Today is the beginning of Sexual Health Awareness Week 2017. The FPA (the Sexual Health Charity) are using this week to raise awareness around pornography.
On their website, the FPA mention that they believe pornography can be a positive aspect of people’s sexual lives - as long as there was no exploitation in the production. The charity also lists a number of negative impacts pornography can have including; affecting body image and self-esteem, unrealistic expectations, safe sex, addiction, and the stigma that surrounds porn.
According to the charity the way around these issues is through education and the promotion of an open culture. The FPA also states:
“95% of young people are not taught about LGBT relationships at school. For young LGBT people porn is a source of reassurance that other people share their desires.”
Another issue that the charity highlights is ‘revenge porn’ and the FPA are also using this week to ensure the effect that ‘revenge porn’ can have on the victim is taken into consideration. They describe how ‘revenge porn’ can cause trust issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
‘Revenge porn’ was made illegal in the UK in 2015 and the maximum custodial sentence is two years. The FPA say on their website that teaching should include the law and consequences of sharing and owning images of children, or images that were not given consent or created through exploitation as a deterrent.
The point of talking about pornography for this sexual health awareness week is to ensure that young people realise that porn is not an accurate representation of reality. Some studies have gone as far to suggest that watching internet porn has ruined sex for young people because of their unrealistic expectations.
Many people who watch porn will never admit to doing so because of the stigma around it, and this in itself can be dangerous. Being ashamed to openly talk about a part of you and your sexual desires can lead to a lot of unanswered questions - this week the FPA will be updating their website to hopefully answer these questions.
In such an open society where people are beginning to feel more open about their sexuality and who they are pornography is still something we fear talking about. Perhaps, in time, it will also be something we can talk about openly without fear of judgment, but, until that day comes pornography will still be an issue for many young people.
Read more about Sexual Health Awareness Week here: http://www.fpa.org.uk/sexual-health-week/sexual-health-week-2017