Over cookies and chocolate ice cream in the Women’s Center last night, a group of about a dozen undergraduates—all of whom agreed that mainstream pornography objectifies women—tossed around ideas aimed at distinguishing the controversial publication from other pornography magazines.
The discussion, which was sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students, featured both Diamond magazine founder Matthew M. Di Pasquale ’08 and H Bomb editor Brandon T. Perkovich ’11.
Much of the discussion put Di Pasquale on the defensive. He told the crowd numerous times that Diamond’s purpose is to allow women to “express themselves” in a pro-sex light—not to objectify them—and that he understands their concerns about typical pornography.
“In the past, there’s been resistance to sexual expression. There are still laws against oral sex. I’d be in jail if those were enforced, and probably a lot of you guys, too,” he said. “I’m a human being, and I like women. I want to get this discussion [on sex] out of the closet—get sex in the open for guys and girls.”
Di Pasquale, who refers to pornography industry trailblazer Hugh Hefner as an influence, said there’s both a carnal and humanizing side to Diamond’s “Maxim-esque” take on Harvard women.
“One of the ideas behind Diamond is that [the models] are not just sexy girls, but intelligent, smart, successful, Harvard girls,” he said. “I want the reader to understand who they are what they’re doing in their lives. I read the interviews in Maxim.”
Sparked by feminist concern over the direction Di Pasquale would take with Diamond, the hour-and-a-half-long conversation ventured into topics such as gay pornography and sadomasochism.
While H Bomb received praise—Julia T. Havard ’11 said that it was “artistic expression” with “a message behind it”—some of those present feared that Diamond would be less like H Bomb and more like mainstream pornography.
“[Pornography] perpetuates the idea in society that it’s okay to see women on a page, that it’s acceptable in society to objectify women in terms of sexual attractiveness,” said Shanti S. Kris ’11, who identified herself as a feminist.
“In rape, you’re objectifying women through a violent action, so the danger is that it makes it acceptable to look at women as objects,” she said.
But despite the fact that the discussion became spirited at times, the conversation ended on a positive note, with those present praising the rise in sexual publications on campus.
H-bomb, which Perkovich says is financially stable after a history of fiscal woes, is set to publish in early April. Diamond plans to put out its premiere issue May 12.
Di Pasquale said that day will be a celebration of women and pornography—and perhaps the start of a profitable, enjoyable business venture.
“I’m doing this for both reasons,” he said. “Women and men should be able to freely express themselves sexually.”
He added: “And I’m not going to tell you I’m a completely selfless person. I have desires, too, and I’m being completely real with you—it would be a sweet job to be around women all the time.”