... eye-opening, fair-minded and largely evenhanded ... Following a brief but fascinating history of smut in the United States, Burke shares highlights of her interviews with 90 people who have a dog in the pornography fight, among them sex workers, a male sex educator raised by a porn star dad, and a nonreligious former firefighter committed to helping men overcome their dependence on porn ... examines its subject from many angles--political, sociological, psychological, scientific, legal--and asks questions along the way: Is porn addiction a real thing? Is porn that is centered on women necessarily bad for women? Can porn ever empower women? (Here it's probably worth mentioning that Burke doesn't always achieve neutrality on her subject.) In her concluding chapter, one that takes an aerial view, Burke offers a clarifying insight that's applicable to many fiery clashes of opinion.
Burke is critical of anti-porn adherents who employ scaremongering to bolster their movement, but her book is a balanced presentation of pornography sympathizers and opponents and the valid aspects of their arguments; she even highlights common ground between them. Key to Burke’s discussion are her stances that a person’s view of pornography is inseparable from their individual experiences, and that pornography can’t ever be fully decoupled from wider societal issues of gender, race, morality, and bodily autonomy ... A mature, thoughtful book about a complex and divisive topic. No matter their personal opinions, readers will likely find observations here to inform their thoughts about pornography’s creation and consumption.
... a thoroughly researched and refreshingly readable albeit academic viewpoint of the long-standing debate over pornography in the U.S ... There is no winner-take-all conclusion, as Burke so acutely explains. Instead, this volume does a remarkable job of conveying points of view from all sides of the issues, resulting in a much more complex understanding of a lightning-rod subject.
... compassionate and well-balanced ... Burke’s own background as a born-again Christian who left the Baptist church after coming out as a lesbian informs her refreshingly unbiased approach. The result is an astute and forthright presentation of a hotly contested issue.
... thought-provoking ... The author ably unravels a broad set of social and political values that the porn debate evokes, especially the moralizing facade of anti-porn arguments ... The book is well balanced and rigorously researched, featuring dozens of opinions from across the spectrum of debate, and Burke does her best to keep her own biases in check while illustrating her expertise in the topic ... An intellectually stimulating read for porn fans and critics alike.