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Decrying the dehumanizing effects of pornography, a leading feminist scholar last night told a group of 120 in the Lamont Forum Room that a strong link exists between violence toward women and attempts to treat the female body as a sex object.
"I'm here because a woman is battered every eighteen seconds," Professor Gail Dines-Levi of Wheelock University said, in a speech officially opening Take Back the Night, a week of events designed to protest the problem of violence directed at women.
Titled "Annihilation of Women Though Media and Pornography," Dines-Levi's lecture addressed the ways in which pornography desensitizes both men and women to sexist statements. Although she cited a wide array of studies to establish a connection between pornography, Dines-Levi said that the matter essentially came down to a question of common sense.
"All you need is empathy to know that pornography causes rape," Dines-Levi said.
"Pornography says that a woman's whole life is for a male's ejaculation. It is the eroticiztion of women's subordination," she said.
Arguing that pornography often contains racist overtones, Dines-Levi also said that makers of sexually explicit materials often view minority women as "cheap" and isolated from the protests of feminist activists.
While many people have argued that such materials are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, Dines-Levi said that such rights should not apply when they directly harmed people.
"Their speech is killing me," she said. "When you see these images, on some level it will effect the way you perceive women and the way you treat them."
Dines-Levi added that the statements pornography makes about women ultimately reflect back on the men who buy it, explaining that such material portrays dehumanizes men in the same way it does women.
"We are the victims, but you are the idiots," Dines-Levi said, referring to male buyers of pornography. "Pornography hates men almost as much as it hates women."
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