Buzz, Culture

Your Kids Will Look at Internet Porn. Deal With It. A Conversation with Peggy Orenstein.


Visitors to Pornhub, the largest porn site on the internet, watched about 92 billion sexytime videos last year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I have two young sons; I don’t want them to end up incapable of being aroused by an in-the-flesh human because their first encounter with sex was a clip of a porpoise-pudenda’d MILF getting jackhammered. So I called Peggy Orenstein. The author of Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter is currently working on a book about boys, masculinity, sex, love—and yes, porn. As part of her research, she’s interviewing high school– and college-age males across the country. I needed her counsel.

WIRED: Are all the kids watching it?

The first thing I recognized when I started working on the new book was that the question to ask boys is not whether or if they watch porn. The question is, when was the first time they saw it? The most typical answer I get is 11, sometimes 13, sometimes younger.

How do they come across it?

Sometimes they felt they needed to know what people were talking about, or an older boy had said, “Hey, look at this.” Boys will say things to me like “When I was 11, I looked up ‘big boobies.’” With just a couple of clicks, that search can lead them to images or videos they’re not prepared to understand or process. What I always say to parents is, if you’ve never gone on Pornhub to see what is there for free—on the opening page—then you have no idea what we’re talking about.

What’s the effect on those boys?

Research suggests a positive correlation between heterosexual guys who look at porn regularly and those who support same-sex marriage.

Great!

Ah, but they’re also less likely to support affirmative action for women. And among young men, exposure to porn has been correlated with seeing sex as purely physical, regarding girls as playthings, and measuring their masculinity and their self-worth by their ability to score with hot women.

And one study suggests that female porn viewers are less likely than other women to intervene if they see another woman being threatened or assaulted.

See, this is why I want to craft a porn ecosystem that allows nothing but positive, friendly porn between ­realistic-looking people. Nothing with dogs or sex machines. All consensual and preferably partially clothed. And make it so my kids’ phones and computers can go there and no other porn sites.

There’s something weird about curating your sons’ porn.

Fair enough.



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