Saturday, August 23, 2014
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This is what happens in Porn Studies 101

Hugo Schwyzer, a professor at Pasadena City College, has written at length for The Atlantic on his "Navigating Pornography" course, which allows students to examine the history of sexualized imagery and the evolution of the modern pornography industry.

This is what happens in Porn Studies 101

Porn studies 101.
Porn studies 101.

Hugo Schwyzer, a professor at Pasadena City College, has written at length for The Atlantic on his "Navigating Pornography" course, which allows students to examine the history of sexualized imagery and the evolution of the modern pornography industry.

My goal isn't just to give my students an historical and cultural overview of pornography. It's to give them tools "to navigate the sexually mediated world we live in," as Long Beach State professor Shira Tarrant puts it. Most of my students were born in the early-to-mid-1990s; they hit puberty under the influence of two conflicting social realities: the widespread availability of broadband and the Bush-era abstinence-only sex education policies. The latter deprived far too many of them of accurate, comprehensive, pleasure-based information about sex; increasing access to the former meant that Internet pornography became the primary and ubiquitous source of information about the birds and the bees. What was designed to arouse and entertain now is expected to educate as well. As Deen put it when he spoke to my students, "It's as if instead of offering driver's ed, we taught you how to operate a car by showing you a James Bond movie."

Schwyzer goes on to analyze the misogynistic aspects of most pornography, the demographic shift in porn consumers, feminist critique of pornography, and other academic perspectives related to the industry.

Even more than history lessons and an introduction to feminist debates, my students need and deserve the tools to combat sexual shame. [The Atlantic]

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