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Lena DunhamPhoto by Vince Bucci/Getty Images for Friendly House

(LifeSiteNews) — One of the few positive developments over the past several years has been the growing recognition of the damage pornography is doing to our society. A non-stop stream of studies confirms it; mainstream media outfits like the New York Times publish pieces like “The Children of Pornhub”; even celebrity singers and actors have been willing to talk about their struggled with porn. When famously irreligious folks like Bill Maher publicly observe that pornography is poisonous, the cultural milieu is changing.

All of that makes Lena Dunham’s new film Sharp Stick an aberration. In the film, actor Scott Speedman plays a porn star named Vance Leroy who, while not the main character, is a key figure in the story. The decision to portray the porn industry positive was intentional.

“I think many of us were — especially people who started maybe, like, reading second-wave feminist literature early — were shaped by the kind of feminism that maybe didn’t give porn it’s due as something that can be really healing for people,” Dunham said>.

“I think we have enough messaging in society, and probably in my 20s I contributed to it, that said, like, ‘porn is ruining sex, and it’s making it so hard for people.’ But I really wanted this to show the way that porn can liberate people in that it’s an industry that’s just as complicated as Hollywood, and as vast, and probably more prolific. And I think that it’s really important for us to recognize the very healthy role that porn can play, and the important role that porn actors play in shaping people’s identity.”

It is perhaps unsurprising that Dunham is taking this position in her work — her HBO series Girls, which ran from 2012 to 2017, contained pervasive nudity and pornographic scenes, and Sharp Stick features the main character attempting to lose her virginity by having an affair with a man she babysits for. This sort of thing is pretty standard Hollywood smut. But to defend the porn industry is certainly a step further than most are willing to go these days, and Dunham’s frank admission that many people’s lives are shaped by porn actors is an indictment of the digital age as much as anything else.

Dunham’s comment that her views are informed by second-wave feminist literature is particularly interesting, considering that much common ground once existed between feminists and social conservatives on the dehumanizing and degrading nature of pornography and the sexual violence it so often portrays and spawns. That coalition does still exist to some extent — the strangest conference I’ve ever attended was an anti-porn convention in Texas, which featured radical feminists, Catholics, Mormons, and speakers of every imaginable background.

The idea that the porn industry — where women are regularly sexually assaulted, and subjecting women to violence for the masturbatory pleasure of the viewing audience is the standard modus operandi (violent pornography is now the mainstream material being viewed by young and old) — can be “healing” is absurd and vile. Dunham has likely seen her fair share of pornography, and she surely knows this. The so-called feminist acceptance of pornography is the Stockholm syndrome of a hyper-sexualized culture where women are treated like meat.

Feminist intellectual Andrea Dworkin mourned the “sex-positive” second-wavers and their acceptance of pornography, and called out people like Dunham in potent terms. “Slavery is not wicked or cruel when it is sexual slavery; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women,” she wrote. “The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.”

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

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