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Erotica Is Not Pornography

The Lecture Series Committee feels the need to set the record straight on a number of issues regarding our intent to show sexually explicit films. The recent article ["LSC Pornography Committee Considers Showing Erotic Films," Nov. 26] created a number of misconceptions in the MIT community that we will address here.

The first misconception is that the LSC Committee on Erotica is new. The Tech implied that it was formed after a voluntary ban on LSC showing pornographic films expired. In fact, all LSC did was add members to repopulate an already existing committee. Since LSC has no intention of showing pornography, the ban (which actually expired in 1993) had no effect on our actions.

Although The Tech article tended to use the words interchangeably, erotica and pornography are very different. Pornographic film has as its primary purpose the graphic depiction of sexually explicit scenes. It generally depicts these scenes in a way that is degrading to women or, less frequently, to men. It tends to perpetuate the myth that rape and sexual assault are appropriate forms of behavior. Erotica, on the other hand, seeks to tell a story that involves sexual themes. Sexually explicit scenes in these films serve a secondary role to the plot. Erotic film displays sexually explicit scenes in a more realistic and equal fashion that is not degrading to either gender.

The LSC Committee on Erotica addresses the issues surrounding the showing of sexually explicit films. Essentially, the committee tries to determine what is pornography and what is erotica. They screen any proposed films to ensure that the films are not pornographic, are not degrading, are portraying sexually explicit scenes in a realistic manner, and are of high quality. These criteria are very stringent and result in few films that LSC would even consider showing from the erotic genre. We believe it is our responsibility to carefully limit ourselves to films that are not offensive to a large part of the community, as Chairman-elect Christopher C. Marchant '98 was quoted in the original article as saying.

So the point is, no, we do not intend a return to showing pornographic films. We do not feel showing pornography is in the best interest of the MIT community and is therefore not in the best interest of LSC.

William J. Gehrke '97, LSC Chairman,

on behalf of the LSC Executive Committee