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Sexual Values Should Not Be Enforced on MIT Community

Column by Gbor Csnyi
Contributing Editor

I was sad to see that Therese Z. Henderson's letter ["LSC Porncom Ignores Community Spirit," Dec. 3] was full of fallacies. First, she committed an intellectual crime against the principles of democracy and freedom. She appears to think that extrapolating her own feelings is a good way to assess the mood of the community. Secondly, she equates eroticism with pornography. I beg to differ.

If the MIT community does not want to see erotic films, then LSC will realize this on the first showing; people are very good at voting with their feet. Henderson suggests that LSC find other ways to raise funds. This instantly shows what is wrong with her argument. If LSC is capable of raising substantial funds by showing erotic films, then by implication, the MIT community is willing to pay for such films and is willing to sit through them. Hence the wishes of the community are clear. Where should the line be drawn? Precisely where Henderson suggests. Footage (I hate to call them films) which shows people in a dehumanized situation is clearly unfit for screening.

I myself do not think that erotic films necessarily demean or advocate violence toward women. If LSC chooses to show films of such inhuman nature, I will be the first one to opt for an alternative program and indeed demand that they stop it. I would like to believe the Pornography Committee to be of better disposition and am willing to give them a chance.

Is sex itself demeaning toward women? If there are people out there who are unfortunate enough to have been raised to think like that, then MIT as an educational institution - and in particular those who care about visual culture - should remedy this and show that it is not the case. What is the use of the multitude of Independent Activities Period programs and other sources telling students about the joy and wonder of good sex if the rules that are created by the same community reflect precisely the opposite - that sex is some horrible thing that most people have to tolerate for some reason and any mention of it should preferably be eradicated from a public context? Is it furthering the goal of building an open and honest society to deny the existence of something that everyone does all the time? Some people seem to think so (as depicted in the current issue of Sojourner about sex education).

On quite a different note, a lot of people lament the proliferation of the real pornography industry. But it is the same society that funds them and gives them their boom. Spot the hypocrisy? Somehow we are good at this. The 1990s is the decade of health food and a healthy diet? Then why do hamburger sales skyrocket?

If the MIT community at large approves of erotic art, then I think people who may not be sexually mature enough to cope with it should not prevent everyone else from seeing such films.

To reverse the argument and play devil's advocate, I might consider frequently screened action movies as harmful in portraying men as complete zealots full of testosterone shooting everyone in sight. But I do not consider my views to apply to everyone, I just do not watch such movies often. I advise Henderson to do the same.