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Is IT Ever Okay To Watch Porn In Public?

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Is IT Ever Okay To Watch Porn In Public?

A quiet young woman in my one of classes wanted to know if she could ask a question about college “etiquette” (her term). A sophomore who’d already written an excellent first paper, I expected her to ask about a roommate problem or a club membership issue.

Instead she surprised me with this: “Is it impolite for me to ask the guy who sits in front of me in one of those huge lecture courses to turn off his porn while the teacher’s speaking? It’s, like, really distracting.”

The tone she used was one she’d employ to inquire which fork to begin with at a formal dinner or whether she should fold her napkin between courses.

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The other student watches entire dirty movies on his laptop—during a 9 a.m. class—and “not just clips.” She doesn’t want to move because she’s left-handed and snagged one of the few seats designed for lefties.

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Naturally, the university where I teach has a detailed policy against discrimination and harassment explicitly stating that “academic and professional excellence can exist only when each member of our community is assured an atmosphere of safety and mutual respect.”

Sexual harassment may include the “public display of pornographic” materials, so my bet is that the kid watching hard-core movies could be disciplined were he brought up on charges.

But my student didn’t want to press charges or even tell the professor. I asked if she’d permit me to act on her behalf, but she declined. She wouldn’t name the course. All she wanted, she insisted, was to figure out how to pay attention in class without making the porn-watcher feel “uncomfortable” or making herself seem like “the sex police.”
But watching porn in class raises other questions as well, such as: Why on earth would anybody do that?

Seriously, kid? Do you watch porn in class and then watch the professor’s lectures at home by yourself?

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I also want to know who’s paying for this kid’s education, because somebody is picking up the bill: either his family, the state or the institution is securing him the right to occupy that seat. Porn Boy is here at the expense of someone else: Another applicant was rejected so that Porn Boy could have the privilege of attending class.

Yes, pornography has existed since the beginning of time. Folks have created dirty pictures since we first drew in the mud with sticks, but one thing I can tell you is that the final exam will not include a matching quiz based on “Virgins from the Planet Pleasure.”
‪It isn’t just where I teach, either, and it isn’t even just college.

In Time magazine, Belinda Luscombe described a 28-year-old named Gabe Deem as growing up “in an era when what used to be considered X-rated was becoming mainstream,” so that he and his friends watched “explicit videos constantly…even during class on their school-issued laptops.”‬

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I wanted to help my student understand that the problem was not hers alone—even though she was upset by it.