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Porn star Nina Hartley and pastor Craig Gross debate impact of porn on women, society at Plachta Auditorium

Porn actress Nina Hartley and anti-porn pastor Craig Gross battled it out Tuesday night at Platcha Auditorium for the “Great Porn Debate” in front of about 950 students.

Standing to the right was Gross, the founder of www.XXXchurch.com, a non-profit religious-based organization focused on helping individuals who struggle with pornography addiction.

On the left was Hartley, who has acted in more than 600 adult film titles and is an ardent public advocate for women’s rights and sexual self-awareness.

Porn star Ron Jeremy was tapped to speak at the event until he suffered a heart aneurysm Jan. 30.

“Jeremy texted me a couples day after and said ‘Don’t worry, I’m still making it to that debate in February,’” Gross said. “I was like, ‘No, you’re not, you’re making it back to the hospital.’”

Gross said a lot of people have a problem with him picking on porn, but he said he had good reason to. One of his main issues is with the industry itself.

“If you want to make it in the industry, you have to do more and more disgusting things that you’d never do in real life,” Gross said.”… No girl, when she was on the cheerleading team or soccer team, thought “I can’t wait until I win Group Sex Scene in the Adult Video Network Awards.”

Gross’ other problem with porn was the effect it had on individuals watching it and the relationships those individuals are in.

“It’s hard to say, ‘Please watch porn responsibly,’” Gross said. “What you see on the screen, you’re going to want to do in real life.”

Hartley, though, said porn is no different from any other media that one consumes on a regular basis.

“There’s nothing to say that sexual media affects us any differently than other media,” Hartley said. “All of them are trying to affect you. That’s their purpose, whether it’s advertising, television or porn.”

Hartley agreed with Gross that porn does negatively impact some women but said, for her, performing in pornography titles was empowering.

“Porn is empowering for those whom it empowers … Half of those making porn should just go home and leave,” Hartley said. “Leave it to the people who are weird, like us.”

Hartley said the same dynamic applies for personal porn use, and it is up to the individual to decide whether porn is beneficial to them. When asked by an audience member if porn for couples was a good thing, Hartley had a response.

“Depends on the couple, what they’re watching and why they’re watching,” Hartley said. “There’s a difference between ‘This sounds fun’ and ‘Put your blank in my blank.’”

Both Hartley and Gross agreed a large part of the problem was leaving sex education to porn and society not pursuing it strongly enough.

“It’s sad that something as important as sexuality is left to performers and not to educators,” Hartley said.

The event met controversy early on when it was accused of lacking a female voice by some within the student body.

Sophomore Maegen Wallaker said she thought the event benefited by Hartley’s presence.

“I thought it was powerful,” the Holland native said. “I appreciated that Nina Hartley was at the event; she kind of helped address the feminist view that was missing.”

Joseph Shirely, a Kentwood senior, said he appreciated how laid back Gross presented himself but wished he performed better.

“He was more easy-going than I thought he would be,” Shirely said. “I wish he spent more time preaching gospel truth.”

Macomb junior Blake Ryan brought a large paper cutout of Jeremy’s face to the debate. Gross snapped a picture of the face with his phone and promised to send it to Jeremy.

“I brought it to support him, duh.” Ryan said. “… But, I’m actually glad that they brought Nina in. She was good.”

One Comment

  1. Gross is just getting himself off by following the porn industry in this manner and making money to boot. Often he regaled the crowd with his knowledge of titles and particular scenes. He even shared a story of a performer telling him how she got ready for certain scenes. He seemed very fond of the recovering Ron Jeremy his regular debate foe. Porn has and will survive with or without the Craig Gross’s of the world. Craig Gross would not survive without porn. At least the profession of Hartley provides some “bang for the buck”, to use a term a former CMU president got in hot water for using. I don’t know what Gross does for anyone.

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