Catharine MacKinnon

// 12 April 2006

Stuart Jeffries interviews Catharine MacKinnon in the Guardian today, about her new book, Are Women Human?

It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking interview.

On rape:

“The assumption is that women can be unequal to men economically, socially, culturally, politically, and in religion, but the moment they have sexual interactions, they are free and equal. That’s the assumption – and I think it ought to be thought about, and in particular what consent then means. It means acquiescence. It means passivity. You can be semi-knocked out…. You can be semi-comatose, not to mention married in many places, and be regarded as consenting whenever sex takes place.”

On pornography:

“Our approach is not to ban, but to offer a civil remedy to people who can prove they were harmed – rather than empowering the police and putting people in jail, which doesn’t do any good anyway. Pornographers keep their businesses going in jail.” The law [she drafted] defined pornography as a civil rights violation against women, and allowed women who claimed harm from pornography to sue the producers and distributors in civil court for damages. Better such remedies, argues MacKinnon, than the obscenity approach to restricting porn common in Britain and Commonwealth countries, which she derides in her book: “It cares more about whether men blush than whether women bleed.”

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