The Great Porn Debate with Ron Jeremy

By Tonya Malinowski

Ron Jeremy was the big man on campus Nov. 10, as over 500 people packed into Alumni Hall in the student center to see him and author Susan Cole debate the effects of pornography on society.

Jeremy, who has starred in over 2,000 adult films and directed an additional 281, didn’t have to speak before he won the crowd. After Alumni Hall had reached capacity, students were lined up back to the bookstore hoping for a chance to get inside.

“We knew it was going to be a big crowd, but I’ve never seen an event where people started lining up an hour and 15 minutes before the start,” said Scott Hazan, director of student activities and leadership development. “It goes to show you how we think porn is so underground, but look how many people are here.”

The debaters began with opening statements and then opened the floor to questions. Cole, a graduate of Harvard University, opened the discussion by openly advocating masturbation and sex.

“If women don’t get to know their own bodies then they may never have two minutes of decent sex in their lives,” she said.

Cole has written extensively on violence against women, including “Pornography and the Sex Crisis” and “Power Surge: Sex, Violence and Pornography,” and believes pornography is an industry perpetuating the exploitation of women.

“You’re all living in a pornographic culture,” she said. “The question is: is it OK for you to get off on an exploited population?”

Jeremy, backed with cheers and laughs from the audience, countered her points by arguing that most of the porn industry, including Wicked Pictures, Digital Playground, and Playboy, is run by women.

“Most of the [pornography] business is run by women, so if women are being ‘exploited’, it’s by other women,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy was ranked by Adult Video News as the number-one porn star of all time and has toured the country debating pornography. The discussion ranged from placement of sex-based ads to the difference between porn and erotica, to which Jeremy said is “lighting.”

Cole argued that female porn stars have to have a specific look and almost unnaturally impeccable bodies, while male porn stars are not held to such high standards of physical appearance.

“In heterosexual porn, the male is basically just a prop,” Jeremy countered. “They’re not really looking at me; they’re looking at the girl on the other side of my penis.”

Hazan said he was surprised at the number of women who came to the event, and both he and Student Government Association president Andrew Froning were shocked at the turnout.

“If we could get attention like this at everything, we’d definitely be doing bigger things,” Froning said. “It just shows you that if we hit a topic that interests students, they’ll come out.”

Jeremy and Cole agreed on many points, including the use of condoms in porn. “Porn could do a huge public service by eroticizing the use of condoms,” Cole said.

Susan Cole
Susan Cole

Though Jeremy agreed, he argued that their use could drive a nail in the coffin of an already dying industry. He went on to discuss how the porn industry is quickly losing money due to Internet pirating and the spreading popularity of free amateur sites.

“I think they both had really good points,” said Megan Funaro, CCSU ’12, who said she agreed more with Jeremy’s points. “I feel people have the choice to do and watch whatever they want, it’s not that big of a deal.”

The debate focused mostly on whether or not women are exploited through pornography and if it perpetuates violence and sexual abuse in our society. Cole used scenes in Jeremy’s own films, including one where he says the female actress is talking too much and then sticks his penis in her mouth to quiet her, to support her point.

Jeremy countered most of Cole’s points by defending the principle of comedy in his films as well as the support and right of consensual sex.

Though a topic of a serious nature, the discussion was interspersed with Jeremy’s signature humor.

After an audience member stood to ask a question and after having to lower the microphone remarked on feeling short, Jeremy said, “It’s ok, I [feel short too], until I lay down.”