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We live in a pornified society, saturated with sexually explicit images

This opinion piece is about 8 years old
 

Paula Dunn says there is no regard to how pornographic images might affect the developing minds of young people

Paula Dunn
Paula Dunn

Intimate partner violence is common amongst a lot of women who attend Glasgow Rape Crisis centre for support, and young women are no exception. One of the issues which is raised repeatedly is pornography.

Their boyfriend watches it, encourages them to watch it, coerces them in to copying what they see and in some cases forces them to re-enact what is happening in pornographic material.

Young women tell us they feel traumatised by what has happened but because they ‘agreed’ to the sexual contact they feel they don’t deserve support. It takes a lot of time to build up trust to get the young women to understand the nature of coercion and how this differs to consent or ‘free agreement’ (Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009). Survivors of sexual violence experience self blame, guilt and shame which results in many young women feeling isolated, frightened, angry and confused.

Lads’ mags also have an impact on young people and teen relationships. Many young women we support or who have attended our workshops experience low self esteem because their boyfriend wants them to look like the women in these magazines.

Young men we speak to in our workshops tell us they feel pressure as well from images in magazines and are worried about being bullied if they do not conform to what society deems is normal and what ‘makes you a man’. We live in a pornified society, saturated with sexually explicit images with no regard to how these images might affect the developing minds of young people.

Their boyfriend watches pornography, encourages them to watch it, coerces them in to copying what they see and in some cases forces them to re-enact what is happening

Pornography is not the only issue affecting young people and relationships. A lot of the young people attending our centre/workshops tell us that abusive comments have been written about them on social media, seemingly with no real consequences for the perpetrators.

Some of these people are anonymous but others are people in their school or where they live. We live in a digital age where young people connect and stay in touch through social networking sites. Young people affected by sexual bullying shouldn’t be expected to cut themselves off and disconnect from their friends and wider social circle.

The pressure that young people are under to conform and alter their behaviour is enormous. We find that young people are open to hearing about alternatives because, all too often, they don’t feel as though they have any other choices.

The Rosey Project is Glasgow Rape Crisis centre’s support and prevention service for young people. The project is comprised of a support service for young women between the ages of 13 and 17 years old and a prevention programme where we deliver sexual violence awareness raising workshops to boys and girls. The workshops are based around some of the issues that are most affecting the young people we work with.

At the Rosey Project we believe a national educational initiative is needed to tell people about their alternatives. Young people need to know what their rights are and that it’s ok to ‘say no’.

Paula Dunn, is prevention and development worker for the Rosey Project at Glasgow Rape Crisis. For more information contact: Glasgow Rape Crisis, 5th Floor, 30 Bell Street, Glasgow G1 1LG, call: 0141 552 3201, email: [email protected].

This blog originally appeared on YouthLink Scotland's blog site.

 

Comments

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Somegirl
about 8 years ago
Alternative proposition:The problem is not porn, but communication failures (and attitudes that contribute to communication failures), as well as peculiar fixation on "maintaining relationships".Would it be any less unwholesome if a given dude tried to coerce a woman intro trying out a sex fantasy he thought up without porn (and boy, do people think up weird stuff on their own - after all, somebody had to come up with a given act for it to be filmed, those things aren't produced by space aliens*) ?No.So it makes sense that the most universal solution would be to teach people to communicate (surprisingly, this skill might be helpful outside the bedroom!) and encourage them not to go to great (and often traumatic) lengths trying to salvage a relationship that is breaking down.The solution here is communicating effectively, and if communication fails, being ready to break up.It's not the end of the world, there's nothing terrible about a relationship breaking due to disagreements over whether a given act (whether "picked up" from porn or independently imagined) is a good idea.I am somewhat in the minority here - a woman who has weird requirements that creep men out (yep, that can happen, too), and from experience, I have learned that if the partner isn't too fond of the kinds of sex you like, you should. Just. Break. Up.
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Somegirl
about 8 years ago
Oh, thank you dear comment form for eating all my newlines :(
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Natalie
about 8 years ago
Thank you Rosey Project for your important work. My friend told me yesterday that she was worried about her 10 year old boy who's friends are watching porn on their phones. I had heard of this but it hit harder knowing the boy. Parents need to be educated and take action NOW. I am trying to connect with all groups such as the Rosey project in order to organise a conference on sex ed vs porn ed. If one exists already I hope I will find out about it soon. Feel free to contact me at natalie@riseup.org Ill leave you with this gem Ran Gavrieli:  http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Why-I-Stopped-Watching-Porn-Ran;search:jaffa