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Hardcore porn to blame for disturbing teenage sex culture

The petition calling for better sex education, circulated by former students of private girls’ and boys’ schools across Sydney, makes for devastating reading. From the testimonies shared, it is clear many young women have carried the weight of heinous sexual crimes against them for years, not knowing what to do with the shame that should not be theirs. Their call for education on consent is a good one, which I imagine most schools will support.

And yet reading these harrowing stories tells me that such an initiative is a candle in the wind. In each story, I could not help thinking: these young men are living out something they’ve seen in hardcore porn.

Young men’s minds are being formed in a culture where they have easy access to hardcore porn.

Young men’s minds are being formed in a culture where they have easy access to hardcore porn.Credit:Penny Stephens

That the allegations against these young men describe crimes that are patriarchal, violent and violating speaks volumes about the culture in which their young minds have been formed. And while we can easily and perhaps rightly point to their privilege – existing at the tripartite crossroad of race, class and gender – I would like to suggest that the patterns in these horrific stories go beyond that. The “education” our teenagers are receiving on how to relate to one another is sitting in their pockets, as they walk through the front doors of their schools and homes.

The hours we might invest in teaching young men and women about consent would be far outclassed by the hours of access young men have to hardcore porn, on their phones and on their computers, in which women are routinely debased, violated and used for patriarchal pleasure.

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