Sociology Of Sexuality @ UC Irvine, 11/8/07
Last Thursday, pornstar and director (and Fleshbot Crush Object, link NSFW) Dana DeArmond (MySpace) and her boyfriend Daniel (MySpace), along with pornstars Justin Long (NSFW) and Jon Jon (NSFW), were featured guest speakers in Professor Kassia Wosick-Correa's Sociology of Sexuality course at UC Irvine.
According to TIME, the study of pornography on a collegiate level originated in the early 1990s, as the article mentioned Professor Linda Williams' Film and Rhetoric course at UC Berkeley, but I remember that around the same time, Professor Constance Penley began teaching a pornography-themed Film Studies course at UC Santa Barbara. Hosting discussions with guest speakers from the adult industry seems to be a common occurence with these universities, especially given their relatively close proximity with Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, as back in March, DeArmond's friend Belladonna (MySpace) appeared at a previous Wosick-Correa course, while last year, Vivid-Alt (MySpace) head Eon McKai (MySpace) and Burning Angel founder Joanna Angel (MySpace) appeared at Penley's Film Studies course, and earlier this year, pornstar Sinnamon Love appeared at Professor Mirielle Miller-Young's Feminism in Porn course (also at UCSB).
Wosick-Correa describes her course:
Why porn in class? Why porn stars as guest speakers? Since the class is devoted to the sociology of sexuality, we examine the sex industry as a place where gender, race, class, and sexuality intersect. Because the class is also sex positive, I am devoted to exposing students to various aspects of the sex industry, which includes a wide range of pornography, consumer perspectives, and inside the industry approaches. Having people who work in the industry come to answer questions, tell their stories, and be a resource for young people to learn about sex and commodifying erotic experiences and fantasies is a part of the course ethos.
More about Thursday's class and the contents of DeArmond's suitcase after the jump.
The three-hour class was divided into three segments: a lecture on the adult industry, a screening of clips from various films, and a question-and-answer session with the guest speakers.
While various numbers have been thrown around about how much the industry makes annually -- Luke Ford has gathered a number of recent articles on the subject -- Wosick-Correa estimates it at $20 billion.
More fascinating were her statistics concerning women:
- 70% check out pornography.
- 17% are addicted to pornography.
- 1 in 3 have visited an adult website.
- 13% check out pornography at work.
As for the screening, the students' reaction was surprising, as one would think that with pornography so readily available on the Internet and the Web, the footage wouldn't elicit much of a reaction from the (theoretically-)numbed audience. But the giggles and comments that were heard throughout the presentation seemed to indicate otherwise, as perhaps there was a certain discomfort from watching graphic sexual couplings in an academic environment amongst a similar age demographic. Nevertheless, that did not stop one male student from enthusiastically declaring just as the lights dimmed: "I've been waiting for this all day!"
And with the diversity in the clips that were shown (as far as time period, choice of partners, and sexual acts), the two scenes that generated the biggest reactions -- Cytherea squirting after being pleasured by a Belladonna (who turned to the camera and declared, "That's fucking hot!"), and a Black couple using food in their lovemaking (DeArmond observed that the use of whipped cream, not to mention the placement of a strawberry in a woman's vagina, would create a yeast infection) -- seemed rather tame compared to the more extreme acts that have been discussed, for instance, on The Howard Stern Show. In fact, DeArmond wondered afterwards how those students would react to an upcoming screening of clips from her films. But as far as a primer goes in terms of what's available, it served its purpose.
The subsequent question-and-answer session proved to be rather lively, with DeArmond serving as hostess and keeping the mood light in tone -- she pointed out that she was still wearing pornstar makeup from being on-set earlier in the day and that she had to wipe male ejaculate off her face before changing clothes and rushing down to Irvine for the class -- maneuvering from one male pornstar to the next with the microphone clipped to her chest. Among the questions asked of the guests were how they got into the adult industry, how they broke the news about their occupation to their parents, what a typical day on the set is like, how often they're tested for diseases, and of course, for the male pornstars, how long their penises are.
Afterwards, many of the students mingled with the guests, asking for photos and grabbing free swag like Vivid-Alt stickers. And not surprisingly, DeArmond was the center of attention, drawing the largest number of students around her. This also proved to be the case at a nearby IHOP later in the night, as some of those students dropped by her table for a continued discussion on various topics.
And DeArmond blogged about her day here (an excerpt below):
directly after my scene i rushed home and changed my clothes. daniel and i headed to UC Irvine where we spoke at a sociology class. justin long and jon jon were there. i was like "wow ive fucked everyone on this panel of speakers, i rule"
the kids loved me and i loved them back.
after the lecture we stopped at the nearest ihop and ran into a large pack of the students where we carried on a long conversation about docking , blow bangs, fucking horses and cupchicks (if you dont know what it is do yourself a favor and google it). im sure the people at the next table where less than thrilled.
More of my photos from the class on Flickr here.
Special thanks to Professor Kassia Wosick-Correa, Dana DeArmond, Daniel, Justin Long, and Jon Jon.