Anti-Porn event – emotional appeals and dangerous misinformation

*I apologize for this post being so long. If you want to read the most humorous parts, scroll down until you get to the quotes from the former porn actress, Shelly. They’re the “highlight” of the show.

As many of you know, last night I attended Porn and Popcorn, a Christian anti-pornography event hosted by the Stewart Cooperative, the Purdue Student Union Board, and other various Christian organizations and local businesses (Chick-Fil-A was one, nothing too surprising there). Oddly enough, about 25 other members of the non-theists joined me. At least I had an excuse of “this will make a good blog post,” but I think they’re all just a bit masochistic. Or in it for the free pop and popcorn, which we received without bursting into flames or being struck with lightening.

Proof I wasted my time going to this thing

We settled down on Slayter Hill, a big open air amphitheater on campus where you just sit on the grass to watch the stage. There were about 600 – 1000 people there (wide range, I know, I’m not good at guestimating crowds). The band was already playing (not well, but playing), and I was amazed that they weren’t playing Christian rock. Actually, the fact that they were singing songs I enjoy unnerved me a bit, because I suddenly heard the lyrics from a different perspective (Wait, this is about God and not his girlfriend?!). They even had about 10 female groupies in front of the stage jumping around with their hands in the air. Eventually they had 20 people holding hands and skipping around in a circle, at which point the giggling began.

As we were waiting for the real show to start, they had PowerPoint slides cycling through with what would be the only “scientific” facts of the entire show:

  1. “90% of kids age 8 – 16 have seen porn.” What a wide age range. I’d love to see the distribution of that, because I’m sure the vast majority of those numbers come from the older kids. When you have a skew like that, you can’t just keep including a lower age for shock tactics.
  2. “True or False: 18-24 year olds are the highest porn users – False. 12-17 use porn the most.” Wow, shocking. Maybe that’s because 18-24 year olds are actually having sex and are less curious about human sexuality because they’ve already learned about it? Oh wait, no, we’re supposed to be in shock that middle and high schoolers are looking at sexual things. Sorry.
  3. “Women are more likely to act out their sexual urges, like casual sex, multiple partners, or affairs.” Um, no. Buss 2006 summarizes the many studies that show men desire casual sex more than women, and both sides would engage in the same amount since they need to be doing it with someone, assuming heterosexual sex. Men and women would on average have the same number of partners, but men desire more. Laumann et al 1994 found that 25% of married men and 15% of married women had an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. Nice try with the lies to slander women.

The show opened with a nicely produced video set to some hip hop music (dude, they get us) about how horrible sex and porn is. They had some skeevy looking guy taking of advantage of what I have to think was a thirteen year old girl, especially since they had toys and children’s drawings everywhere. Afterward the pastor* comes out and tells us this is a reality (*Side note: I just want to make it clear that these are the “good” Christians who say Jesus loves everyone, only God judges, love the sinner hate the sin, yadda yadda). Yeah, sexual abuse of children is a reality, but it has nothing to do with pornography and should not be used as an emotional tool. But that’s the only tool they have. The entire two hour presentation contained nothing but emotional arguments and personal stories – those “facts” I listed above were as close as you get to “science.” To illustrate my point, here are some of the scare tactics they used at the beginning (bold is their arguments):

  • Senior citizens are the highest porn users. Doesn’t that make you want to throw up? Wow, way to marginalize an entire group of people for being sexual. Oh wait, that’s the whole point of this presentation.
  • A mother called us saying her 8 year old son stumbled upon a porn site. Yeah, he “accidentally” found it. Rigggghttt.
  • Porn destroys the economy because you’re wasting your money on it. This said right after they tell us how porn is a multi-billion dollar institution. Doesn’t that mean it would be stimulating the economy? (EDIT: Apparently even Gingrich agrees with me)
  • When this anti-porn Christian group went to a porn convention, everyone their loved and accepted them. Therefor they’re doing the right thing. Could you imagine a Christian convention accepting a porn group? Or maybe people at porn conventions are more liberal and open minded, and accepting of people who are different than them?
  • Men feel terrified and guilty that they have to hide porn from their wife. Maybe you shouldn’t marry someone who’s so uptight and anti-sex that she’s not cool with you watching porn. Some great communication you have in your marriage there.
  • Porn is a gateway drug to child porn. What. No.

They then brought out a former porn producer to talk about how he saw the light, quit the porn industry, and became a Good Christian. Every story he told didn’t shed any light on the evils of porn – it just showed that he was a giant douche bag. He cheated on his wife multiple times before even getting started in porn. He secretly was a porn producer for 3 years without his wife’s knowledge, and then when she found out, she left him. It’s not porn that ruined your marriage – it’s that you’re a lying dick who was duping your wife. He then went on and on about how he ruined all of these women’s lives and tricked them into porn, how in between shoots they would curl up in the fetal position and suck their thumb, how they needed surgery to correct the sexual things he made them do. I’m going to call Bull Shit on all of this, but even if it was true, that just further reflects on the guy’s character, not porn – he’s a giant insensitive ass.

Pastor: What did you think of our group when you first saw it?
Porn Producer: I thought you were a porn site making fun of Christians, and I thought it was a great idea!
Us: *laugh* …*realize we’re the only people laughing, go quiet*

He then went on to tell the story of all his inner turmoil because of porn (no, because you’re a jerk) and how he used to be a troll at Christian forums. But they were all so nice and even though they banned him they kept telling him over and over again that they would pray for him. And eventually he prayed that God would give him sign.

Pastor: At some point you need to give up.
Us: …

His car broke down and while the mechanic told him it was something wrong with the spark plug, he knew it was God. And that’s when he stopped being an atheist and accepted Jesus. …Yeah, buddy, if you’re asking God for signs and you’re willing to believe events with rational explanations are signs, I’m inclined to believe you weren’t an atheist. Stop trying to make us look bad. He then went on to say how he was at peace, which including crying and puking… uh, okay, sounds real peaceful to me.

Porn Producer: There are bad Christians, but not a bad God.
Josh: Because there’s no God
Me: *high five*

These sort of emotional, personal stories went on all night: they never presented any scientific studies or even included possible credentials they have (anyone have a degree in Psychology? no?). It even included a video of Pornmobile Confessions where people talk about their porn problems while riding in the backseat of a Mini Cooper at night. Their main argument is that they get people writing them all the time about how porn has ruined their lives. Um, have you heard of sampling bias? You only see the people who have been negatively affected by porn because those are the only people who are contacting you. The vast majority of people have had a neutral or positive experience, but you don’t see them because you’re not seeking them out. I’m sure some people really have had negative experiences with porn, but they’re blowing it way out of proportion.

And with the people who did have bad experiences with porn, those were all caused BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION. People feel guilty/scared and hide porn from loved ones, and it ruins their marriage because of bad communication. People feel guilty for being sexual beings or need to turn to porn for their sexual curiosity. You know where this guilt comes from? RELIGION. If conservative Christians didn’t beat over your head that sex was so evil to begin with, people wouldn’t be having these problems. We’d have comprehensive sex education and open dialog about human sexuality so little kids wouldn’t have to turn to the internet for information. We wouldn’t feel guilty for engaging in normal sexual activity. We’d be able to talk about sex with our loved ones before marrying them and finding out they have incompatible viewpoints.

It’s like Christians have fabricated the problem of sex so they can come down and fix it. And that’s the only solution or “reasoning” they give: Jesus. All they repeated is that you need to follow God’s plan and be a pure person. “Jesus died and can help you,” but they don’t say how. They never give a single other reason other than God. What about people who aren’t Christians? What’s their incentive to stop watching porn? I guess they either forget us non-Christians even exist, they figure we’re a lost cause, or they see this as a good method to get us to convert to Christianity. The Religiosity Level was through the roof at this point as they told people to give themselves up to Jesus, and I really expected them to ask people to come up on the spot, but they didn’t.

And as an important side note, this whole beginning piece came off as very demeaning towards women. All women were painted as fragile children who couldn’t make their own decisions and were duped into porn. I never heard the pastor or the porn producer refer to females as women or ladies – they always called them “girls.” Whether you were a helper in their movement, a porn actress, or the producer’s wife – you were “Girl.” Way to show some respect to adult women.

Then the night took drove right past Religiousville and took a right into Bizarroland. They brought out Shelly, a former porn actress who talked so nonsensically that the whole audience (not just us) was murmuring in confusion and convinced that she was either high or that her brain was permanently warped from years of drug abuse (which she later admitted to). Her talk was not only rambling, but incredibly sexist and racist, which was even more ironic coming from a black female. It was so rambling that I can’t form coherent paragraphs about what she was saying, so here, have some lovely statements:

  • “Women were created as helpers. Isn’t it lovely how Christianity can brainwash you into subordination? Why do women take this shit?
  • “Chosen virginity” Apparently those times you lose your virginity when you were a confused heathen don’t count. You get to start over when you’re Christian again!
  • “Once you start having sex, God’s plan doesn’t want you to stop.” Or maybe you don’t want to stop because you realize how nice sex is. What does that have to do with God’s plan? If he doesn’t want you to have premarital sex, why would he keep you going unless his plan is flawed?
  • “If he can’t pay for the movie, he can’t pay for the rent! You don’t want him!” What the fuck? So that’s all women want in a man – support? I rarely have had guys pay for dinner because we usually split, but if he does, I’ll usually pay for dinner sometimes to. I can’t imagine the idea of a boyfriend paying my rent. My parents raised me to be able to take care of myself without a man, thank you very much.
  • She was introduced to masturbation by her African Studies Professor, who said it was the best way to have an orgasm. She also supposed he was sleeping with half of the students. First of all, what is the purpose of pointing out he was an African Studies Professor? Second of all, since when is it okay to make wild libelous claims that you give absolutely no proof of?
  • “Think of a clean glass of water. Now imagine greasy finger prints all over it, like I was just eating fried chicken. That’s what masturbation is.” …I don’t know what’s more disturbing here, the fried chicken comment, or the fact that masturbation is considered dirty.
  • Many women like masturbation more than sex, and that ruins their sex life. Therefore masturbation is bad. Or maybe their lack of communication ruins their sex life because they’re too ashamed to tell their partner what they enjoy.
  • “Women were created to receive.” …Feminist rage in 3…2…
  • God created sex so you could be one with your partner. Every time you have sex, you’re creating oneness with that n

    ew person, so you’re fracturing your soul into pieces. OMG SEX CREATES HORCRUXES. That’s really how Voldemort was doing it, but Rowling had to keep the book rated PG-13. Man, so does that mean when I reach 7 sex partners I’ll become all powerful? Sign me up!

  • Do any of you watch soap operas? *looks at audience* A DUDE watches soap operas? Man, we’re going to need to have a talk. Yes, because you’re not conforming to your gender stereotypes! Oh, she then went on to say soap operas were evil, which I guess I’ll agree with to an extent.
  • “Non-married sex is fake, it’s counterfeit. The devil came up with it.” …Yeah, around this point she started invoking the devil. I have to admit this made me really uncomfortable. I mean, I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous religious things before, but just something about someone going on about the devil’s influences and truly believing he exists unnerves me. It’s such a convenient excuse for all the bad things you do that it absolutely absolves you of personal responsibility or control.
  • I had four abortions because my friend told me they were an option. Yes, blame your friend for your irresponsibility. Four, really? I mean, I’m pro-choice, but at a certain point you have to learn to be responsible. Maybe if she had proper sex education she would have known how to properly use contraception.
  • I had such bad self esteem that I would sleep with any guy who complimented me to thank him. Yeah, how is this porn’s fault and not some serious issues you have? Go see a Psychologist, not Jesus.
  • I was sleeping with this gangsta guy who was had seven girlfriends at once. Again, what does this have to do with porn? This just shows that you made really poor life choices and have bad self control when it comes to sex.
  • I was a wedding planner for my best friend, and I slept with the groom. Okay, what are all of these stories illustrating other than you’re uneducated about sex, out of control, have severe psychological problems, and are a horrible friend? Oh, that’s right, they’re setting you up to be incredibly hypocritical:
  • To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil. and “If he can’t be a faithful to God, he can’t be faithful to you.” Yep, can’t go a whole Christian event without bashing the atheists. This quote made me fume. I just listened to a bunch of Christians go on about how they cheated, had promiscuous sex, kept giant secrets from their spouses, got STDs, did drugs, had abortions, etc etc – but that’s all okay because they found Jesus. But those atheists? They have no morals, so they’re all going to cheat on you. What a bunch of fucking shit. Our whole group was sitting their in awe of how morally bankrupt these people were, because we’re actually good, honest people, and then they go and say we’re the cheaters. Or as my agnostic friend said, “My current girlfriend (atheist) is the first one to not cheat on me, compared to all the Christians I dated.” PSUB is going to get quite a few unhappy emails about how they’re sponsoring events that slander non-believers with unfounded lies. I yet again had the wonderful feeling of being an outcast; that if I introduced myself to random people at Purdue and they found out I was an atheist, the vast majority would instantly not like me. But if you can believe it, that wasn’t the quote that upset me the most that night:
  • “Protective sex is a joke.” Wow. I can’t think of a more horrible thing to be telling a crowd of 18-25 year olds. This is just plain irresponsible and dangerous. Again, I can’t believe PSUB would sponsor an event that could have a severe detrimental affect on the health of students at Purdue. I…I’m really left without words.

After they basically had to kick Shelly off the stage because she ran over her time and refused to stop talking, they went right back into the Christian rock band. That’s right, no time for questions. But you know what, it doesn’t really surprise me. This type of religion isn’t about asking questions or thinking for yourself. The event was to give you a biased view (no one pro-porn there) and to tell you what to do and how to think or else God will be very disappointed in you. I guess I was naive to assume they would encourage any intellectual discussion.

We then left and went to Qdoba to eat food and rant, and I’m sure some of the arguments we came up there were far more intelligent than the things I have just said. But I’m getting to the point where thinking about this depresses me, so I’m going to leave the rest of the insightful comments to you guys, and give you some funny highlights from the event:

Pastor: What better truth than the Bible?!
Non-Theists: *giggle*

Pastor: God wants to come inside you!
Friend: Woah, kinky

Shelly: *first comment* Sex outside of God’s intention is desicration.
Me: … *feeling insane at this point, lays down, covers face with notebook, and has a stifled tear-producing giggle fit, which in turn makes all the other members giggle inappropriately*
Friend: Jen’s down! Jen’s down! Monya [Treasurer], you’re our first in command now!

Shelly: How many of you are virgins?
Audience: *some people put hands up*
Shelly: I mean a real virgin. Oral sex and anal sex and masturbation count.
Audience: *everyone puts hands down*

Shelly: What’s that one guy’s name with the long flowing hair?
Me: (from all the way in the back) FABIO!
Shelly: Yeah, Fabio! He’s used as a sex symbol -
Non-theist females: Ewwwww Fabio

Shelly: Any of you ever want to admit to having a roach in your apartment?
Me: *only person in audience who raises hand*
Shelly: Yeah, you live it up, girl!
Me: …Wait…IS SHE TALKING ABOUT MARIJUANA? I MEAN THE INSECT! *horrified, lays down in grass dying laughing along with all the other Non-Theists*
Minutes later
Friend: Jen! Now she’s talking about bugs! Either she was always talking about cockroaches or she just got confused mid metaphor.
Me: Knowing her, it’s the latter.

Shelly: How many of you girls have asked a guy what his life goals are before dating him?
Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Shelly: Only you four? You go girls! (Yeah, those evil, corrupt atheists…)

Shelly: How many of you have had one of those crazy drama girlfriends?
Some Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Angry Christian nearby: Faggots

Yeah, that last one wasn’t funny – just wanted to illustrate what we’re dealing with at Purdue.