Commentary: Sex education needs to teach us about porn

A week into self-isolation, I decided to watch a Netflix docuseries about the porn industry called Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On. 

I wasn’t surprised when the series said 40 per cent of teenagers learned more about sex from watching porn than what they’re taught in school 

High school sex education is like the scene from Mean Girls where the sex-ed teacher says you shouldn’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die.

My teacher basically said the same thing.

But what teenagers are learning from porn isn’t a healthy sexual relationship. 

Instead, they’re exposed to degrading racial stereotypes, sexism and abuse. 

I’m not here to say we should ban pornography. Sometimes you need a little relief and if you don’t have a partner, porn can do the trick. 

But we need to educate teenagers about the porn they’re watching. 

‘Yellow fever’ on the rise

One of the most popular porn websites, Pornhub, does an end of the year review where they release statistics, including the most searched terms. 

Half of the top 10 searched terms were racerelated with “Japanese” at the top and “Ebony” at the bottom. Other top 10 terms included “Asian,” “Korean” and “Hentai,” which is animated Japanese porn. 

When I say I want to see more Asians in the entertainment industry, this isn’t what I meant. 

Porn involving Asian women typically uses their stereotyped submissive nature to create an exotic sexual fantasy. 

Other women in porn are also shown as submissive, but they’re not as meek as Asian women. Non-Asian women know what they need to do to please their man and they do it with a smile. 

Asian women in porn need their male partner to literally take them by the hand and teach them how to please him. 

But out of all the Asian subgroups, Japanese porn is the worst when it comes to submissive stereotypes. 

Japanese porn stars are usually shown giggling or crying in discomfort or fear. 

Yet, at the end of every video, they submit to the man’s sexual advances and smile at the camera, as if coercing women into sex is okay.   

One of the porn stars in Hot Girls Wanted, Bailey Rayne, said it’s a turn on for some people to see women in uncomfortable positions. 

Considering almost half of sexually active teenagers are learning about sex by watching porn, they need to know it’s not OK to take porn seriously. 

It’s not OK to assume all Asian women need a man to teach them how to enjoy sex, or that their partner’s pleasure is more important than their own. 

And it’s not OK to coerce anyone into sex, especially if they have tears running down their face. 

Muddled morals and abuse

The abuse women face in the porn industry makes me sick. 

There are some female-led porn productions who respect women and let them own their sexuality. But in typical, male-centric porn, women are nothing but playthings for them to abuse for sexual pleasure. 

The physical abuse women receive in porn can range from choking until their necks are red to having their heads shoved into a toilet. 

But like in Japanese porn, the women smile at the end. 

Some teenagers watching this kind of porn would be repulsed by the treatment of women. 

But others might believe women enjoy the pain.

A study in the United Kingdom showed more than half of teenage boys watching porn believed the videos were real and not fantasies created by the porn industry. 

If the porn they’re watching blurs the line between pain and pleasure, they could end up unintentionally hurting their future sexual partners because of what they saw as teenagers. 

But the abuse doesn’t stop at the physical level. 

Relationships such as boss and assistant, babysitter and father and even incest are some of the most popular porn categories.  

Some channels on Porn Hub, like Bratty Sis, are dedicated to fantasies where a man in an authority position uses his power to make sexual advances on young women.  

If teenagers believe porn is real and they watch videos where older, powerful men lust after young, vulnerable women, the line between what’s an appropriate relationship and what’s an abuse of power can blur. 

Revamping sex ed

High schools need to teach about porn in their sex education so students can understand what they’re seeing. It might even prevent them from hurting someone or damaging their future sexual relationships. 

Some parents might say they don’t want their kids to learn about porn because it might encourage them to have sex. 

One, that’s bullshit. 

If your kid wants to have sex, they’re probably going to have sex regardless of porn. They might as well learn about the difference between sex and abuse, so they’re not taken advantage of. 

Two, sex is everywhere regardless of porn. 

Shows like Riverdale can’t go ten minutes without a slow-motion shot of sweaty sixteen-year-olds with six packs or Betty and Jughead going at it. 

And three, if students are watching porn, they need to know it’s not a substitute for sex ed. 

They need to know that they have the power to say “no” if they’re uncomfortable with their partner. 

They need to know women don’t have to submit to anyone’s sexual desires. 

And they need to know sex isn’t about one person’s enjoyment, it’s about the enjoyment of both parties. 

Banning porn isn’t the solution, but we need to give teenagers the tools to understand what they see on screen isn’t a reflection of reality. 

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