The Harbinger Online

Looking Past Porn

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Senior Blake Murphy* was confused. He thought that when he had his first girlfriend, he’d be having sex right away. After all, that’s the sense he got from the porn he had been watching since seventh grade.

But that wasn’t the case. It took a sit-down conversation, where his girlfriend explained to him  that having sex with someone, and losing one’s virginity, was a serious thing. It made him realize that it should happen with someone you really care about, and that it can’t be rushed.

“From watching porn I thought that having sex was an easy thing that can just happen right away,” Murphy said.

kraskIn fact, based on the porn he had spent so many hours sneakily watching while his parents thought he was doing homework, or other things in his room, Murphy thought he would have lost his virginity much sooner than senior year of high school.

And that’s the problem with pornography today, compared to before the internet existed said Robert Weiss, who’s an international sexual addiction expert, author and educator in Los Angeles, California. Now instantly available on laptops and cell phones everywhere, porn is as easy to access as checking the score of the Royals game.

Pornography, Weiss said, presents, “a distorted view of human sexuality.” In other words, it desensitizes you from the real-life, human sexual experience.

“It doesn’t tell you how to be in a relationship, or how to form one,” Weiss said.

One of the main things that makes porn such a big problem among teens is it’s accessibility, according to Weiss.

Porn: it’s right at your fingertips

It wasn’t long ago that accessing porn took more than typing a few words into the internet search bar.

It required getting dressed, hopping in the car and being at the risk of seeing somebody you know while buying the porn DVD or magazine. And that’s if you were 18 or older. For kids younger than 18, they had to worry about getting carded, and finding someone who would sell it to them: it was almost like buying tobacco or alcohol for teens today.

“There was a period from the late ‘90s to early 2000s when I think we went from human speed to 10 times that,” Weiss said. “Then when we got smart phones and social media, [accessing porn] was like 100 times that.”

Weiss says that what some don’t realize is how common pornography use is among teens today. According to Weiss, all teenage boys today are looking at porn to some extent.

Every. Single. One.

In his article published in the Huffington Post, Weiss says that when Canadian scholar Sion Lajeunesse attempted to perform research on the effects of porn on young males, he had to quit his experiment because he couldn’t find any potential test subjects who weren’t already porn users.

Phil Fields, whose two sons are Shawnee Mission East graduates, says that if you’re a kid who watches porn, your parents likely already know about it.

“Here’s a tip,” Fields said. “Most parents I know are never as clueless as teens think they are. Unfortunately for most teens, they don’t realize that until they get older.”

Not every single teenage boy watching porn will be negatively affected, Weiss said. Most kids who watch porn are going to be just fine. It’s those with problematic upbringings, and other emotional issues that are going to lead to problems with porn addiction.

“Healthy people tend to not get caught up in addictions, period,” Weiss said. “They don’t have a need for addiction, or a need to escape, and their emotional needs are met in day to day life. But it’s the people with trouble at home, and with really problematic upbringings where the addiction mostly occur.”

How does porn affect real sexual relationships?

Porn can present a distorted view of human sexuality, according to Weiss.

“Seeing two people having sex doesn’t tell you much about relationships or even sexuality and that people care about each other,” Weiss said. “So if your main exposure to sex is these people having these incredibly intense experiences with these perfect bodies, that’s not what real life is like.”

According to psychologist Wes Crenshaw, who holds health certificates in sex therapy and sex education from the University of Michigan, porn can take away a boy’s focus on his partner.

“If a boy is getting all his gratification from porn, he may become very self-focused and not attentive to partners,” Crenshaw said.

Weiss compares watching too much pornography to a person who eats cookies and ice cream every day. He says that if your stimulation level for food is ice cream and cookies, you probably won’t be interested in eating chicken and broccoli.

“So in the same way, when you have highly stimulating images of sexuality, that will even affect holding somebody’s hand, it’s just not that interesting,” Weiss said. “You’re used to these incredibly mind-blowing sexual things you’re looking at.”

What should parents do?

Another concern of Weiss’ is how kids are learning about sex. He says that most young people aren’t learning about sexuality through a window or filter of intimacy and caring, like they should be.

“Porn is kind of their sex education these days other than the crap they teach you at school, which is pretty useless,” Weiss said.

Weiss said that because porn is major outlet of how kids are learning about sex, that it obligates parents to talk to their kids about what intimacy is. He says that parents need to explain that porn is adult entertainment.

“It’s like when you go to the movies and see Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible,” Weiss said. “You know the tricks he’s doing aren’t real. My concern is that kids end up thinking that porn is what sex is, and porn is one kind of sex, that’s been exaggerated. You’re being given this very adult information about sexuality. Parents should tell their kids that this isn’t how most people act in the real world, this is entertainment just like watching Mission Impossible.”

Crenshaw says that parents today should be thinking about the influence of porn on a whole generation of kids.

“Don’t think of it simply as a terrible problem, but think of it as America’s number one sex educator today,” Crenshaw said. “[Parents] don’t have to like that, but they’d better get into the conversation or be left behind.”

*Name changed to protect identity

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