Ashley Herzog

Last week, when I wrote about the pornification of American college campuses, many readers expressed their loss of hope in the current generation of students, as well as the administrators who encourage such a debased culture.

If my column made you weep for the future, you’ll probably be even more disheartened by the book I referenced last week, “Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad” by Nathan Harden. The book is an expose of how, in the words of Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, “some of our nation’s finest universities have allowed themselves to become cesspools of perversion.”

Some of the most shocking examples come from “Sex Week” at Yale, which Harden covers in detail. Activities have included sex tutorials, lectures by corporate suits from the porn industry, and a violent BDSM demonstration by porn star Madison Young. (Charmingly, Young performed for students in the buff.)

Harden shows time and again that campus porno culture demands a “there shalt be no judgment” mentality when it comes to sexuality. This commandment applies even to practices that are dangerous or dehumanizing for the participants. In one example, porn star Buck Angel was attacked for suggesting the adult film industry has a moral responsibility to promote condom use. The audience clearly rejected the notion that sex should involve moral responsibility to anyone or anything. Health, well-being, and safety don’t matter—just so long as everyone is consenting.

But Harden also mentions a decidedly different event that took place at Sex Week: a talk called “A Philosophical Defense of the Sexual Counterrevolution,” sponsored by Yale’s Anscombe Society.

I first heard about the Anscombe Society in 2007, when I was a 21-year-old college student interning in Washington, DC. “Counterrevolutionary” is a fitting description for this group of students, who want to “move from saying what is permissible…to what is right and what is good.” Anscombe chapters have flourished on Ivy League campuses, where porno culture is most extreme.

“During my freshman orientation program, I was required to attend a presentation called ‘Sex Signals,’ which aims at informing students about sexual assault,” says Luciana Milano, a member of Harvard’s Anscombe Society. “However, the crude and offensive presentation gave me a taste of a broader message, one which completely ignores the moral dimension of human sexuality.”

Needless to say, students who acknowledge a “moral dimension” of sexuality are often treated like pariahs in this environment. When Harvard’s Anscombe Society ran a poster campaign last Valentine’s Day, they were defaced and torn down by angry students. Two of Milano’s female classmates wrote into the school paper, calling the group “sexist” and the poster campaign “demeaning and offensive.” They tossed around the name Sandra Fluke. (And here I assumed Harvard students would be more creative!) On college campuses, porn star lookalike contests aren’t considered “demeaning and offensive” to female students, but posters promoting love and commitment are.

“Through their sexual health programming, course reading lists, and administrative policies, many of today’s colleges and universities reinforce the attitude that anything goes in matters of sex so long as it is consensual,” says Caitlin Seery of the Love and Fidelity Network, an umbrella organization that supports Anscombe. “Conversation surrounding sex on college campuses is therefore often one-sided, making it difficult for those who believe and live otherwise.”

The Anscombe Society rejects the notion that any sexual activity deemed “consensual” is therefore exempt from analysis or criticism. They said so loud and clear when Harvard granted official recognition to Munch, a student BDSM group.

“Consent does not make a violent, abusive, or humiliating act suddenly non-violent, non-abusive, or non-humiliating,” the Anscombe Society wrote in a press release. “The bottom line is this: If you think there isn’t enough violence, abuse, and humiliation in the world, then you should support the recognition and funding of groups dedicated to associating sexuality with these social evils. If you think that there is already too much violence, abuse, and humiliation in the world, then you should join us in asking Harvard to reconsider its support for this group.”

That’s quite a diversion from the anything-goes, who-are-we-to-judge orthodoxy imposed by campus porno culture. After receiving complaints about the brutal BDSM demonstration during Sex Week, Yale administrators issued this statement: “While the administration may find aspects of SWAY [Sex Week At Yale] distasteful and offensive, Yale’s policies on free expression permit students to invite the widest range of speakers.”

Really, Yale? How much wimpier can you get?

It’s clear to me that the young members of the Anscombe Society have more wisdom, more values, and more guts than their elders. These students deserve our support for standing up to the pornified powers that be on their campuses.


Ashley Herzog

Ashley Herzog can be reached at aebristow85@gmail.com.