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Exposed and uninformed: boys’ introduction to sex and pornography

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Exposed and uninformed: boys’ introduction to sex and pornography

An anonymous student looks through the pages of a pornographic magazine.

An anonymous student looks through the pages of a pornographic magazine.

Natalie Murphy

An anonymous student looks through the pages of a pornographic magazine.

Natalie Murphy

Natalie Murphy

An anonymous student looks through the pages of a pornographic magazine.

Natalie Murphy, Staff contributor

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It’s time to address the elephant in the room–or the elephants. There are two taboo words that often cause gasps and judgement at their mere uttering: sex and pornography.

While these topics may make an adult shutter when thinking about mentioning them to a teen, middle and high schoolers are no stranger to them, thanks to the reaches of the internet.

Psychologists and doctors across the nation are concluding that the introduction of these two topics is introducing misogyny to today’s young boys.

Almost 80% of men between the ages of 18-30 consume pornographic material at least once a month–and this staggering number is starting to become the norm at an even earlier age, wherein lies the problem. The average age a child will see pornographic material online is 11.

As children become more technologically savvy, their ability to reach further into the depths of the internet becomes alarming. The smallest mistake could lead them to an image or video they didn’t request to see.

Psychology teacher Ann Berger covers this topic often, as it is one she finds relevant and part of a growing problem. She shows a documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” to her students, which explains pornography introduces an incorrect belief of sex norms into the minds of boys. Many have argued this is partly due to only 22 of the 50 states requiring public schools to teach sexual education.

According to the documentary, 21st century children turn to the internet as a learning guide without proper education. The internet shows rather violent images of sex that misconstrue their ideas of what sex and intimacy in a relationship should be–enter misogyny.

Misogyny is defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. Berger understands many doctors have commented about this problem. “They are seeing young men unable to be in intimate relationships at all, because this is what they think it’s supposed to be,” she said.

A study conducted by Dolf Zillman, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama, shows that after a weekly viewing of pornographic material, men showcased callousness towards women, were more accepting of infidelity and considered rape a less serious crime.

He explains that pornographic culture builds upon the already present acceptance of the rape myth ideology by 31%–the idea that women provoke or enjoy rape or sexual assault. This material adds to the commonly accepted idea that men are more superior to their female counterparts. The videos and images tend to show physical aggression towards women, which is something that can also be an effect of early exposure to pornography, increasing sexual aggression by 22%.

According to Dawn Hawkins, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the normalization of sexual assault has been directly fueled by society’s perception of sex through pornography,” Hawkins said. 

The pornography of today has created an unprecedented epidemic of sexual harm.”

— Dawn Hawkins


“Our porn-saturated culture has normalized sexual violence to the point where the law doesn’t even recognize that a rape occurred if a young woman is violated while passed out drunk behind a dumpster at Stanford,” Hawkins wrote on the organization’s website.

The traditional “dirty magazine” is no longer the Hollywood portrayed, prized possession found in a father’s sock drawer and hidden in an adolescent boy’s bedroom. It is now imprinted into the minds of once innocent children who no longer must go on a valiant quest for one glance into an issue of Playboy.

Today’s youth literally has unlimited access to pornography at their fingertips.

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Exposed and uninformed: boys’ introduction to sex and pornography