Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Going by the books

Published:Saturday | November 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

Australia is not called Down Under for nothing. Australian porn star, Angela White, who has a first-class honours degree in gender studies from the University of Melbourne, shot a scene for a pornographic movie in May with her partner. Their choice of location was the library of La Trobe University, which is also in Melbourne.

According to the Herald Sun newspaper, the footage begins with showing the well-stacked Angela White somewhere between the bookshelves of the library and continues with White revealing herself to her partner in the sexual role-play act, despite a student reading nearby. The porn stars then perform 'the act' and move on to the desks placed in the library. It certainly is not a novel idea, but instead of silk spreads, they use hard covers.

White ran for election in Australia as a candidate for the Australian Sex Party, and she and her party colleague, Zahra Stardust, became the first political candidates to film a pornographic scene together, proving once more that politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Interestingly, one website notes that the students present in the library thought it was a "biology class that got out of hand with one of the lecturers". Much better than dissecting a frog.

There have been previous well-publicised sexual incidents in university libraries - two of them in the United States. In October 2012, the Daily Mail reported, "A New York Ivy League university is in the midst of a pornography scandal after a wannabe sex star stripped off on camera in the library." The story went on: "With rows of academic books and study desks lining the walls, you might expect students to arrive in the Cornell law school library with tools such as a calculator and pencil case. But not Cameron Knight, the amateur model believed to be the star. She had other things on her mind and instead walked into Carpenter Hall, the school's engineering library, armed with a pink bag of racy toys".

Graphic footage

In the graphic five-minute-long footage, the raunchy blonde filmed herself on a cell phone performing a solo sex act, despite being in broad daylight, and in the presence of others bent over their studies. Her debut complete, Ms Knight then posted the video on to a college message board where it was viewed by thousands. The university police said had they caught the young lady in the act, she would have been booked.

In February this year, a few months before Ms White created a scene in the Melbourne library, female students filmed what was called 'feminist porn' at Colombia University. The film, titled Initiation, was meant to be a feminist statement exploring "the rituals of American Ivy League secret societies, to the point of hysteria, highlighting our culture's perception of female desire".

It begins with a group of girls sitting around a library table taking their shirts off. As the film progresses, the girls engage in activities including kissing, rubbing eggs on their bodies and twerking around a chicken carcass. Enough said. If a low-brow like me is allowed to review such a high-brow feminist film, instead of a thumb (like Roger Ebert), I would probably give it one fist up and saying cuttingly, "Too much gender and not enough sex."

The most recent one also occurred down under, which is where, I suppose, most of these things take place. A student at Australia's Newcastle University filmed pornographic videos in the school's library and posted them to a pornographic website. It was accepted that they were nothing even close to such classics as Sperminator, Womb Raider, Star Whores, Shaving Ryan's Privates, Free My Willy, Saturday Night Beaver, Riding Miss Daisy, On Golden Blonde, Ocean's 11 Inches and When Harry Ate Sally. However, the university authorities were not pleased at all.

A university spokeswoman admitted that the administrators were "very disappointed" to learn that the student had used "Internet facilities inappropriately on campus" and that the student was counselled. Her pictures, not the ones that appeared on the Internet, were given to staff with instructions to alert security if she entered the library.

Steam cleaning

But, the real mother of all reactions is that part of the university's library was steam cleaned. There were people who said it was not the library that needed the steam cleaning but the young lady. Some even went to great lengths to identify which parts that needed cleaning. However, a friend suggested that there might not be enough steam cleaners in the world if other universities sought to use the same methods to sanitise the facilities used by students, including libraries, dormitories, benches and parks.

Me, I would not have considered counselling. I would just have thrown the book at her.

In fact, the problem goes even deeper, and started even earlier - at the top. In May 1999, Ronald Thiemann, the dean of Harvard's Divinity School, called the university's technical support department to request more disk space on a computer in an office at his Harvard-owned residence. Technicians soon found the cause of the problem. The dean had been downloading and storing thousands of pornographic images.

Though Thiemann was asked to resign his post (for "conduct unbecoming a dean"), he remained a tenured faculty member. Among his many accomplishments was the creation of the school's Center for the Study of Values in Public Life.

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that a study on the effects of pornography on men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography had to stop because they could not find any.