What Should We Expect to Tell Children about Sex and Sexual Sex? The Red Team explains how pornography has become a bullshit
The Red Team’s findings hinge on two misconceptions about sex work: first, that it, along with human trafficking, exists on a continuum encompassing “the sex trade,” and second, that adult-content platforms do not enforce aggressive moderation policies.
Over the past few decades, a number of strategies have been floated for keeping kids away from porn. In the late 1990s, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act and the Child Online Protection Act, both of which were later found to violate the First Amendment. Filtering software—from Net Nanny to built-in content blockers in iOS—are frequently recommended as micro-level solutions. The porn industry voluntaryly adopted the restriction to adults (RTA) labeling system. And governments around the world are currently considering or actively enforcing age verification systems that require adult sites to secure identifying information from all visitors before giving them access to pornographic content.
The filters, age verification platforms and kids are 100 percent prevented from seeing adult content until they are 18 years old. What should happen then? Is it possible for children to grow up to be sexually healthy if they’re not censorship-ed?
“A big thing that I hear from parents with concern about pornography is the way that it presents gender roles,” says Heather Corinna, founder and director of the youth sex education site Scarleteen. “OK, let’s think about it: What kind of education and support have you already given your young person about gender roles? Have you already done a really good job of educating them on the bullshit of sexism?” If your kids have been taught about how to respect people’s bodies, then that message is going to carry over into sex, even if a porn flick has a sexist story line.
Start the conversation before it’s too late. Many people think that children don’t need to start learning about sex until later in life, if at all. They recommend starting earlier than that. I was a preschool teacher. I can’t imagine not talking to toddlers about their body parts, about where to put their hands,” says Corinna. The building blocks of a long sex education begin with the conversations that young kids are having about body parts and personal space.