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University of Toronto Under Fire for "Porn Studies" Syllabus

Anna Slatz
Anna Slatz

The University of Toronto is facing some backlash from concerned women's rights activists after one of their professors posted a syllabus being utilized in his "porn studies" course.

On December 7, Associate Professor Patrick Keilty posted a thread detailing the syllabus for an undergraduate course he was instructing on 'porn studies.' Keilty describes himself as teaching "courses on digital studies, feminist and queer studies, culture and technology, information infrastructures, and pornography studies."

In the Twitter thread, Keilty outlines the weekly materials for his course, which include such titles as "Cum Guzzling Anal Nurse Whore" by Lorelei Lee, where she argues that women in the sex trade are not exploited, and that the idea that poor women enter the trade out of economic need is a "gendered sexual myth."

In a chapter for what is ironically titled the "Feminist Porn Book," Lorelei writes, "Pornography, for me, was the antidote ... Women acting as the sexual aggressors. Women whose makeup became smeared, whose hair was sweat-gnarled, who were contorted and bent in decidedly un-pretty shapes covered in spit, and sweat, and lube..."

In another work from the syllabus, "Did Sissy Porn Make Me Trans" by trans-identified male Andrea Long Chu, the author argues that sissification porn is "a kind of centrifuge for distilling femaleness to its barest essentials – an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eyes."

Keilty's syllabus quickly began to gain traction amongst those concerned about its both pointless and highly biased nature, with some feminist activists and survivors of sexual violence calling him out for practically advocating for the industry. Many also questioned why there was no critical literature provided to students to offer a different perspective on the pro-porn narrative presented.

Speaking to 4W, Canadian anti-sex trade activist Andrea Heinz says she is "appalled" the syllabus was ever approved. Heinz is a survivor of the sex trade and a former escort and brothel owner who now advocates against the commodification of women's bodies.

Heinz notes that when she was trapped in the industry, she saw University as "a way out" for her and other women, and she worries about the emotional impact Keilty's pro-industry bias might have on young female students who might be stuck in the sex trade themselves due to economic constraints, calling it "secondary victimization" and inhumane.

"This trending narrative that young people are entering the commercial sex industry for adventure or rebellious 'fun' couldn’t be further from the truth." She says, taking particular issue with how positively the sex trade is portrayed in the syllabus literature.

Heinz says that many higher learning institutions have begun to promote a sugar-coated version of the sex trade, and that "Academics holding prestigious roles, earning six-figure salaries, and who will likely never have to actually participate in the sex industry themselves" are misguiding impressionable, vulnerable young students on the reality of the industry.

"I have never met a person who entered for any primary reason other than money. If the hedonistic nympho type does in fact exist, they certainly aren't representative of the majority of those who end up in the sex industry. Saying they are is not only dishonest, it’s also manipulative and used as a grooming tactic to deceive and coerce young, impressionable people."

Tuition at the University of Toronto ranges from approx. $6,500 per semester for domestic students, to approx. $45,000 for international students. It is ranked the top University in the country.


Do you oppose the pro-sex trade narratives being taught at Universities across the country? So does 4W! We work with anti-exploitation activists to shed light on Universities uncritically promoting the sex industry to economically vulnerable young people.

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Anna Slatz

Anna is a writer and professional curmudgeon living in Canada.