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Do we need to protect young people from porn?

Porn. Just utter the word aloud and hearts pound, pulses quicken, and minds start racing. Depending on the context, these effects may be the result of concern for young people’s well-being rather than…

The latest research has found that quite a lot of young people are accessing sexually explicit material. Alejandro Lorenzo

Porn. Just utter the word aloud and hearts pound, pulses quicken, and minds start racing. Depending on the context, these effects may be the result of concern for young people’s well-being rather than a sexual response.

Consider the UK prime minister David Cameron’s recent announcement that every household in the country will have a porn filter unless adult content is specifically allowed. This opt-in system will mean service providers will ask their customers whether they want unfiltered porn.

The plan is aimed at the “corroding” impact of porn on young people. But, instituting a policy like this is may be a bit preemptive.

Society has a long tradition of moral concern about young people and sex. And research in this field has long tried to prove or disprove that causal links exist between viewing explicit materials and actual behaviours. It hasn’t been very successful.

New research

Recent research looking at the impact of sexually explicit material on young people’s sexual behaviour provides more information, but not sufficient evidence, to guide public policy.

The study, which involved surveying 4,600 young Dutch people, found some association between the two but the authors acknowledge and emphasise that they were small. The authors said sexually explicit material was related to some sexual behaviours, specifically adventurous sex and transactional sex.

Adventurous sex includes experience with more than one partner at a time, experience with a same-sex partner, or with a partner met online.

Transactional sex is defined as money or goods being exchanged for sex. But the authors posited that there were likely other factors involved in the associations.

It’s impossible to determine causality in a study that didn’t involve follow-up or longitudinal methods. In a cross-sectional study such as this one (a study performed at a single point in time), we can only determine associations. That means that we don’t know the variable is causing certain behaviour.

This is a common gap in research about many aspects of young people’s sexual development. And we’ll need to do more carefully-controlled longitudinal research to capture the true causes of risky sex and promoters of healthy sexual attitudes and behaviours.

Is porn all bad?

Another problem with research in the field about the effects of sexually explicit material is that most of it focuses on negative outcomes. This means that only associations with negative behaviours, such as risky sex, are sought and found.

Safer sexual practices, mutuality between partners, and healthy enjoyment of sex are all positive things for young people to see and can be portrayed explicitly. Kendra/Flickr

Australian researchers have identified 15 domains of healthy sexual development. They span consent, safety, relationship and communication skills, and self-acceptance, to name just a few.

These researchers contend that the impact of sexually explicit materials should be evaluated across this range of domains to fully understand their influence on young people’s development. There are many examples of sexually explicit material having positive influences that could be explored in relation to young people’s viewing.

Some pornography emphasises positive sexual or body self-image, for instance, and may contain helpful examples of communication and negotiation. Some of it provides examples of people enjoying sex without anxieties.

So it may be useful to not paint all sexually explicit materials with a broad negative brush. Safer sexual practices, mutuality between partners, and healthy enjoyment of sex are all positive things for young people to see and can be portrayed explicitly.

And this kind of material will likely have a very different effect on development of sexual behaviour than other forms of sexually explicit media, which often portray unsafe sex, demeaning attitudes toward women and sexual violence, or all of these things together.

One thing that we can take from the Dutch research is that there are quite a lot of young people accessing sexually explicit material (88% of males and 45% of females reported watching some in the past year). This suggests that most adolescents are viewing some type of explicit media (in other words, such behaviour is statistically normative).

This data is valuable for understanding young people’s viewing behaviours. It also suggests that efforts to limit access to sexually explicit materials may be extremely difficult.

What else is important?

The link between sexually explicit materials and sexual behaviours most certainly needs to be explored further if we are to have a more concrete understanding of its harms or otherwise.

With this in mind, the filters planned by the UK government seem to overzealous and akin to banning all beverages so people don’t drink alcohol.

There are many factors other than viewing explicit material that influence young people’s sexual attitudes and behaviours. The mainstream media, education, family and friends, genetics and an individual’s broader environment and experiences all play a role.

While the potential effects of porn are quite interesting, let’s not get too excited about it. Rather, we should focus our enthusiasm on questioning the government’s role in controlling media.

Join the conversation

98 Comments sorted by

  1. Matty Silver
    Matty Silver is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Sex Therapist / Sex Commentator

    We can’t compare a research study in the Netherlands, surveying 4,600 young people, with the rest of the word.

    In the Netherlands, there is a liberal attitude towards sex education which emerges from an understanding that young people are curious about sexuality and have a right to accurate and comprehensive information.

    The Dutch philosophy is a simple one, if young people receive adequate sex education, they can make well-informed choices in sexuality and relationships.

    Today's teenagers…

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    1. Richard Hockey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Matty Silver

      "The study, which involved surveying 4,600 young Dutch people, found some association between the two but the authors acknowledge and emphasise that they were small. "
      Small might be an exaggeration here.
      From the article:
      "the association between SEM consumption and a variety of sexual behaviors was found to be significant, accounting for between 0.3% and 4% of the total explained variance in investigated sexual behaviors."

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Matty, on the Dutch and alleged sexual liberalism, the last I heard, a folm director was assassinated for making rudey nudie films.

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  2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    I write about sex and are involved in many internet discussions. One thing that worries me is that many people are very influenced by the style of sex shown in porn.

    Learning about how to do sex from porn is like learning to drive by watching car chases in American movies.

    It's not just the young who are influenced - a friend who is a working girl tells me that what middle aged and older men see in porn becomes what they want in real-life as well.

    What I think is needed is education about…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Thanks Matty - I'll check out planet-porn.

      I've already signed up to Make Love Not Porn and I'm very disappointed. They want you to pay $5 to hire a clip which might be as short as 12 minutes. All of the free peaks for their early clips were just the couple talking so you have no idea whether or not the clip will be to your taste (some free peaks are now explicit), and many of the performers are in the porn industry.

      The amount of free publicity that Cindy Gallop has received is hard to believe for a venture that to me isn't about education but about trying to make money in a world where most porn is free.

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    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Matty - I've had a fair look at BISHuk.com and I'm impressed.

      Very brave to write a site aimed at 14 years and above.

      In my first browse I didn't find anything that I disagreed with or that I thought a teenager should not see.

      Thanks for the reference!

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  3. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    Is it known for certain that the two girls in the top photo are watching porn? I enlarged the picture several hundred times to try observe the reflection on their retinas: I think they were watching Justin Bieber.

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    1. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Wrong demographic, Mr Lamb. These two are looking at photos from last weekend's party.

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  4. Sean Manning

    Physicist

    Silly governments and their silly ideas.
    Filters don't block torrents.

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  5. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Filters abrogate parental responsibility, the opt in version is probably the best of a bad choice. When there are 7 year old boys in Australian schools using gestures, language and images from pornography (actual case), filters are not the answer. Prosecuting the (ir)responsible parent and making sure they are never allowed near a kid (their own or anyone else's) again is at least part of it. I'm sick of the government being the resort of first choice for stupidity. Better to prosecute and sterilise than filter and politicise.

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  6. Stephen H

    In a contemplative fashion...

    Did the two young ladies pictured at the top of this article know that their picture was to be attached to an article on pornography, and consent to that use?

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Stephen H

      If this is a stock photo then they would have consented to the photo being used by anyone who purchases the photo.

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    2. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, while your answer may be technically accurate, I know many actors and actresses who have sold images of themselves and who would be horrified if their likeness was used on a story about pornography.

      There is a proportion of the population who will take away from this story the message that those two particular young ladies were watching pornography. There is a further proportion who will think "I'm not that stupid", but have nevertheless just read a story about pornography and seen a photo of two young ladies. When one of this crowd meets one of the young ladies, they will think "I saw her in that movie about two guys and a pizza delivery business...". Finally, there is a (surprisingly small) proportion of the population who will not attach any significance to the picture, either consciously or sub-consciously.

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  7. margaret m

    old lady

    I cannot see the value of porn I think we should do whatever it takes to remove it from view in our media no matter what form it takes movies etc. It is of no value

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to margaret m

      Margaret - getting rid of porn is like getting rid of drugs.

      No - that is wrong.

      Getting rid of porn is like getting rid of drugs if drugs could be copied again and again and again and if drugs could be electronically distributed!

      So no matter how much you would like porn to go away it will not.

      Thus, like with drugs, the only sensible policies are those which focus on minimising the harm of porn.

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    2. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to margaret m

      Margaret, removing something from the public gaze doesn't make it go away. Pornography existed long before the Internet, and will continue to exist regardless of any attempts to "filter" it.

      There are a few problems with trying to "remove it from view":

      1. Who defines what is pornographic? Do we go off the definition that is used by one of the more popular filtering programs, and block websites that contain sex education and abortion information? Do we rely on "the government", and then…

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    3. Spring Chenoa Cooper

      Senior Lecturer at University of Sydney

      In reply to Stephen H

      excellent points. especially about what people consider to be obscene. the term porn or pornography doesn't necessarily mean a video that has hard-core or violent sex in it, thought that is often the connotation people associate with those terms. sexually explicit materials range in their style and content as much as any other media. and the level of obscenity individuals perceive is highly variable as well.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to margaret m

      margaret, I'm pretty sure porn-makers aren't marketing to the "old lady" market. ;)

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  8. Kate Rowan-Robinson
    Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

    I found it interesting in the "Let's Talk About Sex" survey that young people said that they would find it useful if there were more explicit sexual educational tools for them to learn from. Considering that 64% of young people surveyed stated that they utilised pornography as an educational tool (because we are failing so badly at providing a good, comprehensive sexuality education) suggest to me that perhaps maybe we should look at some kind of "educational pornography". Seeing safer sex practices…

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    1. Seren Rose

      Lover (but I get paid to be a nurse)

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Social scientists get pulled up for careless use of the term "they," but I'm having trouble figuring out who is included by this "we."

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      I'm VERY suspicious of when these sorts of issues about sex arise, allegedly on the basis of "research". Who are they, and what do they know?

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate, our schools are currently in crisis because the teachers are flat out with their four times table, and trying to understand what a vowel is. I'm happy handling my kids' sex education thanks very much.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, wow! As a parent, one's natural reflex should be ask "what about the kids whose TEACHERS ignore the topic or the kids whose TEACHERS get it all wrong?

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    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to David Thompson

      It's clear from the context and my other posts that I don't want the teachers to ignore the topic.

      As for the teachers getting it wrong, well there will always be those who disagree with what I think should be taught.

      After all there are people who think that climate change and evolution are only opinions and that the other side should be taught. If people can get such 'easy' topics wrong things are unlikely to go well when it comes to sex.

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    6. Matty Silver
      Matty Silver is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Sex Therapist / Sex Commentator

      In reply to David Thompson

      Dear David,

      I don’t know how old your kids are and no offence, but handling their sex education yourself is not that easy, I doubt very much if you know what teenagers are up to these days.

      I agree that teachers are flat out and I believe it will be a good idea to have schools invite some organisations like these, to teach the educators and/or kids additional skills such as how to handle pornography.

      http://exposedproject.org/

      http://www.youthwellbeingproject.com.au/

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Matty, no offence taken. But if you think you know more about my kids than I already know, honey, trust me, you'd need smelling salts. As this is only an R-rated site, I'll just say, they know LOTS. ;)

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    8. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Matty, maybe parents in Holland, or the community you live are all think and ignorant, but that ain't the case in my world.

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    9. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, I don't doubt that teachers are flat out, which is why I support specialised sexuality educators to come into schools to teach the subject. Teachers are not well equipped to handle sexuality education, which is why the current system is failing.

      I might also note, that while it is admirable (and perhaps you are one of the few parents who do get it right) that you wish to handle your childrens sex education, young people themselves have stated a preference for specialised external sexuality…

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    10. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate, yes you are right that is much better if kids have access to information apart from their parents, in addition to their parents. When I say "I'll handle" my kids sex education, I do see myself more as a coordinator and facilitator, rather than dictator! And the network of educators is quite broad ranging from immediately family, siblings, relatives, and the broader community. For example, it is amazing how important even senior siblings/cousins are as sources for kids knowledge. But that's how it was when I was a kid too, and no doubt has been for millennia. I do not accept that the idea of a someone being known as a "sexuality expert" in the way someone is an expert in ancient coins. Growing up as a kid, one of my mother's favourite songs was Rod Stewart's "Maggie May". Take from that what you will about my thoughts on kids and sex education.

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    11. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      "specialised sexuality educators".
      Ah, no, sorry. They won't be getting within 100 miles of my kids. "Specialised" Are you serious? And the issue is "sex", not "sexuality".

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    12. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, the point I am trying to make is that young people need a point of reference that is external to their immediate family, teachers and friends. Due to the taboo nature of sexuality, young people tend not to approach people they see on a regular basis. That you are guiding your children is excellent, however you can not be certain that they are obtaining quality information from their cousin, as opposed to a trained peer educator. The way sexuality education has been done for millennia is not working for youth of today, which is evidenced by the raging chlamydia epidemic, not to mention the range of sexual practices being undertaken by young people.

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    13. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      Yes. I am serious. And I will argue that the issue is sexuality and not just sex. Sex is little more than biology, whereas sexuality encompasses everything surrounding the biological function. Young people require education surroundng both areas.

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    14. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      They might, but not from some "trained peer sexuality educator." Kate, I'll try to be gentle, but do you know how silly you sound pushing yourself around as though you are some sex guru, before whom we must all give way, and hand over our children? I've probably forgotten more about sex than you'll ever even experience.

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    15. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, I really do not care how silly you think I sound. It will not prevent me from continuing my studies and doing what I feel is important. As for whatever sexual experience you have attained over the years that is not my business. Nor is it your business to make assumptions about my own sexuality.

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    16. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Well it kinda is my business, when here you are, insisting you have some privileged take on sex; a privilege I should recognize by shutting up, and handing my kids over to you and other self-adorned "trained peer sexuality educators". Let me give you a tip for free. Sex is definitely one topic you master by doing, rather than reading. ;)

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    17. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to David Thompson

      I'm getting the feeling that David's kids would benefit from proper sex education more than most.

      I don't know what David tells his kids about sexual orientation and diversity, but one essential part of sex education is teaching kids about differences so that, for example, if they are gay they can know that this is OK, and so that the straight kids can respect this diversity.

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    18. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, if you read my posts I am not insisting I have a priviliged take on sex. I am advocating for the introduction of external sexuality educators, as has been requested by young people themselves. I think you will also find that a trained peer sexuality educator is different to an external sexuality educator.

      If I were to utilise your logic that sex is a topic to be mastered by doing, perhaps you feel young people should be educated by successful porn stars and full time sex workers?

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    19. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, from his previous comment one could make the assumption that David is educating his children by telling them to get out there and master sex by just doing it. That's the 'tip' he chose to gve to me.

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    20. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate, as they are, and have been for centuries.

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    21. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate, and by the sounds of things, if these 'educators' are all like you and Michael, you'd probably call DOCS, or even worse, the social workers! You keep to the library, and leave the sex and sex education to the grown ups.

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    22. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, how about showing some academic respect on an academic website? People may disagree, which is part of the process, but in the past recent comments you have managed to question my sexuality, call me silly and suggest that I am not an adult. This is not good academia, it is offensive and lazy to a website dedicated to quality discussion.

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    23. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate - Unfortunately the Conversation is trolled by those on the right who have no respect for logic or academia.

      This is most apparent in the comments on articles about climate change, but is also seen with asylum seekers and articles questioning high population growth for Australia.

      I don't believe David is here to read the articles or to learn. He is here to ensure that the website includes the views of the right - the leave it to the parent view of sex education here, but mainly the other issues I listed above.

      Not everyone posting here is a genuine person.

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    24. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      "questioned you SEXUALITY"? WTF? I don't even know what you mean by that, so I apologise if I have inadvertently 'questioned' it.

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    25. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Oh, and by the way there is absolutely nothing "academic" about this particular conversation.

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    26. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to David Thompson

      Apart from the huge amount of academic research into sex and sex education - some of which is referenced in the article above - you are right.

      But then the right-wing loonies dismiss climate change research as well, so it is no surprise that sex research is dismissed.

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    27. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Oh OK, fair enough. I thought I was talking about your experience to presume the position of sex educator. If in fact, what you mean by 'your sexuality' is a whole different ball park, I ain't interested. But if you're going to start presuming privilege over parents in this stuff, folks are going to ask questions.

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    28. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to David Thompson

      Isn't almost the definition of academic research to ask questions and to apply rational reasoning and data collection to find the answers?

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    29. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Actually, Michael, I'd be much happier if the school teachers could deal with science, English, and Maths. Climate change and evolution would be great. I wouldn't worry about misinformation about atmospheric physics and genetics, coz it just can't be taught in most public schools, as the teachers don't know themselves.

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  9. William Hughes-Games

    Garden weed puller

    More to the point to protect young people from violence including sexual violence. Explicit scenes of people in love can only set a good example.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Matty, that SMH article you linked to just convinces me more that the State needs to move back from the curriculum a bit. It is far, far, far too smothering and prescriptive. If there is one area that is so much better taught according to the context of local communities, this is it.

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    2. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      That's a good point, David. I have been wondering lately if it would not be worthwhile for the Medicare Local schemes to have sexual health clinics with sexuality educators to go out to the schools and address the issues most important to that community.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Kate, I'm not overkeen framing sex as a medico's area.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      "primary health care umbrella to provide a service by a sexuality educator."
      WTF are people who actually think of themselves in this way? ROFL. They ain't getting nowhere near my kids.

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  10. Pat Moore

    gardener

    I have a problem with that accompanying photo also...it is almost pornographic itself suggesting that those young women would be looking at porn with those eager expressions on their faces...I don't think so.

    We can't protect young people from porn, end of story. We live in a commercially corrupted society. The intimate relationship between or amongst the sexes is just another zone this destructive culture colonises and poisons. William Hughes-Games says 'explicit scenes of people in love(sic…

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  11. Laurie Willberg

    Journalist

    How many of these young porn viewers are actually female? Not many, I'd wager. So we're actually talking about restricting the access of males to porn which still predominantly portrays females as objects rather than as partners and projects unrealistic notions about female body image.
    Most recognized studies into female sexuality have concluded that the majority of women do not find visual sexual images particularly stimulating and that they are more likely to be turned on by a male who has a good sense of humor and volunteers to perform household chores.
    How many female sex addicts has anyone come across lately?

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    1. Matty Silver
      Matty Silver is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Sex Therapist / Sex Commentator

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Hi Laurie,

      You are talking about young people, young females are not interested yet in men who "perform house hold chores".

      However many young girls look at porn to find out what they BELIEVE boys/men like.

      That's why it is so important that they receive better sex education which tells them that porn is "phantasy" sex.

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    2. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Matty Silver

      Good points, Matty. Unfortunately looking at porn to find out what the opposite sex "likes" is far less important than finding out what they like, and how important it is to be able to communicate that information to a partner. Which means we need more educated mothers having very frank conversations with their daughters, including the fact that for most young females their "first time" is likely to be a big dud far removed from anyone's perceived fantasies.

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    3. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Laurie

      Concur with your thoughts on this vexed topic.

      Matty, here's a novel idea, how about young men find out what women actually like - porn is primarily about what men are supposed to want. If both sexes are better informed about sexuality this could result in "first time" being less than unsatisfactory for many. I know my first time was nothing at all concerned with my desires or even respect - I would not wish that experience on anyone. Fortunately there are men (and women) who see sex as a mutual act and I managed to move on from the disastrous "first time".

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Andrew Amos

      As an over 50 I was brought up in a world with very little porn.

      Today porn is easily accessible for free and most young people view lots of porn before they first explore sex in real life.

      If porn led to rape and sexual assault this huge increase in the availability of porn would have led to a huge increase in these crimes.

      Yet the world is actually a safer place with less rape and sexual assult than in the 1970's per head of population.

      Though porn presents a very disconnected and non-intimate vision of sex, almost all of it is based on consent.

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    2. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      I agree with you Laurie it is about money add exploitation. Consider the less that complimentry attitude of many men towards women and I think the rise of the want of the individual over the importance of the whole, the community is not even considered.

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Laurie - The young are not paying for porn.

      What professional porn they view will be free samplers or pirated.

      And porn has become such a normal part of life for many that there is a huge amount of amateur porn where no money changes hands even in the making of it.

      And whether paid for or not, you have ignored my key point that the amateurs or the paid actors are showing consensual sex.

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    4. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "A normal part of life"? Whose life? Sex addicts?
      The "young are not paying for porn"? Really? There are a multitude of parents who have had porn website charges show up on their credit card bills after their teens have raided their wallets, not to mention 1-900 charges on their phone bills -- not rung up by their daughters I might add.

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    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      A world of porn where just a few kids - male sex addicts - raid their parents wallet to dial 1900 numbers.

      I remember the 1990's, and even back then the reality was much more interesting than Laurie thinks.

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    6. Richard Windsor

      Mycologist

      In reply to Andrew Amos

      On the contrary, if your posited link were correct, our society would be rife with such crimes, To quote "One swallow doth not a summer make"

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  12. Jena Zelezny

    research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

    Some questions:

    1. Is it not creepy to realise that some one like Ariel Castro (who was addicted to porn) could have been viewing porn online at the same time as one of our children/teenagers?

    2. How does the fact of Castro's porn addiction relate to his declaration that he was abused as a young person? In other words how does the prevalence of sexual disorders relate to the production of rape fantasy film production? (A question of demand and supply?) And in this case, why not regulate…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      Jena.

      If you look at what Ariel Castro did you don't find it in porn. Porn provides the fantasy of the willing and keen woman - even if it is rough she wants it.

      What Castro did was more what is seen in R rated horror/suspense films. It is movies (even films rated below R) which often have an evil man inflict terror upon unwilling victims.

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    2. Matty Silver
      Matty Silver is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Sex Therapist / Sex Commentator

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      There is no proof at all that Ariel Castro looked at porn, he or his lawyer just tried to BLAME porn addiction for his crimes. Unfortunately lawyers use this defence quite often.

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    3. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      I've been following the Castro case in all its details so I'm aware Michael and I don't think your description fits.

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    4. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Matty Silver

      I don't think there is any absolute proof either way but let's consider that there is a likelihood of porn addiction and that Castro is a survivor of sexual abuse.

      I am also going to suggest that a wide range of people access porn for any number of reasons. Castro may have been one.

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    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      Jena - We have done the massive social experiment, and the results are clear. Going from a world with almost no porn to one where it is free on the internet has REDUCED the rates of rape and sexual assault.

      And porn is consensual.

      So I don't understand how you can link porn to the crimes committed by Castro.

      Where we do have the idea of capturing women and locking them away for evil purposes is in novels and films.

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    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      There is good evidence that those who suffer sexual abuse are much more likely than others to go on to commit sexual abuse.

      But that Castro watched porn may have no more significance than Castro eating breakfast cereal (most serial killers have eaten cereal).

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    7. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Have to strongly disagree Michael. I have both read the book and seen the film. There is no comparison between those acts and those committed by Castro.

      and I don't see anyone blaming the book. People interpret things differently. A disordered mind could conceive porn or books as a how to guide. Rape fantasy or kidnap fantasy is definitely not a healthy approach to the sex act.

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    8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      The Collector was written in 1963 and is thus very tame.

      Can you imagine what it would be if the makers of the Hostel films made a version of this today?

      And what has rape or kidnapping got to do with porn?

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    9. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      i don't think 'The Collector' is tame and I don't think it would be possible or legal to re-make the work of Fowles. The film was very close to the book and it was a very short book.

      Michael, rape and kidnapping fantasies are presented in porn flicks.

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    10. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      Jena - go to google, turn off safe-search, type in 'free porn video'.

      Have a look at the top sites and I'm pretty certain you won't find any rape or kidnapping (or much with a story).

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    11. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      1. Michael, who is the "we" who has done the "massive social experiment"?

      2. As a high percentage of rapes, abusive incest and sexual assaults are NOT reported and as a high percentage of people globally do not have access to the internet I do not see how you can justify your statement.

      3. I do not believe porn is consensual if what you mean is a group of actors willingly participating and getting paid for their performance. Females may only do it for the money, i.e., to survive. Choices…

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    12. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      The acquiescent female - subject/object of male fantasy is actually not my idea of erotica either. I'm sure that I could find rape/kidnap/bondage stuff if I knew what I was looking for just as kiddie porn people know how to find or connect into their networks. i'm also certain that some men get off on torture porn and the idea of having complete power over another including the power of life and death.

      Where there is a market there is a product and a profit.

      But just out of interest (and as a researcher on sexuality and gender) can you respond to the other questions Michael?

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  13. Liz Walker

    logged in via LinkedIn

    [Australian researchers have identified 15 domains of healthy sexual development. They span consent, safety, relationship and communication skills, and self-acceptance, to name just a few.]

    Youth Wellbeing Project has taken this comprehensive framework and put it into helpful self-reflective questions for teens that can also be used by teachers to promote discussion. http://youthwellbeingproject.com.au/teenz

    But it's interesting to note that in a Sexology Clinical I attended, the lead researcher…

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  14. Leo Braun

    Conscientious Objector

    "Safer sexual practices, mutuality between partners, healthy enjoyment of sex are all positive things for young people to see and can be portrayed explicitly"!

    "I found it interesting in the 'Let's Talk About Sex' survey that young people said that they would find it useful if there were more explicit sexual educational tools for them to learn from"!

    "I don't doubt that teachers are flat out, which is why I support specialised sexuality educators to come into schools to teach the subject. Teachers…

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