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Meet the Guys Who Are Fighting to Get Porn Blocked on Their College Campuses

By August 23, 2019 No Comments
Portions of the following post were originally published by Newsweek.

Move over Starbucks, there’s a new group in town that’s trying to block porn from their WiFi networks—college men.

Eighty male students at Notre Dame University wrote an open letter in the school newspaper last school year, asking for a porn filter on the school’s WiFi.

“This filter would send the unequivocal message that pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships. We are calling for this action in order to stand up for the dignity of all people, especially women,” the letter read. “The overwhelming majority of contemporary pornography is literally filmed violence against women—violence somehow rendered invisible by the context.”

“Pornography is prostitution through the lens of a camera, but more abusive. It exploits the men and women involved, advances a twisted narrative about human sexuality and harms those who consume it.”

RelatedIs There A Connection Between Porn Culture And Rape Culture?

Unfortunately, reports say that the request for a porn filter was denied by the University President. Even still, the fact that college guys took a very public stand and shared the harms of porn is a big deal.

Reports also say that since the letter was released last October, lead letter-writer Jim Martinson said he’s received emails from more than 40 students at other universities who want to install a filter on their own campuses.

Students at Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania also said they were excited by the idea, but were still figuring out how it could work on their campuses. At Princeton and Penn, students said they were already tabling and handing out fliers about the dangers of pornography on campus.

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How would it work?

The students’ proposal was simple: install a filter on the campus WiFi that bars access to all websites that exist specifically to distribute porn. A petition in support of the measure was signed by more than 1,000 men and women at Notre Dame—more than a tenth of the student body.

Martinson’s open letter in the Notre Dame Observer drove home the point that pornography teaches men to objectify women, normalizes sexual assault, and exploits the men and women involved.

He’s on point, according to the available research. The vast majority of porn—violent or not—portrays men as powerful and in charge; while women are submissive and obedient. [1] Watching scene after scene of dehumanizing submission makes it start to seem normal. [2] It sets the stage for lopsided power dynamics in couple relationships and the gradual acceptance of verbal and physical aggression against women. [3] Research has confirmed that those who consume porn (even if it’s nonviolent) are more likely to support statements that promote abuse and sexual aggression toward women and girls. [4]

“The university has been very receptive,” Martinson said. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to get it done by the end of the year.”

Related: Can You Tell The Difference Between #MeToo Stories And Porn Plot Lines?

Female students wrote their own letter supporting the initiative promoted by the campus men, according to a Newsweek report.

“The wide consumption of pornography does irreparable harm to relationships between Notre Dame men and women. This demeaning and often violent content encourages its users to place the selfish seeking of personal pleasure over the development of committed relationships,” the women’s response note read. “It makes people believe human connection consists of fleeting sexual intensity opened and closed as easily as a web browser. Thus, it essentially takes away the ability to love.”

And the movement to block porn on campuses is spreading from its Notre Dame epicenter.

To Princeton and beyond

Jack Whelan, an anti-porn advocate at Princeton, pointed to a recent video asking men to distinguish between porn scenes and stories of sexual assault.

“It’s not hard to draw a connection between men viewing that type of pornography and men acting in similar ways towards women,” Whelan said. “I think that it’s much easier to objectify women and to not see them as people when you’re simply viewing them as objects of sexual pleasure.”

Of course, these outspoken students have drawn the expected criticism from those who haven’t studied the issue in-depth and seen that the vast majority of research points to the toxic effects of porn on consumers, relationships, and our society.

But even aside from any criticism, this college movement is a huge deal considering the national issue of sexual assault on campuses. Clearly, this is one of the most relevant and important places to spread the facts.

Click here to read about how porn and sexual assault on college campuses are connected.

Filters are great, but let’s get to the root of the issue

Even though their request was denied, they made waves on campus and started meaningful conversations about porn’s influene in young people’s lives. We applaud the courageous students who spoke out and upped the status-quo of their campus’ accessibility to content that has been publicly declared by multiple states as the root of a health crisis. While filtering is great, education and awareness are even better.

Related: Invite Fight the New Drug to Give a Live Presentation on Your College or High School Campus

We believe that if people truly understood at their core how porn rewires a consumer’s brain, drives a wedge in relationships, and is connected to sex trafficking and exploitation, they’d choose not to consume it. It’s amazing to see how the momentum is building for students across the U.S. to take a stand against the normalization of porn, and we encourage every one of these students to pair their call for campus filtering with a call for education and awareness, like we know many of them are.

At the end of the day, all we can do is look at the facts—is porn something that’s contributing to a healthier rising generation, or is it promoting and normalizing behavior that society rightfully speaks out against, like abuse, incest, misogyny, and exploitation?

Bottom line:

Citations

[1] DeKeseredy, W. (2015). Critical Criminological Understandings Of Adult Pornography And Women Abuse: New Progressive Directions In Research And Theory. International Journal For Crime, Justice, And Social Democracy, 4(4) 4-21. Doi:10.5204/Ijcjsd.V4i4.184; Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Layden, M. A. (2010) Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In Stoner, J. & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57-68). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Ryu, E. (2008). Spousal Use Of Pornography And Its Clinical Significance For Asian-American Women: Korean Woman As An Illustration. Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy, 16(4), 75. Doi:10.1300/J086v16n04_05; Shope, J. H. (2004). When Words Are Not Enough: The Search For The Effect Of Pornography On Abused Women. Violence Against Women, 10(1), 56-72. Doi:10.1177/1077801203256003
[2] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27, 2: 41–44. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/10904205
[3] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., & Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45:119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019; Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., And Giery, M. A. (1995). Exposure To Pornography And Acceptance Of The Rape Myth. Journal Of Communication, 45(1), 5–26. Doi:10.1111/J.1460-2466.1995.Tb00711.X
[4] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., And Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography And Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting The Relationship In Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression And Behavior, 36(1), 14–20. Doi:10.1002/Ab.20328; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., And Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45(2), 119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019; Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, & G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch Der Medienpsychologie (Pp. 565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag; Zillmann, D. (1989). Effects Of Prolonged Consumption Of Pornography. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant, (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances And Policy Considerations (P. 155). Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.

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