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Sex + Relationships

The Porn Conversation + Not Your Average Sex Ed

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

🎵 Let’s talk about sex, baby! Let’s talk about sex (come on)! 🎵

Salt N’ Peppa said it best, but it’s truly easier sung than done. 

Talking about sexuality, or really anything that slightly hints towards it, is still widely stigmatized. This stigmatization affects women, who have historically been reminded their value is proportionate to their abstinence from sex and those conversations, as well as men, whose parallel lack of sex education leads to ignorance. Despite being constantly bombarded with sexual content in media, we can’t seem to take those conversations off-screen. 

Regardless of gender, the issue remains: if we don’t talk about it, we don’t know s*** about it. 

Depriving ourselves of these discussions is depriving ourselves of the ability to determine what is normal, healthy and valid when engaging in sex or exploring sexual health and identity. By not talking about what’s uncomfortable, we may find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. That’s why we have to facilitate these conversations, the good, the bad and the dirty.

That’s why we need The Porn Conversation.

The Porn Conversation 

The Porn Conversation (or TPC) is “a non-profit project that offers free and easily accessible tools for families and educators to talk to young people about sex – beginning with the topic of porn literacy.” Their values are indicative of their mission, emphasizing comprehensive, inclusive, informed, age-appropriate, pleasure-based and sex-positive education. 

Founded by Erika Lust and Pablo Dobner, TPC pushes the realms of your average sex education program. They offer guides for the youth and their educators containing age-appropriate information for 8-11-year-olds, 12-15-year-olds, and those aged 16+. They inform the youth on not only the topics of anatomy, physiology, and development, but also gender and sexual identity, sexual health, consent, respectful relationships, porn literacy, and interpersonal violence.   

But I had to ask: What’s with the name?  

When I told a friend we were collaborating with The Porn Conversation, I had to repeat myself three times before she was sure of what I said. Just uttering the word “porn” is enough to cause immediate discomfort for everyone within hearing range. It is this very response that exemplifies the need for porn literacy, one of the more unorthodox and primary sex education topics taught by TPC.

Porn Literacy

Reflective of its name, The Porn Conversation seeks to start the conversations regarding porn literacy, a form of media literacy that pushes individuals to critically question the sexual content they are exposed to. TPC argues that free pornography found online is easily accessible to the youth. Moreso, most of this pornography is wildly misogynistic, facilitates false expectations of sex and promotes rape culture, all of which are harmful messages to expose to young, moldable minds and the very antithesis of TPC’s promotion of consent culture. It seems almost inevitable that if youth are not exposed explicitly to porn, it’ll likely be to some other sexual media seen on TV and in movies. This is why this often-overlooked topic needs to be discussed, especially with kids who have unsupervised access to television and the internet.

Porn literacy utilizes the same educational framework of media literacy to help tweens and teens recognize that it is a sexualized form of media and that it has a message, regardless of if it’s consumed mindlessly. It urges educators, or yourself, to ask questions about what you see, why you may be watching it and how to separate fantasy from reality among other various questions. Apart from examining sex, The Porn Conversation also urges watchers to talk (or think) about body image, objectification of women, the fetishization of BIPOC and rape culture. 

They aren’t asking for you to analyze and dissect porn frame-by-frame, or even to abstain from it completely, but to be mindful of the sexual media you consume and how that may affect your views. 
The Porn Conversation provides a plethora of valuable and credible information, guides, and other resources. More conversations surrounding porn literacy, sexual health and wellness and the other previously listed topics can be found on their website. Whether you seek to educate yourself, or you’re interested in resources to pass down to the youth or their educators, visit thepornconversation.org.

Hey hey! I'm Faith and I'm the managing editor of ODU Hercampus! Here to put my passions to paper (or screen) :)