Author discusses impact of porn industry

Christina Oddo

Writer

Gail Dines, author of “Pornland,” expressed how the porn industry is leaking into mainstream media in a lecture with University students and staff on Tuesday in the Elaine Langone Center Forum. She explained how this industry is manipulating how teenagers think about their sexuality and how they interact with one another.

“The estimated revenue of the porn industry is $12 billion, while the estimated revenue for the box office for mainstream films is $9 billion,” Dines said.
Dines explained that while  her generation is “print-based,” the generation of today’s college students is “image-based.” Instead of reading things in print, college students are overwhelmed with images every day. Dines said many college students and teenagers are “image illiterate,” and perhaps absorb the wrong messages that are portrayed through images. The “gaze” that is often portrayed through images of women and men in magazines, on television and on the Internet is directly connected to the hookup culture found on college campuses and beyond. It creates gender constructions that form socially acceptable behaviors and etiquette.
Women, Dines said, constantly compare themselves to images of other women. In this way, the porn industry has manipulated women into hating their bodies. American capitalism and the success of many industries depends on women’s overall dissatisfaction with their bodies, as they go to great lengths for fashion, diet and cosmetics.
In the media, women are reduced to all of the same; women, in these images, are merely a series of body parts. Dines said when she starts seeing men wear Speedos to restaurants, then she will be okay with women wearing extremely exposing attire out to dinner. 
In fact, most images in the media that portray both men and women often show men fully clothed, while women are much more exposed. Dines said being naked in the presence of clothed people is to be in a state of vulnerability; why else are men who are admitted to prison immediately asked to strip when they first arrive?
Dines included discussion regarding women of color in the media, and how animals often accompany them in images. In this way, the media is portraying women of color as hypersexual. 
In regard to celebrities and the privileged white, Dines said people who are extremely rich and privileged, as well as white in color, have the ability to make the label of “slut” work for them. No matter how well one can carry that label, being called a “slut is “a collective rape of all of your identity,” she said. This label is a social construct because an individual does not chose his or her label.
Dines explored the journey of young stars through adulthood, and how these young stars escape the stage of invisibility. What image do you have to portray to be noticed? The porn industry is marketing the youthful image more and more, she said. Is this due to a lack of creativity?
Pornography, Dines said, is completely debasing and violates women’s human rights. Promotion for online pornography sites alone is ridiculously degrading. Dines spoke directly to the men in the audience: “What turns you on? Are you really like this?”
“[The] world they [the porn industry] want is a world not worth living in,” Dines said. Where is the respect for others and for yourself? What does a dependency on pornography say about your sexual identity? Does sexual integrity exist today? Dines questioned the audience relentlessly. She said people need to claim sexuality on their own instead of letting the porn industry shape it.
“Words exist in a material reality,” Dines said.
In this way, Dines said, people need to reshape how they think about and act upon different words that relate to sexuality and gender.
For more information, visit Gaildines.com and stoppornculture.org.
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