I’ve gone back to listening to BBC Radio 1. For those of you not from the UK, Radio 1 is a station aimed at people far younger than I. I decided I needed to tweak the family’s music-listening habits after a conversation with our eldest. He came home from school last week and asked, “Mummy, what is One Direction?” One Direction – perhaps a little fake, but so shiny, so exciting, and now, because he perceives them as this big off-limits ‘thing’ my son wants to know more. To satisfy his demands we listen to Radio 1 now and again.
Today, through listening to Radio 1, I discovered that here in the UK it is Safer Internet Day (SIDS). To bring attention to this, they were discussing how available porn is in this internet enabled world. An interesting quote came from a young woman who is studying at 6th form. She explained that many girls believe that men are expecting them to perform the sort of sex acts that they see in porn movies. I’d thought of this in the past in an abstract way, “ooohhh, porn, bad for self-esteem, bad for pubic hair.”. However, listening to this woman speak was a real wake up call.
I remembered, starkly, my anxieties about losing my virginity. Not just the (inaccurate) perception that everyone I knew had lost it by the time we were 14, but the actual practicalities – would I do it ‘right’? If I thought I not only had to have sex, but I also had to be appropriately waxed, had to warm my boyfriend up by having some 1 on 1 with my best girl-friend, as he then cracked on doing whatever he fancied with his condom free cock, I’d be seriously terrified.
So what should we do?
- Ban the internet? I love the internet, so no.
- Regulate the internet more? Maybe, but how? Where to draw the line, and where to find the resources to enforce these regulations?
- Ban porn? Pointless. It’s not going to go away.
- Ban children having access to mobile devices until they are 21? And have no internet? And not trust them? And hope they aren’t going to get their hands on some contra-band internet porn? Again, no.
- Punish parents whose kids watch porn? As a parent who cannot be omnipresent, it does not sound that appealing a solution.
While I cannot control the porn industry, other parents, the internet, other children, or even my children all the time, I can control how I act when faced with the availability-of-porn issue.
I’m happy to ensure the kids are familiar with the internet, its great strengths and the risks of using it irresponsibly. I’m happy to talk to them about where babies come from. I am not happy to talk to them about porn (they are all under 6 years old). However, this poses a problem – I don’t really want to discuss porn with them until they are much older, and by then they could have watched it already.
Nobody is more surprised than me when I say I feel my only option is to make sure they see more sex, preferably before they start senior school (and not by accidentally walking in on their parents at it – blerh). It doesn’t need to be explicit, but it needs to be there, to be somewhere.
By shunning realistic good old-fashioned sex, and hiding it from our screens, we have left a void that is being filled with bumping, grinding, twerking and Candice from Kent filming herself on her smart phone having sexy time with a massive vibrating dildo. People are interested in sex. Quite right too. So let’s show them the real side of it.
I want to see TV shows, the film industry, and the music industry to start to throw in a bit more ‘normal’ sex. Sex between awkward people, hairy people, fat people, thin people, old people, straight people, gay people, spotty people. Some shots of saggy bottoms, droopy boobs, giggling, the fart sounds that emit when two people rub together long enough. Sex as part of loving relationships and respectful encounters. I don’t want the shows to be about sex. I want them to be about life, including the sex bit. And I want this everywhere, including on the BBC.
I was saddened that my little boy is already becoming intrigued by the gloss of pop culture, but lets look on the bright side – I would have been far more distressed if One Direction songs had been his first experience of any music ever. Likewise, I’ll be saddened if (when?) I find out my boys have started to come into contact with porn. But I’ll feel a little more at ease if I know that before they see porn, they have an awareness of what real sex looks like.
Is my plan ridiculous? Patronising to kids? Way too liberal? Let me know. And if you agree with me, what films have you seen with the best representation of what real sex is like?