Maree Crabbe
Maree Crabbe is an expert on young people and sexuality. Photo: Simon Schluter

Adolescent sexuality expert Maree Crabbe on pornography's impact on young people.
Technology has enabled the proliferation of pornography, making it so pervasive that it has become
the main sex educator for many young people.

This is a profound problem because it gives a distorted view of sexuality and human relations,
predominantly involves violence against women and encourages hazardous practices.

It is causing young people confusion and anxiety, and they are feeling pressure to mimic acts that are common in pornography but that many girls, in particular, find distasteful, degrading or painful.

Research shows more than nine in 10 Australian boys aged 13 to 16 and more than six in 10 girls in the same age group have seen pornography online. 
They can seek it out anonymously and effortlessly. Many, too, stumble upon it inadvertently through internet search engines.
Today's guest in The Zone has worked for more than a decade with young people and sexuality, and is the joint leader of a project called Reality and Risk, which seeks to arm young people - and parents, carers and educators - with information and confidence to think critically about pornography and the messages it conveys about women, men and sex.

Maree Crabbe has worked with young people for 20 years, and has focused on sexuality and sexual health for the past decade, developing and presenting programs about sexual violence prevention, sexual diversity and prevention of sexually transmissible infections.

In our interview, the full transcript of which - as well as a short video statement by Crabbe - is at theage.com.au/opinion/the-zone, she gives advice to young people and adults and sets out the scope of the pornography issue.

''Pornography has become incredibly accessible … and more aggressive. What was most accessible a couple of decades ago was a centrefold - a still image of a naked or semi-naked woman. Now what is most accessible is moving imagery of people having sex, often quite aggressively. It is shaping the ways that many people are thinking about and experiencing sexuality.''

A fundamental concern is the predominance of violence, the overwhelming majority of which is against women.
Crabbe cites a 2010 analysis by US academic psychologist Ana Bridges that found 88 per cent of scenes in pornographic videos portrayed physical aggression, while nearly half contained verbal aggression.
The aggression is not random - 94 per cent of it was perpetrated against women. And more than nine in 10 of those acts of aggression were met with a neutral or a positive response by the targets - the female performers following the scripts.

''The message to the consumer is she likes it when he hits her or he chokes her or he gags her".
And quite often women are visibly gagging, usually on a penis, but sometimes on other things. It gives a very confusing message to consumers about what might actually be enjoyable for most women. Pornography is normalising what we call porn's signature sex acts - the ejaculation on faces and bodies, what the industry calls deepthroating, which is fellatio with the penis in the back of the throat, that sometimes induces gagging or even vomiting - and heterosexual anal sex.

''The point is not whether anal sex is good or bad, or that it's no good to get ejaculate on your face or parts of your body. It's that the script of pornography is normalising and misrepresenting the experiences of pleasure of lots of people, particularly women, and shaping a sense of what is expected as part of the sexual experience for many young people when that is not actually what a lot of people want to engage in.''

Violence against women is a massive global issue, and is one of the most pressing problems in Australia. Research by VicHealth found that for Australian women aged between 15 and 44, intimate partner violence - that is, excluding general violence against women - is the leading preventable cause of illness, injury and death. Every five or six days in Australia, a woman is killed by her partner or former partner.

Crabbe stresses the scripts are generated by an industry seeking a profit from representing sex to a primarily male audience. She says there is a lack of focus on mutual pleasure and female pleasure. The crucial notions of respect and negotiating consent are usually ignored.

''Porn creates a sense of what is normal, what is expected, and that we ought to consent to ways of doing sex that are not just derived from the interaction between those individuals engaged in the experience, and what they would like to be doing. We're hearing many stories from young women about their partners initiating the signature sex acts from pornography and of the women struggling with both wanting to please their partners, wanting to be accommodating and generous in their sexuality, but not wanting to engage in those sex acts.''

While pornography producers may not see their role as sex educators for young people, that is what they have become. This has confronting implications for parents and carers. And for many adults, this may be a particularly uncomfortable challenge.
A lot of parents find it excruciating broaching even basic sex education, let alone talking to their children about pornography.

''We struggle to talk about desire, pleasure, consent, communication.
But if we don't have those conversations with young people, the porn industry will.
What young people will learn then will not be as good as it could be if people who care about them had had those conversations with them. This is a really significant part of responding to the pervasiveness of aggressive internet porn. Part of it is also about modelling things - modelling respectful gender relations in our homes and communities and extended family, and maybe one day in the media and politics.''

Crabbe says that while prohibiting internet use is clearly not a realistic or desirable parental policy, parents should monitor and limit young people's access to the online world.

If parents and carers do not arm young people with the knowledge to critique pornography and understand it for what it is, young people are going to continue with a distorted view. It can be a dangerous distortion.

''Pornography is an extremely problematic sex educator. The vast majority of pornography doesn't do anything remotely like what we could consider promoting safe sex or safe sexual practices.''

Crabbe says only 10 per cent of pornography shows the use of condoms. And while many professions are covered by legislation against bodily fluids being allowed to contact other people, no such restrictions apply to pornography.

''There is also a prevalence of sexual acts that are very dangerous for one's sexual health. This includes unprotected sex with multiple partners, and sexual acts like anal sex directly into vaginal sex, or anal sex directly into oral sex.''

Crabbe's advice to young people is to understand the imagery has been constructed for a commercial purpose, and that as pornography becomes so pervasive, producers are seeking an edge in a crowded marketplace. There is not room to discuss it here, but there are fascinating questions around why producers might think that such distorted and unrealistic portrayals are what is demanded and, indeed, why some men might demand it.

Crabbe says it is important that young people communicate with each other, and explore what is pleasurable. ''I would encourage them to have a vision for sexuality, and for relating, that is respectful and mutual and that actually can be fulfilling.''

She advocates, too, young people talking more broadly than just with their partners. They should talk to their peers and to respected adults. To help such discussions, Crabbe and her co-creator of the philanthropically funded Reality and Risk project, David Corlett, have been working since 2009 to generate resources, including a forthcoming documentary film, Love and Sex in an Age of Pornography, that draws on interviews with about 140 young people and pornography producers and performers.

Crabbe and Corlett are also providing training to government departments, organisations and employees, including the sexual crime squad of Victoria Police, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, youth workers and teachers.

Reality and Risk has produced education material, including curriculum elements, policy documents and background material for school leaders and parents, for secondary schools. Crabbe and Corlett were also commissioned to produce a module for universities to use for teachers' sex education training.

''It is not enough just to critique. We need to also say what would be better.
With good leadership and good resources young people might both avoid some of the costs of porn's influence and might benefit from a fuller sense of who they might be and what they can contribute to the world beyond this.''
end of article from SMH
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-problem-with-porn-20130521-2jyud.html#ixzz40U8WW9G4
Further reading on relationship:

In recent times this all ties in synchronistically with the continuing increase in street violence and particularly domestic violence of all genders and sexual persuasion since say 1970s as Pornography has moved synonomously with the expansion of the internet since those days when porn was held in Playboy & Man magazie centrefolds, Mechanics workshop calendars, erotic novels & under the counter written fantacies and sleazy slimy strip joints.
Today we are exposed to full on graphic video movies of beasteality & virtual animalistics violently subverting upon the 'script compliant women' providing the erotic pleasure of the patriartchs.
Generally viewed in the dark, shamefully hidden, in secrecy and privacy of the mastubators pleasing themselves behind closed door.

As Maree Crabbe correctly says we cannot censure the internet but we can hope to "open the door" on this conversation and "shed healthy light" onto the conversation and call pornography for what exactly it is. Violent Sexual Abuse.

A self gratifing "Reward Seeking" behaviour in absolute parallell with virtually all other forms of compulsive avoidance behaviour. Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Food, Shopping, Music, Movies, Gym , Happy Clapping church goers etc etc.


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