Dr. Gail Dines Delivers Women’s History Month Address at Mount Union College

March 07, 2008

gaildines2008Dr. Gail Dines presented “Sex(ism), Identity, and Intimacy in a Pornographic Culture” on Thursday, March 6 in the Mount Union Theatre as the Women’s History Month featured speaker.

Her multimedia presentation explored the ways in which pornography and images in the media affect gender perspectives and our daily lives.

“We live in an imaged based society,” said Dines who has been studying media images for years.  “These women in print advertisements are airbrushed, fabricated women.  They are not real, but it doesn’t matter how many times I tell you they’re not real. You’re still going to compare yourself to them.”

Dines discussed how media images speak to people, and the dominant image right now is a young and sexualized women.  “We are paying the price for those women who are being depicted in these images,” said Dines.  While pornographic images flashed on the screen, she explained that these women have no name, no history, no past, no future, no biography; just a selection of body parts for male consumption.

In porn, or any mainstream media, there are standards and an ideal way to look. The media has taken this abnormal body shape of a model and turned it into normal. 
Now, our normal body image is considered abnormal.  Dines emphasized that, “We live in a culture where the abnormal is normal and normal is abnormal. With that being said, how are you to develop a sense of who you are?”

An image of a women’s lower body was shown while Dines explored the idea that this is how women are scrutinizing themselves in front of the mirror.  “We are starting to lose sight of our body,” said Dines. “We turn ourselves into separate pieces that need work. But don’t worry, we are going to be saved by Dove.” These images of the ideal woman are used to sell products and make money off of our self-images that are much less than “perfect.”

“We are called sluts for wanting to attract men. We want relationships, we don’t want to hook up just for sex,” she said.  The porn industry makes billions of dollars each year.

Dines believes that people end up in the porn industry because of child sex abuse and poverty.  She also believes that this not a good enough reason to let the industry destroy you. “You will be faced with even more violence and sexual abuse,” she said.

Dines explored ways in which we can stop the porn industry. “The only way to stop the porn industry is through a feminist movement,” said Dines. “One way we are putting up a fight against the porn industry is through the organization Stop Porn Culture.” For more information about this organization and what they are doing to stop the industry email, stoppornculture@gmail.com.

“If you think it’s bad now, what do you think it will be like when you have kids?” asked Dines. “We have to learn how to put up a fight.”  The porn industry can’t be stopped by just an individual effort; it has to be a movement - a feminist movement for the equality of men and women.

Dines concluded her presentation by asking the audience, “I want to know, do you think you’re more than this?  If so, then the only way to stop these images of women in the media is to fight.”

Dines earned her Ph.D. from the University of Salford in England.  She is a professor and chair of American Studies at Wheelock College in Boston.  Well known for her lectures and publications on sexuality and pop culture, Dines is co-editor of the best-selling textbook Gender, Race and Class in Media and a co-author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality.

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