Nov 192013
 

Dan Savage for Intiman by LaRae Lobdell | PhotoSister.comI recently had a conversation with the father of a 12-year-old who was worried that his son would get a grossly distorted view of sex from porn, since there’s so much of it these days and it can get pretty extreme.

Well sure. There are some things you’ll learn from porn that are wrong if porn is your only source. Just as there are many aspects of life that you will get drastically wrong if Hollywood is your only source. I don’t consider this to be significant. Conscientious parents will inform their kids that porn is Kabuki Sex (as Dan Savage says), and will tell them that in real life people need foreplay, anal doesn’t happen until much later (if at all), and so forth. Kids who don’t have such parents (as I didn’t) will learn these lessons extremely quickly once they become sexually active. Seriously, those lessons are picked up in a flash, because they’re so vital to getting laid.

There’s also this weird concern that porn will teach boys to disrespect women.

No.

Porn is obviously ludicrous. Any boy with a female teacher learns immediately that they do not keep you after class to have sex with you. No one ever thinks those actions translate to real life. The stigma and secrecy that goes along with porn is enough of a signal on its own that it does not reflect real-life behavior. A kid will treat women with the respect or disrespect that has been demonstrated to him by his parents, peers, and society. If there are behavioral issues with your kid, look there. Porn is as responsible for his mistreatment of women as video games are responsible for his violent outbursts (ie: not at all). Again I point to the statistic that 100% of men watch porn and this doesn’t make them any more hostile to women. Every kind father, every young male feminist, every decent boyfriend – all watch porn. Hasn’t made them evil.

I’m actually more concerned about the self-image issues boys can get from porn than the female-issues. Their first girlfriend will quickly straighten out the female issues, but with no other males to compare themselves to, boys can internalize a lot of wrong ideas that will stick with them for a long time.

For example:

*The idea that all men are ready to fuck at the drop of a hat, as long as the female is willing. Sometimes, I just plain don’t want to fuck. I’m not in the mood. The shaming of being “unable to get it up” is really intense when you believe that this is the measure of your manhood. It took quite a while for me to become OK with saying No.

*The idea that the only thing men want is sex, all the time, to the exclusion of all else. Sometimes I really do just want to read, or play a game, or work on a project. Don’t feel bad that I’m not always drooling over you, it’s not a sign of anything wrong with you. And don’t imply there’s something wrong with me if I’m not lured away from my desk by the promise of titties. They’re fun, they’re not the Holy Grail

*The idea that men don’t have feelings, or at least none that matter in the face of sex. If I dislike you personally, I can’t have sex with you. Again, that doesn’t mean I fail at masculinity.

The thing is – these aren’t problems because of porn. These are problems that are part of the fabric of our society. These messages are constantly broadcast to all of us, in movies, in sitcoms, in casual banter. They’re reinforced by women as well as men. If this was not the case, and these tropes showed up only in porn, they’d have no noticeable effect on anyone. They’d be just as silly and ignorable as the old “you’re going to get sex every time you deliver a pizza to a woman” trope.

My only proposed solution right now is to read/listen to a lot of Dan Savage. I suppose that guys talking frankly with other guys about sex could also work, but that’s waaaaaaay too “gay” for most people to actually do, especially at the age that it’s needed. For lots of young straight guys, the best they can do is surreptitiously listen in on gay guys discussing sex. I think the acceptance of gay culture is one of the best things to ever happen to straight male sexuality, because gay guys actually have other guys’ sex lives to compare their own to – other penises to use as references. They brought some actual discussion of sex from the male perspective into the room. Before that, all men had to compare themselves to are the myths and legends of history’s great liars.

  2 Responses to “Do not blame porn. DO thank a gay guy.”

  1. Great post! I can’t agree more!
    I was lucky, because my father talked quite open about male sexuality with me (as his daughter). I think he feared, that I could get a wrong image about the topic (although it wasn’t easy for him to start that topic :o) ). But I also think that it was a much harder job for him to talk with my two brothers (I don’t even know if he ever did). Especially, because one is straight and the other one gay. You could feel how much light-hearted all of them could mention sex after the coming out of my brother and the introduction of his boyfriend. And, as a woman, you can learn a lot about little squabbles between them ;-)

    • Awesome! I wish my upbringing had been more like this. I can’t imagine how much life had to suck for people before the internet brought all of human knowledge to our fingertips. Not that the internet can compare to real-life conversations and/or listening in on others. :) But at least it’s something, when no other options are available.

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