On the weekend, I was attending the 3rd Porn Film Festival. One of the
more impressive works presented there was the documentary "Jugend und
Pornographie" (youth and pornography).
I think it is a valid subject. For my generation and later generations it is
normal to grow up with pornography. I was online in BBS networks starting from
the age of 10, and I was on the Internet when I was 15 (which, 15 years ago was
really special, at least here in Germany). And of course, especially at that
time, nobody really gave much thought about how to protect youngsters from the
various X-rated material that was available online.
Since data transmission rates were still pretty low, most of the porn
that I had at my hands was actual erotic stories. The kind of stuff
that you can today still find on ASSTR.
There were plenty of message boards in all networks (FIDO, Z-Netz, T-Netz,
later Usenet) in both English and German, where people were hanging out and
sharing the erotic stories that they've written themselves. Over the years,
I collected more and more.
The only graphics you could find at those 2400bps times was 320x240, so not
particularly detailed ;) But there already was a difference between scans of
porn magazines, actual digital porn productions of commercial porn BBS's and
the amateur porn community.
So starting at the age of 11 or 12, I was more or less regularly reading and
watching pornographic material. It's obviously hard to judge what kind of
influence this had on the development of my personality and sexuality.
Obviously it has lead me to at least respect (or even appreciate) the many
different forms of sexuality. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes,
preferences, etc. I never had the feeling that it was wrong to use porn
to get turned on, to derive sexual pleasure from it. Why would I? I was
brought up in no religious tradition, and my parents are not particularly
Still, of course, I had to keep it all secret. My parents did definitely
not like the idea (as I experienced later when they came to know that
I had access to 'physical' porn). They never had (and still have not)
any idea at which age I started watching porn, and to what extent I was
collecting piles of it. That was one of the advantages if you were
a computer nerd and your parents almost computer illiterate. Whatever
you had on your computer without any hard evidence on paper or other
physical media was absolutely secret. It is a personal computer,
In any case, I think a documentary like the one shown at the festival
is a first and humble attempt to start to get a discussion going. Today,
every kid is on the Internet. Everyone can click "yes I am 18" and
get access to porn. Only the most computer-illiterate kids will
be deterred by 'parental filtering' software. They only catch what
they know, and they only know the web, which contrary to many peoples'
belief is only one particular part of the Internet.
So the fact is that today, more than ever before, youngsters are watching porn.
No matter how much it is against the law, and no matter how much their parents
try to prevent it. So we have a legal system, combined with ethical norms
that are extremely out-of-sync with how reality actually looks like.
This has been going on for something like 10 to 15 now, and still
there is no major public debate about this fact. Most parents either
don't know or don't care. Or if they care, they are unable to do
something about it. Or they feel embarrassed and rather look away
because they don't know how what to do. The Kids will do what they
want, but obviously not all of them are able to cope with what they
I see some analogies to other debates. Like the debate about
first-person shooters (action games), where despite some claims not
everyone who plays them will turn into an aggressive personality.
Just like not everyone who smokes a joint here and there will become
a major drug addict later in his life.
However, I do acknowledge the fact that there are some fragile
kids that might not do well and that have not yet developed a
strategy how to deal with this. Who do not know or learn that
relationships can be based on love and emotion, rather than
purely on sex. But then, do we try to (and fail anyway)
protect them from porn, at the expense of delaying or holding
back the sexual development of everyone else?
In any case, the current system of trying to protect teenagers
by futile attempts to keep porn away from them is not working.
It's not working for at least a decade, and nobody is proposing
any real solution or even attempting a public debate about it.
Maybe it's a reflection on how little many people care about
sexuality in general. If they deny themselves from exploring
their sexuality freely (by religion, society, ethics, ...)
why should a younger generation not be denied, too. *sigh*