so abstractly, implicitly accepting much of the critics' assessment of pornography's worth. In this article, Professor Sherman responds with an endorsement of one variety of pornography: that directed at gay males. Drawing largely on anecdotal data, Professor Sherman argues that gay male pornography is valuable because it enables its consumers to realize satisfying, self-affirming sexual lives. He criticizes antipornography feminists for failing to distinguish between the dynamics of heterosexual and homosexual relations, and for fostering a censorious climate in which representations of lesbian and gay sexuality are at greatest risk. Professor Sherman ends by suggesting that to the extent that achieving societal acceptance of gay male pornography requires ending homophobia, this victory will accompany the end of misogyny, since both forms of bigotry are rooted in hatred of femininity.

"I very clearly remember feeling depressed and isolated because I was the only one who was gay ... I thought I would never have any friends and would have to give up my family. The fact is that we are a minority group like no other... Gay kids can't even count on having other gay friends." 1

The past decade's anti-porn propaganda campaign [has been] carried out by a dubious alliance of right-wing Christians and ... ...
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