sexweek

Editor’s Note: This article features descriptions of pornography. 

My mom called me just as I was walking into the Catholic Student Center.

I ignored the call but seconds later received a text asking, “What are you doing?”

Never underestimate the perseverance and grit of a mother.

“Going to a porn talk,” I wrote but before I hit send, I deleted it, shaking my head. Why would I send that text to my mother? That would only open up a whole arsenal of questions that I didn’t have the time nor energy to answer.

But I suppose the real question is why is it a topic to shy away from? How come we cannot talk about porn without whispering the “p-word,” as if doing so makes us feel less abashed?

Matt Fradd’s discussion wasn’t called “The Taboo of Pornography” – instead it was titled “Porn Myths Exposed: Behind the Scenes,” sponsored by Catholic Terps and yet another installment of this university’s Sex Week series.

One would think a “porn talk” would be a group of individuals awkwardly making eye contact, the atmosphere feeling like a straitjacket, sweat running down attendants’ faces as they tried to find a seat in the almost packed chapel.

In fact, it was the complete opposite.

The mood was light and the audience seemed prepared for the talk, making jokes and asking questions amongst themselves while waiting for Fradd, a well-known defender of the Catholic faith and speaker about the downsides of porn.

Fradd adopted an easy-going tone, rather than a forceful or demanding one.

He dispelled my expectations once he listed the 10 porn myths, from “Only Men Watch Porn” to “Porn is Liberating.”

Fradd alluded to The Truman Show to illustrate how little we know about the effects of porn and the porn industry, which helped me visualize how each “porn myth” was tearing down a lie built by the media, my experiences or even by my own peers.

Living in a “pornified culture,” it is extremely depressing seeing how porn used in a way to hook the public into its vice, convincing them they need to watch it and emulate it in order to fully satisfy a partner or just because “it’s the norm.”

By presenting his points through emotional, logical and psychological lenses, Fradd made his talk comprehensible to the diverse audience members.

“Porn doesn’t show too much, it shows too little,” said Fradd, his fist clenched as if reaching into the audience’s minds, trying to imprint the phrase, enhancing its importance.

Humans are more than just breasts, pecs, abs, legs, vaginas, penises, hips and arms. We are more than body parts. But porn does not convey this.

Instead, the consumer is only seeking his or her own selfish desires – not attempting to connect with another person. Instead, they alienate themselves from personal connection.

Topics addressed included religion, sex trafficking and the stereotype that “only men watch porn,” thus exposing the multifaceted effects of porn.

Many have been outspoken about the negative effects of pornography.

“[It] isn’t just religious people that are against porn,” Fradd said. “New York Magazine, VICE, GQ, The Art of Manliness, Russell Brand have all spoken about the negative aspects of porn.”

Using anecdotes from porn stars whom he has met during his five years giving national and international talks, Fradd addressed the despair and frustration of these “porn stars,” many of whom were sexually assaulted as children or teenagers.

Is rape culture linked to porn?

Is porn distorting the minds of men and making them think, “I’m a good boy as long as I don’t rape?”

Even though porn is a male-dominated industry, women watch porn as well.

Fradd said women have approached him about their porn addictions and how they feel isolated in their crisis.

“It was a different perspective, debunking the myth that it’s not only guys, it’s girls [as well],” Alisa Zacharia, an undecided freshman, said. “He was really frank and open, not skittish to addressing terms that some people would be skittish saying.”

Fradd referenced  E.L. James’ infamous 50 Shades of Grey – “If she really wanted to appeal to men, she would’ve made Liam Neeson Anastasia’s father,” which earned laughter from the audience. He said the series abuses and brainwashes both women and men.

Fradd shared details of his own porn addiction, which he has struggled with since the age of eight. The audience was silent as he delivered tips on rising above addiction and aiding  friends who may be suffering.

“His own personal connection to porn made it seem more relatable,” Paul Moye, a FOCUS missionary, said. “He said [… if]  a person doesn’t live out of the dignity that they were created, that doesn’t allow us to be able to take whatever we can from them. Part of us have a desire to use or objectify the other, but we have a deeper desire to fight for good for the other person.”

And for change and support to occur, it begins with a generation.

“My view on the porn industry has only been reinforced,” Avellino Ernestanto, a junior electrical engineering major, said. “We are a generation that needs to help each other out. I think a lot of it is just individual like ‘I do my thing, you do your thing,’ ‘worry about your life, I’ll worry about mine.’ The more we try to be vulnerable to other people, the more stronger we become.”

To learn more about Fradd’s message, visit The Porn Effect.

headshotKarla Casique is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at karlacasique@hotmail.com.

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