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Sextember campaign encourages sexual development without porn

A young person sits and stares at a laptop (Creative Commons Licence)
06:32 06/09/2021

A campaign launched this month in Belgium aims to encourage young people to discover their sexuality without watching pornographic material.

The Sextember campaign, launched by condom company Eden Gen, invites people to go a month without porn. The objective is to encourage people to discover – or rediscover – sex without the influence of pornography.

Almost 50% of teenagers that took part in a recent survey on sex education said that internet porn sites are their main source of information. Some said that watching porn exposed them to new methods and ways to be creative during their lovemaking. The integration of practices from the porn world is widespread among young people with 45% of those interviewed revealing they had already tried to reproduce scenes seen in pornographic films.

With the democratisation of the Internet and the improvement of communication technologies, the exchange of images and videos has been greatly facilitated, making it easier for young people to access pornography. "Porn has been around since the 70s and 80s but at the time, to get access to it, you had to go to specialised places," explains Camille Nerac, a clinical sexologist from Brussels. "Today, it's easy and porn sometimes even comes to young people without them having asked for anything: on social networks, on streaming sites, ads, pop-ups, etc. "

The consumption of pornographic content is also happening earlier in life. One in three young people from the age of 12 has already seen porn. “There's more consumption than before because porn is there, everywhere, all the time, and easy to access,” says Camille Nerac. “You can take it to school on your smartphone, you can watch it alone or in a group, it is ever present. And in schools, we see that at 11,12, 13 years-old, young people have questions that relate to porn such as: 'Why does the woman scream?' They also know some pretty strong words but not the right terms. They use pretty 'trashy' words and it's all about porn."

As a result of consuming pornography, young people can develop a truncated vision of reality, stereotyping their sexuality in the process.

Watching this easy-to-access "mainstream porn" is therefore not without consequence: "Young people find themselves watching violent porn and it will bias their way of seeing sexuality," adds Camille Nerac. "So, they think that’s what it’s like having sex and it completely influences their view as they enter into their sexual life."

This influence can also lead to inappropriate or even reprehensible behaviour becoming the norm in the minds of young people, says the sexologist. In Belgium, for example, 25% of boys aged 15 to 25 believe that imposing fellatio is not rape. In Belgium, rape is defined as any act of penetration committed in the absence of consent. In addition, 33% of young people under the age of 26 believe it is normal to insist on having sex.

The image of sexuality transmitted through pornography also causes a considerable effect on the minds of young people who, in the spirit of mimicry and comparison, put pressure on themselves to reproduce what they observe. "Porn leads them to consider sexuality in a stereotypical way,” says Camille Nerac. “You have to do that, like that... It's like a 'to-do’ list, we're going to tick the things to do during sex. This has the consequence of having performance anxieties."

"Eventually, they find themselves having a sexuality that is complicated when in fact, it should be simple, it should be something that is in the exchange, in the sharing, in the communication."

Nevertheless, Nerac specifies that we should not generalise the influence of porn among young people who, for the most part, do not necessarily fall into an addiction.

"It does not have an impact on everyone, young people are not stupid either,” she says. “As their sex life progresses, and through the discussions they may have with friends, companions or family, they realise after a while that this is not the reality. At some point, they have the hindsight to understand it. They do not all become dependent even if it exists."

In order to get out of the framework of mainstream porn and its constricted image of sexuality, Nerac presents several alternatives to young people, including feminist porn. "This is less violent,” she says. “They place themselves in relationships that are a little more in reality, with love exchanges, seduction but also failures, trial and error," she says. "There are also porn podcasts and erotic books that allow you to use your brain, your erotic imagination and make your own movies in your mind which will help stimulate your own sexual desire."

In Belgium, many associations or infrastructures are set up to help young people with questions about their sexuality. Family planning centres offer advice, as do some non-profit organisations such as Infor Jeunes and O'Yes.

It is also possible to learn about sex in an uninhibited way and without taboos on social networks through different accounts such as those of Jouissance Club, JeMEnBatsLeClito, MoulesFritesOYes, Wi_cul_pedia, Amaltahir, Orgasme_et_moi and Clitrevolution.

 

Written by Nick Amies