THE GREAT PORN EXPERIMENT

It’s well documented that a huge number of young men and boys are regular users of internet pornography. Depending which statistician you ask, the average age of first viewing is 11-years-old.

Anecdotally, I can tell you that virtually every single boy at my high school was consuming porn by age 16. That was nearly ten years ago.

“The widespread use of internet porn is one of the fastest moving, most global experiments every unconsciously conducted,�? says Gary Wilson in his TEDX talk, The Great Porn Experiment. “Nearly every guy who has internet access becomes an eager subject.�?

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A report in the Australian Journal of Medicine published last year said: 28 percent of nine to 16-year-olds had seen sexual material online. Other surveys have found that amongst Australian school students aged 13 to 16 years, 93 percent of males and 62 percent of females had seen pornography.

According to Wilson, internet porn use is so widespread that one US study was unable to locate any non-porn-using young men to act as a control group.

Those young men are going to go on to become our doctors, lawyers, prime-ministers and, yes, pool boys. Australian research into teen pornography use shows that boys that use porn are more likely to have more sexual partners and be involved in risky and violent sexual behaviour. The extent of porn’s adverse effects on men has been a point of public discussion for a while.

What of girls? According to a study by female sexuality researcher Dr Meredith Chivers, women are much more flexible than men about what turns them on when it comes to the screen – responding to gay sex, straight sex and everything in between.

Twenty five per cent of online porn expenditure comes from females, one in five porn users is a woman, but there’s been little, if any, discussion of the effect porn has on young women.

brett“People tend to think of porn as a male problem,�? says Brett McCann (pictured left), a senior lecturer in the sexual health program at the University of Sydney. “But what studies there are have shown that lots of women use porn and something like 5% of women use porn in a way we’d describe as compulsive, compared to around 8% of men.�?

Most women I spoke to said they first watched porn for a laugh with their friends or were introduced by a boyfriend. “Female friendly�? porn is one of the fastest growing segments of the market.

The female porn viewers I spoke to, though, all had different tastes. When you think about it, it is kind of sexist to assume that all women want to watch the same, softly lit smut.
Bec, 24, says that curiosity led her to porn in the first place and she’s now a regular viewer, clocking in a couple of hours a week.

“I probably started when I was 16 or 17,�? she says. “The porn I watched then was very different to what I watch now. It used to be pretty vanilla, but now I mainly watch BDSM [bondage, dominance and sado-masochism] – stuff that freaks a lot of my friends out.�?

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