Sex wars at Penn State

Posted: Oct 18, 2001 12:00 AM
Life at Penn State University is in sad shape, most noticeably the fabled Joe Paterno's team's attempt at playing the game of football. But off the field, matters are even worse. Take a look at this educational institution's sense of sexual morality, assuming it can even be said to have one. In the fall of 2000, Penn State hosted a gathering with two names -- one being Womyn's Concerns, the other being unprintable because it contains a vulgar synonym for the vagina. The event received more than $9,500 in PSU funding. Thus far in 2001, the campus has hosted two more exceptionally distasteful sex-related events. Penn State is really into this stuff, it seems. The Allentown, Pa., newspaper the Morning Call reported that the attractions at February's Sex Faire, which wasn't university-funded but was held at a PSU dormitory, included one game called Orgasm Bingo, another called Pin the Clitoris on the Vulva, and anatomically correct gingerbread men and women accompanied by an "Eat Me" sign. Then, earlier this month, that shining star of American liberty, Hustler magazine's Larry Flynt, spoke at Penn State under the auspices of the university's Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment. The center's co-director described Flynt to as "an exceedingly complex man who can't be easily categorized into black or white." Translation: If you think he's disgusting, you're just not enlightened enough to understand him. In the account of the Penn State campus paper, some of what Flynt said at PSU dealt with the skin-magazine trade (he accused Hugh Hefner of "very much still living in the '50s," presumably because Playboy is more restrained than Hustler.) A lot of it didn't (he called President Bush an "idiot.") But Flynt's remarks, no matter the topic, were sex-related for these simple reasons: Ultimately, he was invited to appear at Penn State (SET ITAL) only (END ITAL) because he is a public figure, and he is a public figure (SET ITAL) only (END ITAL) because he's an accomplished pornographer, and a trailblazer of a breathtakingly crude form of porn at that. If Flynt were an orthodontist, an insurance salesman or a bartender, no one would be interested in his political blatherings. The Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment certainly wouldn't be. Penn State would surely tell us that to welcome Flynt is not to fully endorse what he represents, but what this taxpayer-funded institution is doing is to confer credibility on him, and respectability on the profession he champions. It explains why, as reports, one result of Flynt's appearance may be that university representatives will face a grilling early next year when the state legislature holds appropriations hearings. It's just another step in pornography's long march through the institutions. The Comedy Central cable network runs a considerable amount of ultra-raunchy programming, so it's no surprise that the network's first original film, which goes into production early next year, will be called "Porn 'n' Chicken." The movie has a connection to the world of higher learning, since it's based, notes the entertainment Web site, "on the true story of Yale's Porn 'n' Chicken Club ... an underground group that gathers weekly to eat fried chicken and watch pornography." And the other day, a piece in the Sunday Times of London stated that "an estimated one in seven British teenagers are registered to check into the virtual Habbo hotel." And what happens at the Habbo? The teens "simulat(e) adult affairs by checking in ... under assumed names ... Girls using the site ... routinely offer strangers sexual favors, which they describe in lurid detail." The paper added, "Predatory adults appear to use the site to try to contact teenage girls." Few in the entertainment community have done more in their careers to promote the culture of sexual permissiveness than has the performer Madonna. From the glorification of her erotic lifestyle to the bashing of religion in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, she has influenced an entire generation of youngsters to accept the lewd as normal. There's a body count to quantify the consequences of Madonna's sexual promiscuity, though obviously it must not bother her one bit. The New York Post reports that a new biography of her reveals that she's had eleven abortions. Ah, consequences. It often seems that there's nothing the makers of modern popular culture would rather do than portray sex, and that there's nothing that would bother them more than to talk about its consequences.