Porn in school: a necessary subject?


Reading Gail Dines’ ‘Pornland’ makes me feel quite ill in places. In my quest to find out more about the porn industry, I’ve been keen to avoid seeing any images (that would simply perpetuate the abuse), but rather read descriptions in order to redeem this knowledge for good purposes. And it’s tough stuff. Whether you focus on the physical effects (e.g. anal reparative surgery) or the mental consequences (e.g. self-destructive behaviour), it really is tortuous and bleak.

On a wider level, it is heart-breaking to read about how young women’s body confidence is being dismantled – in some cases destroyed – by the ruinous expectations set up by the porn industry. So many feel the need to look like porn stars, with the endless waxing involved, otherwise they risk rejection by potential partners. (Pornland, Dines p99ff) Reading the disgust with which some have been greeted for not waxing sufficiently demonstrates the totalitarianism of the porn industry – ‘it’s our way or social exclusion’. And the mainstream ‘women’s’ magazines who peddle the same line in more acceptable ways simply add fuel to this fire. This is, of course, before we get into the details of what might be demanded in the bedroom. I recently heard of a case where a marriage broke up within a couple of years because the husband’s previous porn consumption had led to demands that could not (and should not) be fulfilled by his wife. I’m sure this is a widespread issue leading to misery, separation and possibly violence.

So here’s a suggestion I open up for discussion: is there a place for education about pornography, its values and its effects, in Relationships and Sex Education in Schools? Could it be taught in age-appropriate ways through the age range Year 6 to Year 11 in a way that builds self-esteem for both sexes? And could parents be sent a summary of the presentations to provoke family conversations?

Your thoughts are most welcome…

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8 thoughts on “Porn in school: a necessary subject?

  1. Thank you for raising this subject – I think this is is a vital issue that has been ignored for too long by the church and is doing much damage to society and young people. I do agree that it would be really valuable to tackle to subect in schools, but the approach would need to be carefully considered… Porn has become such a common thing that many people think there is nothing wrong with it. I would like to see this assumption being challenged in schools. I hope to see lots more talk on this subject amongst Christians, if we can manage to get over our squemishness about awkward topics!

    1. thanks Claire- I agree that we are sometimes too squeamish but that is changing (it is a largely generational attitude). Lots of others are doing great work in this area (e.g. Romance Academy, evaluate, Urban Saints etc)

      1. Yes I’ve been really encouraged by the work some people are doing – I actually went to a conference about it recently called ‘Pornscars’, which was really great, so attitudes are changing like you say.

      2. I’m hoping to be at the next pornscars conference in Feb. We are consigning a generation of young men and women into a future of relational catastrophe by our silence- keep on making a noise!

  2. Oo there’s another Pornscars conference? I did not know this! I’ll try and be there 🙂 It’s encouraging to be around others who can see the truth of it too! Thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment and interesting post. My assumption is that Relationships and Sex Education is supposed to address the basics of the subject as it affects young people. Pornography is probably the greatest-growing influence on sexual practice and its effects are wide-ranging and frankly detrimental. So- to ignore it would seem negligent and would also signal to young people that we don’t really care about its use. If SRE were to include a component addressing this, it could be based around its depiction of women, its tendency towards violence and its effect on teenage relationships. It seems to me that as young people are using it anyway (and as many parents don’t know, don’t care or are ill-equipped to challenge it) then it has to be tackled as part of SRE. I don’t think it will lead to greater use- it might well make young men and women think carefully about what they are doing to strangers, one another and themselves.

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