The Racquet

Viewpoint: UWL, Pornography, and Sexual Violence

Retrieved from the La Crosse Tribune

Retrieved from the La Crosse Tribune

Marissa Widdifield, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion Reporter

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On Thursday, November 1st at 7p.m. in Centennial Hall, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse hosted Nina Hartley, a pornographic actress and sex educator. The event, although catered to UWL students, was not highly publicized. Most events on campus are attended because students see chalk advertisements on the sidewalks, posters in the academic buildings, or on UWL’s online event calendar. Instead, the event was only publicized by occupying a few moments on the digital signs found in the Student Union and Whitney Dining Hall.  

Nina Hartley was asked to come specifically by Jow Gow, UWL’s chancellor, who used tuition dollars to fund her appearance. He discreetly publicized the event because he knew that there would be resistance to having a pornography star speak about her experiences and adult entertainment on campus.  

“Some students do not think pornography and adult entertainment are good things,” Gow said in an interview with the La Crosse Tribune. “I think the world would be a better place if we were more open about human sexuality … and how it plays a healthy role in people’s lives. That is what Hartley is doing.” 

The issue is not with speaking openly about sexuality and the freedom of expression, the issue is that our Chancellor went behind students backs and used their money to host a guest but did not express this event to students, or publicize it as a ‘sex positive’ event.  

I am not comfortable, nor do I feel safe with the fact that my male peers were told that there is nothing wrong with what is produced and indulging in what in media amongst the pornography industry.  

The pornography industry profits off images depicting sexual violence, non-consensual sex, or abuse during sexual acts and normalizes and desensitizes the behavior through increased consumption. 

Not only does it relate to sexual violence and rape, but pornography is directly linked to sex-trafficking.  

In the Huffington Post, Dr. Gain Dines, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College said, “We know that trafficking is increasing — which means demand is increasing. This means that men are increasingly willing to have sex with women who are being controlled and abused by pimps and traffickers. There are only two conclusions here: That men are naturally willing to do this to women — biology — or that they are being socialized by the culture to lose all empathy for women.”  

I would like to believe that men are not innately rapists but that there’s something in the social environment that’s fueling these behaviors. This is the consumption of pornography.  

Fight the New Drug, a non-profit organization against the pornography industry, did a study in 2007 of 854 women prostitutes from nine different countries that found that 47% of these women “had been harmed by men who had either forced or tried to force their victims to do things the men had seen in pornography.” 

It does not help that the United States sex education system is flawed, making pornography the “biggest sex educator of young men today,” Dines said. Men are fooled at a young age that they are watching free men and women engage in consensual sexual acts, absorbing the scenes as if they are okay to reproduce in their own lives. And although there are many realms of ethical pornography on the internet, people make the choice to indulge in unethical pornography that creates a sense of sexuality that encourages gender norms and rape culture.  

Discussing pornography consumption should be done through a purposeful critical lens. We must recognize that it is not reality, and therefore refrain from ranking our personal sexual relationships within the hierarchy of unjust pornography comparison.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Viewpoint: UWL, Pornography, and Sexual Violence”

  1. Ellie Brown on November 8th, 2018 11:53 am

    As a former Racquet viewpoint editor, I love that this topic is being explored and critically examined. If further articles or research is done in this direction, I would be very interested in potentially hearing input from students or staff members, for example Dr. Kate Parker, a UWL faculty member who specializes in gender and sexuality studies.

  2. Lisa on November 12th, 2018 7:02 pm

    Do you have sources or links to back up your claims of sex trafficking being linked to porn industry? Or that porn makes men rapists? Because men and WOMEN both watch porn. Furthermore, if porn causes rape then shouldn’t every one that has watched porn be a rapist then? Or maybe there are other factors ? Furthermore, if you went or ever read about the event, you would know that her presentation was about the fact that porn is fantasy based industry and not a realistic example of sex. And that it’s not good to look towards porn on to how to have sex. I think this is a great conversation as the majority of college students are having sex so it is best to educate them on safe and consensual sex. Furthermore, are you really judging her based on her past job?

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