Civil Rights



Copyright © 1988 by Catharine A. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin
All rights reserved

To all the people who have worked to pass the Ordinance into law and to all the people who need to use it.

About This Book

"Pornography is central in creating and maintaining the civil inequality of the sexes. Pornography is a systematic practice of exploitation and subordination based on sex which differentially harms women. . . ."

With those bold words began the groundbreaking local antipornography law drafted by writer Andrea Dworkin and lawyer Catharine A. MacKinnon. Their completely new legal approach--in which pornography is defined as sex discrimination and therefore a violation of civil rights--would allow anyone injured by pornography to fight back by filing a civil lawsuit against pornographers. First passed in December 1983 in Minneapolis, where it was supported by a grassroots coalition of women, people of color, neighborhood groups, and the city's welfare poor and working poor, this law has transformed the way people of conscience understand the devastating impact of pornography on women's right to equality. This new law also offers hope: an effective legal tool for making sex equality real.

In this comprehensive and easy-to-read guidebook, now available on line, the coauthors of the antipornography civil-rights ordinance explain:

"The Ordinance does not take 'rights' away from anyone, . . . it takes the power to hurt women away from pornographers." --from Pornography and Civil Rights


The Meaning of Civil Rights

The Nature of Change

Authority and Resistance

Equality as a Social Goal

Pornography and Civil Rights

The Ordinance

Civil Rights and Speech

Questions and Answers

Table of Authorities

Appendix A: The Minneapolis Ordinance

Appendix B: The Indianapolis Ordinance

Appendix C: The Cambridge Ordinance

Appendix D: The Model Ordinance


The authors wish to thank the Skaggs Foundation, Laura Lederer, Julie Melrose, Jeanne Barkey, David Satz, John Stoltenberg, Anne Simon, Karen Davis, and Organizing Against Pornography for making it possible to write and publish this book. The authors also wish to thank Hannah Bennett, Steve Purton, David Satz, and Nikki Craft for making it possible to publish this book on the internet.

[Originally published and distributed in 1988 by Organizing Against Pornography, a resource center for education and action based in Minneapolis.]