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.
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