A porn scene or a #MeToo story? These guys' answers say a lot.

Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and rape culture.

In a new video project, several men read aloud stories about sexual encounters. Then they answer a question: Is this a summary of a porn scene or a personal story about sexual assault?

In the video above — a clip from "Be Frank," a short film by Damayanti Dipayana and Camilla Borel-Rinkes — the men's answers varied. A lot.


"That is sexual assault," one participant says confidently after reading one encounter.

"Porn?" another man guessed, unsure. "I think that's a porn situation? That seems like a guy's fantasy."

Moments later, a different story made the same man cringe: "That may be a #MeToo story. That's kind of fucked up."

You begin to notice a theme: The men feel as though many encounters fall into a gray area, making them unsure.

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

The encounters could describe a real sexual assault or a porn scene, the participants noticed.

As it turned out, however, every encounter was describing a porn scene.

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

The intent of the video wasn't to shame porn or the people who consume it, but to highlight two critical points:

1. The vast majority of porn features physical aggression toward women.

One study, the video noted, found 88.2% of pornographic scenes feature aggressive behaviors, like gagging or slapping. Those on the receiving end of the aggression were overwhelmingly women.

2. Most boys first learn about sex by viewing porn.

Porn, of course, is not the best medium for sex education. It doesn't teach critical lessons young people should learn about sex — notably, the importance of consent.

So while models in pornography may have consented before filming a scene, this fact may get lost on boys who don't understand why that matters. Because of the glaring lack of comprehensive sex-ed programs in U.S. schools, where consent would be taught, porn plays a major role in shaping how kids understand sex as they become sexually active.

Porn can be a tricky subject.

Depending on who you ask, viewing porn can be a healthy part of an adult's life or it can contribute to a culture that objectifies women and perpetuates violence against them. (Maybe, depending on the type of porn and how it's consumed, there's truth in both arguments?)

Regardless of the larger effects viewing porn may have on our culture and society, porn certainly should not be a replacement for sex-ed.  

GIF via "Be Frank," YouTube.

So, how can men start changing rape culture right now?

"I think by engaging in more conversation. It doesn't seem like a big step, but it is a first step," one man answers in the full version of "Be Frank."

"I think that men need to stand up and intervene [when they see sexual assault or harassment]," another responds.

"I would say, just be better — especially me," a participant concluded. "I'm a tall, white male, straight. Everything in the world is so easy for us. Why can't you just be nice and be respectful of women, of people of different colors, different sexual orientations?"

You can watch the full "Be Frank" video below:

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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