Nina Hartley on Porn: “If you think what you see on the screen is real, you’re not smart enough to be in college”

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Pennsylvania- from www.bctv.org – More than 300 people waited in line Wednesday, Feb. 27, outside the McFarland Student Union Building at Kutztown University.

What brought all these people together was porn. They were waiting to see Pastor Craig Gross and adult-film star Nina Hartley go head to head in a debate about pornography.

Gross founded www.XXXchurch.com, designed to help people overcome porn addiction. He strongly advocates the criminalization of pornography.

A big issue for Gross is how easy it is to access pornography.

He asked how many had seen porn before the age of 18, the legal age. Almost everyone raised his or her hand.

Nina Hartley is a pornographic-film director, actress, sex educator, and self-proclaimed feminist – not to mention college-educated. She wrote “Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex.”

Hartley acknowledged that porn is not for everyone.

“I don’t like slasher movies, so I don’t watch slasher movies,” Hartley said.

For Hartley, pornography is a way for a person to test the waters, find out what is out there and find what they like in a safe environment.

Because there are so many types of porn – fetishes, gay porn, group porn and so on – it is a way for a person to decide if something interests them, she said.

Then, when they do have a sexual encounter, they can be very open and honest about what they want, she said.

Gross fears that pornography gives people unrealistic expectations of sex. It can desensitize people and hinder them from being able to connect with another person in a real relationship, he said.

“What you’re looking at on the screen is not what you get in real life,” Gross said.

He compared porn to the movie “Jackass,” full of people doing painful and dangerous stunts.

They’ll watch it and think to themselves, “I can do better than that,” Gross said.

Hartley doubts anyone intelligent believes pornography depicts real sex.

Pornography is a paid professional performance, she said.

“If you think what you see on the screen is real, you’re not smart enough to be in college,” she said.

Gross also feels strongly that the porn industry does not empower women. He assumed that most women who are in porn didn’t go to college and that once these women want to leave the industry, they don’t know what to do next.

Though it is a common assumption, it is simply wrong to believe that women are mistreated in the porn industry, Hartley said.

“No one is making them do anything,” she said.

People in the industry know exactly what they are getting into and what they are doing. When actors get to set, there are no surprises; they know what kind of scene they are shooting that day.

But Gross said that while no one is forcing the women to do anything, they put money in front of them to persuade them to cross the line.

“Women are offered more money to do harder and harder scenes,” he argued.

They are not forced directly, he acknowledges, but the money manipulates them into what the industry wants.

Another hot question – how does someone act in porn temporarily?

Hartley said there is no such thing as temporary in the porn industry.

Before someone starts, he or she needs to think of the consequences, Hartley said. If someone appears in porn, it is around forever, thanks to the Internet. It will never go away and it can’t be hidden from.

Once people have done porn, it’s really hard for them to find anything else to do, she said. For example, a person could not be a school teacher if he ever did porn. Entering the industry really is a commitment.

Gross agreed there is little future after porn. He plugged his website again, claiming that it can help people who leave.

He claimed people get into pornography to become stars like Jenna Jameson or Pamela Anderson. But most girls don’t end up being stars, and most people won’t recognize them or know their names, he said.

Gross made stereotypical comments throughout the night and at one point got into a heated disagreement with an audience member.

“It’s not like any of you are 16 and pregnant,” he said to the audience. “I assume none of you have kids.”

This comment was met with silence and uncomfortable shifting in some seats. Why did he assume no one was a parent? Who would bring a child to a debate about porn? His statement seemed close-minded and arrogant, making him lose credibility.

At another point, Timothy O’Boyle, a Kutztown University professor, stood up and put Gross on the spot.

When Gross started to respond, O’Boyle cut him off, infuriating Gross.

“Are you going to shut up and let me answer your stupid question?” he asked the educator.

Gross made another assumption, saying O’Boyle looked a little old to be a college student and suggesting he sit down.

True, O’Boyle was not a student, but that does not mean that all college students are in their 20s. This caused tension the rest of the night.

Gross lost more credibility when a student asked him to define pornography, and Gross said, “I know it when I see it.”

Later Gross claimed to have never seen porn, calling into question whether he really did know what he was talking about.

Hartley never spoke in anger. She was calm and collected, but on occasion would go on tangents about safe sex. She preached about sober sex and the definition of rape. Her tangents made the audience wonder if she knew what she was there to debate – sex or porn.

After the debate, not many students wanted to share their opinions about what they had just seen. They didn’t want their name associated with anything that had to do with pornography.

One young woman, who asked not to be named, said she was happy to see such strong opinions and thinks that it is important to be open about sex.

Another student said, “I didn’t think it was as fun as it was going to be.”

In his opinion, no one won the debate because each stated nothing but opinion. Both students said they were happy the university had hosted them and wanted more such events.

Though it was set up as a debate, it didn’t take much to realize that this was an open forum with two people giving their opinions. There were no solid facts, just personal experience and stories. Nonetheless, these two individuals did start conversations.

As the students filed out of the Student Union Building, all they could talk about were their views on the topic.

Even if the debate involved few facts and there was no clear winner, the open conversation about a controversial topic never would have happened otherwise. And for this, the students of Kutztown University truly benefited from the evening.

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