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Panel discusses porn industry

Madeline Buckley | Monday, February 4, 2008

Students, professors and rectors presented a wide range of attitudes toward pornography during the “Pornography: Fantasy, Reality and Industry” conference Friday at the Center for Continuing Education in McKenna Hall.

Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas, began the conference by allowing attendees to finish the open sentence, “Pornography is….” Their answers ranged from “expressive” and “entertainment” to “seductive” and “dehumanizing.”

Jensen then filled in the blank with his own answer.

“Pornography is what the end of the world looks like,” he said. “When one looks honestly at the contemporary porn industry, one sees some disturbing images of where this world is heading.”

Jensen said that like any other business, pornography companies have had to continue producing new and interesting products.

In the 1960s and 70s, he said, pornography was generally a male and female participating in vaginal sex. Later, in the 1980s, when this became boring to viewers, anal sex was pervasive in pornographic videos.

“I asked one [pornography producer] about the rise of anal sex in the 80s,” Jensen said. “The producer replied that the majority of women do not seek out anal sex, so when men get angry at their wives, they secretly think to themselves that they would like to do that. Since they can’t, they like to watch it.”

Jensen described this attitude toward anal sex as “the sexualizing of male domination and female subordination. [It’s] a disturbing mirror for the culture in which we live.”

A desire to expand the pornography market has led pornographers to create videos involving more practices often objectionable to women, Jensen said.

“Where is the industry going, and what could possibly come after this?” Jensen said. “I have asked this to several pornographers. Some will say, ‘I hate to say it, but the only place left to go is overt violence.’ The other place to go is to continue to sexualize youth.”

After Jensen presented his views, a panel discussion between Pasquerilla West rector Sister Susan Bruno, Corby Hall religious superior Father Peter Jarret, sophomore Patrick Tighe and senior Stephanie Brauer addressed pornography on the Notre Dame campus.

“Dependency on porn has been dubbed a psychological addiction, but there is not one group in the counseling center dedicated to men and women addicted to porn,” Tighe said.

In spite of this, Jarret said that students have no had a problem speaking with him in the dorms about pornography.

“I was surprised and edified by the willingness of people to come and knock on my door and talk about their issue,” Jarret said. “I found these conversations revealing, honest, and had a great appreciation for the person sitting next to me, talking. There was a sense of being trapped in something they lost control over.”

In order for this addiction to be eradicated, and for the culture of pornography to change, Bruno said, all people must work toward ending it.

“We all have to get involved in changing this culture, changing this mentality,” she said. “In the end, we want to reject, resist and end the industry of pornography.”