Texas Professor Condemns Porn in Talk

Graphic language, strong message draw mixed reaction from audience

A University of Texas professor condemned pornography as the depraved and even apocalyptic embodiment of society’s ills at last night’s kick-off event for the annual “Take Back the Night” movement created to support survivors of sexual violence.

“Pornography is what the end of the world looks like,” said professor Robert W. Jensen, who blamed capitalism, white supremacy, and racism for the spread of increasingly violent heterosexual pornography.

Jensen said that pornography becomes increasingly violent, racially charged, and degrading towards women to increase profit by appealing to capitalist consumers.

The lecture—co-sponsored by the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and several student groups—was billed as an effort to promote dialogue about sexual violence.

With over 20 years of research on pornography to his name, Jensen—who focuses on male production and consumption of pornographic material—spoke candidly, frankly, and often humorously about the sensitive and potentially uncomfortable topic.

“Can all the men who masturbated to pornography in the last 48 hours please come down to the front,” Jensen joked at one point amid laughter.

“How about in the last ten minutes?” a male student quipped in response.

Jensen warned of potentially graphic descriptions in his lecture, but when he launched into the description of the top five most commonly produced “sexual acts,” many women and several men in the audience looked visibly shocked and disgusted. Four people left the lecture hall.

Jensen said that his message was not the rant of a “radical apocalyptic crazy man from Texas,” but some students had reservations.

“I don’t think I identified with many of Jensen’s points...I think some of his arguments were rather far fetched,” said Tarik Umar ’10, who nevertheless added that he found the lecture was “definitely interesting.”

Others said Jensen’s message was positive.

“I’m a new Christian, trying to live a pure life,” said Josue G. Ortiz-Santana ’11. “So I am trying to learn about why pornography is detrimental to both men and women.”

Ortiz-Santana also said he invited his teammates on the football team to view the event with him.

“I would like to open my teammates’ eyes to the struggles of women and why pornography is detrimental to those that view it,” he said, adding that none of his teammates were able to make the event.

OSAPR Director Sarah Rankin said Jensen brought an unusual and interesting perspective to the table in the effort to increase dialogue about sexual violence.

“It is interesting to hear a male talking about pornography from a feminist perspective, and to see the audience’s reaction,” she said.