What Pornography doesn’t teach you.

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What Pornography doesn’t teach you

Many teenagers will, at some stage, access pornography either accidentally or intentionally during their adolescence.  

Your response to the pornography depends on things like:

  • The pornography you see.
  • Your understanding of what you see.
  • Your sexual orientation; and
  • The context in which you see it.  For example, is it with friends of your own age and you are just mucking around or is it in a context where you don’t feel safe?

However you are exposed to pornography, it is important to remember, pornography never tells the whole story.

Things pornography doesn’t teach but which you need to know.

1. The importance of consent

Pornography never shows consent.  

What is consent?

Under the law, consent must be freely and voluntarily given. This means:

  • Hassling and putting pressure on a person to engage in a sexual activity is not consent.
  • Silence by a person is not consent.
  • A person can give consent and then change their mind. When they change their mind, sexual activity must stop immediately.


2. Age and Consent*

Age is important when thinking about consent.

If you are under the age of 13 years you cannot consent to sexual activity.

There are also laws around sexual activity for 13 – 16-year-olds, particularly if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is more than 3 years older than you.

In pornography you do not see healthy consent modelled.

As parents we need to teach our teenagers about the importance of consent and how to say no. There is the fear that if they say no, they will be viewed as having “a problem” or something being wrong with them.

3. Consent, Alcohol and Drugs

Taking alcohol and/or drugs can affect our understanding of consent. If we are off our face having taken drugs or drunk too much alcohol, we may not pick up when someone is saying no to us.

The other thing is that some drugs can make you horny and want to engage in sexual activity. This can also impact your understanding of whether the other person is consenting or not.

Getting high, getting off your face, getting smashed and mixing that with sex is not a good move.

Pornography and size

Many teenagers and young men are concerned about their size.  This fear is often not articulated or only done so in a joking way.  Yet, it is an anxiety that lies deep in the subconscious.  

When a teenage boy feels anxious about acne, being socially uncomfortable, being too tall or too skinny or not tall enough, the subtle comparison with adult porn stars adds to their anxiety that they will not be man enough.  The other thing with pornography is that men are always shown as ready for action.  For young men this creates an unrealistic expectation and pressure that they should always be ready for sex.  

This is the lie of pornography. You do not always have to be turned on; you do not always have to want sex. It is normal and healthy to only want sex sometimes.  You create problems by thinking that somehow you must live up to what you see on porn.

Size does not matter. 

It is learning to be comfortable with your own sexuality and learn how to express that sexuality in healthy, respectful, consensual and legal ways.

 – Written by David Kernohan, Director of Youth Legal Services

*This information is not to be considered legal advice and is for information purposes only.  If you have a legal issue you must speak to a lawyer about your particular situation.

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