The Porn Problem

I tackle a hefty topic this week: porn. Especially porn in the hands of teens. I don’t like to use the word “epidemic” lightly, but when somewhere between 90-97 per cent of teenage boys have viewed online porn by the time they’re 18, depending on which survey you read, well, that’s a pretty big societal issue.

I talked about it mostly in terms of boys in my column, but of course it affects girls too. It affects them directly — the 2008 study I quote in my article found that 62 per cent of girls have also viewed porn by age 18 — but also indirectly, in the way they’re treated and the expectations they face. In my research I came across this Vanity Fair article about some of the pressures on girls to essentially live up to the fantasies boys are seeing online.

(Side note: I link to that article with reservations, because it seems to go out of its way to be extra salacious, and because it’s Vanity Fair, a magazine that considers “topless women with strategically placed arms or props” a cover genre. They’re not exactly innocent in the “sex sells” movement.)

The biggest thing is we really don’t have any idea how much the near-omnipresence of porn is actually affecting this generation, or how much it will affect them going forward. How does a young man grow up to have a healthy relationship or a healthy marriage if he’s been relying on increasingly graphic porn since he hit puberty?

I came across an interesting quote by Robert Jensen, a Texas journalism professor who wrote a book called Getting Off: Pornography and Masculinity. Jensen thinks the fact that some kids take in an incredible amount of porn has contributed to the culture that allows cases like Steubenville and Rehtaeh Parsons to happen.

“We are running a massive experiment on an entire generation of people,” Jensen said in  this article from the spring, shortly after the Parsons case hit international news. “We are exposing them to incredible levels of this hypersexualized media with no idea of the effect. Some of what we are seeing now (with these gang-rape cases) is hinting at this.”

What’s the answer here? I can’t say there’s an easy solution. It’s not like we can make Internet porn disappear. But we need to pay attention to how it’s affecting kids.

3 responses to “The Porn Problem

  1. Not to mention the unrealistic expectations that guys come to have of themselves based on what they’re seeing. We were lucky to be the last to grow up in the pre-internet porn days. Not that it wasn’t around, but I think it was more of a case of stumbling upon it… as for girls watching it, yeah. Many who do watch it in the same way that guys do. So I have been told and read anyway. I’m still trying to figure out how people can take it seriously as an indicator of what…that…is really about or like. On the rare occasion that I ran across it as a teen, even then I knew that it didn’t quite represent reality. Of course, maybe because I grew up on a farm…? I dunno, just some random thoughts brought up by the subject.

    Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 23:25:43 +0000 To: aronspidle@hotmail.com

  2. Chad I could not agree more, I’ve been talking about this issue for about 4 years in as many as 100 schools and close to 40,000 students. Sexting, Free Porn sites, Bullying, Online Youth Gambling the list goes on and on.I have a video you may have seen it on Doc Zone called “sexing up your kids” parents please watch. Interesting enough after 5 years of funding after so much support, from teachers etc, our government told us we would no longer be funded. We lost our funding after reaching these students March of this year.Guess what no one has picked it up and that means no one is in our schools talking to our kids about this.

  3. As an addictions Counselor and Youth Worker I can not believe the way people look at this as issue. The “SEX”addiction is 10 fold in youth these days.The impact of watching porn and looking at a dirty mag is so different. Its the way they portray sex in the vids, its hardcore, bestiality, anal the list goes on. Playboy did not show any of this. Kids see this and believe this is the way to treat there partner, This needs to be talked about over and over. please take the time and watch this video “sex up your kids” boys and girls this is our future.

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