The course instructor for “Navigating Pornography” at Pasadena City College explains what, exactly, goes on in the classroom:
We examine the history of sexualized imagery in art, exploring the often-murky, frequently false distinction between what was created to arouse and what was designed to inspire worship.
We explore the 18th-century origins of modern pornography (lots of time with the Marquis de Sade) and we focus on the history of several centuries of legal sanctions on “obscenity.” We look at the development of the modern mainstream porn business (based in the nearby San Fernando Valley), and analyze the way it has adapted and transformed over the four decades since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v California (1973) essentially legitimized the adult industry.
My goal isn’t just to give my students an historical and cultural overview of pornography. It’s to give them tools “to navigate the sexually mediated world we live in,” as Long Beach State professor Shira Tarrant puts it. Most of my students were born in the early-to-mid-1990s; they hit puberty under the influence of two conflicting social realities: the widespread availability of broadband and the Bush-era abstinence-only sex education policies.