Porn is not a role model

I saw an art gallery space that dealt with porn and self-image that deals with the idea that kids aged 12-14 are watching porn and being influenced by it, specifically how the artist felt it was lowering their self-esteem and confidence in their bodies. Truth be told the space seemed to be more about gender images enforced onto children (though “adult” images are included), nonetheless it inspired a reaction in my mind.

The immediate thing that bugged me is the idea that kids these days are actually watching porn. While it is true that, in theory, kids could practically access porn on the internet without the proper parental controls in place, but where is the evidence that kids are actually watching porn, let alone on a large scale that would be implied by the likes of The Daily Mail? Not only that, but how can you be sure that kids actually search for porn or know to search for it. And how do you know your kids actually know what they’re seeing, or are traumatized by it at all? They might be confused, but they’ll never have any idea what’s going on or care until they turn into teenagers. There’s simply no evidence.

And then we have gender images. Yes, children are conditioned into ideas of gender and how to be a man or a woman through the media, but if you think about it, a lot of that is because of the parents. I mean think about it, the parents raise children around gender norms and roles almost from birth, and they are usually the ones who expose children to those images and buy they them things to fulfil them. So if you think about it, who’s making children conform to gender norms and images: the media, or the parents?

And then there’s puberty. In a teenagers life there’s all sorts of things going on that could make them feel down in the dumps, or generally different from how they were as kids. A rough patch in their parents’ relationship, a change of schools, not to mention puberty itself. How do you know those aren’t the things making teens feel bad about themselves? How do you know porn is all that traumatising, especially for teenagers who are aware by now that they have private parts? Do you think they don’t notice until they’re 18? Hell no. And how do you assume that teens access some of the most graphic and hardcore stuff around just because they can, regardless of the fact that not everyone is interested in such niche fetishes?

But now let’s move on to the issue of self-esteem. Let’s say kids are looking at porn and feeling bad about themselves. Let’s say you’re 12-14 years old and you’re worried that you haven’t had sex, or that your body isn’t like the bodies of porn stars, or that your member isn’t big enough. If you are then let me ask you something: what the hell are you thinking? Are kids actually basing their self-esteem on what they see in porn? If they are, then of course they might feel bad about themselves, but if that’s true then the real solution is to teach young people not to build their self-esteem around made-up images, not to get rid of pornography for reasonable adults. This is not the result of “the moral fabric of society breaking down”, this is the result of adults keeping pubescent kids in the dark.

Pornography is fantasy in the same sense that movies are: even though they may be portrayed by real people, it’s still faked. No matter how arousing the scenarios might be, it’s important to remember that this isn’t real. And if you young people are basing their self-esteem on porn, unrealistic pornographic scenarios, and on acting out scenarios and being like the porn stars, then that’s the problem, not porn.

The problem is that we’re not teaching young people not to base their self-esteem on gender images, or porn if their watching it, and we don’t seem to be encourage young people to talk about these things to their parents and school counsellors, not just the internet, so that they can get the advice, knowledge, and support that they need. Instead, most people left and right are looking for scapegoats, something to shut away and get rid of in the vainglorious hope that all will be right, and our politicians and our media are rolling with it. The problem was never porn. The problem is ignorance.

Of course, with the art space I found, at least one say the artist is engaging debate about the subject, and getting us to actually think about the subject, which if we’re very honest is something we need. At least it’s not another Daily Mail campaign.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s