Stephanie Ingram
Reaction Paper 1
October 21, 2015
When Porn meets Community Organization
Hickey did an analysis of Pornography in Minneapolis lower income neighborhoods after
the suburbanization began happening. That is, people were moving out of the area to the more
suburban areas, and taking prominent businesses with them. Those people who could not afford
to leave the area were left with an area with little resources in terms of shopping. Porn shops
began to come to the lower income at first only a few, then eventually growing to twelve shops
selling adult content. Feminists began to protest outside of the shops and picket. At first, they
took the approach of dressing in old style, hyper modest attire and picketing. Their concerns
were for the safety of females in the neighborhood, as lewd comments and advances were the
norm in the areas where the porn shops exist. They also went into the shops to “browse”. Many
neighborhood activist groups were born out of the desire to rid the neighborhood of the porn
industry. These groups did not focus on the moral or religious implications of porn; they focused
on the danger toward females. Two local feminist activists Mackinnon and Dworkin became
involved in the movement. Their specific position was against pornography in general as it
objectified women. When they took over there was a shift in power from the community
members to the feminists in positions of power (being well educated and women) who took over
the campaign. At first, the neighborhood organizations were still in place. After a period of time,
they let feminist leaders take control to make the neighborhood a better place. It put the focus on
the national movement against pornography rather than keeping it at the neighborhood grassroots
organizations.
In the article by Alinsky, what is takes to be an organizer is examined. he talks about
being an organizer as a profession. The organizer does not have much time to explore other
things such as relationships; they need tolerance from mates and the people in their lives. The job
or organizing to create change does not have a rest or a break; middle of the night work was
listed as a common place occurrence. Alinsky has a list in his article about what makes a good
organizer including ten items she considers essential: curiosity, wanting to delve deeper into the
issues at hand, irreverence; the search for meaning and respectfully so, imagination;
innavitaviely trying to organize to best serve issues, sense of humor; appreciating the situation
can turn around with a positive attitude, a blurred vision for a better world; believing in the
changes the organizers hope to create despite adversity, organized organizers; being able to be
the calm in a hurricane, being what they term as a political schizoid; having the ability to
understanding two views on an issue, ego; the organizers have to be able to believe in themselves
and the work they are doing, free open mind/political relativity; the ability being able to deal
with life having uncertainties, and being able to create new from old situations. The organizer
needs to be able to apply these tactics to all kinds of situations.
The Hickey article gives readers insight on a how a problem was tackled and organizers
dealt with in multiple ways. First of all, the organizers at the beginning were VERY creative
wearing traditional feminine garb, and defiantly displayed a sense of humor by walking around
and browsing in the store. They were displaying their power at the level of the community. These
tactics also tied into the NIMBY movement; these women did not want the pornography in their
backyard. They did not have moral reasoning; they wanted instead for it to be a place where
women felt safe. A place without catcalls and lewd language. As the movement gained footing, it
developed into an issue many community local grassroots organizations tried to take on; they
were composed of both men and women. They protested, met, and organized as separate groups,
still adhering to local community organizing practice that Alinsky mentioned of using the ten
tactics at a local level involving local government, community residents, and community
organizations collaborating to try to create a change; eradicating porn shops in Minneapolis.
When the power was turned over to there was a shift from local community power to a more
national type of power by letting two women who had an expertise in feminism and the field of
pornography and women’s rights violations. They focused more on the issue at the national level,
and many community activists let their activism fizzle out, which contradicted what Alinksy’s
article suggested; they stopped believing they could make a difference. There were some gaps in
Alinsky’s plan.
Alinsky’s plan could have a more complete view of community analysis. Granted he gave
examples at the community level and how to keep the power when the organization is small such
as when she went to see Mexican American families and made the joke at dinner; would it be
different or the same then the qualities listed? This type of information could have helped the
planners of the allies in Minneapolis. They could know how despite being on a small scale, to
make the biggest impact. It is also unclear on the Minneapolis side how they planned for their
rallies, if they had a strategy, or what they hoped to accomplish (other than the obvious eventual
eradication of porn shops). The lack was detailed specifics of how they planned on doing this;
like what went on in their meetings, etc. The feminists who came in and discussed the porn issue
on a national level clearly had more experience, but did they succeed in reaching the
community? No. The community was It would have been cool if Alinsky could have talked to
the porn shop protesters to get their perspective on the situation and offer them sage advice on
how to deal with their situation. The articles were both informative in their own right and
displayed information about organizing; how it happens in the community, what happens when
power is overtaken by a more powerful force, and national power and how it can be different.
References
Alinsky, S. (1971). Rules for radicals. New York, New York: Random House.
Hickey, G. (2011). The geogrpahy of pornography: neighborhood feminism and the battle
against “dirty bookstores” in Minneapolis. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies
32(1), 125-151. doi: 10.5250/fronjwomestud.32.1.0125
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reaction paper 1 stephanie ingram