teens

A letter from a woman to her son about porn.

This article first appeared in Mia Culpa, Mia Freedman's weekly-ish newsletter. Subscribe here.

To My Darling Boy,

I realise a conversation about sex is not one that any boy wants to have with his mother at any age because even having the words 'mother' and 'sex' in the same sentence is deeply upsetting.

As a gift to you, let's agree not to talk about this face to face. That's better than an Xbox, isn't it!

Watch: Porn. Who's watching what? Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

We do have to discuss sex though, or more specifically porn, because as your mother and as a woman, I would be failing in my duty of care if I didn't share some crucial information with you. 

You won't find this information on porn sites or in conversations with your mates. And your future sexual partners probably won't tell you, not for years or decades.

Disclaimer: as a woman, I am giving you advice pertaining to heterosexual porn because I am a straight woman and this is my personal area of expertise. Obviously, whether you are gay, straight or anywhere on the sexuality spectrum, I care not a jot. The same broad principles apply.

Look, the information I'm about to give you has the power to transform your future sex life. And your relationships. It's that good. So listen carefully. This is really important.

First of all, I know you've watched porn. Probably a lot of it. I struggled with this at first. Nobody wants to imagine their child watching strangers having sex, let alone porn sex, which is something else entirely.

The age most boys are first exposed to porn is somewhere between 8 and 11 which I can't even get my head around because that's the age when our parents used to have the clumsy sex talk with us, which made it sound vague and clinical and like a long way in the future. As far away as getting a job or having to understand what superannuation is.

But I've come to accept your world is different and exposure to porn is just something that happens to kids, usually well before they become teenagers. This makes me sad and worried, but not for the reason you might think. 

There's nothing wrong with sex and there's nothing wrong with being interested in it.

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For me, this is not a moral question. If you've been watching porn I'm upset for you, not with you, because I think it has the potential to affect early sexual experiences in a really negative way. 

It's not just me who thinks this. 

It is a proven fact, especially for boys and men. 

People who watch a lot of porn can often have trouble enjoying real sex with real people. And men who watch a lot of porn are usually pretty bad at sex. 

They are more likely to do things their partners find upsetting, demeaning or painful - just because they saw them in porn. You don't want to be that guy. 

And I don't want you to be that guy either - not for yourself and not for your future sexual partners. They won't come back for more.

In my heart, I wish your generation could have been free to embark upon your sex lives without the hardcore, soulless, sexist imagery of porn. 

I wish you could all have had the chance to explore sex organically, with all the surprises, the thrills and the spills (sorry). 

That's the way it used to be. For Us, sex was a cool, often awkward experience of discovery. 

Lots of fumbling and working it out as you went along. 

I'm sure you're riveted by your mother reminiscing about how sex used to be for her and you want to hear much, much more about that. Are you still even reading?

Today, though, by the time your generation embark on your sex lives, you'll have seen hundreds of hours of porn stars doing it in hundreds of ways. 

They will all be in your head and in bed with you and their influence will explicitly fuel your actions, if not your desires.

But look, I get that the porn genie can't be put back in the bottle. So I guess your generation will figure it out together. You'll have to.

Good luck. Remember to always wear a condom and don't try to use Glad Wrap instead. That’s what they taught us in sex ed at school and we thought it was hilarious.

Also, while I've got your attention, remember that it's crucial all women have cheap, safe and legal access to contraception and abortion because without these things, you’ll end up with half a dozen kids before you turn 30 and you will have to help pay for them all, so make sure you march alongside women whenever they are fighting for their reproductive rights because you should be fighting too.

Do you like how I slipped that in there? #women #mumjoke.

Okay, it’s nitty gritty time. Buckle up. There are a few other important things you need to know. Remember them. Tell all your friends. 

1. Porn is not real sex.

Whether it's commercially produced porn or a sex tape, the way people behave in front of a camera is different from reality. 

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Most of what you see online is people having sex for money. It's their job. 

Just like the filtered photos people post on Instagram aren’t what actual people look like and Call of Duty isn't representative of actual war, neither is porn the same as actual sex. 

Porn is to sex what Formula 1 is to driving: an extreme version best left to professionals that has little bearing on driving a regular car down the street.

2. Never compare yourself to the men you see in porn. 

Male porn stars are chosen for their much larger-than-average-sized penises and their ability to maintain erections for a really long time.

Usually, they use drugs like Viagra to do this. Other times, the video is edited to make it look like one continuous sex session when it's not.

They also usually have hairless bodies and no pubic hair. This is a porn thing, it's not because all women prefer men to be hairless. 

Just like women, men come in all shapes, sizes, skin colours and degrees of hairiness and they can all be sexy. 

Not all men have six packs. In fact, most women have never had sex with someone who has a six pack. 

Six packs are not standard and they have no bearing on your ability to be good at sex.

3. Never compare your partner’s body to women in porn.

This may seem obvious but I need to spell it out in explicit (sorry) detail. The women you see in porn usually have fake boobs that are much bigger, higher, harder and rounder than natural boobs. Real breasts don't look or move like that; they don’t point to the ceiling when a woman lies on her back, they fall towards her armpits. That's normal. Also, nipples come in different sizes and colours, just like skin does.

Often, women in porn have also had surgery on their vulvas to make them look a certain way.  

Did you know vulva surgery was a thing? I told you this would be interesting. Keep reading. The vulvas you see in porn look very different from real-life vulvas, which are often far less ‘contained’. 

Just like faces and breasts, vulvas all look different. Be prepared for that. There are all sorts of other things female porn stars do to change the way their genitals look, everything from lasering off their pubic hair to bleaching their anuses. 

Yes, I know you never expected to be discussing anal bleaching with your mum and you'd really rather die than keep reading at this point but here we are and it's for your own good. You need to know that there's nothing remotely natural about most of the women's bodies you see in porn.

4. Women in porn are faking it.

Female porn stars are paid to look like they enjoy everything. 

All of it - no matter how uncomfortable, awkward, humiliating or painful. These women are paid to fake pleasure even if they're being degraded or abused. 

Even when they're scared, in pain or subject to violence. The more humiliating, painful and dangerous an act is, the more they are paid. And the harder they must fake their pleasure for the camera.

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Think about that for a moment. If you have to pay someone more to do a particular act, it's because they don't want to do it or because they find it unpleasant.

This why you must never be fooled into thinking the female responses you see in porn are real. In almost ever case, they're not. Women in real life do not respond the same way to those things. 

Women in real life generally take much longer to warm up than women in porn, who are paid to be instantly, convincingly theatrical and whose 'pleasure' is a transactional performance for money.

Never, ever make the mistake of thinking that a girl is into something just because you saw someone else online 'enjoy it'.

5. Porn is almost always made by men for men.

That means what you will usually see is what men want to do - not what women enjoy. It's almost impossible to speak in absolutes here because sexual tastes are highly individual but let's compare porn to food.

There are certain foods which have a limited number of people who like to eat them - for example, brains and brussel sprouts. 

Sure, there are some people who genuinely enjoy eating those foods (good for them! No judgement!) but these people are not indicative of mainstream tastes.

Now imagine if every TV cooking program featured these two ingredients in every meal that was cooked. It would be misleading, right? But if you watched lots of cooking shows, all featuring these two ingredients in every meal, you would be convinced that everyone loves brains and brussel sprouts. EVERYONE. ALL THE TIME.

They don't. And porn is the same.

By making things like anal sex, double and triple penetration and coming or spitting on women's faces standard in most porn you could easily be fooled into thinking every woman liked those things. NOT TRUE.

They are an acquired taste. Loved by a few. Disliked or loathed by most. So always ask your guests before you try to serve them up a plate of brains or brussel sprouts. This is the fundamental principle of consent. And of course, and I know you know what that means because we have discussed it at length since you were small.

I've probably given you enough to think about at this point. I know it won't stop you from watching porn but I hope it wit make you smarter when you do. And don't watch too much of it. Go for a walk.

Sex with the right partner is awesome; when you're ready to go there, you're going to love it and you should. Just don't confuse it with what you see online.

And always, always, always make sure your partner is sober, awake, enjoying themself and able to enthusiastically consent to whatever you are doing, together.

Love,

Your mum xxxxx

The feature image used is a stock photo from Getty.