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‘The Hidden Costs of Porn’ at Princeton

by the Princeton Anscombe Society Officer Team

Layden Event_Fotor

As part of its week-long anit-porn campaign, the Anscombe Society invited Dr. Mary Anne Layden to present a talk entitled “The Hidden Costs of Porn” to an audience of around 70 people at Princeton on Thursday, March 31, 2016. Dr. Layden is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program as well as the Social Action Committee for Women’s Psychological Health.

The talk and following Q&A lasted 90 minutes, and the event concluded with a casual reception were students used the time to further engage with the topic. We were pleased to see many new faces at the event (including a strong contingent of campus athletes), and thought overall that it was quite a success. 

The content of the talk was very interesting, but also sobering. The audience learned about many shocking and troubling statistics about the link between pornography and sexual exploitation. Layden’s argument that sexual exploitation is a seamless, interconnected continuum – from porn to strip clubs to prostitution to sex trafficking – was well-argued. She also lectured in such a way that kept everyone’s attention. People asked good questions during the Q&A, although one graduate student openly challenged some of her claims. He attempted to call into question the validity of Layden’s statistics and accused her of abusing facts, but she responded to him graciously and accurately. Afterwards they carried on a personal conversation for several minutes. 

The event seemed to spark a lot of campus dialogue on the issue of pornography. After the talk, the Daily Princetonian published a piece about the event. The following day Princeton Against Sex Trafficking (PAST) hosted a documentary screening of “Rape for Profit” – a film that made clear the harmful effects of pornography on sexually trafficked women. Then, the week following the event, members from a broad coalition of Anscombe, PAST, and campus faith groups conducted tabling on campus to talk about pornography and sex-trafficking with passers-by. The statistics and arguments that we learned at the Layden event were very helpful for this tabling effort. All in all, the event was very successful and had a positive impact on the campus. 

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