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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Visiting pastor discusses porn and rape culture

A pandemic of what Daniel Gilman calls “the new drug” is sweeping the nation.

“Watching porn has similar effects to that of heroin and crack cocaine,” Gilman said during his speech at Ithaca College on Feb. 26. “It’s an addiction.”

Gilman, a public speaker and pastor, visited the college to explain how the porn industry is encouraging rape culture and contributing to human trafficking in a talk called “How Porn Fuels Rape Culture.”

The event was sponsored by Awaken, a Christian-affiliated student-run organization at the college.

“Our friend and fellow member of Awaken, Melody Zimmerman, knows Daniel personally,” said junior Kristin Jannotti, student president of Awaken. “Her family contacted Daniel about making a weekend trip to Ithaca to give a series of talks on the issue of porn.” Zimmerman is also a junior piano performance major at the college.

Jannotti said she and other members of the Awaken leadership were very enthusiastic about the idea of Gilman’s joining as a guest speaker.

In his hourlong speech, Gilman discussed the consequences for women who get involved in porn, saying they are often forced to stay in the industry due to human trafficking. Gilman told the story of one young woman he knew who was manipulated into the porn industry.

“This man came up to her on campus and asked her to do a naked photoshoot for money. It wasn’t really up her alley, but she figured she’d do it because she needed the cash,” he said. “Well, it turned out she was taken in, drugged and recorded. She was threatened to stay and work for them; otherwise, they’d leak the footage.”

Through Strength to Fight, members work to disable pornography by raising public awareness and offering methods to block pornography, as seen on their website.

Gilman’s knowledge of human trafficking goes back far beyond the initiation of Strength to Fight.

“At the time, I was working in Ottawa for what Americans would call a congresswoman. Her focus was fighting human trafficking. It was a privilege working with victims,” he said.

Gilman said one late night in the office, he saw Miriam Weeks, a Duke University student who became a porn star in order to pay for her college tuition, on CNN.

“When she was speaking, I couldn’t help but think about the amount of people I knew who had been abused. My heart was breaking,” Gilman said in an interview separate from the event.

The CNN program sparked Gilman’s interest, and he and his brother spoke with the University of Ottawa to get their program in action.

“We discussed three major issues: how porn fuels rape culture, how porn fuels human trafficking and liberation from porn,” Gilman said.

Gilman said he feels that all types of porn are degrading to women, regardless of the specific acts within the film.

“No matter if the woman signed a contract, she is still objectified by viewers,” he said. “Sex is about love. … Porn cannot be love — you are consuming others for your own pleasure,” Gilman said.

Jackie Kazim, sophomore film, photography and visual art major, said she agreed with the majority of points Gilman brought up.

“It was horrifying to hear just how common it is for porn videos to be of women who are blackmailed into performing … or are not really performing at all and have been drugged and raped,” Kazim said. “It shows that there just isn’t enough regulation in this field, and even when porn studios are being regulated, it is fueling the desire for the harmful material.”

After the event, Gilman said regardless of his religious beliefs, the porn industry is degrading and needs to be eradicated.

“I didn’t want to talk about religion very much,” Gilman said. “But all the people I know that have beaten a porn addiction have done it through faith.”

Kazim said she agrees that almost all porn is violent against women in some form or another.

“Even when it is consensual and the woman agrees to participate in porn, when it can be empowering for herself, it’s likely never being viewed that way, and the consumers are fantasizing about doing this to other women where they won’t care about consent,” she said. “I was hoping Daniel would go into solutions about how we get rid of the bad and support the good, but to him, there is no good porn.”

Jannotti believes there are no positive effects of porn on humanity.

“Pornography is such a huge issue in our culture today, even within the church,” Jannotti said. “Many people don’t realize that when they are watching mainstream porn, in reality, what they are witnessing is sexual abuse and rape.”