As the Rialto Report prepares to return from summer vacation next weekend, we wanted to take a brief look at the 1970s adult film industry from a different point of view.
As pornography gained ever greater exposure in the 1970s, the anti-pornography movement picked up new members and gained pace. Of all those who joined in opposition, few groups are better known than Women Against Pornography (WAP).
Formed in New York City in the latter 1970s by activists including Andrea Dworkin, Gloria Steinem, Adrienne Rich and Grace Paley, WAP’s focus was clear: The group believed pornography exploited and oppressed women, and so worked to educate the public and lobby politicians about its dangers.
Jamie Gillis once shared his first-hand experience of the group with us. He walked passed their office in Times Square and decided to stop in to hear what they had to say. Jamie described how the women volunteers were friendly and enthusiastic to have a chance to share their views with someone – a man nonetheless – who wanted to hear what they had to say. Jamie listened to them and when they were through thanked them for their time. As he turned to leave one of the volunteers asked Jamie what he did for a living. When he answered that he was in fact a porn star himself, the tone turned. The women who had earlier welcomed Jamie turned furious. They unleashed a barrage of insults, calling him a “disgusting pig” and “human waste” and chased him from their office.
Below are a selection of photos from New York protests, and video news coverage of their largest gathering – which took place in Times Square in 1979.
We’ll be back from our vacation next Sunday with a new post.
Women Against Pornography
.. and in a parallel universe, there’s an awesome site dedicated to the preservation and archiving of anti-golden age of porn artifacts.
Happy holidays. Come back soon!
Say what you want about WAP, but those eye glasses in the top picture are the coolest thing I’ve seen today.
How about an interview with Susan Brownmiller et al….?
Many of the original WAP rabble rousers are still out there, and I’d like to hear if the years has mellowed their militant positions…. especially given today’s increasingly misogynistic porn output.
That would be interesting to hear what some of them have to say forty years later.
When Jamie Gillis told WAP members what he did for a living they called him a “disgusting pig.” But I had Gloria Leonard stopped by they would have embraced her as a “victim.”
nice typography on those banners and signs.
I always wanted to sit down and talk with the WAP but they wouldn’t be in the same room with me.
Well, I’m happy to say that we won the “porn wars.” More or less.
Its great to see these photos and video. Thanks Rialto Report! Love that you have this documentation on your site.
That’s just why the Jamie Gillis story is interesting. He was willing to listen to them, but clearly not vice versa.
One of WAP ‘s concerns was that children see porn magazine covers yet the WAP table on the street featured a pix of a naked woman being fed into a meat grinder. If that isn’t violence porn I don’t know what is.