First Person/Gail Dines

Her war on porn

Wheelock professor Gail Dines, 52, blames sex trafficking on the porn industry.

By Maura Kelly
June 26, 2011

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This weekend, 100 international activists will attend Boston’s third annual Stop Porn Culture conference. What’s on your agenda?

Finding legal avenues to fight the global sex industry. We need to bring the industry in line by finding ways to sue for the harms done.

What is the harm?

This is not your father’s Playboy. I’m not upset about pictures of [naked] women smiling coyly in a cornfield. What dominates today is body-punishing hard-core sex. All a 13-year-old needs is an Internet connection to be catapulted into a world of brutal sex. Men make hate to women, they don’t make love to them. Do we want our boys growing up on this?

Your book Pornland argues that this has already altered young people’s sex lives.

This is remapping male sexuality. The more men watch porn, the more they want to play out “porn sex” on their girlfriends [and] the less they want real sex. Women who write in to Cosmo saying they’re uncomfortable with porn are told just to “go with it.”

What impact do you hope to have?

I would like to see men start saying: “This is not who we are. We’re not sexual predators. We want intimacy and connection. I do not want to be someone who gets off on a woman being brutalized.”

During a recent Harvard seminar, you connected pornography with human trafficking. What’s the link?

Boys do not come out of the womb with a taste for prostitutes. Porn teaches them not to respect women and makes them desire a debased relationship.

So you support Massachusetts’s proposed human trafficking bill?

It would decriminalize [victims] under 18, a great start, but it doesn’t go far enough. Regardless of age, prostitutes and sex slaves shouldn’t be treated like criminals. Only johns should be.

What do you make of Anthony Weiner’s actions?

There’s something giving men [like] Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger permission to behave this way. Weiner’s behavior makes absolute sense in a porn culture. I don’t know why people are shocked.