WIN lecture links porn and assault

Womyn’s Issues Now commemorated Sexual Assault Awareness Month last week with a series of events, including a lecture and slide show that focused on pornography and its impact on women.

Guest speaker Marty Langelan, Feminists Against Pornography volunteer and former president of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, drew a distinction between pornography and erotica. Pornography glamorizes one person’s power over another, but erotica depicts love between equals, she said.

She urged women and men in attendance to stop pornography, which includes anything from refusing to date someone who subscribes to magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse to confronting people who buy pornographic materials.

“Start with your own corner of the world and make it porn-free – and then move down the block,” Langelan said. “I love emptying porn stores and we can empty one perfectly legally. We just ask the men there to explain themselves and why this kind of material excites them.”

Langelan said she worries about the trend of depicting violent scenes in “mainstream” pornography such as Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines. Langelan said the trend is disturbing because photographs in adult magazines are directly linked to sexual assaults.

“If you show me what this month’s centerfold is, I’ll tell you what next month’s rapes are going to look like,” she said.

In a slide show presentation, Langelan showed the audience images from adult magazines and mainstream advertisements, which depict women in subservient roles.

Advertising representatives say the images are used to foster insecurity in women so they will purchase the product advertised, Langelan said.

Graphic slides depicting women in bondage and a slide from a snuff film, which Langelan quickly moved past, all evoked gasps from the audience. Snuff films are adult films that culminate in murder and dismemberment of the woman in the film, she said.

“It’s important to remember that most men don’t buy this stuff,” she said. WIN member Heather Anderson, who coordinated the event, said she was impressed by the turnout of more than 30 people. She said although many in the audience were WIN members, she also saw women and men who she had not seen at WIN events before.

WIN also held a birthday memorial Saturday for a former GW student who was murdered in June 1994. The group recently participated in a “Take Back the Night” rally organized by the D.C. Rape Crisis Center.

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