FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Shocking Suspension of Dr. Price

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:

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail