In December 2013, I had perhaps what may be the biggest professional showdown of my career. I was involved in an initiative that upset a particular ‘professional body’. I was scolded and told in no uncertain terms that “Regardless of whatever research is presented on the purported harms of pornography, this project’s core activities seem to involve the production of anti-porn material, [perhaps even propaganda], by young people themselves”. I was also accused of being “swept up into an activity that is inherently biased and potentially erotophobic.” Needless to say, I resigned from my position and left this organisation, relentless in my pursuit to be a voice about the issue of children and young people accessing online hard core pornography.
Now I read in the Australian Psychological Associations submission to the Senate Inquiry into the ‘Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet’. One of their recommendations is “Engaging young people themselves in developing initiatives to counter prevailing cultures of pornography and sexualisation.” The very thing I was accused of being “swept up into” and had my professionalism come under scrutiny for, is the very thing that is now being recommended. If you hang in there for long enough, truth eventually surfaces.
Over two years on, countless more kids have been impacted by accessing hard core porn. And there has been an apathy and unwillingness to take action…. perhaps people have been ‘waiting for the research’, even though it doesn’t take a ‘study’ to show how traumatising it is for children to see extreme sexual content. Or perhaps it’s too uncomfortable to have the in the conversation in the first place because it confronts adult behaviours in a way that’s a bit too personal. Or perhaps people have been looking the other way, not knowing how to respond. Or perhaps people still think ‘porn’ is a magazine tucked under the bed. Or perhaps people have been waiting for direction on what to do.
I get it. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s a conversation we MUST have. Today I was speaking with one of the organisations I work with who is delivering the Youth Wellbeing Project BODY IQ Level 3 program for Years 5 & 6. Last week she had a conversation with a girl in Year 10 who was telling her about the ‘Eagle’ position – a sexual position that is the new expectation. What is that you may ask? That’s a 5-span position assumed by a woman subjected to male sexual exploitation – spread out like an eagle. A penis in the vagina, a penis in the anus, a penis in the mouth and 2 penises either side, coming on her face. As so aptly said by Melinda Tankard Reist, “The pornographic experiment on the healthy sexual development of our children must end now.”
It’s time to turn the tide. It’s time to wake up to the harms of online pornography on children and young people and actually do something about it. It’s time to stop taking the ‘politically correct’ approach about Internet porn – it is violent, exploitative, degrading and dehumanising – and our children have free and easy access to it. I am totally over people trying to frame it as ‘adult entertainment’. There is NOTHING entertaining about a woman in an ‘eagle’ position – and there’s NOTHING okay about a 15 year old girl thinking that this is the new norm. If we are serious about addressing violence against women, we MUST address pornography as a normaliser and driver of sexual violence, and be real about the way this is framing our children and young people’s ‘sexual scripts’.
As I commence my Australian and New Zealand tour, starting in North Brisbane on July 22, those who attend will learn about the impact that porn is having on children and young people, as well as how the ripple effect has left no area of culture untouched. With Professional Development Workshops in Brisbane, Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and parenting workshops scheduled for NZ and Melbourne, please let people know about these events. I will be brutally honest about what our children and young people have access to, and share a multi-pronged approach that provides strategies to deal with the fall out of allowing the porn industry to mess with our kids.
If you think you know what’s going on but really want to peel back the layers and take a closer look, then attend.
If you have been turning a blind eye in the school yard because the issue seems too big, then attend.
If you want to speak up but don’t know how, then attend.
If you’ve silently sat back, confused about the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ messages, then attend.
All people who work with children and young people will have to deal with this issue at some point – be a part of turning the tide.
- Learn more and book.
- Australian parents, if you would like a workshop in your area, learn more here.
- And if you can’t attend and wish you could do ‘something’, please add your voice to the eChildhood movement.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been sharing these blog posts and for all your great feedback. If you have a topic you would like me to blog about, send an email me or ASK ME through Vidoyen. If you would like to enquire about my availability and professional speaking fees to present at your school, in-service, conference, community, youth or church event, enquire via email. If you are looking for sexuality education support, find us at Youth Wellbeing Project and sign up to receive our newsletter.