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Evidence shows pornography leads to harassment and abuse of women

To the Editor:

I would like to reply to the recent round of letters on pornography in The Tech, Tuesday, Feb. 12.

In reply to Russell Karlberg's letter ["Denies pornography results in harassment of women"], I am glad that he has taken the time to read Ordeal, by Linda Lovelace. As for how pornography affects men's actions toward women and children, I suggest that he also read the public hearings on pornography that were held in Minneapolis.

In short, these hearings document how women have been abused as a direct result of pornography, with the words of the women themselves and of men who have observed abuse. Questions of "ethics" work well in a perfect world, but in our country ethics are controlled by those who have money and power.

In reply to David Simson's letter ["Mature discussion is needed"]: women's groups have been talking, but few people, especially men, have been listening. Once the word pornography passes our lips, we are accused of wanting to ban or censor pornography or remove the freedom of speech, accused of "moralism" or of demanding special treatment, or worse.

Unfortunately, the right of men or groups of men and women to interpret the words of women or other minority groups has a long history behind it. The Tech has certainly been a party to these misinterpretations.

In reply to Robert Krawitz's letter ["Dean's Office enforces its policies selectively"], I personally apologize for the fact that Not a Love Story was not prescreened, and hope that no one who saw the film was offended by its sexually explicit scenes. We did have a discussion afterwards, and no one brought that up. And yes, harassment is a serious charge, and yes, pornography harasses women.

Pornography is an eight billion dollar-a-year business that is one of the largest sectors of the entertainment industry. The vast majority of pornography represents women as complete sexual objects, as masochistic, as treacherous, as deserving of abuse, punishment, torture, mutilation, humiliation and death.

The objectification of women in pornography allows the viewer to separate him/herself from the humiliation and pain experienced by the women portrayed in pornography. Viewers do not question why pain brings sexual pleasure and why women (or children or men who act like women) are the victims of the mental and physical abuse and violence pictured in pornography.

There is now tremendous violence against women in this country. For example, 70 percent of all victims of assault admitted to hospital emergency rooms are women beaten by their husbands or boyfriends.

For those who have forgotten history, such a situation has existed before: huge propaganda for violence against a group of people, and violence against that group. It occurred during the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in this country and it occurred in pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany.

Bans, censorship, the First Amendment and even civil rights aside, the fact is that anyone who attends pornographic films is condoning violence toward women and the exploitation and degradation of women. All studies aside, it is obvious that the portrayal of women in pornography does and will affect our attitudes toward women.

All MIT students and members of the MIT community should be at the next pornographic film, protesting violence and dehumanization of women. All members of the MIT community should stand up and condemn sexist jokes, comments and actions, whether it is their friends or strangers who commit these acts.

For the campus to follow The Tech's lead, for the administrators who condone pornography by not protesting it, is to not take a stand on human rights of the most basic kind.

Irene Baker G->