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BOOKS OF THE WEEK
Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry by Abigail Bray, Melinda Tankard Reist (eds.)
This week in The Age sexual health therapist, Matty Silver, asks a tricky question - Should high schools be encouraged to introduce discussions about pornography in their sex education curriculum?
Silver points to the fact that children start viewing porn when they're as young as eleven, she even speaks of teachers telling her that kids view porn during recess. This is not news to Spinifex, as porn consumption amongst young people was discussed in the introduction to Big Porn Inc: Children and young people are exposed to pornography at increasingly early ages. Pornography has become a global sex education handbook for many boys, with an estimated 70% of boys in Australia having seen pornography by the age of 12, and 100% by the age of 15. Maggie Hamilton's chapter 'Groomed to Consume Porn: How Sexualised Marketing Targets Children' discusses this extensively.
Educating children about pornography and it's brutal distortions may not sit well with parents, but Silver agrees it's a vital lesson that should be taught in schools. Her 'Planet Porn' article examines the horribly distorted and increasingly violent pornography that is becoming 'norm, so that it can be distinguished from the music videos and sexy advertising of today's pop culture.' Again, Big Porn Inc discusses this extensively in Susan Hawthorne's hard-hitting chapter, 'Capital and the Crimes of Pornographers: Free to Lynch, Exploit, Rape and Torture'. Silver detiails how (brutal) anal sex has become mainstream in heterosexual porn, as has ejaculating on a woman's face, not to mention the derogatory language, and as a response to these horrible portrayals; 'boys should be told that slapping women during sex and calling them bitches or always expecting oral sex is not cool.'
Gail Dines, in her contributing Big Porn Inc chapter, 'The New Lolita: Pornography and the Sexualization of Childhood', goes into this further, explaining that; “Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships”
Of course porn education should be introduced in schools - though we don't necassarily agree with Silver's mention of 'providing an alternative to industrial-strength, hard-core porn' (this could land in the grey oxymoronic area of 'Feminist Porn'). Rather, we think that since children are exposed to porn at such a young age, schools should take the opportunity to provide a context for what they've already seen - challenge them to see it in a critical (and truthful) light. Such lessons can be learnt from Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Porn Industry, which was Highly Commended in the 2012 Australian Educational Publishing Awards.