Telling The Real Stories

Anti-Porn Protest is Anticlimactic

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Protesters held a demonstration against the pornography industry in downtown St. Cloud on Friday, Jan. 26, saying that the industry exploits women and is fueled by human trafficking.

Members and supporters of the event stood on the sidewalks along Hwy 23 and 5th Avenue holding signs condemning the $15 billion a year industry with maxims like, “She doesn’t like it. She is paid to smile,” and “Honk if you hate porn.”

The Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center (CMSAC) and the Women’s Center of St. Cloud State University (SCSU) both sponsored the event.

“We wanted to raise awareness of one of the forms of trafficking that is completely legal and very much normalized,” said CMSAC Trafficking Services Coordinator, Rebecca Kotz. “We see that 70 percent of men are regularly using pornography and so there’s a hypocrisy when you’re pro-porn and against trafficking because pornography is videotaped trafficking.”

CMSAC Trafficking Services Coordinator, Rebecca Kotz, holds a banner with the word, “Pornography” written in bold letters across it, on Friday, Jan. 26 on Hwy 23 in St. Cloud. Photo by Jessie Wade.

According to a flyer that was distributed on the SCSU campus promoting the event, “Pornography normalizes torture and violence, grooms victims, drives demand, perpetuates rape culture, and promotes, facilitates, and documents trafficking.”

Chuck Derry, who said he was the co-founder of both the Gender Violence Institute and the North American Men Engaged Network, agrees. Derry said he was protesting because “One in three women are raped in Minnesota. One in three are being beaten by the man they are in a relationship [with] in Minnesota. 99 percent are sexually harassed in their lifetime,” and that this wouldn’t be happening without “widespread cultural support.”

The Minnesota Department of Health’s website cites the Center for Disease Control and Prevention national statistics, which states 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men reported an “attempted or completed rape at some point in their lives.”

The department’s website notes that some sources report up to 1 in 4 women and that it’s, “important to consider each data source because victims differentially seek medical care, report to law enforcement, and/or respond to surveys. Viewing different data sources may also offer further insight in understanding sexual violence.”

Derry said he doesn’t have a problem with sexually explicit images but that the porn industry normalizes violence against women.

Ellen So, a senior at St. Cloud State University, holds multiple signs at the protest – one of them with the words, “Me Too.” Photo by Jessie Wade.

At least one faculty member from SCSU was present at the protest, professor Geoffrey Tabakin – who said he has taught courses on genocide and restorative justice for about 30 years – commented that it was important for men to be at the protest because “it is a constant that porn is harmless” and that people believe “oppression of women is somebody else’s concern.”

Tabakin also said that, due to the Super Bowl being held in Minneapolis this year, there has been an increase in violent sexual crime.

A public affairs officer for the Minneapolis Police Department said they were not aware of a spike in violent crime due to the Super Bowl but directed any request for city data to a data practices email address for the city of Minneapolis.

Professor from St. Cloud State University, Geoffrey Tabakin, stands on Hwy 23 by 5th Avenue near Chipotle and Noodles with his fellow protestors on Friday, Jan. 26. Photo by Jessie Wade.

The protest stood in stark contrast to other more high-profile protests where violence or civil disobedience from protesters or counter-protestors has taken place.

Kotz said they were expecting at least one counter protester but they never showed up. Multiple cars honked in what appeared to be showing support, though a handful of people driving by made crude remarks.

There was also no observable law enforcement present. No one from the St. Cloud Police Department was available for comment before this article was published.

The communications department for SCSU did not respond for comment before this article was published.

 

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