From Matthew Yglesias:
“A liberal,” Irving Kristol once observed, “is one who says that it’s all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage.” I guess Kristol’s dictum needs to be updated. Today, a liberal is one who says it’s all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as the cast “looks like America.”
That Kristol quote is actually pretty smart, though it obviously fails to take into consideration that (in my opinion, rather illiberal) anti-porn faction of feminism. A libertarian is someone who says that it’s all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic at whatever wage, and a conservative says it’s all wrong.
I’m not sure why the quote should take into account the anti-porn faction of feminism. That faction has been more-or-less led by Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, both of whom would, I think, passionately deny being liberal. In her writings, MacKinnon is as bitterly anti-liberal as any conservative.
MacKinnon and Dworkin’s leadership was unfortunate, in my view. As brilliant as both women are, they nonetheless led radical feminism into a futile fight for anti-porn legislation that split feminism. The result was to sabatoge what had been, up to that point, an effective radical feminist movement with many great accomplishments. (Susan Brownmiller makes a similar argument in her memoir In Our Time). I don’t think radical feminism has yet recovered from the wrong turn it took in the 80s.