Recently, in several Associated Press stories, a group of Harvard students announced that they were going to publish a student-run sex magazine. Even more shocking, Harvard’s committee on college life voted 12-0 with two abstaining to give official recognition of the magazine, H-Bomb, which will contain nude photography of students and sexually related articles.
After the initial uproar, the student founders downplayed the magazine saying, “Both male and female students will appear nude in photography portions of the magazine, but that is not the main focus of the magazine. We aim to create a forum for an honest discussion of sex on campus.” Though the students may claim the magazine is about “an honest discussion of sex”, it sounds more like Harvard University is officially approving pornography.
Oddly enough, Harvard’s sex magazine is not the first of its kind. Both Vassar and Swathmore colleges have sanctioned similar student-run magazines in the past. In fact, Vassar’s Squirm was both the inspiration for Harvard’s H-Bomb as well as a debating point during Harvard’s consideration for approval. Though the founders claim the magazine is not totally focused on sex, the school newspaper the Harvard Crimson referred to Squirm as “… a Vassar College erotica magazine”. Though it is hard to distinguish sometimes, there is a difference between nudity and pornography.
I personally have no objection to certain types of nudity. Nudity is present in several forms of art. Many ancient and modern painters from around the world included nude images in their product. The Sistine Chapel, one of Catholicism’s holiest sites, contains world famous nude paintings on its ceiling.
Though artistic images of the nude do exist, the purpose is to use nudity to promote illustrative skill. On the other hand, H-Bomb and its forerunners seem to have a far different purpose.
The pictures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling do contain nudity, but they were never intended for sexual purposes. On the other hand, a statement from a Harvard spokesperson to the Associated Press said: “H Bomb will be a magazine that deals with sex.” Harvard Associate Dean Judith Kidd said, “… the committee considered this to be an issue of freedom of speech.”
While academic institution Harvard University defends H-Bomb as free speech, porn publisher Larry Flynt uses similar arguments in defending his magazines. According to dictionary.com, one definition of pornography is, “Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.” H-Bomb sure seems to fit the criteria for that definition.
A week ago, Harvard announced that it was reconsidering, but not changing its decision regarding H-Bomb. In other words, while it has imposed restrictions and prohibited official funding, Harvard University still officially recognizes the prospective porn magazine as a student publication. I have a suggestion for Harvard University: Give TCU students the prestigious political internships you normally receive and give your own students internships to Playboy and Playgirl instead.