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Porn-ell Feminists Divided Over Snuff Films

By Joseph J. Sabia | March 7, 2003

After years of solidarity on such issues as abortion, sexual harassment law, lesbianism, and the war on men, Cornell feminists have found two issues that irrevocably divide themóbondage fantasies and snuff films.

On February 26, the student-funded feminist student group Students Acting for Gender Equality (SAGE) distributed an advertisement for their special gathering:

PORN: Are We F^^^ed?

Wednesday, February 26th, 7pm, Rockefeller 102

Students Acting for Gender Equality hosts a discussion on smut, sex, and masturbation. Is porn anti-feminist? Is it degrading to women or an expression of sexual empowerment? Should it be made illegal? What does porn do for you? Come share your views in an open forum with SAGE!

The meeting opened with club moderator Courtney Ritter passing around Playboys from 1972 through 2002 and asking audience members to compare and contrast how women were portrayed. Then Ritter announced that she had downloaded porn from the web and proceeded to show several hardcore scenes to the assembled crowd via her laptop. In response to an oral sex scene, one of the feminists remarked:

"I am angryólook at that woman. She is doing all the work. The manís face isnít even shown."

After one feminist linked the watching of porn to violence against women, male feminist Jacob Hoffman-Andrews disagreed, saying:

"I think [porn] is just a reasonable expression. It provides a release. People can compartmentalize."

Just as the discussion started heating up, a bizarre looking woman with pink, purple, and blue hair lumbered into the room. The Kelly Osborne look-a-like identified herself as a Cornell senior named Lela. Appearing perturbed at the anti-porn sentiment that some in the room were espousing, she proudly proclaimed:

"I am a sex worker, doing phone [sex]. There is a big sex worker movement out there. I consider myself a feminist and I want a feminist movement that will be nonjudgmental. If feminists are not going to help, then weíll do it alone."

Lela implied that her Ivy League education should serve as a testament to the heterogeneity of the "sex worker population" and added:

"Guys have a lot of fantasiesóbondage and even snuff fantasies. I give an outlet to that and an outlet can be a good thing, getting it out of their system with a girl. Iím on the phone with them, acting out violent scenes, so maybe they wonít go out and act it out for real."

Snuff films are those pornographic movies that portray men murdering women after raping them. Lela lamented that women are not more willing to be themselves.

"Women should be out there and [feel free to] say, ĎI love sex. Iím really proud of my body. I want to be an exhibitionist. I want to be a porn star. Iím dominant. Iím submissive. Thatís me, thatís my sexuality.í...But streetwalking is a bit different."

Well, itís good that sex workers have standards. Lela then expressed her view that America is sexually repressed and called on our citizenry to become more European in our attitudes:

"In Greece, you can walk down the street and see a naked lady riding a banana in a yogurt ad. Itís kind of funny."

Some feminists disagreed with Lelaís assessment, but not because they thought that porn was degrading to women. Rather, they argued that Big Porn was dominated by men who were colluding to (i) make women look like sex objects, and (ii) keep female-friendly porn off the market. When Cornell College Republican Chairman Ryan Horn suggested that female consumers have a lower demand for porn than males, almost all of the feminists denounced his assertion. Lela summed up their view, saying:

"Gender is a construct. Beyond obvious biological differences in our bodies, there are no other differences except those created by society."

After the hour-long meeting, Cornell feminists were arguing and confused. Many thought that porn was empowering to women and that there ought to be some sort of affirmative action for female porn producers. Others thought that porn would be better if men were humiliated in much the same way as women. Still others were mad at feminists for abandoning the so-called sex worker movement.

Lela offered the most sage advice of the evening: ďFeminists, you need to get your hands dirty.Ē  One thing is for sureóthere is no shortage of filth among Cornell feminists.

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