College in Salt Lake City Adds Porn to Curriculum

This small Utah college is far from the first school to incorporate a class on pornography into its offered curriculum.

Converse Hall, completed in 1907, is the oldest building on the campus of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Converse Hall, completed in 1907, is the oldest building on the campus of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. (photo: Anita Boeira / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0)

Film and gender studies students at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, will spend their fall semester watching pornography with their professor. 

“Hard-core pornography,” the two-credit course description explains, “is as American as apple pie and more popular than Sunday night football.”

Titled simply, “Porn,” the class will watch pornographic films together in order to “discuss the sexualization of race, class, and gender and as an experimental, radical art form.” It counts as a film studies or gender studies course.

“Our approach to this billion-dollar industry is as both a cultural phenomenon that reflects and reinforces sexual inequalities (but holds the potential to challenge sexual and gender norms) and as an art form that requires serious contemplation,” the description reads.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens drew attention to the course when she posted the description on her Instagram story this week:

Teaching children that they have the authority to pick and choose their gender in kindergarten — removing parents from the decision-making process — the overt sexualization of our culture with filthy songs like ‘WAP’ and little girls twerking to it on Instagram. All of it results in a young adult population of college students who have been primed to believe that watching pornography, the utter subjugation of women is perfectly normal stuff. As American as apple pie.

She referenced suicide rates of women in the porn industry but did not include a source.

“Pornography is a common sociological phenomenon,” one critic wrote in response. “Why shouldn't it be studied like any other cultural facet of society?”

Another person shared information on how pornography rewires the brain. “Studies show that changes in the transmission of dopamine can facilitate depression and anxiety. In agreement with this observation, porn consumers report greater depressive symptoms, lower quality of life and poorer mental health compared to those who don’t watch porn,” Neuroscience News reported in 2019.

In America, pornography is, in fact, more popular than Sunday night football. The industry rakes in more money than professional football, baseball or basketball and more than ABC, CBS and NBC combined.

Westminster is far from the first school to incorporate a class on pornography into its offered curriculum. Schools have offered such classes for 20-plus years

In 2015, a class assignment at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art instructed students to invent a new genre of porn and graded them anonymously. If students created one that already existed, they received a “C,” and if their newly invented genre caused arousal, they received an “A.”

Students who were uncomfortable with producing a tangible assignment were provided with a conceptual alternative.

Some colleges offering courses on pornography take a more academic approach in addressing and examining the subject.

As recently as 2021, a Rutgers University class taught students to analyze pornography in the context of film and gender studies, with the goal of learning how viewing pornography “through the lens of gender and embodiment” enriches a student’s understanding of art. 

“Many artists have … used pornography as a liberating force,” the course description added. “Students will be able to … view programming on television or the Internet with the ability to do critical analysis.”

Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization seeking “to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography” by exposing its harmful effects through “science, facts, and personal accounts.” The organization reported on how men tend to view pornography more regularly, on a daily or weekly basis, than women, although it’s not uncommon for women to consume porn as well.

Students in the Westminster College class will study hard-core pornography. In 2016, 46.9% of respondents to a study said that “over time, they began watching pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.” The site also addressesneuroscientific evidence that viewing online porn is potentially addictive.