When it comes to pornography, experts want young people to know that it’s “not a documentary.”
Planned Parenthood Toronto hosted a discussion Thursday night featuring Dr. Marty Klein, a California-based sex therapist and marriage counselor, to talk with parents and educators about ‘porn literacy.’
'We know that the internet is here to stay and we know that pornography is here to stay. And we know that young people are using both of them.'—Dr. Marty Klein, sex therapist
Klein describes this term as the set of skills and information that young people need in order to understand pornography.
“We know that the internet is here to stay and we know that pornography is here to stay,” said Klein. “And we know that young people are using both of them.”
He said that parents, guardians and educators should not avoid the topic of sexuality and pornography just because it might be awkward, and that one conversation about sexuality is not enough.
“Hopefully, we don’t raise important issues for the first time when they’re in trouble,” Klein said. “We do it way before that.”
Sarah Hobbs-Blyth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Toronto, said this important conversation does not seem to be happening, which is why her group planned this public talk.
“Talking about sex with youth, if you’re a parent or a caregiver or guardian, is going to be – for a lot of people – awkward,” said Hobbs-Blyth. “Always come at it from a non-judgmental approach.”
The goal, Hobbs-Blyth said, is to be proactive rather than reactive.
“If your youth is coming to you with questions, that is a fantastic thing,” she said. “Then you have an opportunity to be able to provide them with the information. And if you don’t know the answer, say ‘I don’t know but I’m going to get back to you.’ And then get back to them.”
Klein’s talk also sought to address the idea of a "porn panic," which he said is the result of assumptions that people who watch porn are fundamentally different.
“The number of people who watch pornography is so large that inevitably some of those people are going to behave in antisocial ways,” explained Klein. “It’s a very large and diverse group. There’s no reason to panic.”
Although Klein is based in the United States, he said there are a lot of similarities between the U.S. and Canada, which makes the content of his lecture universally applicable.
“Just like America, Canada is a country of diverse cultures,” said Klein. “One of the strengths of Canadian society is how diverse it is. And if we’re going to talk about sexuality or anything else, we need to take that into account.”
Hamilton’s Planned Parenthood organization can be reached at 905-528-3009. More information on sexual health and education can be found on the City of Hamilton’s website in the Public Health section.