Pornography industry leader Larry Flynt met fans and protesters Tuesday night at an event to promote his new book.
Flynt, publisher of the pornographic magazine Hustler, spoke about his new book at BookPeople. Flynt worked with Columbia University history professor David Eisenbach on “One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History.”
Flynt is famous for his advocacy for freedom of speech portrayed in the film “The People vs. Larry Flynt”.
The recently formed group Sexual Violence-Free Austin and a local branch of Radical Action for Gender Equality planned the protest. The groups stand “in opposition to rape culture and the commoditization of women’s bodies,” according to the Facebook event page. Their signs made statements such as “sexism isn’t sexy” and “porn teaches sexual violence.”
Journalism professor Bob Jensen participated in the protest and said his political roots are in the feminist anti-pornography movement.
“It’s sex presented in a sense of male domination,” Jensen said. “I usually refer to porn as one of the exploitation industries.”
He said an example of Flynt’s negative impact on women is Barely Legal, a pornographic genre that features young girls done up to look even younger. Jensen said that although this is not child pornography, it normalizes pornography with adults who look like children.
“To put it in one word, Larry Flynt is a pimp,” Jensen said. “A pimp buys and sells women. He does this through film and photography.”
Jenn Usmani is an aspiring pin-up model who attended the BookPeople event.
“To me, it’s an empowerment,” Usmani said. “It’s a woman’s choice if she wants to pose nude.”
She said she is a fan of Flynt’s because of his work for freedom of speech.
“He’s going to support it regardless if he wants to see it or hear it because it’s our given right,” Usmani said.
Usmani said she’s looking forward to reading “One Nation Under Sex” to see how the sex lives of political figures shaped our lives.
In the question-and-answer period, Flynt said he does not understand why feminists get upset about his work.
“I adore women,” Flynt said. “I exploit women like Sports Illustrated exploits sports.”
Flynt spoke about the politics of his book openly, noting that President Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves.
“People are viewing our Founding Fathers as if they are made of marble and stone,” Flynt said. “But they have the same frailties as well. We shouldn’t hold history in such awe.”
Flynt also said 9/11 could have been avoided if the media’s response to the Monica Lewinsky scandal had not overshadowed the intelligence President Bill Clinton received about Osama bin Laden.
“We’ve got to learn to sort of let go because people will always fool around,” Flynt said. “So I think we should focus on how they do the job rather than who they’re doing it to.”