Literacy or critical thinking?

Peggy Orenstein has an op-ed in the NY Times on why porn literacy is needed.

Parents often say that if they try to have the sex talk with their teens, the kids plug their ears and hum or run screaming from the room. But late last month, those roles were reversed: After a workshop for high school juniors at the Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School promoting critical thinking about online pornography, it was parents who flipped out. Some took to the media — The New York Post, Fox News, The Federalist and other like-minded outlets jumped on the story — accusing the school of indoctrinating children.

That may be because it was unclear, at least in the source I read, that the workshop was promoting critical thinking about porn. The title was Porn Literacy, which is not quite the same thing and in fact suggests a different approach.

The free content most readily available to minors tends to show sex as something men do to rather than with women. It often portrays female pleasure as a performance for male satisfaction, shows wildly unrealistic bodies, is indifferent to consent (sometimes in its actual production) and flirts with incest.

The clips can also skew toward the hostile. In a 2020 analysis of more than 4,000 heterosexual scenes on Pornhub and Xvideos, 45 percent and 35 percent, respectively, contained aggression, almost exclusively directed at women.

Well, you see, in male people the brain drawer for aggression is right next to the brain box for sex, so they just can’t help mashing the two together. Plus the culture teaches them that women are stupid and worthless and Karens, so what does anyone expect?

Boys I interview typically assure me that they know the difference between fantasy and reality. Maybe. But that’s the response people give to any suggestion of media influence. You don’t need a Ph.D. in psych to know that what we consume shapes our thoughts and behavior even — maybe especially — when we believe it doesn’t.

And even if they do know the difference, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy playing out the fantasy. “Hey I know this isn’t real but I’m going to do it to her anyway. Hot.”

Among college men, pornography use has been associated with seeing women as disposable and, for both sexes, a stronger belief in rape myths — such as that a woman “asked for it” because of what she wore or how much she drank. The combination of exposure and perception of porn’s accuracy has also been associated with an increased risk of sexual aggression, which was defined as pressuring someone into intercourse who has already refused.

Because porn isn’t erotica. Sex without violence (by the man, on the woman) is seen as vanilla. Bring on the ghost peppers, bitch!

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