The Rocket

Survey results open door for conversation on the effects of mainstream pornography on college-aged students

Haley Barnes, News Editor

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In a recent survey conducted by The Rocket, Slippery Rock University students had the opportunity to discuss their pornography (porn) habits and 20.7 percent of the 145 students who responded shared that they watch porn on a weekly basis and 83.4 percent of students said that they do not pay for porn when they watch it.

Cindy LaCom, gender studies program director, explained that porn is the depiction of sexually intimate acts and that porn affects the lives of college students whether they choose to consume it or not. She explained that for most straight students on campus, normal sex involves violence against women and the “money shot,” which is the moment in porn where the male ejaculates on the female’s face.

“I’m not anti-pornography,” she said. “What I am opposed to are the predictable patterns of mainstream straight porn, I’m not talking about gay porn, my comments are really only primarily focused on straight porn. I’m opposed to the depictions of what constitutes sex.”

LaCom explained that almost 90 percent of straight online porn depicts acts of verbal, sexual or physical aggressions towards women, allowing boys and men to live in a culture where violence against women is acceptable.

She said porn also justifies very little to no foreplay, very little to no communication, very little to no consent, very little to no condoms and very little to no consideration of sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy.

“[Women] are slapped,” she said. “I mean rape porn is a hugely popular genre. They are bitten and they are brutalized, so I think that there are two intersecting changes in the last 10 to 15 years that are affecting college students and I think that they have fostered one another in interesting ways and that is the hookup culture and porn culture.”

LaCom also explained that porn has normalized anal sex among people as well, as anal porn is consistently is in the top five searched terms for porn online.

“I’m not opposed to anal sex, but data consistently shows that very few straight women enjoy anal sex or orgasm to anal sex, which raises a key question, ‘why is it becoming more and more common?’ and it has in the last decade, the prevalence of anal sex has increased by almost 10 percent amongst straight couples, which is significant,” she said.

Women and men are subjected to body image problems as a result of porn too, she explained. Women think that their breasts must be a certain size and for men who consume porn increasingly, LaCom said they are often anxious and concerned about their penis size, function and hardness, making the man’s penis the center of his being.

“In terms of body image, porn also impacts pubic hair aesthetics,” she said. “So for college students today, it seems absolutely appropriate for women that they be utterly hairless and increasingly for men to practice ‘manscaping’ and that’s because of teen porn and pseudo child porn and the increasing popularity of those.”

LaCom explained that teen porn is in the top three searched porn terms in the United States, which affects college women because women feel the need to shave and wax their pubic region as a direct response to porn culture.

“There is something we should all be worried about when the vagina of a pre-adolescent girl has been sexualized,” LaCom said.

LaCom shared that she feels porn can be very helpful among college students, as students can experience arousal from porn, but that students need to be aware of the images that they are consuming.

“‘Can there be any positives aspects to porn?’ Can there be? And my answer is absolutely yes,” she said. “It could encourage people to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm to are mutually consent. Porn has the capacity to broaden our sexual imagination. Mainstream porn does not again, it sticks to a very narrow sexual script, but porn has the potential to really invite all sorts of new avenues of sexual joy.”

She added that porn is often used as sexual education for people and that porn could have the capacity to be a powerful teacher, if executed properly. LaCom acknowledged that public schools are failing to educate students on sexuality, intimacy and sex education.

Results from the survey showed that 92.3 percent of respondents felt as if men are more likely to consume porn than women are, which according to LaCom, porn is produced, directed by and benefits financially men. She described the porn industry as a male-centered industry that generates $13 billion a year in profit, globally.

“I think more men watch it because the images reinforce sexist culture and sexist values that demean and degrade women and I think that men watch porn more than women because they are allowed to be sexual where women are not, so it’s really a sexual double standard,” she said.

LaCom encourages more women to start directing, producing and writing porn and more men who like and respect women to be involved too in order to break mainstream porn.

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Survey results open door for conversation on the effects of mainstream pornography on college-aged students