Sex education is a touchy subject for parents and educators.
But what if kids today are learning about sexual activity from pornography?
“Easy access to hardcore and degrading pornography is shaping our children’s sexuality,” says Nadine Willis, a local mother of six and Ambassador of Hope with Hope for the Nations, a B.C.-based non-profit that works to protect at-risk children around the world.
“They are being robbed of an opportunity to develop healthy sexuality that comes from within the individual. Widespread use of pornography has impacted what is acceptable in media, as well as personal relationships.”
Willis is on an RCMP committee looking to tackle B.C.’s trafficking problems, and her focus is on the demand side.
“Our community services in youth mental health, counselling, RCMP and addictions help are seeing pornography use impacting our community in a variety of ways.
“Youth using pornography experience symptoms of withdrawal, depression, anxiety, and distorted views what is expected from a partner. Even youth who do not use pornography are impacted because they are expected to be willing to engage in unhealthy, demeaning, and often illegal (nude selfies shared by others is sharing child porn and illegal).”
To help get the topic in the public’s attention, Willis helped to organize an expert on the subject who is coming to Chilliwack next week. Dr. Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston who has researched and written about the porn industry for more than 20 years.
Dines is known as a leading expert on how pornography is shaping culture and sexuality. She is the author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.
When Dines talks about pornography, she is not talking about magazines like Playboy or Penthouse or even Hustler, popular in the 1980s.
“Those were the good old days of pornography,” she jokes in a TED Talk video.
No, Dines is talking about hardcore, violent and exploitative pornography, much of which is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. The internet is what changed everything, she says, adding that porn websites get more web traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.
What pornography is doing is indirectly doing the grooming otherwise done by sex offenders, and it is desensitizing young boys.
“This is the sex education today across the world,” Dines says.
Willis says there are a number of solutions: widespread education and help for youth that find it hard to stop viewing pornography; opt in pornography features for cable and internet; all pornography requiring meaningful age verification; and making sure all public places are blocked for pornography.
“It is my hopes that through having one of the world’s leading experts who has been researching porn’s impacts for over 20 years come to share with us, we can all understand the issues happening world wide and open up discussions and learn how to help our youth,” Willis says.
• Dines is speaking Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vineyard Community Centre, 45892 Wellington Ave. You can register online via Eventbrite at bit.ly/UnmaskingPorn. Tickets available online or at the door for $15.