Porn through the ages

By: Suzanne Stewart

Prior to the age of the internet, accessing pornography was a little more challenging and somewhat exposing; having to purchase magazines, or renting/purchasing videos or DVDs over the counter. With the introduction of the internet you can now, almost anonymously, access pornography anywhere you have access to the internet. There are issues with the ease of access to pornography today.

Children are increasingly connected to the internet at a young age and often are left unsupervised on devices. Children can unwittingly enter a search that results in viewing pornographic sites. The fact is, children are very confused by pornographic material; their brains are simply not ready to see those images and they don’t know how to make sense of them. Often children won’t tell their parents what they have seen and also, due to curiosity, may continue to search for such images. Because children process their experiences through play, exposure to pornography can result in children playing out what they have seen. At times such play may involve other children. While the intention of this sexualised play is to process their own exposure, unfortunately it can be experienced as harmful to those who end up engaged in the play.

The best advice is to have a preventative measure, such as having filters on any devices that your children are using that block any access to inappropriate material. As children move through the adolescent years, they begin to know more about sex and, therefore, become curious about all aspects of sex. It is understandable, given the easy access to pornography and perhaps in the absence of robust sex education, that teenagers search for pornography as a way to better understand what it is all about. The issue is that what they are viewing is not reality, and they may not fully understand this.  

Within pornography, there is a lack of any discussion or communication about entering into sexual activity. This  includes not modelling consent, lack of discussion about what both parties (or all parties) expectations are, what the individuals enjoy or don’t enjoy, types of contraceptive or safe sex practices, emotional connection, kindness, caring for each other, respect for each other … the list goes on. Furthermore, it is incredibly concerning that, according to research reported on the website thefrankchat.com, 88.2 per cent of all pornographic scenes contain some form of physical aggression against women.
Given these concerns, it is important to talk to teenagers about all aspects of sex, including respectful relationships and what a respectful sexual encounter looks like. There is material online about how to talk to your teenagers about sex and pornography, and also further information about the risks of pornography on teenagers.

And then we transition into adulthood. The potential issue with pornography in adulthood can be when it starts to interrupt intimacy within a relationship. This might be due to a partner using pornography rather than initiating intimacy with their partner, or a partner may start to be turned on by sexual acts viewed through pornography and put pressure on an unwilling partner and this pressure may be violent. Alternatively, a partner may find their partner’s viewing of pornography unacceptable, and it may feel to them like a type of infidelity.  There is also pornography addiction. Either way, if viewing pornography is causing harm to you or your relationship, it is indicative that you may need some support around this issue.

Homebuilders Family Services have supported families whose children, young people or couples are struggling with the negative impacts of pornography. They are happy to talk further to you if this is something you identify with.


Suzanne Stewart, Family Support Worker
www.homebuildersfs.org

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