A C E L E B R A T I O N O F
In 1981, after Larry Flynt ran wanted posters in Hustler for Gloria Steinem and Susan Brownmiller we ran this poster on himand called for "the national destruction of Hustler magazines on newstands". At a staged press conference we presented this "Open Letter" to Larry Flynt and went on to destroy over a thousand copies of Hustler and were arrested many times in Santa Cruz over the next several years in ongoing retaliatory actions. We wrote this letter 15 years ago. It would not be nearly so nice if we wrote it today. --Nikki Craft
F I R S T A M E N D M E N T R I G H T S
AN OPEN LETTER TO LARRY FLYNT
For years you have profited from a multi-million dollar industry which cranks out propaganda that objectifies and sexually degrades third world people, homosexuals, children, the handicapped and elderly. For years you have provided a slick support network for men who commit countless atrocities against women. During these same years, we have been forced to live with the knowledge that one day your fantasies may become our reality.
In recent issues of Hustler you have published "Wanted Posters" for Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem, "big name feminists who are in violation of First Amendment Rights." In your opinion, these women make the "totally absurd claim that pornography causes rape, dismissing scientific evidence to the contrary . . ."
Constant exposure to sexual violence in the media inevitably leads to an insensitive public and produces a climate of acceptance for those committing acts of brutality, rape and murder. Your denial of this correlation is absurd.
Segments of Hustler provoke the annihilation of our bodies and spirits. While striving to maintain a balance between civil liberties and freedom of expression, Brownmiller, Steinem and all women working to end violence, must also deal with some very harsh realities.
- Every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
- Every 5 minutes a woman is raped
- Every 10 minutes a little girl is molested
In the pages of your magazine we discover "humorous" photos of women with rats crawling from their vaginas (a common form of torture in South America). In the 1980 December issue we find a series entitled "Dream Lover." "Even in sleep, she senses the erotic nature of the humiliation to which he subjects her. The Dream Lover forces her to confront the primitive violence long suppressed in civilized men and women." On the next seven glossy pages of Hustler, the "Dream Lover" slugs her in the face, rapes her from behind, drags her to the bathroom by her hair and pushes her head first into the toilet. On a cover we see a woman's body being stuffed into a grinder, emerging as ground meat. These are only a few examples of the contempt and malice that you have expressed toward us.
You routinely make a laughing matter of sexual torture. We challenge you for proof that what you print does not lead to acts of sexual violence; that the source of your profits is not the constant cry of fire in a crowded theatre.
How do you think a rape victim feels when she views a ravaged body humorously portrayed for the enjoyment of your male audience? Her anguish is impossible to express in this statement. How do you think the survivors of the victims of the Hillside Strangler feel reading Hustler's parody glorifying him? "Kenneth Bianchi: Occupation: Hillside Strangler Latest Accomplishment: Cindy Lee Hudspeth, 20. QUOTE: "You gotta treat 'em rough . . ." "After knocking off a couple of bimbos, the Hillside Strangler likes to kick back and relax with Doer's Lite Lable."
Larry Flynt, you were the victim of a violent, lawless act. Did you love the brutality directed against you in 1978 in front of the Georgia Courthouse? Did you find it sexually exciting? If not, why do you continue to perpetuate the myth that women enjoy suffering the pain inflicted by sexual violence?
We support freedom of speech. We understand satire and political commentary. We support those who distribute sexually explicit material. We refuse to support the suppression of nudity or erotica. But, there is a difference between erotica and violent pornography.
When there is so little respect for our lives, our rights to freedom of mobility, self-determination and true sexual liberation, circulating this type of material shows extremely poor judgement on your part. We do not want censorship. We want civil responsibility!
With this statement, you will find a "humorous" satirical wanted poster for Larry Flynt. This poster is being included in a national mailing to the media and women's groups. We are encouraging women to make copies and distribute it within their community. Like photos from Hustler, some people have tacked it up on their walls and find it amusing.
No one enjoys being a focus for brutality. We are looking towards a time when the men who read Hustler will decide they love the women in their own lives (whether they are wives, secretaries, daughteres, sisters, or lovers) too much to see them stripped, bound, raped, tortured, mutilated and murdered in the name of entertainment and free speech.
In keeping with your views on freedom of expression, we respectfully request that you publish the enclosed full page "Public Service Message," in Hustler, alongside this statement in its entirety.
The Preying Mantis Women's Brigade
March 8, 1981--International Women's Day
(Of course Flynt never published our letter in Hustler.)