Prof Calls for Barriers to Porn

Says Images of Violence Are Not Examples of Free Speech

Wheelock College professor of sociology Gail Dines argued in a speech last at Sever Hall last night that pornography suppresses female voices.

In a talk titled "Pornography and Violence Against Women," Dines presented images of women bound, gagged or otherwise silenced and said pornography was not an example of free speech. More than 300 people attended the event.

The pornography industry, which makes $10 billion annually, makes its money by exploiting women and uses it to keep them quiet, she said. "Pornography is about silencing women's speech."

"When we talk about the freedom of speech'...we really mean the freedom to be heard. For that, we need the mass media...which is controlled by 23 corporations," Dines said.

The lecture, which was sponsored by Take Back the Night and Harvard Anti-Sexist Men presented examples from magazines, movies and main stream ads.

Ads such as those for Guess Jeans use images of subjugated women as successful advertising techniques, Dines said. "What makes men sexy is power...but [for women] more vulnerable [is] more sexy," she said.

Dines said pornography and pornography-like images in mainstream media inevitably lead to the eroticization of anti-woman violence.

"By the time we have to [face] brutality, we are used to these images," she said.

Even soft-core pornography links sexuality with children and with violence, Dines said. In addition, murder, abortions and rapes are marketed as porn films.

"When men rape and torture women, they are not deviant--they have seen it time again," she said. "This is a war being raged by men on women...and [pornography] is the propaganda."

Dines compared pornography to racism. She said the industry targets Black men and women especially, as well as other minority groups. There is a whole genre of pornography about Jewish women having sex with Nazis," she said.

"Pornography takes every sort of atrocity and sexualizes it," she continued.

Dines praised. Take Back The Night, an annual series of events that protest violence against women, but said the program does not go far enough. She called for legal and social barriers to pornography. "It is never ever going to get better if we don't start to fight," she said. "How bad does it have to be when we say enough?"