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category: Social Science
published: Feb 1997
ISBN:9780802076434

Bad Attitude(s) on Trial

Pornography, Feminism, and the Butler Decision

by Shannon Bell; Lise Gotell; Becki Ross & Brenda Cossman

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women's studies, gender studies, pornography
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $30.95
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
category: Social Science
published: Feb 1997
ISBN:9780802076434
Description

Bad Attitude(s) on Trial is a critical analysis of pornography in the context of contemporary Canada. The notion that pornography both reflects sexual domination and 'victimizes' women has recently found expression in law in the landmark Canadian Supreme Court decision of R. v. Butler (1992). Many feminists embrace this new law as progressive, but in the post-Butler years, straight, mainstream pornography is still flourishing, while sexual representations that challenge conventional notions of sexuality, such as those centering on gay and lesbian sex and s/m sex, are the focus of censorship. It is the censorship of sexual others that the authors critique from a legal, cultural, gay, and philosophical standpoint.

 

Lise Gotell examines the intervention of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) in the Butler decision and provides an overview of socio-legal debates on pornography and censorship. Brenda Cossman examines the Butler decision itself and challenges the dominant reading of this case as a feminist victory. Becki Ross critically examines the expert testimony she delivered in defense of Bad Attitude, an American lesbian sex magazine seized by police from Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto in 1992. She details the difficulties she encountered in explicating and contextualizing the specificities, nuances, and complexities of lesbian s/m fantasy in a court of law. In the final chapter, Shannon Bell advances a conception of pornography that is not distinguishable from philosophy, using philosophy to make pornography.

 

Bad Attitude(s) on Trial provides a new debate on pornography and feminism. It will be of particular interest to students of both women's, and gay and lesbian issues, but will also be relevant for scholars of law, political science, and philosophy, as well as for anyone interested in a different, provocative view of the Butler decision.

About the Authors
Shannon Bell is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at York University.
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Shannon Bell is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at York University.
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Becki L. Ross is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the Chair of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of British Columbia.

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Brenda Cossman is Professor of Law at the University of Toronto, and taught at the Osgoode Hall Law School from 1988 to 1999.

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Editorial Reviews

'The most daring aspect of Bad Attitude/s on Trial is the authors' attempt to sketch out a positive theory of sexuality to counter the essential negative view enshrined in the common law traditions shared by Canada and the United States.'

— The Boston Book Review

'Bad Attitude/s presents a detailed refutation of anti-pornography feminists, accuses them of being enveloped by conservative social trends, and offers arguments for a dissenting feminist positions.'

— The Globe and Mail

'The authors tackle their subjects with a sensitivity to the arguments of their ideological foes, but effectively demonstrate that the protection of women from harm does not begin with the suppression of imagery.'

— Quill and Quire

'Although many readers many not agree with the opinions expressed about sexuality and depiction in Bad Attitude/s, they should take careful note of how genuine progressive concerns have been hijacked by the same old authoritarian social forces we thought were history.'

— eye Weekly

'Bad Attitude/s on Trial is a thoughtful and complex study of both genuinely complicated social issues and tangled legal reasoning. It's definitely worth reading.'

— The Vancouver Sun

'A thorough and provocative book.'

— Bart Testa, The Globe and Mail

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