Pornog­ra­phy not real life

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - KATY WIL­SON

OPIN­ION: We need to have an open, in­formed de­bate on sex ed­u­ca­tion and pornog­ra­phy.

The is­sues, which are clearly re­lated, are not go­ing away and there is a real need for so­ci­ety to re-ex­am­ine its at­ti­tudes to­wards them. What we see in the me­dia, of­ten is pre­sented in a sub­jec­tive man­ner, with the writer or pre­sen­ter’s view skew­ing the mes­sage to what they want you to see.

Any closer ex­am­i­na­tion made with the ben­e­fit of our own knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence will of­ten mean we come to a dif­fer­ent view and that is cer­tainly the case with pornog­ra­phy.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests it is hav­ing an im­pact on young peo­ple’s per­cep­tions and be­hav­iour in re­la­tion­ships. What knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence do they have to know that what they see isn’t real?

Now, I’m not sure what you learned at school dur­ing health ed­u­ca­tion classes, but I know in my ex­pe­ri­ence that the ar­chaic cur­ricu­lum that teaches stu­dents how to use a con­dom, ab­sti­nence, and ba­sic body anatomy def­i­nitely did not pre­pare me for the world of dat­ing, re­la­tion­ships and sex.

For years, sex ed­u­ca­tion fo­cused on risk, ie. avoid­ing preg­nancy and STDs, and that the ideal teen be­hav­iour when it comes to sex is ab­sti­nence.

In a per­fect world, if teenagers waited un­til their brains were fully de­vel­oped to un­der­stand the risks and re­al­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships, that would be ideal.

But let’s be hon­est, they aren’t wait­ing. And if they aren’t be­ing taught how to ‘‘do it’’ in school, then why blame young peo­ple when they turn to the only al­ter­na­tive sex ed­u­ca­tor they know - porn?.

This is where a new con­cept of sex pos­i­tiv­ity may come in handy. Be­ing sex pos­i­tive means hav­ing a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude about sex and one’s own sex­u­al­ity. It means be­ing open to learn­ing about sex, un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of safe sex, be­ing able to ac­knowl­edge that some­times you or your part­ner might not want sex, which is OK, and not judg­ing oth­ers for their own sex­u­al­ity.

The con­cept of sex pos­i­tiv­ity must, how­ever, be taken with a grain of salt. Some un­der­ground ‘‘sex-pos­i­tive’’ pro­claimers pro­mote porn as good, with­out warn­ing young peo­ple that porn isn’t re­al­ity and that what hap­pens in porn isn’t what ac­tu­ally hap­pens in real life.

What­ever your thoughts might be on sex pos­i­tiv­ity, we need a cur­ricu­lum for sex ed­u­ca­tion that teaches young peo­ple about sex and sex­u­al­ity, and porn is def­i­nitely not the an­swer.

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