Myth #1: Porn is Part of Normal Sexual Development

Myth #1: Porn is Part of Normal Sexual Development June 1, 2020

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Not long ago, my husband and I had a discussion about how we were going to talk to our future children about sex. It’s very important that our children learn about sex from us before they learn about sex from porn. Consequently, we decided that we need to have our first (of many) sex talks with our children when they are eight years old. To be honest, I don’t really want to talk to my kid about sex at eight. But it’s not my choice. The average child is exposed to porn for the first time between 8-11 years old. If I don’t speak to them first, their concept of what sex looks like, feels like, and sounds like will be molded by an industry that is intended for adult entertainment. And that industry has a vested interest in influencing my child’s sexual development.

*This is the second installment of my series The Porn Industry is Gaslighting Us. For Part 1, Click here.*

Witnessing Sex as a Young Child is Abuse

What if a pair (or group) of adults chose to engage in sex while a young child was watching? What if they chose to perform exaggerated and even acrobatic sex acts specifically to draw and keep the attention of that child? We all know this would be child abuse. However, adding a screen to this scenario somehow normalizes it entirely. There’s nothing normal about a small child witnessing grown adults having sex.

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, “Seeing unfamiliar looking bodies engaging in acts that a child cannot comprehend is a confusing and frightening experience for a child.” Children experience a variety of emotions when they witness porn, especially when they don’t yet know about sex. The experience is simultaneously frightening, confusing, exciting, embarrassing, and arousing. Healthy sexual development requires safety, curiosity, and accurate information – not fear and confusion.

The Porn Industry Benefits from Attracting Young Consumers

In 1988 Camel cigarettes released a new mascot: Joe Camel. This was a friendly cartoon camel specifically intended to market a harmful, addictive product to children. Why? Because children were the next generation of consumers. How great if the could be hooked before they even turn eighteen?

While the porn industry is fortunately not permitted to advertise with cartoons, they have a similar operating procedure. Attract consumers young, get them hooked on your product, and profit. By attracting children young enough to not have had sex education, the porn industry becomes an essential component of a child’s sexual development. They get to mold a child’s sexuality. What a business model!

Can’t Anything Be Done?

Cigarette companies did not stop marketing to children because they grew a moral compass. They stopped marketing to children because it was no longer in their best interests to do so. Federal regulations, fines, lawsuits, and public perception of their activities forced them to change. (Recently, vaping has undone some of this progress.)

The porn industry is both similar and different. The way their product is delivered – free content on the internet – gives them plausible deniability. How can they regulate who consumes their product when they’re online? Well, the porn industry is nothing if not innovative. They have created a massive customer base and, to be honest, driven much of the development of the internet. If they had a vested interest in stopping children from viewing their product, huge companies like PornHub would pay attention. Start slapping fines on these companies for not taking steps to combat child viewership. Better yet, charge them with child abuse. They’ll find solutions.

Porn is No Substitute for Good Sexual Education

Some of my readers will want to bring up the subject of educational pornography. This genre is often female-centered and focuses on understanding pleasure and enjoying sex. To be clear, this type of porn is not part of the mainstream porn industry, and it’s not what I’m talking about when I describe gaslighting. In fact, many of it’s creators share my concerns about the industry. However, it still isn’t acceptable for children, who need to learn about sex, not witness it. 

Educational porn may be useful for some adults, but it will never be a substitute for quality sexual education. This is what we really need for healthy sexual development. Christians need to start advocating for sexual education that is accurate, age-appropriate, and addresses issues such as consent and respect.

Teaching Christian Sexual Values

I want to speak specifically to those readers of mine who are Christian. We need to stop being afraid of sexual education. Our values hold that sex belongs in marriage. However, there is no benefit to restricting information from young people or trying to clamp down on human sexuality. I personally find the Christian sexual ethic to be immensely gratifying and freeing. But that only works if we stop treating sex as a dirty secret and start treating it as a beautiful gift. If we do not teach our children about sex in a way that is satisfying and empowering they will seek information from other sources, and those sources do not care about them. They only want to get them hooked.

*The third installment of this series, Myth #2: Porn is Non-Addictive will be released a week from today.*

 

Update: I’ve received several requests for concrete examples of PornHub marketing to children. A close friend shared these examples with me of PornHub using popular cartoons on their Instagram. It should be noted that Instagram is a platform widely used by people of all ages, and unlikely to be blocked by parents trying to keep their kids away from porn. You can find examples at the following links:

SpiderMan

Arthur 

SpongeBob SquarePants

The Incredibles

Finally, this image was taken down from PornHub’s IG, but is clearly aimed at children in both the image and the text.

About Emily Claire Schmitt
Emily Claire Schmitt is a playwright and screenwriter focused on uncovering the mystical in the modern world. She is a Core Member of The Skeleton Rep(resents) and is currently developing an original movie with The Hallmark Channel. Find her on Twitter @Eclaire082. You can read more about the author here.

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