Dr. Dines must meet her brothers
Those of us who are not freshmen may remember the presentation made
last April by Dr. Gail Dines. She is a sociologist who showed how pornography
exploits women. As much as I agreed with that general point, I was offended
by many of her sweeping generalizations about the male sex that detracted
from her main theme. If only she had avoided making ridiculously general
statements such as "talking to a man is like talking to an erection"
and "all men are rapists," I would have left the auditorium
much happier. Contrary to her opinion of the male sex, many men in fact
agree with her that women are exploited in pornography and that such images
not only demean women but also are detrimental to our entire society.
In the most recent issue of "National Review," the magazine runs a cover story entitled "Porn is everywhere, A call for action." In the two articles connected to this theme, writers William F. Buckley Jr. and Jay Nordlinger discuss the legal, ethical, and economic ways in which communities and by implication our nation as a whole can combat pornography. Their methods are far less divisive than the fractious remarks made by Dr. Dines last spring since they do not offend an entire half of the population. They also elucidate the reasons why such an awareness to pornography's pervasiveness is necessary for the ameliorating of society.
It is here where it is necessary to return to the elements of Dr. Dines's speech with which I agreed. The most basic was the notion that pornography was an inappropriate objectification of women. Whenever one watches a film with pornography in it, one sees immediately how women are portrayed as if they are products on display at a store. Without getting too crude, it is clearly obvious that certain areas of her body are displayed to satisfy male sexual eros. Many women including Dr. Dines are understandably angered by this because of the offense that they take to being viewed with the same disrespect as a quantifiable item, rather than a living and emotive human being.
However, this sort of objectification should offend us all. There should be no doubt that repeated portrayal of sexual acts in film and media encourages promiscuous behavior. This statement is easily defended using the same logic that public interests groups have used to condemn the cigarette and alcohol industries for targeting youth. In his article, William F. Buckley Jr. asks rhetorically "if cigarette ads sell cigarettes, why doesn't Esquire[sexually explicit advertising within the magazine] sell sex?" Mr. Buckley demonstrates the clear connection between the viewing of repeated sexual images and the likelihood of a promiscuous lifestyle.
One need not even be a believer in "Judeo-Christian" values to see the damage that promiscuity does to a society. A recent tragic anniversary demonstrates the clear public health consequences from promiscuity. Last week was the 10th anniversary of Magic Johnson's announcement that he had contracted HIV. There is ample medical evidence that indicates that a promiscuous sex life increases one's chances of acquiring AIDS or any other Sexually Transmitted Disease. Even the most ardent supporters of condom availability in high schools acknowledge that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent infection.
Sexual images and pornography are certainly lucrative, however that does
not mean that society cannot temper pornography's pervasiveness. If commentators
and critics from both the left and the right united around this issue,
pornography and inappropriate sexual images could meet the same social
resistance as the tobacco industry, which is no longer allowed to target
kids. However, it will take a recognition by people like Dr. Dines that
many of her male brothers are not rapists, and rather agree with her on
this issue, before the anti-pornography forces can make a loud enough
stand for people to notice.