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If there are still any questions about whether porn has an impact on young people's sexual attitudes and behaviours, perhaps it's time to listen to young people themselves.Girls and young women describe boys pressuring them to provide acts inspired by the porn they consume routinely.A young woman told me that on dating sites she lists under "fetish" wanting to stare longingly into someone's eyes and to take sex slow.She said if she didn't put these desires in the "fetish" category, they wouldn't warrant a second glance.They know they can't compete, but that doesn't stop them thinking they have to.
My own engagement with young women over the last few years in schools around Australia, confirms that we are conducting a pornographic experiment on young people - an assault on their healthy sexual development.So far, these messages include: "Stop telling us we are wet," "Stop commenting on our bodies," "Stop demanding pictures," "Rape jokes are never funny" and "Sex before the age of consent is illegal." The proliferation and globalisation of hypersexualised imagery and pornographic themes makes healthy sexual exploration almost impossible.Sexual conquest and domination are untempered by the bounds of respect, intimacy and authentic human connection.With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are 'up for it' 24/7, ascribing to the myth that 'no means yes and yes means anal', oblivious to injuries caused and never ever considering consent.We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent." The Australian Psychological Society estimates that adolescent boys are responsible for around 20% of rapes of adult women and between 30% and 50% of all reported sexual assaults of children.
"[I want] better education regarding sex for both boys and girls [and] information about pornography, and the way it influences harmful sexual practices." These are the words of Lucy, aged 15, one of 600 young Australian women and girls who took part in a just-released survey commissioned by Plan Australia and Our Watch.