*Warning: This post mentions a variety of sex acts. It’s your choice whether you read further*
I remember the first time I saw pornography. I was perhaps nine and a friend had got hold of some kind of magazine. There was a field of long grass next our school, and at lunchtime the three of us headed in there to peruse. The pictures were black and white, and not particularly explicit. I think I remember breasts. It was possibly a sex manual, or what is called soft porn these days. At that age I knew looking at these pictures was somehow exciting, titillating and forbidden, but I don’t think it scarred me for life.
In the 1980′s, my teen years, pornography was only available as magazines (and later, videos) and was hard to get hold of. Boys had to have the courage to purchase a magazine in person, and if you were obviously under age you’d be refused. It was just too embarassing, and I never tried. I did manage to view a few Playboys and Penthouses at a friend’s house when I was about 15. Playboy was generally soft-ish porn. Penthouse was more gynaecological and would sometimes show copulating couples, but it wasn’t extreme. Nevertheless, I made it into my 20′s having seen very few naked ladies, and what I did see was relatively tame compared to what one can now easily view online.
Now it’s 2010 and I have a twelve year-old son. These days, vast quantities of online porn are so very easy to find. It’s even possible to encounter porn without intentionally seeking it out. So far he’s still fixated on games, but it won’t be many more years before my young man takes more of an interest in girlies. I’m not a prude. I’m not against porn as such. But should I prevent my son from seeing it? I think so.
Here’s how I came to that conclusion
Is Porn Immoral?
Like I said, I’m not against porn in itself. That said, I do want to make a couple of caveats: I think some porn exploits some women and men, I don’t think the industry is squeaky clean. However, if the models and actors are paid and go into it of their own free will I think it could be an acceptable choice. For some people, pornography can become addictive, and it’s worth keeping that in mind. Some porn also contributes to sexism by teaching unrealistic ideas about sex and about women and men. See this post, and more on this below. These reservations noted, I don’t think porn is automatically wrong in every case. Also note I’m writing from a hetero perspective, but I’m sure similar ideas apply to gay teenagers and gay porn.
Porn is Fantasty
All porn is fantasy. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy, but particularly for someone inexperienced it gives an unrealistic idea of sex. In stereotypical “professional” porn everyone’s happy, overendowed, always orgasms and are eager to perform sexual acts that many of us would not find appealing. More on this in the next section. Then there’s the so-called “amateur” porn, which is still fantasy and often contains staged acts by paid models. Come on, how “amateur” are you if you’re a model with your own pay-per-view website containing hundreds of pictures and videos?
Porn gives some people an outlet to explore acts and situations they may never wish to enact in real life. But there’s really not a lot of discrimination on the average free porn site, which is potentially misleading for someone at an early stage in their sexuality.
I’m not against my son seeing pictures of naked women occasionally. I think it might even be good for him; once he’s sexually active he’ll know what girl bits look like. But there is so *much* porn out there. Does he really need to see thousands of images before he sees the real thing? Surely just a few is sufficient.
Tied in with the quantity is the range of material available. Several free porn websites I visited have categories like “Bizarre Porn” or “Torture Porn” right beside what one might call “vanilla”. Take your imagination, double it, and you’ll still find yourself surprised. Not everything is extreme kink or abuse, but it’s there. In addition, what seems to be common are activities that many couples would not engage in until they are older and more confident, if at all. From its frequency on porn sites, it appears that even in ‘ordinary’ sex, every copulation includes anal sex, and the man ejaculating on the woman’s face.
I’m not saying these acts are aberrant or wrong, simply that I don’t think they benefit a young mind. There is possibly an argument that it’s good to celebrate the full range of possible sexual expression. Perhaps promoting acts that many people haven’t tried may benefit a mature person’s sex life. However, I think it would only distort the view of someone younger.
Good sex involves consideration of your partner and mutuality. Most porn doesn’t explore this reality. “No thanks, i’m not into that” aren’t words commonly found in porn.
For all these reasons I think I’ll have to acquire some software to block porn sites. But there’s one more thing:
The Porn Talk
Even if I block porn sites on his home computer, it’s pretty much a given that my son will see some pornography, perhaps at friends’ houses. I’ve had the “sex talk” with him since he was young, he’s as educated about the birds and the bees as I think he needs to be for his age. However, I now think I need to have a “pornography talk”. I want to explain the points above, and that I really don’t think it will help his first sexual experiences to have a lot of those images in his head. In general, prohibition doesn’t prevent interest, therefore I have to talk to him as well.
As I concluded above I’ll have to acquire some software to block porn sites. I’m encouraged that a couple of other people I’ve talked to agree with me.
What do you think? If you enjoyed this, why not read my If You See the Buddha on the Road, Kiss Him.
Edit: I’ve been asked what software can be used to to filter the internet. I am not an expert, but here are my opinons:
* WOT is free and useful. It doesn’t catch everything, or actually stop you going to the site if you choose to override it. http://www.mywot.com
* There’s a useful list of porn-blocking software here
My research so far seems to indicate Net Nanny is the best, but I have not tried it. There are several other good ones too. I haven’t yet installed something on my system apart from WOT.
Berlin | Sex. (Good song, lewd lyrics.)
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