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The Iona Blog

How porn is misshaping teenagers’ view of sex

Author: Tom O'Gorman
Date: 9th April 2013

A story from the UK last week suggested that by the time they reach 14, nearly all boys have accessed pornography. 

While we don't know the figures here, we can be sure that it is a growing problem in Ireland too.
 
It is in this context that the controversy over the SpunOut website, which described threesomes as “fun” for teenagers, is best understood.
 
Breda O'Brien, writing in Saturday's Irish Times, points out that the attitude to sex promoted by SpunOut, portraying it as a recreational activity, and the culture promoted by porn are virtually the same.
 
She writes: “SpunOut suggested that it was simply trying to protect young people from receiving their information on sexuality from pornography. Even though it is a State-funded organisation, it did not have the insight to see that it is simply reinforcing norms that are originating in porn.

“In its puberty section, SpunOut also discusses shaving. Helpfully, it offers tips on genital shaving. Strangely enough, that’s straight out of porn, too.

“The organisation also said that it was not endorsing threesomes for teens. Really? The headline on the original piece was : 'Threesomes – how to have a fun and safe experience.' So what would constitute endorsement, then?”

Instead of seeming to promote the “joys” of commitment-free sex, O'Brien says, SpunOut should aim at pointing out the pitfalls of sex without an emotional connection.”

“SpunOut needs to highlight the benefits of sex when there is emotional closeness, trust and commitment, not suggest that so long as a condom is used, sex with someone you have no feelings for is just another recreational activity. It needs to offer young people something a little less shallow than what they can already find with ease in glossy magazines or online.”

The whole article can be read here.

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