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What Happened When This Porn-Consuming Teen Turned to Reddit for Real Sex Advice

By September 17, 2018 No Comments

In the internet world, opening up and being vulnerable about any topic to strangers can be a risky and sometimes even dangerous move. Being vulnerable and openly asking a question about sex, even more so, sounds like a recipe for disaster. But not always, as it turns out.

Amazingly, this last spring, when a young man with Autism turned to Reddit to ask how sex works, people everywhere were surprised at how helpful and kind the thread was throughout its varied replies, and the internet felt like an okay place again for many people who viewed the thread.

This young man, who established that he knew how the act of sex worked on a biological, confessed he didn’t know what led up to sex. (Most people have been there at some point or another, let’s be real.)

The responses he got were amazing—they were kind, focused on consent and pleasure, and gave him even a few polite and respectful pick-up tips and pointers on how to read body language of someone he might be interested in. All things he never got from porn in the years he’d been looking at it.

Unfortunately, given his circumstances, he felt his only resources for truly understanding sex were on the internet. Though this thread actually appeared to help him in a positive way, before this thread, the internet had one main source of sex education for him: pornography.

Porn: the place where good info about sex goes to die

Pornography, for many young people, is their primary form of information about sex. In fact, one study found that 60% of students turned to porn to get more information about sex. [1] Burhan Canbaz, the young man who started this Reddit thread, realized that porn didn’t give the whole picture, saying:

“All I knew was porn, and that didn’t help. I didn’t know it at the time, but you watch enough porn and you think, ‘Yeah, I see how this works. You say some cheesy line and then you f***.’”

Related: Icelandic Teens Watch Porn To Learn About Sex Even With Required Sex Ed Classes

Though this may seem like an exaggeration, studies have shown that porn greatly influences people’s perceptions and expectations of sex, such one examining how past porn consumption was linked to people being more likely to believe that a woman would engage in “porn-like” sex with a taxi driver or boss who proposed sex or hit on her. [2] Hint: this is not even close to realistic.

Likewise, it’s been found that people who consume porn are more likely to think that group sex or dangerous sexual acts are more common than those who don’t consume porn. [3] Kind of a scary thought, right?

Related: 5 Popular Porn Categories That Are Considered Sexy Online But Are Disturbing In Reality

In porn, there is often no clear consent displayed, there is no open communication, and there is no loving touch. There is no honest depiction of a relationship based on respect and mutuality. No wonder adolescents who know all about a fantasy sex don’t exactly know about the realistic ways to get there.

Porn shows only the cheapest, shallowest version of sex imaginable

Ran Gavrieli, a sexual health expert and scholar, discusses how pornography doesn’t show any kind of intimate touch—no hugging, kissing, caressing—and bodies don’t interact with each other in porn unless there is some kind of penetration involved.

Sex without any intimate touch doesn’t exactly sound great or very interesting, so why do we let porn give us a bedroom script? Likely because porn is the easiest available option to learn about sex and sexuality, even though it teaches the worst possible lessons.

Porn changing people’s perceptions and expectations of sex is a simple reality, [4] which becomes a scarier thought when we realize what the world would be like if sex solely mimicked the lack of intimacy, violence, and degradation displayed in mainstream pornography.

That world isn’t one we want to live in, and fortunately, we don’t have to.

Pornography shouldn’t be anyone’s first and only form of information about sex, and luckily, turning to the people of the internet to learn about sex proved to be a positive experience at least for this one guy.

And the best part? After the whole Reddit event, Burhan revealed to an interviewer, “I don’t believe porn as much anymore.”

Us too, Burhan. Us too.

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Citations

[1] https://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/students-turn-to-porn-to-fill-the-gaps-in-their-sex-education/
[2] Miller, D. J., McBain, K. A., & Raggatt, P. T. F. (2018). An experimental investigation into pornography’s effect on men’s perceptions of the likelihood of women engaging in porn-like sex. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Doi:10.1037/ppm0000202
[3] Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, normalization and empowerment. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s impact on sexuality: A critical review of 15 years of research. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.04.003; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Science and Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing on the Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; ; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence of Unrestrained Access to Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal of Adolescent Health, 27(2), 41–44. doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00137-3
[4] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 27.

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