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How I Take a Stand for Healthy Masculinity in My All-Boy High School

“All porn teaches is to objectify women and that watching porn makes you a ‘real man.’ Pornography should not be a standard of manhood.”

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Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We received a true story from a high school student that shows how porn changes the way people think about dating and relationships in general.

Dear FTND,

I am three days away from graduating from an all-boys private high school. I never truly understood the damages of porn until I started school here four years ago.

I remember my mother coming home one night from a parent-only meeting, and telling me that the president of the school had been warning parents about porn and how dangerous it can be. The issue is that no parent would ever suspect their child is watching porn. Not many parents go through their 14-year-old son’s phone to look for evidence of porn unless they caught him directly. Another issue is that the school assumed that the students knew the damages of porn or that all kids were talking with their parents about the potential harm, but this is not true at all.

Related: 9 Serious Issues Porn Culture Is Fueling In High Schools

I remember the first week of my freshman year, sitting with two other freshmen and their friends who were juniors. I was quiet and shy, so most of the time that I just listened to what they talked about.

One of the guys would say, “Hey, did you see that new video?” or, “I found a new website,” or, “I am going to ask her for nudes.” I didn’t really understand what they meant at the time. I was still pretty young and I had never really spoken up about issues or people like that before.

This continued to happen. It was almost a regular part of their conversation during second period.

One day they asked me what my favorite porn site was. I replied, “I don’t watch porn.” They all immediately began laughing and made fun of me for my answer. When they stopped laughing, one of them looked at me and said, “You are a liar, everyone watches porn!”

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When I heard him say that, I knew porn was something more than I had previously thought, more than something that older men struggle with.

The next school year, as a sophomore, I started to see the damages that porn had on the guys at my school. They would say things like, “Look at my girlfriend’s nudes,” and “Did you get in her pants?” Nobody would say, “Did you have a good time on the date?” or “What does she do for fun? What interests her?”

Related: How Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys And Fuels An Unhealthy Perception Of Masculinity

I felt like guys were treating girls like they would treat a car. They were basically objects, to them. They’d show their friends pictures of their girlfriends, and then use them and often cheat on them. I know a lot of this behavior can be traced back to the acceptance of porn and its objectification of women.

The biggest problem is that consuming porn and sexualizing women seems to have become a symbol of manhood. Guys I know would brag to each other and then make fun of the guys who respected women and wanted a real relationship. Nobody ever questioned what was normal, nobody ever stood up for women or for the concept of love.

I think it’s so important to break the normalization of watching porn for guys, because all it teaches to objectify women and that watching porn makes you a “real man.” Pornography should not be a standard of manhood or a way to be accepted amongst other guys. True love means to selflessly give all of yourself and be willing to sacrifice and support for the other person, and porn doesn’t promote that.

Porn teaches men (and women also) to live selfishly, so it is nearly impossible to truly have love and happiness in a relationship. When endless porn is a part of the equation, relationships can suffer.

Related: Uncovering How Porn Fuels Sexual Harassment In Schools

If you take anything away from this, it’s to stand up for women and fight for love even if it means you are the odd one out and made fun of.

I just want to thank you all again. Fighting this issue has become something I want to be heavily involved in.

– K.

Fortify

Why this matters

What if we lived in a world where the status quo was respect and love, instead of objectification and sexualization?

Now, it’s important to remember that watching porn does not automatically make someone a “bad” person, even if it truly negatively impacts their behaviors and lives. So while this Fighter took a stand for healthy relationships and is committed to spreading the word about the harmful effects of porn, we are glad that he has done so without shaming others. There’s no room for shame or shaming in this movement.

In today’s society, porn is considered completely normal and is quickly written off as something that “everyone does” or is a part of growing up and figuring out what sex is. The world may consider porn a natural part of being a teen, but we sincerely disagree—as do the science and research that show how harmful porn is to the consumer.

Consider before consuming.

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