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Why P*rn Isn't to Blame for Our Attitudes About Sex
The Real Problem with Sex Education
Is porn to blame for our messed-up attitudes about sex? You've probably heard people say it is before. Many people seem to think that porn is "bad" and should be banned because it gives people unrealistic expectations and distorts their view of sex. But is that really true?
In my experience as a sex coach, I've found that the answer is a resounding NO. When I ask my clients where they learned about sex, it's not often from porn. Instead, they often mention regular movies and TV shows. The problem is not that porn is the root of all evil; it's that we're not talking to our kids about sex and sexuality in a healthy way.
Take this Monty Python skit where a professor at a boy's school is supposed to teach the kids about sex. His wife is scheduled to join him, and they have very boring, disconnected intercourse as a "demonstration" for the boys. In reality, the "boys" are adult men acting as boys, and the couple is not actually having sex. But as viewer, we are supposed to believe they are.
Anyway, the wife is clearly bored and letting him perform sex with her as his model. It's supposed to be funny, and it is…
…but for a kid who doesn't know that posh British men and women are often portrayed to be above carnal pleasures, it looks like women don't enjoy sex. And so my client, when he was a young teen boy, saw that and came to that conclusion and generalized it to ALL women.
In another example, my client liked gangster movies when he was young. And in his personal life as he grew up, if a woman gave him a blow job, he didn’t think of her as “wife” material. Why? I can point to a specific scene in a movie with a gangster-like character:
In “Analyse This.”
Of course, there are many other examples of similar things in media that portray women this way. I’ve written about a couple more examples in my first book, “Read Me: A Parental Primer for ‘The Talk’.” But the truth is, some women really enjoy sex with a partner.
You could look at any media where sex is discussed or portrayed and really examine it critically - and we should! Porn is NOT the problem. Bad sex ed is the problem. And parents can help their children, but they also need to update their own sex education and examine their own messages they learned.
Here's the thing: kids are coming to their own conclusions about sex and sexuality based on what they see around them. If we're not talking to them about sex and sexuality in a healthy way, they're developing issues that move with them into their adult relationships and create problems for them to have happy, healthy sexual relationships with their partners.
So, what can we do?
Start talking about sex and sexuality in a healthy way
First, we need to start talking about sex and sexuality in a healthy way. Not to toot my own horn, but my book can be a great first step to help you with this. We need to have honest conversations with our kids about consent, pleasure, and the many different ways that people experience and express their sexuality.
Critically examine our media. All of it.
We also need to start looking at the media we consume critically. We need to be aware of the messages that are being conveyed and challenge them when they're inaccurate or worse, harmful.
Update our own sex education
And we need to update our own sex education, examining the messages we've received and questioning their accuracy and relevance. We need to challenge our own beliefs and assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality. We need to be open to new ideas and perspectives. And to notice our own hot buttons when it comes to this topic where we might not be really equipped to have the correct answers.
So again, porn is not the problem. Bad sex ed is the problem.
Let's start having honest conversations about sex and sexuality, both with our kids and with ourselves. Let's start questioning the messages we've received about sex and challenging them when they're harmful or inaccurate. And let's start building a world where everyone can enjoy healthy, happy sexual relationships, free from shame and stigma.
Are you with me? LMK in the comments. And share this if you agree!