Thursday, September 2, 2010
A commentary by Margaret Brooks in today's Chronicle of Higher Education, "Sex Week" Should Arouse Caution Most of All, points out the most powerful cultural force promulgating the permissive sexual norms that concern Rob and Bob -- the sex industry. And this force isn't contained by controlling our kids' access to cable and MTV. Here's her description of what's happening on our college campuses:
In recent years, weeklong programs dubbed Sex Week were held at institutions including Brown, Northwestern, and Yale Universities and the University of Kentucky. Student groups, not administrators, organized the programs. The events, billed as educational, used the universities' names and facilities. They were open to everyone, including the outside community. . . . Judging from the program descriptions, the emphasis of most Sex Week programming seems to be more on providing entertainment and promoting pleasure, rather than teaching students about sexual health and safety. While some sessions covered topics like women's health and sex trafficking, others featured such offerings as pornographic-film screenings; a lingerie show using college students as models; and a topless porn star demonstrating bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission to a student audience.
And here's her description of whose backing up the 'student organizers':
Sex-industry representatives were significantly involved in many of the programs and sponsorships, along with contributions from nonprofit groups such as the Kinsey Institute and Planned Parenthood. . . .
Make no mistake about it—adult stores and sex-toy companies are actively seeking access to students through campus resources. Not only do such academic connections boost their corporate credibility, they also provide opportunities for sex-toy companies to market to young people through raffle donations and direct financial sponsorship. Some companies seek direct opportunities for their representatives to teach sex-toy workshops on campuses. Many event promoters working for such companies are using social media like Twitter and Facebook to communicate directly with student leaders, negotiate sponsorship deals, and advertise scheduled events.
Now, here's my question -- and bear with me, it's sort of a twist away from porn, but I've spent much of my summer reading through the 100s of pages of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It's so easy for society to identify and condemn the profit motives underlying the role of the "big banks" in the current financial crisis, and to rally behind legislative reforms aimed at curbing the profits of the banking industry in order to protect the "little guys" -- the citizens, the consumers. How does the sex industry get away with hiding its profit motives behind screens like "health concerns", "privacy", "autonomy", and obscuring the role of its own profit motives in the social crisis that Rob and Bob identify?
By the way, there's a new book just out by Pauline Books and Media, Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching (ed. Erika Bachiochi) with two extremely strong chapters presenting the strong positive, feminist case against the currently prevailing norms of promiscuity: Cassandra Hough's "The Fullness of Sexuality: Church Teaching on Premarital Sex", and Jennifer Roback Morse's "The Liberation of Lifelong Love: Church Teaching on Marriage." (Full disclosure: it also includes a chapter by me: "Dueling Vocations: Managing the Tensions between our Private and Public Callings", which you can read for free here.)