• Mon, Oct 1 2012

Let’s Hear It For The Reddit Dad Who Gave His Son Porn Pointers

My son is looking at porn on his computer. Your son is looking at porn on his computer. This Reddit dad’s thirteen-year-old son was looking at porn on his computer and he did what any normal dad would do, he left his son a letter on his computer and then he posted the letter to Reddit and asked Redditors if he did the right thing. And 23,000 Reddit users replied with a big up vote “hell yes.”

From the letter posted on Reddit:

Listen, I won’t tell your mom and I’m not gonna make a big deal out of this. In fact I’m not gonna make any size deal out of it. If you don’t wanna talk about it that’s fine and I completely understand. I’ve been on this earth three times as long as you and there’s nothing you have done or will do that I haven’t done before. If you want to completely ignore this ever happened then I can and will do that too. Please don’t act awkward around me because of this. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Well, the kid may have something to be embarrassed about if he finds out he has been outed by his dad for being a porn monger on the front page of Reddit, but what an awesome note to leave for his son. Statistics claim that kids see internet pornography as early as age eleven.  Most parents are aware of this fact and have set up parental controls and Open DNS  to protect their kids from seeing things they don’t approve of, but even with precautions kids still may be exposed to pornography online, or even while viewing television.

I’ve had the big bad porn talk with my kid. I know my teenager will be exposed to porn either by accident or on purpose. We’ve explained to him that it’s normal to be curious about sex and naked people. We’ve told him that sex is one of the best things on earth, and that one day we hope he has sex with someone he loves and is safe and healthy while doing so. We’ve also explained that a lot of what he will see in regard to porn isn’t exactly what we approve of. The misogynistic and often violent depictions of women. The typical surgical breast enhancement, the post-production editing to make the actors appear flawless, the photoshop magic used to make women (and men) look beyond anything most people encounter in real life. The unrealistic depictions of sex where relationships are hardly portrayed and intercourse is shown as something with no emotional aspects. We’ve told him that most of the sex he will see is usually artificial and unrealistic. And at the worst, degrading and hurtful.

I’m not crazy about my teen viewing porn, but as a realist, I know it has, and will, happen. At the very least, I want my son to understand that what he does see is usually something as realistic as a Godzilla movie. I’m fine with him being curious about sex, as long as he understands that the actors in porn are just that, actors. I would love if all of the porn he encountered only showed people in love, real people having real sex who then go on and watch TV or make dinner together. But I’m pretty sure that’s not always the case.

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  • Rebecca

    Good for you for teaching your kids to be thoughtful and responsible about sex and pornography. My kids are still in preschool now, but I plan on taking a similar approach. I have a very cool friend who’s a social worker and focuses on teenagers. I plan to tell my kids if they don’t feel comfortable talking to me that’s totally fine and normal,and they can always go to her for guidance. They’ll also be making a mandatory trip to planned parenthood when they hit puberty just in case. I have a boy and a girl and I think it’s really important that they’re both educated:)

    • mm

      Whoever voted this comment down is stupid. Good for you, too many people think that ignoring sex is the best way to keep kids from having it, which couldn’t be more incorrect. Bristol Palin, anyone?

    • Another Steph

      And whoever voted mm’s comment down is also stupid. To add to your point, kids are going to check out porn no matter what you do or say and, as Eve says, it’s important they view it in the right context.

    • jack_sprat2

      Yeah, because forewarned is NEVER short-armed. Do you really imagine that a girl who grew up in a prosperous, socially-connected frontier community somehow grew up without a thorough understanding of how such things work? Very little on the internet holds a candle to the rut and its aftermath, I assure you, particularly when those deer are elk. They make horses look like your maiden aunt’s first bicycle ride.

    • jack_sprat2

      I sure hope that your “very cool friend” didn’t used to cheer with the Ben-Gals. (No, really, it’s only your HUSBAND’S friends and acquaintances about whom you need to be chary.)

  • http://twitter.com/MamaHasSnacks Carinn Jade

    10 years after I teach my kid the word penis I am totally going to refer back to this article. Your treatment of this sensitive topic was just as amazing as the Reddit dad. Such a great post!

  • Kaz

    Interesting read but I feel the need to address this statement:

    And at the worst, degrading and hurtful.

    No, at the worst it’s gang rape, bestiality, bondage etc. And it’s all out there and it’s free. I know this from experience after catching my 11 year old daughter watching it. I didn’t say anything to her at first because, frankly, I was in shock. It wasn’t so much the porn, as the kind of porn. Oh, I knew it was out there, I just thought it was the kind of thing you would have to pay for, but no, it’s readily available for free if you know where to look.

    I could have put locks, security etc to her internet access but what’s to stop her from watching it a friend’s house? I can’t control what she does there. I did talk to her about it. It was a distressing and traumatic conversation for both of us. A few rules were put in place and as far as I know, she hasn’t watched any porn since, well, at least while she’s been at home.

    • I’m not saying my name

      What’s wrong with consensual bondage? Seriously? My wife and I do some of that.

    • jack_sprat2

      Best to leave the lessons in practical nuclear physics until AFTER one has been granted the proper security clearances.

    • jack_sprat2

      Choose a quiet time. Use it to set her down next to you, preferably on the floor, up against a wall, each facing straight ahead. (Removing much of the confrontational and peremptory from the emotional equation. (Hey, that’s the Aspie in me talking.))

      Open by telling her that you knew that your first conversation was botched, mostly because nobody wrote training manuals for how to do this sort of thing: which is hardly surprising, given that this is the first generation in the history of the human species that ever had to deal with such universal access to all manner of information, both savory and unsavory.

      Then, tell her that it’s even more difficult because YOU had never seen most of those things before, even if you had heard vague references to them. Further, that you find some of them patently offensive, even nauseating, whereas you find some of the rest, by turn, disturbing, absurd, or beyond easy analysis, even for someone of your advanced years.

      Make the point that some things, while they may not be immoral per se, are nevertheless something best left to those who have considerably more perspective in which to put them than do either of you.

      All of that said, offer to listen to her about anything which may have confused or troubled HER; that maybe they’re even the SAME things. Common ground can forge a needed bond here, even sharing a laugh over something as ludicrous and unhygienic as “doggie love”.

  • alice

    I have spent some time with younger kids (16-22) and I will say that one thing I’ve noticed in this generation (that I didn’t notice in mine) is a creepy desensitization towards porn. I was discussing this with a boy around 19 years old, and he described it as building a tolerance: started watching porn online when he was about 9 or 10, regular stuff, “got bored” with it after a couple years and needed to find something more *interesting* to satisfy his alone-time, got bored with that, found something more *interesting*, etc.

    now he’s 20 years old and is like “blow job porn? YAWN. i need to see hard core BDSM humiliation porn to get off now”

    :shudders:

    it really makes me worry what some of these kids are going to want/expect out of their *real life* sex lives, once they have them.

    • meteor_echo

      Hmmmm. I actually understand what you mean; porn desentisitization is quite a frequent thing to happen to people. But, from my own experience (24 years, female, have had access to porn since about 10), it’s not necessary that the kind of porn we prefer that we would like to repeat in our own bed. Sometimes a person’s porn preferences are not what they’d be up to do in real life, so, frankly, I wouldn’t really worry that much about that kid. He’ll probably be fine.
      Also, hey, BDSM is actually awesome! :D (perhaps not the thematic porn itself, as it still might be exploitative for commercial reasons). But at least the whole BDSM thing is built upon mutual trust, and the “safe, sane, consensual” principle. Everything is discussed, boundaries are set, and, in case anything goes wrong, the participants will stop. I can’t even say that some non-kinky relationships have this established (I’m looking at you, abusive ex!). So yeah, looks slightly terrifying on the outside, but is actually very nice on the inside. Proved by experience!

    • Mel

      Perhaps in your experience, but not everyone’s. Speak only for yourself. For many people it is disturbing to think there are people that need to hurt others to get their rocks off.

    • meteor_echo

      Why helllllo there Mel. Haven’t heard you since the times of commenting on Eckler’s articles, but, apparently, you still are here, and I’m oh so glad to see you too!
      I actually wrote my comment as a one-person anecdata, yet all the things I said there are still true. Mutual consent – check. Boundary establishment – check. Trust? Checkity check check.
      Oh and, Mel. There are people who like to be spanked/tied up/etc to get their rocks off. They actually like it. Fancy that.

    • Mel

      I think you have me confused with someone else here, because this will be my second comment on this site right after the one I posted above. My name is pretty common.

      I commented solely on the fact that you said it’s nice on the inside and for many, it definitely is not. You have a very rose-tinted view of BDSM and I’m glad everything in your experience has worked out great for you and you’ve never been abused or raped, as a great deal of friends and myself have been by that very scene. Consider yourself lucky and, again, don’t make broad generalizations.

    • Another Steph

      Mel, I’m sorry to hear about your experiences and I can understand why that’s tainting your opinion, but rape and abuse isn’t BDSM. Rape and abuse is rape and abuse.

    • meteor_echo

      @6a8938af0ac3f47bdd591455bd8cec48:disqus
      I’m sorry for mistaking you for someone else. I take my snideness back.
      However WHAT? ” You have a very rose-tinted view of BDSM and I’m glad everything in
      your experience has worked out great for you and you’ve never been
      abused or raped”?
      PFFFFT. You know by whom I have been abused and raped? By absolutely vanilla people. One of them was a hardcore Christian, too, and he almost succeeded driving me to a suicide. I’m sorry for what happened to you, as one survivor for another, but, as another reply to you said, rape and abuse are anything but BDSM.
      In fact, being in a D/s relationship is what helped me recover from my experience. It’s great to know that I can trust someone so much that they can give me orders and whatnot, but never hurt me. Ever. It made me feel like a human being again.

    • Another Steph

      That’s a pretty ignorant description of BDSM but even if that’s what you think that’s what it’s all about, it’s absolutely no business of yours what two people chose to do behind closed doors.

    • alice

      it is/was an ignorant description of BDSM and i think everyone agrees that anyone can do whatever they like behind closed doors (god yes!). my main point is the range of porn readily available, and how it may shape young minds.

      i’m 33, and when i grew up, porn was still something you either stole from your parents or your friends’ parents. you snuck into your uncle’s bathroom and flipped thru his penthouse magazines. in high school, i remember my first time going into an adult sex shop, with all the MUST BE 18 YEARS OLD TO ENTER signs. of course you all knew and heard about really freaky porn, but it just wasn’t something you could easily get your hands on, until you were old enough to buy it.

      now, any 12 year old kid can just as easily watch the “boring porn” that i did (blow jobs, lesbians, anal, oh my!) as he can select faux rape porn, or watching a girl be faux drowned in a bathtub while being sodomized with a strap on*.

      there’s something highly unsettling about that, to me.

      *that’s a true story, from my conversation w/ a 20 year old. he was describing the type of pornography he was “into now” and this was his latest. W-T-F

    • Another Steph

      Hey Alice, my comment was directed at Mel, specifically that she seems to believe that BDSM is about hurting each other. I actually agreed entirely with your comment, which is why I didn’t respond to it – ‘I agree’ comments are so boring that I couldn’ be bothered writing them :)

    • jack_sprat2

      Consensual BDSM isn’t necessarily where they’ll stop, nor are the rules much given prior to the images. My guess is that many, especially the boys, will mentally compose their own stories to accompany those pictures. Perhaps you haven’t been to the many easily accessible corners of the internet where even the “merely” transgressive and nonconsensual are just gateway drugs.

      On the whole, of course, the more likely consequence of such early exposure (among boys) is a permanent alteration of the dopamine receptors in the brain that aid in arousal. There is now increasingly abundant NON-ANECDOTAL evidence that many of these young men have the functional libido of men in late middle-age or older.

      In no way are such results likely to be “sex-positive”.

  • Succubus

    Also you’re daughters are watching porn, Just want to point that out.

  • Lo

    Don’t stalk your kid’s internet use. It’s much less creepy to openly tell them you’re watching everything they do (which, btw, is still pretty creepy). If you secretly follow them, that’s all the trust gone forever.

    • jack_sprat2

      There’s a very simple and elegant solution to that. Surf a whole bunch of mother-son incest stories at one fell swoop, downloading them into a folder which is labelled “Haha! I’m really gay!” Extreme measures should be responded to in kind. LOL Heck, go it one better and make it FATHER-son incest stories! And label it “No, I’m not really gay.” (In either case, label a companion folder, both within yet another folder, “Donkey Porn and Shepherds in the Field Where They Lay”.)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/maija.greenmayne1 Maija Green-Mayne

    I want to first address the BDSM comments i read a moment ago. Nothing is wrong with any kind of sex, as long as the people involved are both in agreement. HOWEVER, children have no business viewing such activities, because they have no way of putting it into context. It’s fine for adults, not good for children, tweens and teens.
    My next comment is this….i have 3 kids, 14, 10 and 9 (one boy and two girls). By the time i was my sons age, the only porn i was exposed to was one of the mags where people write in their fantasies or real life experiences. I didnt see a porn film until i was about 16, and that was because an older male friend wanted to ‘show me something’. these days our kids have 24/7 all too easy access to everything under the sun. and yes, i can control my computer, to an extent, but i have no control over what happens at their friends homes. I may need to have that talk with them soon….*shudder*

  • jack_sprat2

    Very healthy thread. It’s worth archiving as a whole and key-word indexed.

  • http://twitter.com/dgdoesstuff Fish Jones

    Heh. The only thing the Reddit Dad left out is “ya might want to watch out for downloads–run them through an antivirus first. Those things ‘ll eat your computer if you’re not careful.”