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Speaker: Porn misuses women

BY SHANE ERSLAND | APRIL 23, 2009 7:29 AM

While a pornographic-video producer described a scene from his movie, nervous laughter from various UI students filled the darkened auditorium of the Becker Communication Studies Building.

Robert Jensen showed The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships Wednesday night during an event sponsored by the UI sociology department and the Women’s Resource and Action Center. After the screening, Jensen, a consultant to the film, spoke to more than 100 UI students before taking questions from the audience.

Before viewing the controversial film, he lightened the audience’s mood.

“You all know what porn is used for, right?” he asked.

He then proceeded to invite all the men in the room who had masturbated in the last 48 hours to stand up and be recognized. Nobody volunteered.

When the film played, viewers were noticeably uncomfortable as they watched degrading sexual acts being performed on women. Females in the feature were often put in disrespectful and submissive positions.

“I was shocked,” said UI junior Lori Sorenson, 21. “I don’t watch porn; I didn’t know that stuff went on.”

Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas-Austin, travels across the country to show the film on college campuses. He said his goal is to increase awareness on the male domination and overt violence occurring in the porn industry.

“This forces us to look at the way women are viewed in society,” he said.

When a student asked Jensen whether he felt pornographic images should be made more tasteful or altogether eliminated, he said he didn’t have an answer.

“Before we ask ourselves ‘what images would be permissible,’ we should ask ourselves ‘Do we need images?’ ” he said.

But some feel the availability of porn is justified by its strong demand.

Alan, a manager at Adult Bookstore in Clinton — who declined to give his last name — said controversial images in porn films are inevitable.

“What we sell here is what everybody does behind closed doors,” he said. “It’s just part of life.”

Jensen’s research at the University of Texas focuses on the depiction of porn from a feminist nature. He said the naturalization of porn in today’s society has made it easier for men to objectify women.

“Our culture is training men to be this way,” he said.


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