Smut is smut, but...
Smut is rampart in Houston. The range, degree and
availability of degenerate materials and performances here rival
that of New York's Times Square and Baltimore's The Block
There is no doubt that pornography exploits women "Our
bodies are being stripped, exposed and contorted,'' Susan
Brownmiller has written, 'for the purpose of ridicule to bolster
that 'masculine esteem' which gets its kick and sense of power
from viewing females as anonymous playthings, adult toys,
dehumanized objects to be used, abused and discarded.
"Pornography is the undiluted essence of anti-female
propaganda," she wrote in Against Our Will. But the
pornographer is an unwitting propagandist. His or her aim is not
to promote perversion but to exploit it. Sales of the junk are
symptoms of a sickness in our society but not the cause of it.
Unlike offensive political propaganda, smut would vanish
overnight if people didn't buy it.
The moves here and across the nation against pornography
are both encouraging and frightening. Condemnation of filth
demonstrates we are disgusted and tired of the attitudes which
support it. But the path toward legally restricting pornography
is laden with pitfalls which could destory our freedom —and still
not change the attitudes.
There is a difference between being assaulted by pornography
and having it available. Few will deny a community's right to
legally restrict billboards, window displays and children's
access to pornography
Unfortunately, Geneva Kirk Brooks and her small, militant
band of Citizens Against Pornography (CAP) have already
sought more. Their efforts before City Council smack of
McCarthyism and witch (or warlock) hunts. They want dossiers
on professors. They claim some schoolbooks are obscene. They
say they want to ban smut, but will they stop before they get to
James Joyce and Shere Hite?
"Drawing the line" will inevitably offend the artistic
sensibilities of some and have a chilling effect on all forms of
expression. Censorship is the preditor of every original idea
Besides, censorship won't work. The pristine newsstands and
theatres of Franco's Spain did not change degrading attitudes
and behavior toward women. And censorship would divert
overtaxed law enforcement and judicial resources from serious
Breakthrough has consistently criticized obnoxious, sexist
material —and will continue to do so. But we have not asked that
the government smash presses —and we never will.
Much can be done without changing the law. Pressure groups
have changed attitudes about violence and racism. Houston
newsstands have become more discriminating in displaying
sexual literature in the wake of CAP's protests.
Anti-pornography crusaders, learn to play by the rules, do not
try to change them. Write angry letters, complain to merchants,
walk picket lines. These are your consitutional rights.
But beware that freedom-loving Houstonians will fight to the
end your efforts to "protect" us with the force of law from
words and pictures, r or censorship is the ultimate obscenity.
Where Women Are News
STAFF - THIS ISSUE
Art— Charley Kubricht-Fore, Elizabeth Holtzman, Prairie Jackson,
Gertrude Barnstone, Mark Stinson
Advertising— Gertrude Barnstone, Barbara Brown, Ailene English,
Ann Harris, Mary-k Wilson
Circulation— Elliot Clem, Nancy Kern, Cathy Snygg, Olga Soliz
Production— Karen Barrett, Janice Blue, John Carter, Gabrielle
Cosgriff, Barbara Hugetz, Wade Roberts
Editors-Writers— Sam E.J. Akers, Karen Barrett, Janice Blue,
Gabrielle Cosgriff, Barbara Hugetz Wade Roberts
Office— Janice Blue, Barbara Hugetz, Glenda Sherry
Photography— Amos Barrow, Doug Cox, Nancy Landau,
Typesetting— Barbara Hugetz, Mary-k Wilson
Gertrude Barnstone, Janice Blue
Gabrielle Cosgriff, Barbara Hugetz
Vol. 1, No. 10, December 1976. Houston Breakthrough is publisheo
monthly (with the exception of the June-July and the August-
September issues) by the Breakthrough Publishing Company,
1708 Rosewood, Houston, Texas 77004, P.O. Box 88072, Houston,
Texas 77004. Telephone (713) 526-6686. Subscriptions $5.00 a year.
Newsstand 50 cents per copy. This publication is on file at the
International Women's History Archive in the Special Collections
Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60201.
JHOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH - DECEMBER 1976 PAGE 2
^50^R>y HOMEY... rOO^L-TOO ^0RT TO BE i\ Cop;
letters to breakthrough
I just received your November issue, and want to say thank
you for your editorial on Karen
Silkwood. Karen died two years
ago while trying to get her
important health and safety
message to the public through
the media It is a beautiful
tribute to Silkwood for Breakthrough to continue to carry on
with that message The role
played by the media will, I'm
sure, be critical to learning the
truth about the Silkwood case.
Again, thank you for your part
in the public educational effort.
For peace, equality and
Supporters of Silkwood
Editor's note: Readers wanting
more information on the Silkwood case may write to S.O.S.,
III! Florida Ave. N.W.,
Washington, DC. 2(XH)8.
As a grandmother I am totally
I lived the experience of
earning a living for myself and
my child in the great Depression My ex-husband did not
contribute any financial help. I
had no money to obtain a lawyer
and secure that aid granted
Equal rights? I was aware
that men doing the same work I
was doing received double the
income I was paid . . .
We all know, as women and
mothers, what is expected of us.
In or out of wedlock, we are the
ones responsible for 'our' offspring. They are the woman's
problem. She is solely
Men can ignore and escape
all responsibility and still be
considered moral, good men
It appears men are accepted as being in some never-
never land, uncounted and unaccountable.
Now, the government and
politicians are using the abortion issue like a football game.
The church is involved in the
pro and con of this issue The
presidential election had two
men who refused to come out
for abortion When will the ones
who are really involved be
considered in this question?
Again, as in ages past, it
appears women are not included in such important decisions. Are we losers again?
I was very happy going to Dr.
(name withheld). I didn't have
to wait long and he helped me
feel good about myself. But
recently my husband and I
talked to him about the birth of
our first child . . When we
said we were thinking about
home birth, he became very
defensive and said, "I am
against it and I will not deliver
Two weeks later, we received
a letter refusing his services to
us saying "I feel that it will be
impossible to establish a close
patient-doctor relationship with
you and your husband." He
gave me 10 days to find another
Therefore, I am 4-months
pregnant and must find another
doctor, as his letter was very
final in its refusal.
Editor's note: Midwife Martha
Frosh says, "This is a typical,
reoccur ring problem." Frosh is
with HOME, Houston Organization for Midwife Education
and says her group knows of
only one doctor in the city who
will give both pre-natal care and
medical back-up in home birth
deliveries. Judy Kier of AC AH,
Association for Childbirth at
Home, concurs with Frosh's
findings. If you [or our readers]
wish to contact either group
about home births, you may call
HOME [668-9934] or ACAH
I saw Jo Anne Gerfciardt's
interesting article on women at
the Alamo. Professor Rose
Marie Cutting and I are working
on a book on Texas women from
a variety of perspectives. (We
are) curious if the essay (in the
November Breakthrough) is a
part of a larger research effort
. . If so, we would like to
include it in our edited book on
Texas women. Should you know
of others involved in research
on Texas women, I would
appreciate knowing of them and
their research interests.
BONNIE COOK FREEMAN
Editor's note: Yes, Gerhardts
article is part of a larger
research effort. Any other
reader involved in research on
Texas women may write Dr.
Freeman at the College of
Education, Education Bldg. 528
UT-Austin, Austin, Tx. 78712.
Or Professor Rose Marie Cutting, Dept. of English, Calhoun
15, UT-Austin, Austin, Tx.