Attention, class, if you refer to page four of your syllabus you’ll see that tomorrow’s lesson is about homoerotic shower-scenes on HBO. Next week, we’ll be discussing the economics of pornographic magazine distribution. Now, please find a writing utensil and take notes on shifting power relationships in this stag film.
An academic course about pornography, especially for high-school students, seems outré, but California State University, Long Beach professor Shira Tarrant thinks it is a crucial, missing piece of early education. “Digital technology is increasingly shaping our analog relationships,” writes Tarrant in an essay for AlterNet.
Pop culture infuses our everyday lives. We must put media literacy at the top of our cultural to-do list because this provides the critical skills that enable adults (young, or otherwise) to identify sexism, misogyny and racism in all forms of pop culture, including porn. As a generation of porn-watchers comes of age, it is to society’s benefit that they are taught a kind of ‘porn literacy’ that encourages an understanding of what constitutes mutually consensual sex in real life.
Can’t we just make sure that our children and peers aren’t watching pornography? Perhaps write a ban into law? “‘Just say no’ just doesn’t work,” Tarrant writes. “This slogan did not erase drug addiction, it is ineffective in terms of sexual abstinence and it does not work for pornography, either.” And,Tarrant argues, society-wide discussions have worked marvelously in the past:
Public conversation about drugs helps promote better solutions to addiction. The HIV and the AIDS epidemic transformed ‘condom’ from a word uttered in private hushed tones to a common vocabulary term on billboards and public service announcements. Effective solutions to social problems require brave conversations that are our cultural realities.
(Thanks, Atlantic Wire.)