Porn Problems

There's a Big Difference Between Pornography and Real Life

Just What is Porn?

Pornography, also called porn or porno refers to sexually explicit images or films. Many people enjoy porn, however, teens need to know the difference between porn sex and sex in real life.

When it comes to porn everyone feels differently. Some people are religiously or morally opposed to it. It makes others feel uncomfortable. And plenty of people find it sexually arousing.

The Legal Question 

While a lot of teens come across porn, it is actually illegal to look at it if you are under eighteen.

Still, many teen seek out porn for the thrill, or to get turned on.

Looking at Porn for Sex Ed

Some teens even turn to porn for sex education! Indeed, studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in light of the fact that 40% of American teens do not receive sex education at school, and since 38% of American parents have not spoken to their kids about birth control, porn serves as a substitute for real education for a significant number of young people.

But is porn really the best place to get accurate sex info and advice, even if you aren't getting it from other places?

I'd argue that it isn't. Since most kids these days encounter porn online, those same kids could also access sites like this one, or sites like Scarleteen and Planned Parenthood where you will get way more accurate information.

The Fantasy Factor

If you think that educational sites leave something out, say like the visual aspect of porn, keep in mind that as with any movie, what you see in most porn is simply acting and fantasy.

Just like regular actors don't usually look like real people, porn stars also tend to look pretty different from you or I. Plus, the sex in porn isn't really what sex off camera normally looks or sounds like.

Here is some more information on the differences between pornography and reality:

Unrealistic Bodies. Male porn actors typically have huge penises.

Female porn stars are typically very thin, but have very large breasts and shaved pubic hair.

Appropriation of Labels. "Lesbian" porn is often geared towards straight men's fantasies, and rarely reflects typical sex between women.

Lack of Communication. People in porn rarely have to discuss sex and yet have mind-blowing orgasms and intuitively know each others needs.

Misogyny. Unfortunately a lot of porn is misogynistic. That means it displays hatred or dislike of women or girls. Though some porn is more egalitarian or even made by women for a female audience, a lot of mainstream porn depicts women in a hostile or degrading manner.

Safe Sex. In porn, condom use is rarely highlighted, despite the very real risks of unprotected sex. In fact, many people in the porn industry have fought to make sure that condoms are not required in porn movies because they assume that audiences don't think condoms are sexy.

Sexual Activity. The things people do in porn may be similar to what people do in real life, but often even the sex itself is exaggerated.

All these factors mean that while porn might be a turn on, it sure isn't going to provide a better understanding of sex. As one gay teen wrote in to the site:

"Many people don't have satisfying sexual encounters because they are meant to believe that if their sex isn't the same as porn, then it isn't that good."

There's something else to remember about porn: LGBT teens aren't usually the intended audience, and that teens in general may not actually be as comfortable with porn as they think they will be!