Sex, pornography, the internet, and your child

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Sex, pornography, the internet, and your child

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One of the hugest changes that's happened in our culture in recent years has been that the internet has made pornography not only accessible but also inescapable. 12% of all websites are pornography sites and 25% of all search engine requests are for porn. Now, it used to be that you had to go to a seedy, adult bookstore in a seedy part of town to get porn or you had to get a magazine wrapped in plastic behind the counter. But now, it's everywhere and it's showing up easily on smartphones and everywhere. So our children are actually more likely to learn about sex from watching pornography online than they are to learn about sex from their parents or certainly from school. And the messages that they're getting, of course, are really very harmful because most of porn is very brutal and violent and misogynistic. So our children are learning some very dangerous messages about sex, really. And the images and languages of porn have become mainstream in our culture. So we get images of porn in our advertising and our pop stars, you know, feel like they need to dress as porn stars or strippers in order to signify that they're adult. Even very little girls are encouraged to dress in very sexy ways and teenage girls are very much encouraged to present themselves as porn stars, as strippers, to send nude photographs of themselves to their boyfriends, to remove all of their pubic hair which is something that comes directly from the world of porn, to wear thong panties which are basically g-strings and to act in a way that really is tremendously influenced by the language and the images of pornography. Another harmful consequence of all the images of child pornography that are now throughout the popular culture is that they normalize pedophilia. They normalize looking at children in a very sexualized way, and this puts real children at risk. And this is happening in a culture in which at least one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused during their childhood. Almost 90% of them are abused by people that they know, they trust, they even love. So it's not so much the stranger in the bushes that parents have to fear, as it is the person in the home often. When we're surrounded by images of little girls in particular shown as sexy and seductive, this makes it seem as if it's normal to look upon the child in this way. And it also encourages people to blame the victim, to basically say, "Well, she was asking for it." even if she was only five years old.

Watch Video: Sex, pornography, the internet, and your child by Jean Kilbourne, EdD, ...

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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses.

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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