Houston Area Women's Center counselor, Leticia Monzano, interviews Dr. Robert Jensen.
Dr. Jensen began his talk with a brief overview of the pornography industry. He noted that pornography is the perfect storm at the intersection of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. He mentioned the difference between feature films and gonzo films, the latter feature sexual acts without pretense of a plot or much dialogue. Sexual scripts in films have changed over the years and now feature more explicit, cruel, and degrading acts toward women, which he detailed for the audience. Jensen believes that one of the dangers of pornography is that it eroticizes inequality since it is relentlessly misogynist and overtly racist.
The industry is growing, taking in an estimated 12 billion in the United States and 57 billion worldwide. Last year the industry released 13,000 movies compared to 200 released by Hollywood.
Dr. Jensen noted that he is not advocating a certain position, such as censorship, and he remains leery of legal remedies. Instead, he wants to start a conversation about pornography. He defines pornography as what the end of the world looks like. He asked the audience that if pornography is a mirror of our culture, what does that say about our society? Jensen noted that his critique comes from a radical feminist perspective and that alternative views are espoused by conservative pundits as well as feminists who support pornography as both an expression of free speech and women’s sexual agency. Dr. Jensen rejected the notion that his point of view was not “sex positive.”
A lively question and answer period followed the lecture and book sales were brisk.
Robert Jensen is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Heart of Whiteness and Citizens of Empire. He also writes for popular media, and his opinion and analytic pieces on foreign policy, politics and race have appeared in papers and magazines throughout the United States. He is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity.