Lies and Statistics
Parents have always struggled with how to talk with their kids about sex, but in a world where pornography is a mouse click away, the conversation is more complicated than ever. A rather alarming number of adolescentsgirls as well as boysseem to be looking at porn online and using it as inspiration for their own "sexting," blithely sending explicit pictures of themselves to their crushes and posing suggestively on their Facebook profiles.
This state of affairs suggests that some teens may feel that they're expected to have extensive carnal knowledge at an early agebecause everyone else does. Here's where you come in. You can be the reality check for your kid.
In fact, although sexting is rampant among the young, sex is not. Although seven in 10 teens have had sex by the time they're 19, only 13 percent have had sex by age 15. The average age for first intercourse is 17. And 72 percent of girls and 56 percent of guys have sex for the first time with a boyfriend or girlfriendthat is, in some kind of relationship, not in a casual hook-up.
According to the 2013 Oregon Healthy Teen Survey for Brookings, 15 percent of 8th graders report having sex by age 13. 35.5 percent of 11th graders by 15 and over 52 percent by age 17 report having had sexual intercourse. 15.7 percent of 11th graders have only had one partner, with 10 percent having six or more partners.
So, if your daughter or son thinks the racy posturing of their peers indicates advanced experience, they are likely to be mistaken. Teensespecially younger teensneed to know that it's normal to postpone sex until they're really ready for it. Not only that, it's normal not to be ready. And if you don't talk to them about it, the conversation will be had by a peer who is less knowledgeable and less truthful.
But what about that porn? Never thought you would have a conversation with your kid about porn? The feeling is probably mutual. But here's what he or she needs to know:
Gone are the quaint days when kids discover Dad's stash of Playboys in the back of the closet and are shocked and titillated. Porn has become an insidious part of teenage culture, so it's important to let your kids know that you are aware of that, and are comfortable talking about it. And when you do, it gives you the opportunity to share your values about when you think sex is appropriate.
and it will take more than one, may be difficult to broach,
but they get easier. And when your kids are faced with
confusing, or even dangerous, situations, you want them to
know they have an adult they can trust to turn
Instead we blunder on, convincing bright-eyed teenagers to join the Silver Ring Thing, a profitable abstinence shtick developed by a Christina ministry that involves selling no-sex-please rings to kids. All for naught! Like Britaney Spears - the chastity movement's fallen spokesperson - about 90 percent of these kids wind up breaking their vows and getting it on, anyway, sans contraception.
Maybe the FBI though stop trying to
deny the liido and harness it, instead. Encourage adult
sites to feature more pop-up condom ads. It sure beats a
world filled with porn police and chastity belts.
Amateur porn website Homegrown Video (NSFW link) cataloged all video submissions they received over a six-month period. They found that almost one-third of homemade sex tapes submitted between July and December 2013 were created not in sexually liberal coastal cities, as one might imagine, but in the Bible Belt. Furthermore, 56.9 percent of videos were submitted by women.
(A representative for the site told The Huffington Post that Homegrown Video takes steps to ensure that all videos featured on the site are done so with the express permission of all parties featured. Couples are required to include a short clip acknowledging they are making a video of their own free will, are not intoxicated, and have read the site's terms and conditions when signing the release. Given the impact of of revenge porn, we're glad these steps are being taken.)
Most video submissions came from California (20.6 percent) and Pennsylvania (11.8 percent), but 10.8 percent of submissions came from Florida and 6.9 percent from Texas. Other Bible Belt states contributing submissions included North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky.
These results are consistent with a recent PornHub study, which found that the religiosity of an area had little impact on how much porn its residents watch. Furthermore, residents of cities with higher churchgoing rates spent 47 seconds longer per PornHub visit than their peers in less religious cities.
The data from Homegrown Video and
PornHub suggests that we should reconsider assumptions about
who is watching, making and sharing porn -- and hope that
the verbal consent requirement, and high number of women
taking the lead by submitting their own videos, will make
the Internet porn landscape a safer, more welcoming place
The effects of porn on the brain were called "toxic" and compared to cocaine. One psychologist claimed "prolonged exposure to pornography stimulates a preference for depictions of group sex, sadomasochistic practices, and sexual contact with animals."
It used to be that if you wanted to see pornography, you had to go out and buy a magazine or rent a video. Store hours and available space under the mattress placed some limits on people's porn habits.
Now there are an estimated 420 million adult web pages online. "For the person who has difficulty stopping, more is only one click away," says sex therapist Louanne Cole Weston, PhD.
There's no doubt that some people's porn consumption gets them in trouble -- in the form of maxed-out credit cards, lost sleep, neglected responsibilities, or neglected loved ones. But Weston is one who takes issue with calling problem behavior involving porn an addiction. "'Compulsive' is more appropriate," she says.
Compulsion or Addiction
The difference between describing the behavior as a compulsion or an addiction is subtle, but important.
Erick Janssen, PhD, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, criticizes the use of the term addiction when talking about porn because he says it merely describes certain people's behavior as being addiction-like, but treating them as addicts may not help them.
Many people may diagnose themselves as porn addicts after reading popular books on the subject, he says. But mental health professionals have no standard criteria to diagnose porn addiction.
Mary Anne Layden, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the witnesses at the Senate hearing on pornography addiction. She says the same criteria used to diagnose problems like pathological gambling and substance abuse can be applied to problematic porn use.
"The therapists who treat pornography addicts say they behave just like any other addicts," she says.
One of the key features of addiction, she says, is the development of a tolerance to the addictive substance. In the way that drug addicts need increasingly larger doses to get high, she thinks porn addicts need to see more and more extreme material to feel the same level of excitement they first experienced.
"Most of the addicts will say, well, here's the stuff I would never look at, it's so disgusting I would never look at it, whatever that is -- sex with kids, sex with animals, sex involving feces," she says. "At some point they often cross over."
Janssen disputes that people who look at porn typically progress in such a way. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that," he says.
Why We Watch
Weston says she thinks there are three main reasons why people turn to pornography: to see their fantasies acted out, to avoid intimacy in a relationship, and simply to aid masturbation.
"Sometimes people are just going to it for things they wish they could do in real life," she says. "It fills in a gap in their own relationship. They have a partner who doesn't like to do oral sex and they love it themselves, and they're in this relationship and they want to stay, so they go and look at pictures of oral sex."
In this regard, porn can be part of a healthy relationship, she says, but in some circumstances it can hinder intimacy.
"Then there are the people who are too embarrassed to explain what it is that they really would like to participate in, so they go there secretively, never having revealed to their mate what they would like to try," Weston says.
If they were to reveal their fantasy, they might find their partner willing to go along with it, and they might end up with more fulfilling sexual relationships. For some, however, that would be unacceptable.
"Some people go there because the intimacy in the relationship is as high as the person can stand it. If they were to unveil the sexual interest which is sort of their closely held secret, the intimacy would be way too high for their own ability to tolerate it, so they save it for elsewhere," Weston says.
Independent of the role it plays in relationships, people also look at pornography just to arouse themselves before or while masturbating.
"I think of porn addiction as a label that's used to put down behavior that's disapproved of socially," Violet Blue, a sex educator and author of The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos,says. "A lot of it is shaming masturbation."
Men are thought to be more easily aroused by erotic imagery than women are, but many women masturbate to pornography, too, she says.
She moderates an online message board
for female enthusiasts called the Smart Girls' Porn Club. "I
occasionally receive emails from members of the group about
different kinds of sexual problems," she says, but none so
far have expressed.
Porn is a
A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states. "When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.
However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds. "Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
Edelman spends part of his time helping companies such as Microsoft and AOL detect advertising fraud. Another consulting client runs dozens of adult websites, though he says he is not at liberty to identify the firm.
That company did, however, provide Edelman with roughly two years of credit card data from 2006 to 2008 that included a purchase date and each customer's postal code.
After controlling for differences in broadband internet access between states online porn tends to be a bandwidth hog and adjusting for population, he found a relatively small difference between states with the most adult purchases and those with the fewest.
The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. "The differences here are not so stark," Edelman says. And again, eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election--Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan, averaged 2.32.
Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays a 1% increase in a postal code's religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day. However, expenditures on other days of the week brought them in line with the rest of the country, Edelman finds.
Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion.
States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."
"One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.
Journal reference: Journal of Economic
Perspectives vol 23, p 209 (pdf)
Sex, Lies And
The Internet has changed the whole dynamic of porn, declares Tim Wildmon, president of the fundamentalist American Family Association founded by his father, Donald Wildmon, in Tupelo, Miss. The average age of the introduction to pornography is now 11 years old.
Just one problem: The assertion is untrue, unsupported and likely of dubious origin, none of which has stopped porns opponents from using it. Sen. Lincoln lifted the factoid from a report issued in July by Third Way, a new Washington think tank that helps Democrats grab on to red-state issues. A press release accompanying the report, by Third Way staffer Sean Barney, proclaimed, While it is as difficult as ever for a teenager to walk into a store and buy a pornographic magazine, it is as easy as point-and-click for an 11-year-old child to view streaming pornographic video online.
Where did Third Way get that notion? From a May 12 story in the New York Times-owned Boston Globe headlined The Secret Life of Boys, which cites an outfit called Family Safe Media. The small firm in Provo, Utah, is in the business of scaring parents into buying software to protect their kids from Internet smut. Jared Martin, who owns Family Safe Media, says he got his porn statistics from Internet Filter Review, a Web site that recommends content-blocking software. It is run by tech entrepreneur Jerry Ropelato of Huntsville, Utah, who pens antiporn screeds, such as Tricks Pornographers Play, and publishes curious and uncredited stats (for example, 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction).
Most of the statistics there have come from literally hundreds of sources, all reputable, Ropelato insists. He says he got the age-11 item from The Drug of the New Millennium, a book about the dangers of porn self-published in 2000 by Mark Kastleman, a self-professed former porn addict in Orem, Utah, who counsels other porn fiends. I dont remember where I got that from, Kastleman says breezily. That is a very common statistic. And there the trail goes cold.
But Kimberly Mitchell of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and Michele Ybarra of Internet Solutions for Kids in Irvine, Calif., say the assertion that extremely young children are ogling online porn may be overstated. Analyzing the results of a random-sample survey of 1,500 kids ages 10 to 17, they recently found that kids dont start seeking out Internet porn until age 14, when theyre age-appropriately curious about sex. Fewer younger kids had gone looking smutand mostly the old-fashioned way, finding it in their dads magazines lying around home.
It seems to suggest the Internet
may not be posing the threat that some are concerned it
is, says Ybarra.
Turn Me On Anymore. What Happened?
For some people, looking at lots of sexually explicit images can be a bit like eating their favorite food at their favorite restaurant every day three times a day. After a while, that favorite food can almost seem repulsive -- certainly not appetizing.
I'd recommend that you experiment with backing away from viewing it yourself. If you masturbate, create sexually stimulating material in your own mind. Give it some time -- a few months and see how you respond after that. Each person has a different saturation level when it comes to this issue. See if you can learn where yours is.
Source: Louanne Cole Weston,
PhD, is a licensed marriage, family, and child counselor and
a board-certified sex therapist in practice since 1983. Her
work in the field of human sexuality includes extensive
experience as a therapist, educator, my.webmd.com/content/Article/110/109828.htm
Can You Be
Addicted to Pornography?
Become an Addiction?
Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men. - John Stoltenberg
Pornography is sexual reality for me.
If a person cannot deal with pornography, he cannot deal
with the reality of sex. I am radically propornography. I
draw the line nowhere. Every fantasy must be permitted. -