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November 23, 2015

Casey Calvert's Op-Ed on Porn Published by 'The Economist'

LOS ANGELES—Casey Calvert takes on the question “Can Porn Be Good for Us?” in an op-ed article she wrote for international news site Economist.com. The article is part of an eleven-day online debate on the same topic, hosted by the British-based publication. “As soon as I saw The Economist was planning a debate on porn, I knew I wanted to be a part of the conversation,” Calvert said. “Thank you to The Economist’s editors for giving me the opportunity to present my heartfelt viewpoint on the adult industry and misconceptions about pornography as a whole.” Calvert, whose article appears on The Economist’s micro-site for the debate, asserts that morality and the shaming of those who are sexual has tainted the discussion of pornography and sex. To read Casey Calvert’s article, click here. “Opinions on the morality of sex should not cloud opinions of pornography. Porn is not sex. It is a representation, a performance, of bodies coming together…” Calvert wrote in her article. “The First Amendment to the American Constitution means I am allowed to do what I do. It is my right and my freedom to have sex with many partners and record it for the world. If you don’t like that, or if you think that is wrong, fine. But we aren’t discussing the morality of my actions.” Calvert went on to express the divergent paths between mainstream society and the adult entertainment business when it comes to those deemed on the fringe. “Porn has long offered a glimpse of the future,” she wrote. “Long before alternative sexualities were accepted in popular culture as they are now, porn accepted them. Gay porn, fetish porn—it has all existed as long as straight porn has. Porn accepts everyone. There is content for everyone. “This means that people who want something different—who need something different—have a home in pornography,” she added. “Fetishists can find other fetishists just like them. They aren’t alone. Isolation is a terrible feeling, and for so many people pornography is the cure. When you no longer feel like a freak, then what? You become more confident and begin to accept yourself. Maybe, now, you’ll be able to find love, from someone else or from yourself. Sadly, there are many people who will never be able to find someone. But they have porn, and it’s the closest to intimacy they will get. Why deny them that?” Debate panelist Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn.com, found common ground with Calvert, stating: “Pornography can be used to help explore our sexuality, including what we like and don’t like; to discover that there are others who share our sexual tastes; and to reassure us that when it comes to the extraordinarily wide-ranging spectrum that is human sexuality, there is no such thing as 'normal'.” Panelist Robert Jensen, journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, took an opposing view, saying, “The ethic of pornography is pretty clear: individual pleasure-seeking trumps all other values, and no one need pay attention to the consequences of either institutionalized male dominance or modern culture’s seemingly endless appetite for high-tech media that become more 'real' than our own lives.” Moderator Helen Joyce, International section editor for The Economist, wrote on the debate’s website that the value of porn is needed since there is little information on the subject. “Compared with other common activities, the evidence on the impact of watching pornography is unusually poor,” she explained. “That is partly because it is almost taboo to study it. Academics report finding it difficult to get funding for research into sexual functioning in general and pornography in particular.” Also weighing in is 30-something porn user "Ryan" (not his real name), who began his segment by noting, "I’m 15, I’m horny and I haven’t seen anyone like me," referring to his childhood. "I’ve watched Hollywood heroes suck the lips off their damsels. I’ve even peeked at bad actors and bored actresses making love in late-night erotic television dramas. And I still haven’t seen anyone like me. "The power of porn, to me, is not just about instant pleasure; it is about education and affirmation...," he later stated. "My sex education was long, detailed and private. It took place in my bedroom in my rented flat in London during my 20s. All I needed was a laptop and Wi-Fi (headphones helped too). It was ten times better than anything my petrified parents would have given me if they’d tried, and a hundred times better than the cartoon of mandatory heterosexuality shown to me in school." Even better is Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, who began her entry with the well-funded observation, "Is pornography good or bad for us? It’s time to stop asking that question. Robert Jensen has written numerous books and articles about pornography, yet his contribution here—a series of rhetorical questions and unevidenced flourishes—demonstrates that he has understood little about it. This mix of scary futurology and techno-fear compounds a reductive and mechanistic view of pornography as unwholesome, creating interests that are obsessive, narcissistic and inhumane." AVN also challenged Jensen's contribution to the discussion here. According to The Economist, the debate is 11 days long, having begun on November 17 with the publication of articles by Gallop, Jensen, and Joyce. Three days later responses to each person's arguments will be published along with closing segments the following week, before concluding on November 27. The website’s registered users will be able to vote throughout the debate period to determine which side is presenting their argument better, and members of the adult entertainment community are encouraged to do so.

 
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