FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Shocking Suspension of Dr. Price

by GAIL DINES

As colleges become more corporate, we are hearing more and more stories of academics being sanctioned for having the audacity to speak out against corporate malfeasance. Not only does this limit the free speech of academics, it also serves to scare teachers into adhering to the hegemonic discourse.

The latest example is quite stunning. Jammie Price, a full professor at Appalachian State University, was suspended last month for showing the documentary The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships. Distributed by the Media Education Foundation, one of the most respected producers of progressive documentaries in the country, the film sets out to look at how mainstream pornography has not only become more violent and misogynistic, but is actually in bed with major financial institutions such as credit card companies, venture capitalists, cable companies and hotels (they make more money from porn than mini bars).

After showing the film to 120 students, three evidently complained to the university administration that Dr. Price was showing “inappropriate material” in class. Dr. Price was not allowed to learn the names of the students or to meet with them, was denied a hearing, and was immediately suspended and told that she could not enter any offices or classrooms in the Arts and Sciences buildings. Should she want to obtain “materials, computer files, pick up mail …” she needed to make arrangements to be escorted by a member of the faculty.

How interesting that a university decides that an academic analysis of one of the most profitable industries in the world is “inappropriate.” What exactly are we supposed to teach about? Maybe if Jammie Price had been in a business school and taught a case on how to make a killing in porn, she might have been given a pass. Or maybe, to be on the safe side, Dr. Price should have instead invited a pornographer to class to promote their products.  In 2008, the porn press was abuzz with the great news that Joanna Angel, owner of the porn site Burning Angel, had been invited to speak to a human sexuality class at Indiana University. No pretense was made that this was going to be an educational event by the porn news site X Critic, when they wrote, “She will be showing the students clips from her movies, handing out sex toys and enlightening them with a positive view on pornography.”

I wrote a letter of complaint to the president of Indiana University pointing out that the role of a university classroom was to educate the students, not provide a captive audience for capitalists to push their products. The president’s office responded in a rather odd way. They asked the professor to apologize to me for bringing in Joanna Angel, as if this whole case was a personal insult to me. I think we should be speaking about porn in the classroom, but not as a fun industry that sells fantasy, but rather as a global industry that works just like any other industry with business plans, niche markets, venture capitalists and the ever-increasing need to maximize profits.

It seems to me that Price’s crime was to provide a progressive critique of the porn industry, rather than wax lyrically about how porn empowers women sexually. She showed a film that takes an unflinching look at the real porn industry. Instead of claiming that we are all empowered by porn, The Price of Pleasure delves into the underbelly of the industry, illustrating its points with images drawn from some of the most popular porn websites. These are not pretty, nor are they very erotic. We see women being choked with a penis, women smeared in ejaculate, women being slapped and spit upon, and in a particularly horrible scene, a woman retching after she has licked a penis that was just in her anus (called Ass to Mouth in the industry).

I have never before heard of an academic suspended for either talking about or showing porn. This is not really a surprise because the trend in academia is to avoid talking about the actual industry and how it interfaces with mainstream capitalism. At a recent academic conference I attended in London, I found myself surrounded by post-modern academics who could use a good dose of political economy. The plenary session consisted of academics making the argument that there is no “it,” meaning the porn industry, because there are so many producers of porn and just so many types of much porn on the internet, that it is impossible to locate any actual industry.  Interesting that while there is no “it,” there are, in fact, porn trade shows, porn business web sites, porn PR companies, porn lobbying groups, and so on. All these things that would suggest that there is indeed a porn business.

The failure to lose sight of how the industry functions has been noted by the pornographers themselves. Andrew Edmond, President and CEO of Flying Crocodile, a $20-million pornography Internet business, explained to Brandweek that “a lot of people [outside adult entertainment] get distracted from the business model by [the sex]. It is just as sophisticated and multilayered as any other market place. We operate just like any Fortune 500 company (Brandweek, October, 2000, 41, 1Q48). Jammie Price did not get distracted by the sex, and for that she paid dearly.

GAIL DINES is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. Her latest book is Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality (Beacon Press). She a founding member of Stop Porn Culture (stoppornculture.org).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
Leslie Scott
Trump in the Middle East: New Ideas, Old Politics
George Wuerthner
Environmental Groups as Climate Deniers
Pauline Murphy
The Irish Dead: Fighting Fascism in Spain, 1937
Brian Trautman
Veterans on the March
Eric Sommer
Trumps Attack on Social Spending Escalates Long-term Massive Robbery of American Work
Binoy Kampmark
Twenty-Seven Hours: Donald Trump in Israel
Christian Hillegas
Trump’s Islamophobia: the Persistence of Orientalism in Western Rhetoric and Media
Michael J. Sainato
Russiagate: Clintonites Spread the Weiner Conspiracy
Walter Clemens
What the President Could Learn from Our Shih-Tzu Eddie
May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail