Merits of porn debated at UF


Porn star Ron Jeremy debates author Susan Cole on Wednesday at the O'Connell Center.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 11:38 p.m.
When Ron Jeremy took the stage to defend the porn industry at the O'Connell Center, hundreds of University of Florida students cheered, while his opponent, journalist and author Susan Cole, received subdued applause Wednesday night.
The decibel levels each debater garnered, one a porn star and the other an anti-porn activist, was a good indicator of just which side most in the audience of about 2,800 were on.
Matthew Cutler, a 23-year-old who graduated from UF in December, gushed over Jeremy, the short, middle-aged porn star. "He's a legend. I've been watching him for 15 years," he said.
Still, many came out of curiosity, to hear both sides of the debate.
"I'm just here to get more information and pick a side," said Cristina Prades, a 19-year-old sophomore from Orlando.
At the crux of the debate, Cole, who spoke first, said pornography subjugates women in a society where violence against women is an epidemic. She said she was not anti-sex, but against child pornography, sexual abuse and the billions of dollars in profits that the porn industry makes.
She criticized the porn industry for selling "mass produced" contrived sexuality. "Porn desensitizes viewers" and it "trivializes violence against women," Cole said.
Cole argued that the porn industry lures sexually abused women or uneducated women who have no alternative career options.
Jeremy said he agreed with Cole's opposition to "renegade" porn, which includes child porn and violent porn, but does not consider his movies a part of that category.
He said the Adult Video Association of America heavily regulates his movies.
In his 26 years, he said, he has never observed violence against women while making a movie.
Jeremy said many porn film executives are women and make millions, pointing out that porn star Jenna Jameson recently was paid $8 million.
"Is someone going to tell her she shouldn't do what she is doing because she's exploiting people?" Jeremy asked.
Jeremy said the porn industry was like any other form of entertainment. He rattled off a list of female entertainers that had been abused or who had problems and said that abuse was not confined to the porn industry.
The speakers, who have visited colleges across the country, are part of a series called the "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll" tour, where people debate topics such as pornography, prostitution, legalization of marijuana and music piracy. The two were invited by Accent, a student group that brings speakers to campus.
Meredith Mandell can be reached at 338-3109 or mandelm@gvillesun.com.

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