Dis­cussing pornog­ra­phy with our teens

Sunday Tribune - - GOSSIP -

PORN, I read in an ar­ti­cle this week, has the great­est in­flu­ence on our young when it comes to sex ed­u­ca­tion. This is trou­bling con­sid­er­ing some of the porn I have watched in the early hours when I have been un­able to get to sleep. The women’s bod­ies, un­real in their near-ro­botic smooth per­fec­tion, are con­torted into po­si­tions you know are im­pos­si­ble with­out ter­ri­ble cramp.

In porn, sex is so of­ten some­thing that is “done” to the women by men who don’t seem nearly as con­cerned about the body beau­ti­ful or per­sonal groom­ing. You have to spend hours on porn sites to find women who look like they are ac­tu­ally en­joy­ing them­selves. Lit­er­ally hours. Makes me won­der if I watch porn be­cause I can’t sleep or if I can’t sleep be­cause I watch porn.

Teenage girls are be­ing pres­sured into hav­ing sex and send­ing nude pic­tures of their body parts over their smart­phones. It’s not a new thing, of course, young girls and women be­ing per­suaded to do things they don’t want to or are not ready to do. And the in­ter­net means that the pres­sure isn’t just there when they are out. It can be there when they are in their bed­room pre­tend­ing to do their ge­og­ra­phy home­work.

My gen­er­a­tion fum­bled about in the dark to learn about each other’s bits and pieces. A satin blind­fold was con­sid­ered “kinky”. A quick skim through a porn site now, though, sug­gests that un­less there are nip­ple clamps, hoists and a va­ri­ety of gar­den­ing tools in­volved, you are pos­i­tively Vic­to­rian.

After read­ing the lat­est ar­ti­cle, I pan­icked and in­ter­ro­gated my 10-year-old, in­ter­net-ob­sessed son at break­fast.

“You’ve done sex ed­u­ca­tion at school, right?” I blurted out. He nod­ded, his mouth full of Corn Flakes. “What did you learn?” is my next, slightly ma­ni­a­cal ques­tion.

My boy po­litely fin­ishes his mouth­ful be­fore an­swer­ing. “We learned about pu­berty, changes in your body and moods.” “And sex, right? Wil­lies and stuff ?” I’m out of con­trol. My poor boy shoots me a “you need to shut up, or I’ll be­come a banker” look.

But the ar­ti­cle has rat­tled me. I need to teach him right here, right now, that you must never ever pres­surise any­one into do­ing any­thing they are not com­fort­able do­ing.

In the film Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic, a fa­ther who has raised his chil­dren in the woods, away from main­stream so­ci­ety, al­lows com­pletely frank di­a­logue about sex­ual mat­ters, even with his youngest chil­dren. At the end of the film, he gives ad­vice to his teenage son who is about to leave the fam­ily for the first time to have his own ad­ven­tures: “When you have sex with a woman, be gen­tle, lis­ten to her. Treat her with re­spect and dig­nity, even if you don’t love her.”

“Sex is com­pletely nat­u­ral, you can talk about it to your mum,” I tell my mor­ti­fied son, who hangs on to his Corn Flakes bowl for com­fort and sup­port.


I drop it. For now. But we will talk. The birds and the bees chat is not enough. In fair­ness, it has never been enough. We need to talk about much more. Feel­ings, con­sent, that sort of thing.

Our daugh­ters are up against it. Be­ing val­ued by your looks did not come with the ar­rival of In­sta­gram. It’s an in­jus­tice as old as time.

It will be awk­ward talk­ing to my chil­dren about mat­ters be­yond the re­pro­duc­tive pur­pose of sex. But if not me, who? Porn­hub? Red­tube?

No mat­ter how ex­cru­ci­at­ing, we must cross the Ru­bi­con and dis­cuss porn with our teens. No mat­ter how “fair trade” you are in your choice of voyeurism, you can never be sure that no one is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated. The aw­ful stuff is out there, your kids will see it.

Shappi Khor­sandi is a co­me­dian and writer.

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