Cambridge University Union Society decides porn is a 'good public service'

Published: Friday, Feb. 18 2011 7:44 p.m. MST

They chose porn.

A heated debate about whether pornography provides "a good public service" ended late Thursday in the historic hall of the Cambridge University Union Society with Cambridge students voting 231 to 187 in favor of the motion, according to the U.K. Press Association. Another 197 abstained.

The student body sided with arguments that porn empowers women and is educational, according to the weekly newspaper Cambridge First.

Pornographic film director Anna Arrowsmith, who ran a failed campaign for Parliament last year, led a three-member team on behalf of porn. Cambridge First reported that she opened the debate by accusing "'moral entrepreneurs' of using 'thinly-veiled, conservative arguments' to inflict a 'fully-fledged moral panic.'"

"Porn characterizes democratic and affluent cultures," said an American named Jessi Fischer, 27, who earned a masters in sexuality studies last year from San Francisco State University and is a self-styled "sexademic." She paid for the flight from San Francisco to London with donations solicited on her blog.

Research shows pornography is linked to risky sexual behavior, sexual aggression, infidelity, divorce, decreased sexual satisfaction, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Other studies show habitual pornography use damages relationships, productivity and happiness, the Witherspoon Institute reported.

The debate included evidence that pornography degrades woman and harms child development.

Society is becoming "pornified," feminist activist Gail Dines said, according to the Cambridge News. "The sex industry is shaping the way we think and talk about sex."

A born-again former porn actress who is now a chaplain said pornography is the opposite of a good public service because it is a lie.

"It's modern-day slavery," said Shelley Lubben, who calls herself a porn industry survivor. Lubben launched a foundation to help porn stars escape and heal.

The debate came at a time when the United Kingdom is wrestling with issues of sex in media and schools

The non-profit, student-run Cambridge Union Society is nearly 200 years old and boasts a roster of visiting speakers that includes American presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jalal Talabani shortly after he took office as the first democratically elected president of Iraq.

Dubbed the Arena of Ambition and virtually unchanged for 140 years, the student society's hall hosts multiple debates each year in which the society proposes motions for opposing teams to argue.

Flagging attendance at the debates has been reinvigorated by increasingly provocative motions , including one last week titled "This House would not get married."

The Deseret News published a series of articles in September on the damaging effects of pornography on families as part of the Deseret Media Companies initiative "Out in the Light."

e-mail: twalch@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS