Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teaching Intro to Women's Studies, Week 5—Pornography

Last week’s classes were the first time I felt myself anxious and nervous about what I had to teach that day. Because really, what teacher really likes to talk about pornography? It’s a tough subject and the images are hard to see because they are graphic. But I do it because it’s important. I do it not to be sensenationalistic, but because students need to know what’s out there in mainstream pornography because we are living in a pornified culture.

After taking their mid-terms and a short break I started off our discussion of pornography by asking folks of their first experiences with it. It was a great way to kick off the conversation because the stories were often funny and light hearted about finding their father or brother’s collection of magazines.

I told them that instead of watching last year’s documentary The Price of Pleasure (which you can rent or stream from Netflix) I had picked instead PowerPoint presentation. I shared that for some the images are often hard to look at and that first and foremost they should take care of themselves in whatever way they need to—whether it means closing their eyes or leaving the room.

And so we began and I found that as I went through the presentation, Who wants to be a porn star? Sex and violence in today’s pornography industry (you can Google it if you’d like to find it/see it) I found that it was a very effective way to share with my students how many of the images we now see in mainstream culture have come directly from Porn. For more info on this check out the book by Pamela Paul, Pornified: How Pornographyis Transforming our Lives, our Relationships, and our Families.

It also very clearly spells out how pornography teaches men (the main consumers of it) how to treat women—which is poorly, like objects and as women who deserve to be raped. The presentation examines and highlights 6 key rape ideologies found in pornography.  

The 6 Rape Ideologies:

  1. Women don’t really know their own minds. Men know better what women really want and need sexually.
  2. A woman might not want it at first, but once she gets a taste of hot sex, she can’t get enough.
  3. Women are sexually manipulative.
  4. Women are sluts who get what they deserve.
  5. Getting her drunk is a way to get her in the mood.
  6. All women are whores at heart and want to be fucked by any available man.
While discussing number 5 I asked is anyone had ever been given the date rape drug (commonly called roofies) and a number of women raised their hands (including me). Two of my students shared that after they blacked out and came to, they found themselves being sexually assaulted. For more information on date rape drugs, click here

Yes it was a tough topic but one I felt really important to discuss and bring to light. The fact that it is surrounding a topic that makes so many of us feel uncomfortable is yet another reason to push through that feeling to talk about it…because being silent about it isn’t going to make it go away. 


nick mucci said...

Thanks for not backing down and tackling a crucial topic. hoping im doing my part to teach young men a proper view of sex and especially of the identity of women. You are an inspiration

Jen said...

A few of you have's the link to the presentation I shared with my students