Women’s center interprets the porn industry

in News/SCSU News by

The final Women on Wednesday of fall semester that took place Dec. 3 was titled “Pornland: How the Porn Industry has Hijacked Our Sexuality.”
This particular session included a viewing of a 35-minute documentary, with a Q and A session at the end. The Women’s center has been celebrating 25 years by picking topics for discussion calling it “Women Who WOW,” all semester. The sessions were normally 50 minutes, starting at noon in the Atwood Theater.
The audience was noticeably a bit more packed; classes were in attendance as well as members of the community. At the beginning of the session, Kate Bennett, Wome’s Center  graduate student, and Jane Olsen, director of the Women’s Center, announced the documentary “Pornland” was very graphic–an email was sent out to warn prospective audience members beforehand. It was made clear to the audience, at if any point someone encountered triggering images, or was upset by the graphic depictions in the documentary, that advocates and counselors were on site if needed. Bennett and Olsen both offered the CAPS services on campus. Which was appreciated among the audience, given that there were specific scenes that were lifted from pornographic films.
The documentary was a part of a multimedia presentation based on a book by Gail Dines, anti-porn feminist and scholar. Dines is featured throughout the documentary, discussing her opinions of porn and the porn industry, specifically the violence and dehumanization of women and drawing on racial stereotypes, and how these people make money off of others’ pleasures, and in some cases, the pain of others.
The film discussed the taboo topics in the porn industry; the first featured topic was Measure B. Measure B., a proposal in California that was meant to protect performers in the porn industry, forcing them to wear condoms while performing sex scenes in films. Which was met with antagonistic opinions from a company called Manwin, who produces hardcore porn.
This Measure was passed. Dines posed the question, “What does it mean to grow up with a sexual education program taught by porn?” Dines’ documentary featured scenes from porn films that feature women not being seen as human beings. Being degraded to terms as “whore” and “slut,” among others. Dines questions what these images mean to impressionable minds who have easy access to these images, are possibly getting the wrong images of what a healthy intimate relationship can be. The documentary also touches on the racial stereotypes in porn films. Particularly featuring a scene with a white woman and four African-American men in prison, Asian women and Latina women in scantily dressed clothing and instilling racist stereotypes.
Interestingly, the documentary featured a man who works in the industry saying “violence within porn has been so sensationalized, how much more extreme and violent can you get?”
The documentary then showed incredibly graphic and violent scenes in porn films, with a quote from Dines drowning out the audio, “The more you can de-base her and dehumanize her the better the sex for him…Do men want the porn industry to define their tastes?” According to the documentary, the word “no” in porn doesn’t exist. Which then was orchestrated with more clips of slapping, choking, hitting and beating women in porn films.
The documentary closes out by featuring a quote from a convicted sex offender Dines interviewed. She asked him where he got the motive for his actions.
“The culture did a lot of the grooming for me,” he replied.
After the documentary, Bennett and Olsen addressed the audience. They had questions to prompt a discussion within the audience.
What kind of people does porn culture produce? The audience had similar responses “Sex is supposed to be a mutual, pleasurable experience,” “Porn only depicts men,” and “the woman’s pleasure doesn’t exist,” or “there’s no real image of healthy sex.”
At this point the audience discussed sex education programs in schools. The documentary explained the average age group accessing porn online is roughly 11-year-old boys. Someone also brought up that schools don’t usually teach sex education until high school, if at all, and many are accused of not being realistic to their audience.
“What roles do race play in porn culture?” Bennet and Olsen asked the audience. Someone in the audience cited neo-colonial attitudes depicted in porn media “submissive Asian women being exported,” “Ghetto black women,” among other racial stereotypes. The audience also discussed “sexual deviance being acceptable.”
And finally “the unrealistic physical stereotypes of the female body… men expect it, women feel unworthy when they don’t have it.”
Women on Wednesday sessions will continue starting spring semester.