Porn Planet: A New Resource For Talking With Youth About Porn

In all of the discussions, debates, and arguments about porn, one of the few things that most people can agree on is that most porn is terrible sex education. And this is even more important when we’re talking about how teens and young adults, who often lack access to accurate sex-positive information, end up copying porn.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are hesitant to open up a conversation with young people about porn. Maybe they don’t know how to start. Maybe they don’t feel confident in their abilities to talk about sex. Maybe they think that they don’t know enough about porn or that they don’t know how to talk about it without showing sexually explicit images. Maybe they have their own judgments about porn and aren’t sure how to start the discussion.

The good news is that now there’s something to make all that easier! Justin at Bish Training has created Planet Porn, an amazing resource for opening up the topic and helping young people develop the media literacy and critical thinking skills they need to tell the difference between sex on Planet Porn and sex on Planet Earth.

Each activity has enough structure that you can simply follow Justin’s suggestions or you can improvise and add them into whatever sexuality education you’re already doing. Justin also offers some excellent ideas for how to create a safe space for these discussions and lots of open-ended questions to get things rolling.

I think my favorite is the set of cards that have statements about porn sex or real world sex. The idea is to ask young people to decide whether each card fits in the Planet Porn or the Planet Earth pile (or maybe it could go in either). On the back of the card is a short paragraph talking about that particular topic. For example:

On the back: “Most people in real life only fancy one sex (and most people are straight), this goes for men and women. However in porn, women seem to be expected to kiss and have sex with other women; this is very popular. However it is rare to see a bisexual man having sex and kissing another man and woman. Lots of women who like porn would like to see this, but it’s not very common.”

All of the images are cartoon drawings, so they’re not going to distract from the conversation. And the information is very balanced, offers multiple perspectives, and is sex-positive without denying the negative side of porn.

The only downside is that sometimes, there are subtleties that are left out but I also know how challenging it is to convey complex topics in limited space. Frankly, I’m really impressed with how well he managed it.

In addition to Planet Porn, Justin also offers a set of leaflets for parents about relationships, safer sex, using condoms, how young people can decide if they’re ready to have sex, and more.

And FYI, Justin is in the UK, so he mentions some of the legal questions that might not be relevant for everyone and some of the references might not make sense in other places. But it’s a very minor thing that doesn’t take away from the value of this tool.

So if you have teenagers or young people in your life, I really recommend getting a copy of Porn Planet so that you can help them develop the skills they need to make sense of it all. And if you don’t have teens but you know someone who does, send this their way. It’ll make things a lot easier for them.

Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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