I am not a fan of P..n, to say the least. I find it highly offensive and degrading to women (and to men, as well). The reasons I believe this are long and complicated, but suffice it to say that this is based upon long hours of thinking, and studying of feminist theory, as well as my own ideas about social justice. So when I encounter some jerk bringing a GPR into his talk, it makes me angry. But it also makes me feel small and self-conscious, because I am often only one of a few or even the only woman in the room. It reminds everyone that in our society, women are there for the pleasure of men, and makes them more conscious of the fact that I am a woman.
But even if you disagree with my assessment of P..n, there are a myriad of other reasons why incorporating a GPR into your talk is inappropriate. Here are a few:
- As the number of people in the audience grows, you are likely speaking to more and more survivors of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual assault are often triggered by GPRs. Why risk triggering someone's post-traumatic stress disorder for a cheap laugh? There are plenty of other ways to get your point across.**
- The best comedians are the ones who talk about humorous situations and use clever wordplay instead of degrading other people. P..n jokes generally boil down to a joke about exploiting other people, which is not a funny topic.***
- P..n is a controversial topic. Since the topic of your presentation is computer science, why mention something that is such a hot button for so many people? There are plenty of controversial views that I hold, such as my disbelief in a deity, but since I want my audience to learn about my topic and enjoy it as much as I do, I don't make jokes about stupid Christians or whatever. (Not only for that reason, but also because I don't think Christians are generally stupid -- they're just mistaken about a particular topic -- and I respect believers as fellow human beings so I find jokes insulting others' intelligence disdainful.)
I've often been accused of being "oversensitive." The problem here is not that I (or my friend) am oversensitive -- it's that others are not sensitive enough. It would be nice if we could just go to work and be scientists instead of having to endure all this crap.
* This word altered to protect my blog from purveyors of said items.
** If you can't think of alternatives, you are seriously lacking in imagination and I feel quite sorry for you.
*** It is the same reason that jokes about minorities, the disabled, and other marginalized people are not funny. But somehow, when it's about p..n, this no longer applies in many people's minds.