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A word to my sons about porn

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You are just little boys. You play with action figures and Legos. The highlight of your week is when we have Lucky Charms for breakfast. You ask me if Transformers really exist. You are a long way from having to shave. But if the statistics can be believed, it probably won’t be long until you have your first exposure to pornography.

I can’t tell you how this breaks my heart. I don’t know how it will happen, but I imagine you will be confused. You will enjoy something that you also know you shouldn’t be enjoying. You will feel shame and you’ll have to decide if you’re going to talk to me about it or not. Please talk to me.

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I know you see me as your mom, but I am also a woman. I want to speak to you on behalf of the woman who will someday be your wife, the little girls who will be your daughters, the sisters of yours who are growing into women before our eyes.

For all the hype around porn, it really isn’t that complicated. Porn is marketing. Porn is trying to sell you something. It’s trying to sell you an idea of who women are. Porn is lying. The more you believe the lie it sells to you, the less you will be able to enjoy the truth. (And there’s so much more I want to tell you about the lies porn is telling you about YOU and your worth and your value as a man. A conversation for another time. Along with the conversation I need to have with your sisters about what porn will mean to them.)

Porn wants you to believe that women don’t age. Women don’t have cellulite. Women have the bodies of little girls with the sexual appetites of grown women. Women want all manner of degrading and scary things done to them even if they say they don’t. Please don’t believe those things. They will set you up for a lifetime of unrealistic expectations and unhealthy attitudes towards women. You are feeding into a society that tells your sisters they need eating disorders and boob jobs to be acceptable. You are paying money to an industry that will encourage your daughters to prove their worth by sending naked pictures to their boyfriends to be passed around at school. YOU are doing this when you give porn your money, your time, your heart and mind.

You may think you need porn to understand how women work. You may hear this is educational and normal and healthy. How else will you understand how to please a woman if you don’t figure out how all this stuff works?

My sweet boys, sex is not that complicated. If you get married you will find you have the best and only teacher you’ll ever need. Your wife. She will tell you what she wants and she is a unique individual creature to be valued and heard. She knows what makes her feel safe and loved. And it works both ways. Before I married your dad, my mom said to me, “There’s nothing in Cosmopolitan Magazine that your husband can’t teach you. Don’t let them tell you what he wants, let him tell you.” I know— gross, Grandma. But she was right.

Your wife doesn’t need you to be more “experienced” or knowledgable about these issues. When you invest your energy in studying the curves of women who have bodies created by science and photoshop, you are robbing from your own ability to enjoy your wife. That is no gift to her. When you spend hours viewing men who have made their career selling themselves as sexual masters, you are going to feel inadequate. You have to remember– porn will only continue to make money as long as it continues to make you believe you need it. You don’t need it. And it’s hurting you.

If you want to create a beautiful sexual expression of love with your wife, there are things she needs from you. She needs to feel confident in her body. She needs to feel safe with you. She needs to feel free to express her desires. She needs to feel respected if she says “no” to something. Porn undermines all of those things. Every. single. one.

Porn will never turn you down. Porn will never have a fight with you. Porn will never ask you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of on the counter. Porn will never get old, get stretch marks, or gain ten pounds. Porn will never have a headache. It can seem like the perfect companion when life with a real woman seems too complicated or when you feel rejected and angry.

But porn asks a lot in return. The pleasure is all yours, but so are the shame and consequences. Porn will always tell you that happiness is around the corner of the next beautiful woman, the next forbidden experience, the next escalation. In the pursuit of the happiness porn promises, it can take your productivity and your resources. It can take your ability to see women as people and not just commodities. It can take your ability to be satisfied. Ultimately, it can take your marriage and it can take your kids (except for every other weekend, alternating holidays, and a month in the summer). Porn is after your money and whatever devastation it leaves in its wake, it will expect you to clean up.

Little boys, I understand the temptation. The female body is beautiful. You were made to enjoy it in its appropriate context. Sex is fun and exciting. But sex can’t just be divorced from relationship without consequences. It is an expression of love and throughout your marriage it may serve many functions— to show affection, to express desire, to prove forgiveness, to provide solidarity in grief, to create life. While you can actually put a price tag on sex, there is no amount of money you could pay to get the full beauty of sex that’s found within the context of a healthy and loving marriage. And paying money for the cheap imitation will only harm your ability to get the kind of intimacy you actually crave. Because what you crave is to be fully known and accepted and loved. Porn can never give that to you.

If God’s design for your life does not include a wife, porn is still not in your best interest. First of all, because Jesus says it’s a bad idea (Matthew 5:27-30). And you know who agrees with Jesus about the dangers of looking at women lustfully? Science. The more we know about what porn does to the brain, the more we see how damaging it is. It makes you more calloused towards women, it is addictive, and it causes unhealthy changes in the brain. The more porn use by children like you becomes an epidemic, the more we will see the negative longterm consequences. Don’t be part of that problem. Be men who value and respect the women in their lives– your sisters, your coworkers, your friends, and yes, your mom. Be men who value themselves and treat your own body and mind with respect. Give God your sexuality and trust him to be sure your needs for love and friendship are met. Porn was never designed to meet those needs and will only leave you more lonely and unfulfilled. Contrary to all it promises, it will never even be a cure for your sexual desires.

So when you see that thing you know you shouldn’t have seen, let’s talk about it. I know you’ll feel shame, but don’t let that keep you from coming to me. You are a child and you aren’t supposed to be making these kinds of adult decisions yet. Let me help protect you. I know it may feel like a sacrifice to give up what so many other young men are indulging in, but you will be blessed in the long run. If you end up married, your wife will thank you. And maybe if it doesn’t seem too gross, she’ll thank me too.

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84 Comments

  1. So, so good, Maralee. Thanks for writing, you always hit all the nails on the head.
    Sarah M

  2. I always appreciate reading your articles. My son is only 7 months old and I’ve already begun to be saddened by the world he is entering into. Thanks for the resources and practical advice.

  3. Pingback: This Mom's Letter to Her Sons About Porn is Something ALL Our Boys Need to Read - For Every Mom

  4. Fathers more than Mothers need to be having these conversations with their sons

    • Mark, I agree. I am not taking away from this excellent article by Maralee, but if the father is available, he is the one that needs to be having this discussion with his son. The son ought to feel/be safe talking with his father.

      • I really appreciate both of you (Tim and Mark) reading and responding. You’ve given me some ideas for a follow-up post, which is helpful 🙂 The short story is that I’m a major proponent of these conversations happening many times over the years from both parents. This isn’t the only time I would address porn with my kids and yes, their dad is in on these conversations. He is not a writer, so you’re not going to see his side of it in print 🙂 I have read lots of good wisdom about why dads should be in on the modesty and purity conversations with their daughters, so I’m not sure why it would be inappropriate for mothers to also be addressing these things with their sons. The majority of what I wrote is about how porn impacts women, which is not a perspective my husband would be qualified to share and I think it is a perspective that has been ignored for far too long. Porn is not a victimless crime and women are suffering for it in many ways. What my husband tells my boys about porn is important and it is different from the issues I address, but I firmly believe both perspectives are necessary.

        • Maralee, Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what so many women are dealing with around the world. I also have a young son, whom I do NOT want to be affected by the grossly improper ideas and images of women and sex are. I, for one, greatly appreciate your stand against one of the biggest destroyers of happiness that exists. I have seen so many homes, marriages, and relationships ruined by different kinds and levels of pornography. We need to fight against it in every way that we can. Thank you so much for sharing this article with us!

        • Hello there as I might assume this article was in no means to condemn or hurt the male gender I do take some issue with this article parents not only need to talk to their sons but to their daughters as well. Men are not the only ones to watch pornography so do women (my example; remember the craze about 50 shades of grey, magic mike .) those things hurt men also they set a unrealistic standard of the type of physical shape or wealth a man has to be. And to say that the actors in those films are the cause for failed,or troubled marriages is preposterous. They re not the ones to blame it’s their spouse that needs to be blamed because it was a topic that hasn’t been dealt with in the couples dating phase. If you’re going to continue writing about topics like this in the name of warning then you should make daughters inclusive it’s this article. (Sorry for all the grammatical errors.english class was never my best subject.)

          • I totally agree that parents need to talk with their daughters. The things I will say to my daughters will be different than what I said here to my sons (with some overlap), but my daughters are not yet at that age, so I wrote to my sons first. I appreciate you bringing up how women viewing porn hurts men. I think that’s very true and important to address.
            As far as the actors in porn being blamed for failed or troubled marriages, I don’t think that’s quite what I said. I don’t think the actors themselves are the cause of problems, but it is well documented that porn and problems associated with porn are a major cause for divorce in this country. As more children are exposed to pornography, we are seeing more troubling developments about their attitudes towards marriage, the opposite sex, and their ability to even be satisfied with their partner. These are not problems that are created within the marriage, these are problems that develop because they have been socialized and educated by porn. This study is worth reading for further information: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/the-impact-of-pornography-on-children It would be great if all partners were honest with each other about how they have been impacted by porn prior to getting married, but that isn’t always happening and because some of the issue is how they have been unknowingly shaped by porn, they may not even be able to articulate those things.

        • Yes Maralee, so true, thank you!

        • Hi. I just want to ask you from what age would you suggest ‘reading’ this letter to the children?

          • Great question, Tracy. I haven’t read this letter to my boys (ages 10 and 7) yet, but the thoughts behind it inform many of the conversations we’ve had about porn already by this point. We have read the book “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” which is a great starting point for their questions and concerns. I’d start reading that book annually to kids at about age 6. I’ve written previously about starting the conversation with your kids even from toddler years as you talk about privacy and boundaries. In my opinion, starting the conversation early is important, although some of the concepts in this specific letter (about how women feel about sex, about how women’s bodies are portrayed by porn) may not be appropriate for little ones.

    • While that would be ideal, when the father does not believe these things to be true, then these conversations fall on the mother. I appreciate Maralee laying these thoughts out to eloquently to give me a starting point as I shoulder the burden of these conversations with my sons.

  5. I so wished i could have this kind of wisdom in my hands when my boys were growing up. what do you suggest we do now as they are young men, who i know have been exposed to porn on many levels (as well as their dad) ?

  6. I appreciated your letter and shared with my daughter and neices. Wish I had known about this before marrying because it was just one of many warning bells. Thank you.

  7. Porn keeps rape from happening.
    Porn keeps me satisfied as you women are messed up.

    • Bob, this is from the American College of Pediatrics article that I linked to above: “There is evidence that society’s acceptance of pornography creates unique problems for women. The use of pornography can result in violent and sexually aggressive attitudes towards women. Men who consume pornography are more likely to adopt rape myth ideology, which is that women cause rape or actually enjoy rape or sexual assault. There is strong evidence that exposure to violent pornography is associated with sexually aggressive behaviors in both adolescent and adult males. It is common for pornographic movies to portray male vs. female verbal and physical aggression as well as sexual acts that are overtly degrading to women.” So no, porn does not keep rape from happening, but contributes to a culture where rape seems acceptable. If you are regularly consuming porn, it is quite possible that it is not the women who are “messed up” but your porn use has made you less able to relate to women and less able to be sexually satisfied by them. (this article may also be helpful: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography particularly this section- “I have found that the earlier men use porn,” says Dines, “the more likely they are to have trouble developing close, intimate relationships with real women. Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don’t want or enjoy porn sex.”)

    • Bob, to the contrary, sir. Statistics prove that a HUGE (nearly 100%) percentage of rapist are addicted to porn…google the Ted Bundy story, and possible the interview he had with Dr James Dobson just before he was executed for his crimes. Science proves your statement to be wrong, it is actually the direct opposite of what you stated. Look it up.

    • Pornography is like drugs. It perverts everyone and leads to child sexslavery.
      https://soundcloud.com/the-bridgehead/how-to-rescue-a-sex-slave

  8. Also, your statement “you women are messed up” proves that porn usage causes lack of respect for women….your statement alone shows that you do not value women and have lumped all women into a category.

  9. This is my soapbox issue. Porn is so destructive. It perpetuates an environment that objectifies women. I feel pain deeply in my soul for the poor girls and women who get caught up in that lifestyle. These are broken women, who don’t realize their worth is more than the sum of their body parts, that they have something to give, that they are important, and that they are worthy of real love and respect.
    Thanks for writing this

    • I’m curious, how many pornographic actresses do you know? How do you know they don’t love what they do? How do you know they don’t feel liberated and empowered by porn? To assume all women who do porn are doing it because they are ‘broken’ robs those women of their voice, no?

  10. Inasmuch as porn is directed at men, there is the flipside of how it is directed at all parties. Everyone is affected. I don’t really understand why when talking about this subject its always toward the son or just the male gender. And yes, we (males) need it to be talked about and addressed negatively, but at the same time it is no less important to talk to women about the issue too.

    • Benjamin, while your points have merit, that is not the subject of this article. The author can’t be expected to address all related issues of porn addiction, however valid they may be. Her purpose was to address it in the context of a mother-son relationship, that’s all. Bringing up indirectly related issues is avoiding the main issue and a logical fallacy. You are not alone; I see others a have done the same thing. But I think we would be better served to comment on what she did say, not on all the things you may think she should have said.

  11. Pingback: Why Moms should talk to their sons about porn | A Musing Maralee

  12. Totally agree with your points. A website I recommend on the topic: fightthenewdrug.org . Very scientific, fact based, and youth friendly. It categorizesnthe affects by heart, head, and the world.

  13. Powerfully and precisely written. Will be sharing the content with my sons to be. Thankful you are using the gifts God has given you, and making an eternal impact.

  14. Maralee, great post.

    I think your idea of wanting to have such conversations with your sons throughout their upbringing is good. For me, pornography was a shameful, quiet thing that neither my dad nor mom wanted to talk about and so they were silent. There’s a role for both mother and father in this discussion.

    For the husbands and fathers, and single men, I just launched a short course today that I hope you don’t mind me mentioning. It is specifically for Catholic men to conquer pornography: http://catholics-conquer-porn-addiction.teachable.com/courses/overcome-porn-addiction

    God bless,
    Devin

  15. What an outstanding piece, Maralee. Perfectly and eloquently stated. Thank you.

  16. I grew up in a very conservative household where porn was treated as dirty and shameful, and I just wanted to add my two cents as this is an important topic for me.

    I think you are giving porn a lot more significance and power than it actually has. Porn is a release. Nothing more. If I haven’t gotten laid in a while, I watch porn. Problem solved. I don’t second guess my manhood, view women any differently, or feel a shred of shame. The men and women in porn are all paid actors. Simply explain to your kids that porn is like any other movie, actors pretending.

    I understand you want to protect your kids, and that’s great. But presenting porn and sexuality as something to be ashamed of is one of the most damaging things you could do to a child. Because every child grows up and has sexual urges. These are natural and human. If they associate shame with sexuality, they will never be able to be happy in a sexually fulfilling relationship. When I was growing up, I felt my sexual urges were something to be ashamed of. And because of this I had a very very hard time adjusting to the dating world. Luckily, my first girlfriend had a similar upbringing and we were able to stumble through a crash course in human sexuality that our parents had robbed from us as teenagers. Porn is a great way for someone to come to terms with their sexuality. They will be comfortable with themselves and will be ready for healthy, sexually fulfilling relationships. Porn is even a great way for couples to explore their sexuality together.

    You talk about respect, and I totally agree. Women should be respected by their partners. However, the reality is, women are sexually creatures, and sometimes they just want to fuck someone’s brains out. Pretending women are these delicate non sexual creatures denies them their humanity and is almost as disrespectful as looking at them as purely sex objects. Women are human just like men. Humans like sex. To say otherwise about a person denies them one of their most fundamental human rights. The right to be open about their sexuality.

    Ultimately, porn has as much power as you give it. If you treat it like a dirty secret, it will become a dirty secret. But if your honest about human sexuality, then your children will be able to live with the joy of happy and healthy sexually fulfilling relationships.

    Porn is like most other things in life. It’s good in moderation. If you help your kids understand this, they will thank you one day. Trust me.

    • Daniel,
      I appreciate the time you took to read and respond. We have some fundamental disagreements that are not likely to be solved here, but I hope you’re open to input.
      -I’m sorry your parents didn’t talk to you openly about sexuality. That is not the way I handle parenting. I think it is entirely possible to have an open dialogue with your children about sex and its beauty while helping them understand the potential damage of pornography. Talking to them about why porn is harmful does not mean teaching them sex is shameful. Sex and porn are not the same thing.
      -You see porn as less powerful, but you are not acknowledging that I’m talking to young children. To them it is incredibly powerful because they don’t have an adult framework to understand it. It would not be a “release”, it would be a form of sexual abuse for them to be intentionally exposed to pornography at this age. It has devastating effects on children and their understanding of sexuality. This is well documented (http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/the-impact-of-pornography-on-children).
      -I’m baffled that you somehow read this piece and decided I think women aren’t sexual creatures. That is nowhere in what I wrote. I said women want to feel free to express their own sexual desires and preferences without the expectations porn places on them. It is maddening to feel like saying women may not want porn sex (and should be able to communicate what they DO uniquely desire) is somehow perceived as saying women don’t want sex or aren’t sexual. Sex and porn are not the same thing. Being against porn does not mean being against sex.
      -I agree with you that porn has as much power as you choose to give it. I choose to give it none. I will not engage with it and I will encourage those I love to stay away from it as well. I’m not okay with them devaluing and commoditizing women “in moderation.”
      If you’re open to some further education on this topic, I think this piece is helpful in understanding what impact porn is having on our cultural attitudes, especially now that children so young are being exposed. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography

      • I think where I’m getting the fact that it sounds like this is saying women aren’t sexual creatures is because of the fact that you present porn as if only men watch it (at least that’s my takeaway from the article.) Women watch porn too, and can enjoy it just as much (if not more so) than men.

        I am in no way saying kids should intentionally be exposed to porn. What I am saying is it is inevitable that children will be exposed to it or even seek it out. This is not the end of the world. Just because some people have a problem with porn addiction does not make porn bad. Drugs and alcohol aren’t inherently bad and can be enjoyed in moderation. It is not porns fault that some people may develop an addiction to it. Developing an addiction represents personal issues that a person has. The thing they are addicted to is not the problem, it is the root cause of the addiction that should be examined.

        • Again, we have some fundamental disagreements. I have raised many kids (as a group home parent, foster parent, adoptive parent) who have had their lives pretty well ruined by drugs and alcohol, so I’m not a big proponent of dabbling in potentially addictive behaviors. It’s just not worth the risk. It may not be “the end of the world” for kids to view porn, but it isn’t a good thing either. It contributes nothing positive and has damaging potential. I don’t want to just keep posting the same links, but if you intend to raise your kids in an environment where you want to normalize porn and allow them to be exposed early, I would highly recommend you read the study from the American College of Pediatrics that I linked to above so you know exactly how that may impact them.
          As far your assumptions about my views on women, sexuality and porn– I would really encourage you to spend some time just thinking about the assumptions you made. You read a piece where a woman wrote that sex is fun and exciting, sex serves many purposes in the context of a relationship, that women know what they want and should feel safe to express those desires, but because that woman did not say that women like porn, you assumed she thinks women are non sexual, she denied their humanity, and she doesn’t understand that some women like sex. That is a huge, irrational leap to make. I think it undermines some of your other points about how porn hasn’t impacted how you view women and doesn’t have any power in your life. You may have bought into porn’s portrayal of women a lot more than you think if it’s that easy for you to decide a woman who objects to porn and how women are treated in porn is a woman who doesn’t value sex.

        • I completely agree with Daniel. I watch more porn than anyone else I know, and the only people who come close to me are my female friends. Not the dudes. There are a ton of inaccuracies in this article. You should’ve watched some porn or done some research before writing this article. Why do you assume that the plot line behind every porno is not consensual? In most cases, it is consensual. A lot of porn isn’t even rough. A lot of it is passionate and gentle. The cruelness and roughness you’re referring to is more of a fetish than a norm. The website I use starts you in the “Most Popular” section which is riddled with passionate, gentle porn. I skip past it and go to the rough stuff because rough sex isn’t evil. In my experience, it can be just as loving, but you do it a lot harder, there’s spanking, there’s hair pulling, and you usually climax a lot harder. Then you can snuggle afterwards, go on a walk, argue, or do any other normal couple activity. Also, most the women in porn don’t look as if they have an eating disorder, and a lot of them don’t even have fake boobs. A lot of them look like physically fit, healthy women.

          • Natalie, no one is saying women don’t watch porn. This is a post written to my sons, so the fact that women watch porn isn’t what I was addressing. This isn’t an attempt to address all issues involved in porn and it isn’t even aimed at adults. I am talking to my children about the longterm problems that can come from being exposed to pornography prior to even entering puberty and you’re responding with what kind of porn you like and what you enjoy sexually. Unless you’re prepared to show me the research that says exposing children to sexually explicit material is somehow good for their development(which would contradict all the other research out there), your own preferences aren’t relevant here and your inability to distinguish between your adult desires and what could be harmful to children just further supports my point. I have not made any assertions here that all porn isn’t consensual or that it’s all rough. Although that wasn’t the point I was making, the reality is that porn is getting increasingly violent and that has ramifications on how women are treated in society (http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/arpornography/arpornography.html, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/VAW02/mod2-6.htm, http://socialcostsofpornography.com/Layden_Pornography_and_Violence.pdf). Knowing what I do about porn (from the books I’ve read, the many studies I’ve looked over on the impacts on children and society, the men I have talked to who are fighting for freedom, the women who have shared their stories) I have no desire to contribute one dime, one click, one minute of my time to supporting it and the damage it does just so you think I’m better informed.

    • I’ve read what you have written about and am sure you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve been a port addict since a year and a half now. You say it’s good in moderation, somewhat like sex ed. Sadly you have overlooked that the real pleasure of life is not watching sexually explicit images but actually living life. Like playing football. Having fun get together with friends. Having no ‘dirty secret’ to worry about.
      I’ve known that porn is bad for me but it’s really tough to let go. Trust me. Confession after confession and longest stretch I’ve been away I’d 4 months. Four good, wholesome, best months in a very long time. And I’m back there now. All that, until one day a priest advised me to get professional help.
      Porn is a nightmare that replaced everything in life with, well, porn. These are the words of one who has been through that nightmare, namely me.
      But at the end of the day, after you have jerked off to h*** you know that you can’t concentrate on your studies. Your work. The people you love. All that when you’re just in you teens (I’m seventeen now) and yet the last time I did it was yesterday. Until a really good friend sent me a link to this, and the comments gave me access to a good website that gives professional help. I know I can do it. I know all can do it.
      We just need to know that there is always at leaSt someone who wants to see you normal again. And there always will be.
      Note- replace all PORT and PORK in this comment with PORN if any. Damn spell check, you know

  17. I think it’s also worth mentioning that it’s harmful to your sons to assume they will want to date women. You should be open to the fact that they may want to date men. Be supportive of your kids no matter what their sexuality is, and your kids will be happy.

    • Justin,
      Stop purposely trying to troll her. She brought up great, solid points that are backed up by science. Just because you do not like how well-written and well-thought her replies are, does not mean you should try to throw out some “trump” card to make you feel better about not having as strong convictions as she does.
      – George

      • Daniel,
        Stop purposely trying to troll her. She brought up great, solid points that are backed up by science. Just because you do not like how well-written and well-thought her replies are, does not mean you should try to throw out some “trump” card to make you feel better about not having as strong convictions as she does.
        – George

  18. I love how dudes comes in here and act all like “porn is no big deal.” It is. Images will stick with you even after you are devoted to one person. Your wife will feel insecure and ask if she measures up. Porn is selfish and about your gratification. In a world that says it is all about you, do you and be happy. We need to rise up as men and lead the way of transformation. Stop making excuses and man up. There is more to a woman than her intimate areas. They have value and worth just like you. Sex is designed to be enjoyed with your spouse. Forget the porn. It will damage you.

    • Yaay Justin! Bravo! You sound like a real man…one who uses his strength to protect and not to exploit, one who rises above selfish desires to stand for what is right. May you be rewarded with a wife who values and adores that in you!

    • I mean I’m not married, so……

  19. I grew up without any sex or porn talk. I figured it out from school mates and it didn’t take long to become addicted. I don’t want to dress it up and use nicer words like “hooked” or “developed appetite” or whatever bull. There is no “using in moderation” of poison. My wife and I just had our first, an amazing little boy and though he is only a few months I often think about how I will go about talking to him about sex, porn, life…what is healthy, unhealthy, what your wife will think, how you may struggle in marriage if you do use porn. Porn is not just actors and a means of getting off- if you believe that you my friend are naive on the grandest scale. Porn does not teach you how to relate to a real person, porn does not make you feel loved, it doesn’t feed your soul, it sets you up for disaster if you do pursue a real relationship, it makes you think that you need it to quell the fire when infact what you needed was relationship, real intimacy, not instant gratification via an addictive medium that rewires your brain and changes your chemical balance. Do talk to your kids. Teach them what is healthy, rewarding and long lasting. Don’t let their minds be formed by what they find out on the playground or internet.

  20. I think that there are probably plenty of boys and young men who are perfectly capable of seeing and understanding porn without consulting their mother. People are perfectly able to separate fantasy and reality, and kids are smarter than most adults like to think. I’m interested to know if you think it is possible to have a healthy relationship with porn? i would say that porn is fiction and i don’t expect real women look or act like pornstars, in the same way that i can watch lord of the rings and not believe the world is actually like that. Surely porn is used by most people to just help masturbate, not to shape their world view on women or men.

    • Boys? Plenty of boys are capable of seeing porn and understanding it’s fantasy? Kids are regularly being exposed to porn between the ages of 8-12. My eight year-old wasn’t sure if Power Rangers were real or fake, so no- they are not able to separate fantasy and reality at that age. Especially when they have NO frame of reference for what actual sex is like and when porn works to present itself as real. There are grown adults that don’t understand how much scripting goes into “reality” television, but you think children are going to understand that porn is fake?
      The problem is that *children* are being exposed to porn which does inherently shape their worldview about women and men, sexual expectations, rape and consent, the value of marriage and monogamy. You’re telling me you are okay with the idea that children are using porn to help them masturbate and you think that will have no longterm implications on how they view women and men? The science disagrees with you: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/the-impact-of-pornography-on-children
      Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with porn any more than I think it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with prostitution. Paying someone so you can use their body as a fantasy object is never okay with me. It demeans everyone involved.

      • Your kid wasn’t sure about power rangers, but he would have most likely figured it out by himself. To suggest otherwise would be insulting his intelligence.
        I agree with a lot of this article, i just don’t think that many people believe what it says porn is trying to make them believe.

        • John, I feel fairly certain that you didn’t read the article I linked to above. I would encourage you to do that. There is lasting damage being done to children who view porn. Will kids figure out porn is fake by the time they reach adulthood? Maybe. But by then the damage will have been done.

    • Both Porn and Masturbation are detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health. Science has recently affirmed this. The detriments of porn have been described eloquently and I agree it is a deceptive and enslaving vice. For men, masturbation leads to a loss of vital minerals from the body and it is not uncommon for men/boys who masturbate to have among others zinc deficiency. Please note that each time a man ejaculates large amounts of zinc are lost through semen. A lot of other micronutrients are lost. As for women, masturbation leads to mental illness. Hear the experts.

      Oxford University teacher, Dr. David Horrobin, M. D., Ph. D., Zinc, Vitabooks, Inc., 1981, p. 8: “The effect of zinc deficiency has particularly profound effects on the male, because extraordinary amounts of zinc are found in the testicles and the prostate gland. . . The amount of zinc in semen is such that one ejaculation may get rid of all the zinc that can be absorbed from the intestines in one day.”

      “In humans, among the most consistent effects of zinc deficiency are changes in mood and behavior. There is depression, extreme irritability, apathy and even in some circumstances, behavior which looks like schizophrenia. . . It is even possible, given the importance of zinc to the brain, that 19th century moralists were correct when they said that repeated masturbation could make one mad! Similarly, the high livers were also correct when they said that a diet rich in oysters was necessary to compensate for excessive sexual indulgence.”

      Dr. Carl Pfeiffer of Harvard University: “We hate to say it but in a zinc-deficient adolescent, sexual excitement and excessive masturbation might precipitate insanity.” Carl Pfeiffer, Ph. D., M. D., Zinc and other Micro-Nutrients, Keats Publishing, Inc. 1978, p. 45.

  21. Thank you for a brilliant letter. I will use the majority of it with my two boys.

    The following is bit disturbing so I apologise if I upset anyone.

    I recently saw an interview with a serial killer who was about to be put to death. In the interview he talked about his crimes and about other criminals he had spent the last twenty years behind bars with.

    He said they where the worst kind very violent, rapists, murders, serial killers, a users of children and women. He observed all came from different backgrounds some poor, some average, some well off and even some very very wealthy. Whilst some had been victims of abuse growing up most hadn’t. In fact this guy said he had a perfectly normal up bringing from very supportive and loving parents. He said of all the inmates that he spent his time with all there stories where different the only one common thread amongst all of them was in his words “every single one was addicted to porn”!

  22. What a beautifully written piece. The only thing I wish is that I had written it. It took me back sixty years, to a time in grade school when I got my first glimpse of “French playing cards.’ To a fourth-grader, that was pretty heady stuff. Unbelievable! No, what was unbelievable was that I told my parents what I had seen. My mother and father, to their everlasting credit, did not overreact. They didn’t sit me down and make a big deal of it, but rather brought it up that evening in a conversation. I know they were dying to scream and yell, but they didn’t. I got ‘the talk’ which I never forgot. In fact, I used some of the same thoughts years later when I had the talk with my boys. Porn is fun–the first time–but porn is also sinister. It robs one of so many things. Thank you for the article.

  23. There’s no shame in enjoying porn. Humans have fantasies and please that porn can help live out. It’s not a substitute for real women, but to say it’s dangerous is like saying movies ruin our expectations of real life. Of course they don’t! It’s just a movie.

  24. Hi! Maralee. Thank you for this article. I’ve an 11 years old boy, and I’m really concerned about the theme.
    Sometimes, just talk seems not enough… but I believe God’s Grace, and talk and teach it’s part of my responsibility.
    For now he doesn’t seems much attracted for porn, but, it pops out any time on computer (that is always in the living-room under surveillance), movies, commercials…, and the classmates have other kind of guidance at home, so, sooner it will be there hitting hard, and he must be ready. But I’m just not sure about the right buttons to hit, to keep him save from be taken by porn…
    Your article is really good, to me… (clarify some thoughts that I had) but some of the argument’s seems like they need to be “translated” to his mind and his goals… do you understand what I mean?
    Thank you!

  25. Wow. As a son this is so true, it’s hard to say guys but she’s right. One time god took me in a vision to a faint taste of the beauty he has in store for me. And I’ll just say it’s gonna be so worth the fight. getting married is asking for another battle. Learn alot of self control now so u will be ready for the next phase, Cuz it’s alot harder…

  26. Maralee, spot on. All of it.

    Yes, it can be debilitating to others in real-life relationships, but perhaps an equal danger is the PURELY selfish aspect of porn. Porn is there when *I* want it. I seek actors doing what *I* want, how *I* want it. Everything there is about me, Me, ME! Fact is, the folks on the screen (or page, if that still exists) don’t know me. They don’t care about me. They don’t know I exist as a human at all. And after I turn off the power, click to a new page… they cease to exist for me too. It builds a subtle, but destructive pattern whereby I begin to think and act as if sex, people, relationships, are about ME. On when I want it, gone when I don’t. And that makes for a miserable world when we begin to think and act that way. I want no part of that poison.

  27. The majority of porn is average looking people with average bodies.

    This is not a womens’ issue per se.

    It is about the condition of the human spirit, regardless of gender.

    Porn exploits everyone, and is not a conspiracy to demean and keep down women.

  28. Do you believe that we should stop our girls from watching romantic comedies and reading romamce novels because they have the same affect on a woman’s mind?

    • Yes, we should. I am actually somewhat “pro-porn” in that I think it promotes sexual positivity. But I think “romance” type novels really give women/girls false expectations for what relationships are.

  29. Wish I had a mother who wrote this for me when I was young too many years pornagraphy has abused me and robed me of the beauty found in the bond of marriage with committed eyes that are supposed to be only for my wife thanks for sharing porn simply is not worth the trade off

  30. I was first exposed to a porn film when I was about 8. Shortly after my cousin started to molest me. This went on for about 4 years. As a young boy who grew up in a fairly struck Christian home I had no idea what was going on but I was afraid only because my cousin said not to tell anyone. Not soon after me and a friend bought a pornographic magazine and took turns in the bathroom. I only got deeper into my addiction as I fed the beast. I continued to believe the lies and I was covered in shame all while attending church and youth group on a regular basis. Our church never spoke on this subject. At age 17 I finally had to tell my youth pastor about my dark secret. I then told my parents. The incident with my cousin was resolved on my end as I pursued God and the Holy Spirit healed me inside. The porn monster did not die though and I was up and down like the Giant Drop at Six Flags. I took porn all the way through my life into marriage and still struggled greatly until March of 2014 when I was 35 years old. You all can do the math but the past year and 8 months of complete freedom have been amazing! Confessing to my wife and men in the church who I trust have been the main keys other than pursuing Christ. I am a modern day David and my stones are already in my satchel so when your ready for the porn Goliath to die, let me know and I will help you gather your stones.

  31. Pingback: What I learned from Arguing with Men About Porn | A Musing Maralee

  32. The American College of Pediatricians is a conservative, right-wing religious fringe group. They say the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage will have a significantly negative impact on children in the United States. The ACP opposes same sex marriage across the board.

    The article you cited listed “increased acceptance of female promiscuity” as a result of viewing pornography. That is incredibly outdated, sexist, and harmful. Another point listed was “Subjects were more accepting of non-marital sexual activity and non-coital sexual practices such as oral and anal sex.” Is there something inherently wrong with non-coital anal/oral sex? I believe all forms of consensual sex between adults is their business and acceptance of cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal intercourse is up to a person’s individual taste.

    Furthermore, the ACP is NOT The American Academy of Pediatricians, “A hallmark of a profession is the provision of training, certification, and continuing education. The ACP does not none of this independently. The ACP has been around since 2002 and the AAP since 1937. Annually, the AAP spends millions on professional publications and continuing education; the ACP receipts in 2008 was less than $60,000. The AAP has over 60,000 members, the ACP about 200.”

    • Lee, I am checking through my responses here, and I can’t find a place where I misrepresented the American College of Pediatricians as the American Academy of Pediatricians, so I’m not sure why you felt the need to clarify. Whatever your feelings about them or their positions as an organization, what I have linked to is a summary of the research on the impact of pornography on children. Because you think two of the impacts they identified are not problematic, is your intention to defend children’s exposure to pornography as a positive?

  33. Exposing children to pornography is abuse and reprehensible. My intention, implied or written, was never to defend that. On the contrary, I said consenting adults.

    Words from from a sex positive source:

    “You should tell your son that the sex in porn bears about as much resemblance to real-life sex as action movies bear to real-life life. And warn him that a lot of porn is made by and for guys who have no other sexual outlets, i.e., guys who have no wives, no girlfriends, and no hope. Many of these guys—many, not most, but many—are angry and resentful, and their anger and resentment is a poison that creeps into a lot of porn; sometimes the poison is obvious, sometimes it’s not. If you put it in your straight son’s head that the poisonously misogynist s**t he’ll see in some porn is there to appeal to angry losers who can’t get laid, your son will be less likely to internalize it—because your son doesn’t want to see himself as an angry loser, right?”

    Dan Savage http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=15085111

    Also http://makelovenotporn.com/pages/about

    About the ACP and AAP: I didn’t know there were 2 separate organizations and I had mistaken the ACP for the AAP in my mind when reading your article. The ACP has a religious bent and is anti-gay. Not so with the AAP. I found this out by reading the article you cited and some others.

    I know you’re not a hater. I’ve read some of your blogs. You fight hate. Maybe there are other resources out there rather than one that discriminates.

    Cheers

  34. What needs to be added to this conversation when they’re older is sex slaves… pornography has been linked to sex slave trafficking in the States. Several organizations that work with churches to battle sex slave trafficking call men of these churches to not be apart of the problem if they’re fighting against sex slave trafficking.

    • Vanessa, not all porn actresses are sex slaves. Yes, I do think trafficking should be discussed with children, but you are certainly generalizing here.

  35. Thank you so much for this beautiful portrayal of a plea from a mom to boys. I recently have been dealing with a tough situation and I cannot tell you how encouraging and useful this has been. I’ve shared it with many. God bless your bold and intentional way of approaching this touchy subject.

  36. Pingback: A Mom’s Letter to Her Sons about Porn

  37. What do you feel is the appropriate age for this? I hate to bring it up and having them thinking about it when maybe it’d be years before they would of come into contact with it. Does that make sense? Thanks

  38. Pingback: How I’m Trying NOT to Raise a Brock Turner by Talking to My Kids about Porn | Her View From Home

  39. Pingback: This Mom's Letter to Her Sons About Porn Is One All Our Boys Need to Read

  40. Pingback: To the Men Who Think Its Not My Job to Talk to My Son About Porn – WHAT LIFE MAY THROW AT PARENTS

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