I know, talking about sex with kids is hard enough, let alone talking about porn! You may have tried to have “the talk”, and that was awkward, so now you just hope for the best! You’re not alone. Our ever-growing-media-saturated culture is not easy to keep up with. Even sex educators and sex researchers like myself have a hard time keeping up. Luckily, you get more than one shot. Talking about sex and porn isn’t a one-time only deal. Especially if your children are young or haven’t seen much porn yet. So, make sure to read part 1 of this 3-part series and prepare yourself first. In my years of studying and talking about sexuality and pornography with college students, teachers, social workers, counselors, and academics, I’ve discovered some important talking points to get conversations going. Regardless of how you feel about how right or wrong porn is, it is essential you understand porn and sex are quite different and should be approached differently.
I was facilitating a workshop for parents the other night, and there was some confusion over the difference between gender and sexual identity. So, I thought I’d do a quick post on some terminology, and share this helpful video that is really simplistic, yet clear, and suitable for most ages. Understanding the differences in gender, sexual orientation, biological sex, and sexual behavior can be legitimately confusing unless you happen to have had a course on gender or sexuality. For example, many people think of gender in a binary way, but it is more widely accepted as a spectrum (1). There is also the issue of intersectionality, where an individual’s gender identity meets their sexual identity (2), highlighting the importance of considering the nuances of identity and not trying to simply put people in clearly marked boxes. Then, there is the whole issue of sexual behavior. For example, some heterosexually-identified women kiss or engage in other sexual behavior with other women (3), and like the video suggests, some heterosexually-identified priests don’t engage in any sexual behavior. Therefore, sexual behavior does not determine sexual identity. In sum, not everyone agrees on the best terminology to use, but here are some terms that are pretty widely accepted with definitions mostly from GLAAD:
Sex: The biological classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are typically assigned a sex based on a combination of internal and external genitalia and in some cases, chromosomes.
I've been getting lots of requests for videos aimed at teens that can help explain some of the topics I cover in my workshops. I came across this wonderful series of videos that do just that. They cover several sexual and romantic topics from a scientific perspective. Enjoy!
The Science of Love
The Science of Heartbreak
The Science of 'Plan B' Emergency Contraception
Childbirth vs. Getting Kicked in the Balls
The Science of Pornography Addiction
The Science of Morning Wood
The Science of Orgasms
A documentary called Porn on the Brain aired in the UK, but you can watch it on YouTube for a limited time. I recommend it, but there are some intense images and subject matter, so keep that in mind before watching. Like all documentaries, there is an agenda. However, I think this documentary’s agenda is more than reasonable. To me it seems that they have highlighted what a lot of folks know to be true: Internet pornography is not the same as the pornography from "back in the day" and use of it in adolescence is pervasive. Yet, no one is talking about it.
There is currently a proposal for a new documentary titled, The Mask You Live In, on kickstarter. The aim for the documentary is to address the "boy crisis" by highlighting our societal standards for masculinity that create emotionally detached (and therefore more violent and depressed) boys and men. I wrote about another organization, The Demise of Guys, which also addresses how and why boys are struggling and what we can do about it. I’m excited about The Mask You Live In for two reasons: One, the creator is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, from Miss Representation, which is a wonderful documentary about the portrayal (or lack thereof) of women and girls in the media. Two, Jackson Katz is on board. If you haven’t seen Tough Guise, make a date with yourself and see it. The Mask You Live In seems like it would be a wonderful progression from that work. Please spread the word, so they can get the backing and funding they need to get this much-needed project underway!
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, and media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I hope this resource produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.