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Women of ND response to men’s request for filter

| Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dear Men of Notre Dame,

As the women of Notre Dame, we stand in solidarity with your request to filter out pornography on Notre Dame’s wireless internet networks.

Every human person is worthy of the utmost dignity and respect. Pornography use at Notre Dame threatens this respect by preventing men and women from encountering the full personhood of one another in friendships and relationships. How? Pornography propagates a mindset that people, especially women, are mere sex objects.

Men often say they are capable of separating “real life” from pornography, and that it has no effect on how they see and treat “real women.” However, the reality is that the brain is flexible and plastic, and pornography trains men’s minds to look at women as tools — bodies to surfeit sexual desire and then be discarded. Pornography sucks the energy and will out of men to see and respect women comprehensively: mind, heart, body and soul. What we do affects how we think, how we feel and how we view others. It is immature to pretend otherwise.

Multiple studies have indicated that pornography incites the perception that women are objects. According to one study, adolescents who use pornography are more likely to view women in purely sexual terms. In addition, a 2011 study demonstrated that men who use pornography perceive women to have less of a capacity for complex thinking and reasoning.

The wide consumption of pornography does irreparable harm to relationships between Notre Dame men and women. This demeaning and often violent content encourages its users to place the selfish seeking of personal pleasure over the development of committed relationships. It makes people believe human connection consists of fleeting sexual intensity opened and closed as easily as a web browser. Thus, it essentially takes away the ability to love. It should not surprise us that infidelity rates dramatically increase and divorce rates skyrocket when one partner frequently uses pornography.

In an era when sexual assault is pervasive and women fight to make their voices heard, we must face the fact that pornography use is often correlated with sexual assault. The Michigan State Police found that pornography was used or imitated just prior to or during the crime in 41 percent of the 38,000 sexual assaults that occurred in Michigan from 1956-1979. In addition, the FBI’s statistics demonstrate that in 80 percent of violent sex crimes, pornography was found at the home of the offender or the scene of the crime. As sexual assault has occurred all too frequently at Notre Dame — 21 percent of Notre Dame women and 4 percent of Notre Dame men have experienced “non-consensual sexual contact” while a student, according to a 2016 University-conducted survey — it is critical we attack the root of this culture of perversion and degradation.

Notre Dame already prohibits the viewing of pornographic material on campus Wi-Fi. But a written rule alone does nothing to stop its rampant consumption, and this rule is rarely, if ever, enforced. It is time for the University to take a serious stand against pornography and implement a filter on Notre Dame’s Wi-Fi of the top-25 pornographic sites.

If a filter of the top-25 pornographic sites were implemented, everyone who accesses pornography on campus would immediately be told that Notre Dame does not stand for such content. They would be told definitively that every person is of the greatest dignity and value, composed of mind, heart, body and soul, and that no one should ever be treated as just a sexual object for someone else’s pleasure. This message would always endure concretely in the form of the filter, present to everyone who ever tries to use obscene content at Notre Dame.

A filter (which is easy to implement technologically) would by no means eliminate the viewing of pornography on campus. However, a filter would cause some students to contemplate, maybe for the first time, why the use of pornography is wrong. For others who are working to overcome an addiction to pornography, a filter could incite them to stop themselves whenever temptation strikes. Others might not even bother with pornography if they have to navigate around the filter to find unblocked material.

As women at Notre Dame, we implore the University to implement this filter of the top-25 pornographic sites. We want a filter because we want to be seen and treated by our Notre Dame brothers for who we are: their sisters in Christ who are worthy of the greatest dignity and respect. We want a filter because we want to eliminate sexual assault and sexual abuse on our campus. We want a filter because we care deeply about Notre Dame students — including women — who struggle with pornography addictions.

As women who respect ourselves and want to help men respect us, we stand against pornography. Our Lady’s University should do the same.

We encourage you to sign the online petition to filter out pornography at bit.ly/ndpornfilter — we hope you will stand with us and the 1,000 students, faculty and staff who have already pledged their support.

Sincerely,

The Women of Notre Dame

Ellie Gardey

Vice President of Students for Child-Oriented Policy

sophomore

Oct. 19

 

Noelle Johnson

junior

Marta Kernan

sophomore

Sadie Facile

senior

Teresa Kaza

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Andie Tong

senior

Maura Bradley

junior

Maureen Schweninger

senior

Claire Marie Kuhn

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Mackenzie Kraker

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Talia Caridi

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Mary Margaret Dever

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Matilyn Sarosi

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Soren Hansen

senior

Hannah Lovejoy

junior

Victoria Whitmore

sophomore

Mary Biese

freshman

Valeria Whitmore

freshman

Veronica Maska

freshman

Maggie McDonald

freshman

Mary Currie

freshman

Elizabeth Reyda

freshman

Megan Wilson

senior

Theresa Rice

junior

Leah Buck

senior

Francine Shaft

freshman

Oksana Oleshchuk

sophomore

Maria Keller

freshman

Emily Wenner

senior

Katie Lucenko

freshman

Catherine Viz

junior

Bea Cuasay

sophomore

Sarah Ortiz

senior

Rachel Haley

senior

Luísa Andrade

junior

Christina Schuler

junior

Emma Jones

sophomore

Cathleen Houlihan

senior

Rachel McClaine

sophomore

Katie Cummings

freshman

Erin E. O’Brien

junior

Mary Benz

sophomore

Joanna Skros

junior

Lissette Garcia

senior

Anna Kong

junior

Shelene Baiyee

junior

Maria Sermersheim

freshman

Erica Vossen

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Omosefe Obanor

junior

Teayanna Leytham

sophomore

Sierra Rainey

senior

Michaela Reyes

junior

Mary Henrichs

junior

Maura Walsh

junior

Brigid Kelly

senior

Grace McCormick

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Maryann Saba

freshman

Hope Brannon

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Lauren Lemaignen

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Meghan O’Brien

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Jessica Flynn

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Emily Apakian

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Teresa Breckler

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Wenxuan Yuan

Ph.D. student

MacKenzie Isaac

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Angela Silski

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Estelle Rousseau

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The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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