Central Michigan Life sat down with debators, porn actress Nina Hartley and Pastor Craig Gross before “The Great Porn Debate” Tuesday night.
Q: This is the second time you’ve debated Nina Hartley. How does debating with Hartley compare with debating with Jeremy?
Gross: She’s better looking than Ron; better dressed. I thought (she) was at least going to wear crocks this time; she’s cleaner, but Ron is a great friend. When I’m against Ron, Ron is going to be in sweats; I’m purposefully going to put on a tie next time. But, I think both Nina and Ron are able to defend their industry very well; there are probably no better spokespeople.
Q: There was a lot of controversy saying that a debate between you and Ron excluded a female voice. How would you respond to that?
Gross: Yeah, obviously you can’t appeal to everyone. At the end of the day, while there are women involved in porn, it’s a male-dominated industry. I think comparing Nina’s work with Ron’s work is a whole different spectrum in regard to target market – a lot more centered towards couples, and Adam and Eve things compared to the Bang Bus. So, I think even though there are two guys up there talking, Ron’s all about women even though his products are seen by more men. A lack of a women’s voice is an argument; I don’t know if it’s a big argument. When there are two guys talking about it, a woman sometimes speaks up and says “where’s my voice,” sometimes they throw a moderator in. When we did it for a television, they had a woman on Jeremy’s side.
Q: How do you balance being a porn star and a feminist?
Hartley: It’s disheartening to realize that as soon as the word “feminism” is used, it’s automatically assumed that it means anti-sex, anti-porn, anti-men. When I came up in the 70s, feminism was about giving people choices. Instead of having to be a wife and mother, I could choose to be a wife and mother, or I could choose a career. Men could choose to work outside the house, or they could be house-husbands. The traditional gender roles are not bad in and of themselves, traditional gender roles are only bad when they are the only option for both genders. To me, feminism is about my right to my body, to do with it as I wish and to also free both genders to have more options in life, instead of being stuck inside a box.
Q: Women porn stars seem to have a stigma in society? Do you agree?
Hartley: In our culture, a woman who is viewed as being sexual in an inappropriate manner can be looked down upon, whether she’s labeled a “whore,” a “slut,” a “porn chick,” “loose,” “easy,” whatever word you want to use. We’ve only had 40 years of the women’s movement, on top of ten thousand years of culture, and culture doesn’t change that easily. For some people, they love people who are as sexual as me and they find me a role model; other people find me an abomination and a whore, and a bad example to people. But, I did this not to be an example of any kind, I’ve lived this life for me.