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Porn Literacy

Over at Sexual Intelligence, Dr. Marty Klein has another great post up about sex, youth and technology. In the early 90’s, I taught sex education to youth in my county, travelling to various health classes to answer teen’s questions about sex. Back then, a lot of kids were starting to get on the internet, where they sometimes had access to porn and other adult information. But fancy phones that may be used for sexting now didn’t exist. So, in some ways, things have changed. More and more teens have access to powerful technology and a world of information. I have several teens on my Facebook who have complete freedom to post, friend and do whatever they want. (Well, sort of. They cannot legally possess and distribute pornographic pictures or videos of themselves.)

Klein makes a point about something he didn’t address in a recent talk he gave about Youth, Technology and Sexuality that I thought was important.

I didn’t get a chance to address pornography. I would have said that we need to support young people’s Porn Literacy, teaching them that:

* Porn is fiction, not a documentary

* Hours of footage are edited to make a single video

* Porn features atypical bodies, often doing atypical activities

* Adults sometimes play sex games—which feel very different to the participants than the way they look to viewers

* Since different people relate to porn differently, everyone needs to understand their partner’s views on it.

I also would have liked to address what porn typically omits: Context, Kissing, Communication, Cuddling, and Consequences.

A while back, I read an article about how more and more young people are getting their sex education mostly through porn. This is because parents sometimes have a problem discussing sexuality with their kids and many schools do not provide adequate sex education. Despite withholding information from teens, they are still curious about sex and they end up learning about it through porn, which is sad.

But many adults learn sexual norms through porn, as well. As a bisexual female, I cannot tell you how many men I’ve come across who have (false) porn-informed views of what I may have sexually done with women and why. In much of mainstream porn, woman-on-woman interaction is usually for the stimulation of male viewers. But I can promise you, when I’ve been with women, men were the last thing on our minds and having sex the way porn often portrays it has been, in my case, misleading. After all, there are plenty of lesbian sex positions that do not offer a coveted, porn-ready money shot.

So, with Dr. Klein, I support Porn Literacy for young people. But for adults, as well.

About Jen

Have been a jack of all trades. I'm a former philosopher who specialized in ethics and political philosophy. I'm a sex positive feminist.

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