TRU opens conversations on sexualized violence

Pop-Porn panel discussion explores the effects of porn on society’s idea of sex

Pop-Porn offered a candid approach to conversations of sex and violence in respects to porn. (Cailyn Mocci/The Omega)

The TRU Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response team teamed up with fourth-year TRU nursing student, Koda-Sky Skoolman, to bring to life Pop-Porn. With popcorn in hand and a panel of educators, the team opened conversations of sexual violence, pornography and the links between them found in the minds of society.

By looking at how pornography shapes our understanding of sex, consent and sexualized violence the discussion was able to be open and positive and included candid discussions by the panel.

The panel included experts in sexual health and care work Shelly Bonnah, Tracy Penny Light and Lindsey McKay as well as Skoolman. The discussion was lead by TRU Sexual Violence Prevention and Response manager, Meaghan Hagerty.

A large portion of this project was the brainchild of Skoolman who has spent a large portion of her education experience focused on sexualized violence and increasing the general knowledge of these issues.

With the prevalence and easy accessibility to pornography through the internet, Skoolman and Hagerty worked to use this current day example to open up this seemingly stigmatized conversation.

“There are many different ways sexualized violence is taught and normalized – pornography is one of those ways. Pornography is having an influence on how people understand things like sex, consent and sexualized violence, but it’s not being talked about,” said Hagerty, “Its power is increased by how accessible it is via the internet. We wanted to offer critical thinking perspectives and skills.”

While conversation contributions by the audience were scarce, the general consensus of Pop-Porn seemed to be well-received. Hagerty suggested the silence came from a possible discomfort on the sensitive subject.

“I think there are layers of stigma. This was reflected in some of the conversations last night as well, but even talking about sex in general carries stigma and can be hard to do. Mix violence and pornography into that and it can be even more uncomfortable,” said Hagerty.

The two-hour discussion centred around two TEDTalks presented as prompts; Growing up in a Pornified Culture by Gail Dines and It’s Time for Porn to Change by Erika Lust. Both talks opened up conversations to how these ideas of consent and in some cases lack of consent, have become ingrained in society due to the dangerous portrayals of sex seen in pornography.

The discussion was honest and inclusive, stating that these issues rise higher in minority groups. The hope for this event was to open conversation pathways to subjects that have normally found themselves swept under the rug.

TRU Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response will be hosting their next event from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 called 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence.

“We’re hoping to collaborate with community partners and we’re working on daily things that people can incorporate into their lives to push back against gender-based violence,” said Hagerty.

In the meantime, TRU Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response is working hard to plan for the next semester by welcoming input from community members on topics they find are important.