CAVEAT: Before I share my thoughts specific to the traditional “taboo” content of this posting, I want to make it clear that I do not promote the practice of anal sex with our youth. Education on the topic however, specific to the totality of healthy human sexuality, I would encourage. Some parents and adults will not want to acknowledge what I am about to share, but reality sometimes has the habit of slapping our morality if we do not wake-up to what our kids are facing in today’s world. To me education and “harm reduction” needs to be the goal when it comes to protecting our kids both “on” and “off” line.
Today (July 20th) I received the following Twitter message“
Being an Internet and Social Media safety and digital literacy advocate, in which the message of healthy human sexuality can often play a component, I decide to read the Teen Vogue article entitled “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know, How to do it the RIGHT way” http://www.teenvogue.com/story/anal-sex-what-you-need-to-know
Having been a police officer for over 30yrs, who has presented Social Media safety and digital literacy to over 340,000 middle and senior high school students to date, I have a pretty good anecdotal grasp on what is happening with our youth. I can also state this because teens trust us, and speak to us about what is happening in their world. We pride ourselves on staying very current.
Two years ago I was working with a focus group of teens on the challenges of Social Media, and it congruence with healthy human sexuality. This discussion primarily surrounded sexting, but very quickly turned to other “sexual” challenges that the teens believed that Social Media was influencing. When I pressed the students about this issue, one stated “well did you know that anal is the new oral with us teens”. All the teens , both males and females, nodded their heads in agreement. When I asked why, almost all in unison stated, “PORN”. Like it or not, the porn industry in all its forms has become anonymously accessible to anyone and everyone including our kids.
I have found that many parents feel uncomfortable talking about the difference between healthy human sexuality and pornography. Given that many teens will become sexually inquisitive, if parents aren’t mentoring specific to this topic, then they will turn to the internet, and guess what, the porn industry is waiting arms welcomingly open to fill that void, which is a recipe for disaster.
Social media by designed has become primarily an imaged based culture for youth. This fact, combined with its anonymous accessibility, play perfectly into the hands of the porn industry. The hyper-sexualization of teens, in all forms of media, combined with the pornification of our youth, have created the perfect storm. As one PhD expert on this topic has stated, “young girls are being taught to have the look of fuckability or risk invisibility with the boys.” I would also suggest that boys are being taught that girls are nothing more than “objects” that are there only to serve a male’s sexual desires.I believe that pornography is conditioning teen males to correlate anal sex with pleasure, macho sexual achievement and a chance to mimic what they see in pornography. On the other hand, I have found females associate anal sex with physical pain, a damaged reputation if others find out and something you do unwillingly to please your partner (its seen to be an expectation).
After hearing teens talking about how anal has become the new oral, I reached out to a family doctor who confirmed what the teen’s had shared with me This doctor, and their colleagues, stated to me that they have seen an increase in injuries to the anus and rectum areas of teens that they care for. When this doctor asked these teens about the cause of these injuries, all stated they were attempting anal sex.
What the porn industry does not share with teen viewers, before an anal scene is shot, the actors will douche, usually use what is called a “butt plug” to stretch out the anal sphincter (that they pull out just before the sexual act) and that lots of “lube” is also used to prevent these injuries. Not knowing these fact, many teens will often attempt anal sex without any such prerequisites, thus significant injuries (harm) to both males and females are often the result.
I’m all about education and harm reduction when it comes to keeping our kids safer. After reading the Teen Vogue article, I did not believe its intent was to promote or encourage teens to engage in anal sex, rather I believe the intent was to educate teens about reducing harm if attempted, given its real and present threat. I applaud Teen Vogue in bring what has traditionally been a “taboo” topic with our generation, to the attention of teens where attempting this sexual act has become more of a norm. I do believe however, that the article needed to be more balanced. The author should have discussed, in more depth, some of the real medical risks of this sexual act which include but not limited to:
- Sexually transmitted Infections
- The transmission of HPV virus
- Urinary infections
- Bacterial infection of anus/rectum
- Damage to the anal sphincter
- Fistula (large tear or crack) in the lining of the rectum
Knowledge, and the understanding and application of that knowledge, is power. For our kids to make the right decision, when it comes to healthy human sexuality, they need to know both the good and bad.
Those who are petitioning Teen Vogue need to focus their anger and disgust at the real threat…..the porn industry. The “reality” is that many teens are attempting anal sex without any knowledge on how to so more safely. As a result, us parents need to be alive to this sexual reality, educate ourselves on this topic and start talking to our kids, not only about the difference between healthy human sexuality and pornography, but also about relationships, partner communication and consent. This is not a school’s responsibility (yes they have a part to play) this is a parental responsibility.
Digital Food For Thought
The White Hatter