OPINION: Psychologists here say we're in the middle of a porn crisis.
Just last year an Australian study found 100 percent of boys surveyed were exposed to porn, and 85 percent said they viewed it daily or weekly.
In the US, six states are declaring pornography a public health crisis. Even The New York Times is calling on officials to ban it.
But while it's easy to tell the government they should be doing something, this is one of those issues where actually, it's what you do that counts.
I want to talk about pornography.
- Explicit porn being promoted on Instagram
- How to talk to your kids about porn
- Is free pornography destroying our brains?
Except, it's sort of an awkward topic, particularly on TV when kids might be watching, so I've come up with a solution.
For the next couple of minutes instead of the word 'porn', I’m going to say the word 'corn'. Just tell your children we're talking about corn.
When I was young, you never saw corn. Maybe some kid would bring his dad's corn to school and you’d pass it round, but it was pretty tame. Some of them were still wearing their husks.
Now as you probably know, corn is everywhere. You don’t even have to buy it from a dairy, you just open your laptop or phone and it’s there ready to go.
As a guy it's tempting and easy - like grabbing a cold beer out of the fridge. But it's this easiness that I want to talk about tonight.
Next time you start typing "cornhub" into your address bar, take a moment and remember this.
You are slowly destroying your own ability to have normal sex with another normal human.
Here's what clinical psychologist Dr Mark Thorpe, who deals with this stuff all the time, said.
"We are in the middle of a crisis. There is an extreme amount of sexual problems with young men under 25 - and that manifests as erectile dysfunction; delayed ejaculation; diminished libido with real life partners, not screen; and an avoidance of genuine relationships."
That's right, every time you go online to get off, you're making your own corncob look more like this.
Yep, that thing in the top left corner. Photo credit: The Project
The more corn you consume, the harder corn you're going to need.
Here's Dr Thorpe again: "The brain and internet porn are geared towards it, so there is the natural tendency to slide into more and more difficult things.
"It's a bit like what you mentioned with drugs, you need greater hits you need greater variety so it goes more and more into aggressive, difficult, punitive content."
These are real people in these videos.
Somebody's daughter, someone's sister. Some of them do a good job of looking like this is their first-choice career, but don't kid yourself.
At least admit that by using corn we're effectively helping a huge corporate to make women and girls do things they don't really want to do, so that men like us will feel good for a few seconds.
Take some ownership of what this is doing to New Zealand kids.
It is estimated 88 percent of online pornography is violent. By supporting this industry we're supporting our latest form of sex education, where boys learn that slapping, choking and hurting their girlfriends is a form of intimacy, and girls grow up thinking they're meant to act like the women in the videos because that's the only sex they've ever seen.
If hearing this stuff makes you want to make a change, I've been working with Dr Thorpe on a set of tips to move on from porn.
It's on The Project's Facebook page. If you're worried about it showing up in your history, just turn on your private browser first… pretty sure you know how that works.
And look, I'm not going to tell you what to do when the curtains are closed. But I am asking you not to consume pornography with your eyes wide shut.
The internet is messing with us in ways we'll never fully understand, but finding another way to get yourself in the mood is one huge thing you can do to have a positive impact on yourself, your relationship and on your children.
Jesse Mulligan is a presenter on The Project
Read full article here.
“The pornographers did a kind of stealth attack on our culture, hijacking our sexuality and then selling it back to us, often in forms that look very little like sex but a lot like cruelty. The only solution to this is a movement that is fierce in its critique of sexual exploitation and steadfast in its determination to fight for what is rightfully ours.”
-Dr Gail Dines.
Culture Reframed, founded by Gail Dines, has come up with a program to help parents talk about porn with their tween-age children. The Culture Reframed Parents Program currently offers three free online courses that are short and self-paced, equipping parents with the knowledge and tools to support and guide their children.
From the ‘Parents of Tweens’ course content:
“Research indicates that just over 40% of young people view pornography on their phones, with just over 50% streaming or downloading it on computers. Many parents feel overwhelmed by this and want to know, ‘What can I do to help my child?’”
“The Culture Reframed Parents Program is designed to help you have age-appropriate, nuanced, and compassionate conversations with your child. It will give you the skills to establish in your young person a grounded understanding of sexuality based on boundaries, respect and trust.”
The program includes 12 Step-By-Step Modules, scripted conversations, specialist videos along with a range of recommended resources. Areas covered in the course include information on how to teach boundaries, consent and privacy, managing technology, how to lead discussions skilfully and what to actually say.
You can follow Culture Reframed on Facebook to stay up to date on their great work in this space.
Editor’s note: This article includes references to graphic sexual content that may be inappropriate for some readers.
Today teenagers are viewing far more pornography than their parents realize. And the porn they’re watching is much more “hardcore” than moms and dads could possibly imagine.
These were the main messages of “What Teenagers are Learning From Online Porn,” a recent New York Times story by Maggie Jones. It quickly became one of the most read and shared articles.
While this may be a surprise to many American parents who perhaps imagine porn as merely a naked centerfold, it wasn’t to scholars like me who immerse ourselves in the world of mainstream porn. We know how widespread violent, degrading and misogynisticpornography has become, as well as the implications for the emotional, physical and mental health of young people.
In an effort to better understand the problem from a “front-line” perspective, feminist activist Samantha Wechsler and I have been traveling the world talking to parents about the issue. The question we’re asked most often is: “What can we do about it?”
‘Hardcore’ porn is everywhere
Surveys and our own experiences show that parents are deeply concerned about the easy access their kids now have to porn via mobile devices.
The statistics paint a dismal picture. A recent U.K. study found that 65 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds had viewed pornography, the vast majority of whom reported seeing it by age 14. This is especially problematic given the findings of another study that found a correlation between early exposure to pornography and an expressed desire to exert power over women.
Yet for all this concern, they know surprisingly little about what mainstream porn looks like, how much their kids are accessing and how it affects them. The Times article, however, cited a 2016 surveythat suggested most parents are totally unaware of their kids’ porn experiences. Jones called this the “parental naivete gap.”
This matches our own experiences. In the presentations we do at high schools, we ask parents to describe what they think of when they hear the word “porn.” They invariably describe a naked young woman with a coy smile, the kind of image many remember from Playboy centerfolds.
They are shocked when they learn that the images from today’s busiest free porn sites, like Pornhub, depict acts such as women being gagged with a penis or multiple men penetrating every orifice of a woman and then ejaculating on her face. When we tell parents this, the change in the atmosphere of the room is palpable. There is often a collective gasp.
It bears repeating that these are the most visited porn sites – which get more visitors every month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Pornhub alone received 21.2 billion visits in 2015. We are not talking about images on the fringe.
Ana Bridges, a psychologist at the University of Arkansas, and her team found that 88 percent of scenes from 50 of the top-rented porn movies contained physical aggression against the female performers – such as spanking, slapping and gagging – while 48 percent included verbal abuse – like calling women names such as “bitch” or “slut.”
Bad for your health
More than 40 years of research from different disciplines has demonstrated that viewing pornography – regardless of age – is associated with harmful outcomes. And studies show that the younger the age of exposure, the more significant the impact in terms of shaping boys’ sexual templates, behaviors and attitudes.
A 2011 study of U.S. college men found that 83 percent reported seeing mainstream pornography in the past 12 months and that those who did were more likely to say they would commit rape or sexual assault (if they knew they wouldn’t be caught) than men who said they had not seen porn.
Another study of young teens found that early porn exposure was correlated with perpetration of sexual harassment two years later.
One of the most cited analyses of 22 studies concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression. And a study of college-aged women found that young women whose male partners used porn experienced lower self-esteem, diminished relationship quality and lower sexual satisfaction.
It begins with parents
Fearing for their children’s well-being, parents at our presentations, whether in Los Angeles, Oslo or Warsaw, want to run home in a panic to have the “porn talk” with their kids.
But in reality, they often have no idea what to say, how to say it, or how to deal with a kid who would rather be anywhere else in the world than sitting across from their parents talking about porn. At the same time, public health research shows that parents are the first line of prevention in dealing with any major social problem that affects their kids.
So what can be done?
Most current efforts focus on teens themselves and educating them about sex and the perils of porn. Although it is crucial to have high-quality programs for teens who have already been exposed, the fact is that this is cleaning up after the fact rather than preventing the mess in the first place.
So a team of academics, public health experts, educators, pediatricians and developmental psychologists – including us – spent two years pooling research to create a program to help parents become that vitalfirst line of defense.
That’s why the nonprofit we set up – Culture Reframed – initially focused on parents of tweens, addressing a key question: How do we prevent kids from being exposed to images of sexual abuse and degradation at that critical stage when they are forming their sexual identities?
What took shape was a 12-module program that introduces parents sequentially to the developmental changes – emotional, cognitive and physical – that tweens undergo and the hypersexualized pop culture that shapes those changes and is the wallpaper of tween lives.
For example, boys learn from music videos, violent video games, mainstream media and porn that “real men” are aggressive and lack empathy, that sex equals conquest, and that to avoid being bullied, they have to wear the mask of masculinity. Girls, on the other hand, learn that they have to look “hot” to be visible, be as passive as a cartoon princess and internalize the male gaze, leading them to self-objectify at an early age.
Navigating the porn minefield
Helping parents grasp the degree to which hypersexualized images shape their tweens encourages them to understand, rather than judge, why their girl wants to look like one of the Kardashians, or why their boy, hazed into hypermasculinity, is at risk of losing his capacity for empathy and connection. This helps parents approach their kids with compassion rather than with frustration and anger that can undermine the parent-child relationship.
Navigating all the minefields of living in today’s toxic porn culture – from sexting and poor self esteem to porn and peer pressure – is very tricky terrain, and parents need all the help they can get.
But ultimately, the Culture Reframed project is about so much more than providing parents with newfound confidence and skills. It’s about taking power back from the porn industry, which is out to hijack the sexuality and humanity of kids in the name of profit, and giving it back to parents.
Samantha Wechsler, interim executive director of Culture Reframed, co-authored this article.
Full article at The Conversation here.
At Collective Shout, we campaign against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls. The term 'sexualisation' can at times be misunderstood - so what exactly does sexualisation refer to?
The American Psychological Association’s 2007 Task Force into the Sexualisation of Girls makes a clear distinction between healthy sexuality and sexualisation. Sexualisation occurs when a person’s value comes exclusively from their sexual appeal, when a person is sexually objectified, or when sexuality is inappropriately imposed on a person.
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