Porn is out there, it's accessible, and it's here to stay. Sex and porn are so inextricably linked that it's as impossible to imagine the world without the one as it is without the other. Call me biased, but it seems prudent to me to educate the next generation on both topics, rather than just one (or neither, as is the unfortunate case for many) since ignoring porn, or even demonizing it, won't make kids stay clear of it. Remember how having "the drug talk" with your kids became mandatory in the last 20 years? I think we now need the same thing, but for sex media: porn, erotica, sexting, etc.
According to a recent New York Times article, there are parents who agree with me on this. Okay, so I doubt many have had the same kind of premeditation on the subject or it's broaching as I have (see my last blog post), but I was so impressed by how the parents interviewed chose to deal with "the talk" after it became evident that their child had seen, or was interested in porn. And just like the most successful "drug talks" I've heard of, the parents with whom I was most impressed chose to educate their child in the most informative, supportive, judgment-free environment possible.
On the heels of this article arrives one by the Los Angeles Times, a five questions piece regarding the recent book The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Struggle and What We Can Do About It and the authors' findings that great exposure to pornography (as well as video games, interestingly enough) leaves young men isolated and socially stunted. I won't argue this point, but I would like to add that this would probably occur under specific conditions: those being that viewing porn without any context, and without any real-world experience can be a very confusing thing.
This is because the current state of mainstream porn is sad. From what I've seen, it rarely represents the typical human sexual experience in any way, and without that element of reality, reflects a kind of parallel universe of hairlessness, bleaching, diminutive speech, athleticism: a formula devoid of much pleasure, ending in ejaculation. I imagine teens being transfixed by this parallel universe, much like young children who reach up to touch the Sesame Street puppets shown on the TV screen, completely unaware that the images are in no way real. Regardless of one's sex politics, I think there are few parents who want their children to think that that's how sex is or ought to be.
Maybe, as the Los Angeles Times interview suggests, there needs to be a closer marriage of reality and porn, something that brings it out from the shadows of isolation and instead adds to a person's social wellbeing. All I can suggest, as I so often do, is seeking and promoting good porn. Something that leaves the viewer feeling good about their experience, rather than bad or confused. One parent from the New York Times article even went so far as to offer their child a couple of websites that they thought were appropriate, which would both offer their teen an outlet for their interest, and represent a positive sexual experience.
It reminded me of a recent interaction I had in nearby Girona, during an art house screening of my latest movie, Cabaret Desire. Two middle-aged fans approached me to sign a copy of the DVD and we chatted. When I asked to whom I should make out the signature, the woman stated that it was for her son. "He's sixteen, he watches porn anyway -- so he'd better be watching this!"
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thrilled when parenting and sexuality intersects, and appreciate the debates and conversations that arise when it does. So I'm particularly excited when two large news publications cover the topic of porn and parenting back-to-back like this. These discussions remind us that, just like one can't rely on TV to be a babysitter, one can't rely on porn to be their child's sole sex-educator. That information has to come from the parent before they seek porn or have sex, and then maybe they'll have a chance to be able to distinguish between good and bad porn, reality and fantasy, and leave them more connected to others and the outside world.