Not Your Father’s Porn

Computer Key - Porn

One of the many comments I often hear when talking about pornography and young people is, “What’s the big deal? I saw my dad’s playboy when I was a kid and I’m ok.” This statement is true on many accounts. Yes, many people grew up sneaking a peek at a Playboy or Penthouse magazine and they never developed a pornography addiction. True, many people watched pornography when they were young and never developed a pornography addiction. So why are we worried about this now?

Today’s pornography is not your father’s porn. Not only has the internet made access to pornography nearly unlimited, it has also shaped the types of pornography available. Today’s internet pornography is much more aggressive than the pornography produced in the pre-internet age and when it was in its early days. Studies show that 88% of scenes in the most popular pornography show physical aggression and 94% of that aggression is aimed at women. Common sexually aggressive acts include slapping, choking, gagging and verbal aggression. Young people who are being exposed to pornography without any education about it are viewing pornography that is frequently aggressive. This often becomes their idea of what sex is supposed to look like. Therefore, young people can come away with the belief that sex is supposed to be rough and aggressive all the time.

Not only does today’s pornography frequently show acts of sexual aggression directed toward women, but it also overwhelmingly shows that women enjoy these acts of aggression. So not only does current pornography tell its viewers that it is ok to be aggressive in sex, it also tells them that women like it. What teens see on pornography videos, they frequently act out in real life. This means that they will possibly try these aggressive acts out with a partner as a matter of course. They won’t talk to their partner about them or negotiate consent.

What we are talking about is the mainstreaming of aggressive sex. I do want to take a minute to differentiate that from BDSM practices. Some people are aroused by acts of physical aggression, humiliation, etc. There is one key difference between acts practiced by those who embrace BDSM and what is seen in pornography. A key concept in the practice of BDSM is consent and care. People who are engaging together have talked about behaviors, consent and safe words. They have communicated about the sexual aggression ahead of time. This is not a practice that mainstream pornography is depicting. Mainstream pornography is often depicting rough sex as something that every woman wants.

Yes, many people who grew up before internet pornography often did view magazines or movies on that old VHS or even DVD player. The pornography that was readily available pre-internet is fundamentally different than what is frequently produced in the fast paced internet pornography age. When you think about your child’s exposure to online pornography, please do not think of it in terms of a rather innocuous Playboy centerfold. Parents need to be aware of the nature of internet pornography and what their children may be seeing. It becomes the parent’s responsibility to teach them that what they see in pornography is not what real life sex looks like. It is the parent’s responsibility to teach about consent and treating partners with dignity and respect.

For more on this topic, please watch The Porn Factor available on www.itstimewetalked.com.au. Also, please read The New Age of Sex Education: How to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography in the digital age for more detailed information on the effect of pornography on children and how to talk about it.

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