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Is it Time to Rethink Porn?

with Chanel Contos, moderated by Jess Hill

10 March 2024

In the Drama Theatre

Sydney Opera House Presents

Talks and Ideas

In theatre and livestreamed

If we really are serious about women being sexually liberated - and in control of their own bodies - shouldn’t we examine the power of porn to shape expectations about sex - sometimes in pretty violent and degrading ways? 

If we give up now, younger generations of women will be told porn is good for them and they will believe it.

Andrea Dworkin

Is porn patriarchy by stealth?

Turbo-charged by the internet, porn today is ubiquitous, accepted and, for a lot of people, cool. It even has its own cute “corn” emoji on the socials. And in the name of sexual liberation, many embraced it in the name of celebrating their body and desires and taking charge of their participation in it. 

But the “patriarchy has outwitted feminists”, says Chanel Contos, making it socially acceptable for men to watch women be exposed to objectification and violence. How much control do you really have when a mighty capitalist culture production machine like the porn industry is feeding your partner degrading images and violent scenarios designed to shock and push the envelope (and give them that addictive dopamine hit)? Join Contos, creator of Teach Us Consent and author of Consent Laid Bare as she draws the connection between the “corn” we watch and the IRL sex we didn’t bargain for. 

Presented by Sydney Opera House

 

Chanel Contos (she/her)

Chanel Contos founded Teach Us Consent, a campaign that mandated consent education in Australia. In order to achieve this, she worked closely with politicians from across the political spectrum, including prime ministers.

Chanel was the recipient of the Australian Human Rights Commission Young People’s Medal in 2021, and in 2023 she was named NSW Young Woman of the Year for her persistent efforts towards eradicating rape culture. Chanel has also been presented with the prestigious Diana Award for her humanitarian work, and in 2022 she was listed as one of the BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women worldwide.

Chanel has a Masters in Education, Gender, and International Development from University College London and was recently appointed by Julia Gillard to chair the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership’s Youth Advisory Committee.

In 2023, she published her first book, Consent Laid Bare, which was described by Marie Claire as “a blistering, unflinching – and therefore sometimes uncomfortable – look at Australia’s rape culture”. Also in 2023, Chanel was a panelist at the inaugural SXSW Sydney and spoke at the National Press Club – one of the youngest people to ever do so.

Jess Hill Moderator

Jess Hill has become one of Australia's most recognised and respected thinkers on gendered violence. In addition to her broadcast work - two highly acclaimed docu-series on SBS, a Quarterly Essay titled The Reckoning, and a podcast series on coercive control titled The Trap - she has spoken at over 300 events to diverse audiences across the country. Her work has received multiple awards, including two Walkley Awards, an Amnesty International Award and the Stella Prize in 2020. In 2023, she was named the marie claire Changemaker of the Year and is currently a finalist for the NSW Premier’s Women Excellence award. 

Other information

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