Responding to criticism
Since The Porn Chat was released, there has been some criticism directed to Porn Free Childhood’s work and platform. Below, we have answered the questions and assertions that have been raised. If you have other concerns or questions, feel free to reach out to us. We will do our best to give you an answer and together make The Porn Chat even better!
Q: What do you mean by porn? There is non-violent porn too.
A: When we talk about porn in The Porn Chat we refer to the vast majority of mainstream porn, which is the dominant kind of porn found when googling “porn” and therefore the kind of porn children and adolescents consume. We are aware that there are other erotic narratives too. Those are, however, not our focus. Our job is to limit children’s exposure to mainstream porn.
Q: You disgrace children’s exploration and adults’ sex life.
A: Porn Free Childhood does not work with adults’ habits or preferences, but with children’s exposure of porn. Yet it may happen that people associated with Porn Free Childhood comment on the porn industry and adults’ experiences and some of the research we refer to is based on adults. It is, however, not our focus. We agree that children’s exploratory is important, though our experts state, based on their knowledge and clinical experiences, that mainstream porn is not a good source for sex education. Instead, it could be damaging for children’s health as porn reflects the opposite of consent and equality. By criticizing mainstream porn and limiting children’s access to it, we encourage equality as well as physical, psychological and sexual health. Furthermore, we strive and work towards updated sex education, age adapted & porn critical conversations with children and welcome other informative platforms and forums where children can learn about sex.
Q: Porn is not as violent as you claim it to be. Research shows that only 1 % of young people chose to watch porn with violence.
A: Discussions about how to define porn’s content is complex. “Violent porn” is defined differently on the blog Lustfyllt and by the researcher Mattebo from the way Porn Free Childhood, our experts and other research studies define it. The problems and conclusions will then of course diverge depending on this definition. We argue that mainstream porn includes serious violence.
Unizon’s report about porn & prostitution (2016) that compare various studies, gives us a clear example of this matter. Bridget et al., whom we refer to, mean that 9/10 porn videos have violent elements in them. McKee, on the other hand, believes that only a fraction of porn videos are violent. This divergence depends on different definitions of violent actions. In McKee’s research, actions were only considered violent if the violence was explicitly met with a negative reaction by the target of the violence. With such a definition, even Bridges et al. would have found a lower percentage of aggression, only 12.2% compared with 89.8%, since their definition of aggression, unlike McKee’s definition of violence, also included a target who expresses a neutral or positive reaction after the aggression (Unizon, 2016). In the case of Mattebo’s research, which showed that only 1 % of young people chose to watch porn with violence, adolescents were given a few examples of porn genres to choose from or wrote down other genres, based on what they consumed. In other words, the adolescents defined whether it was considered violent porn or not. Their definition is interesting, yet not our outset when discussing aggressive elements of porn.
Q: The most popular genre in Sweden is amateur and thus not violent. You claim that forcing someone’s head down a toilet is commonly seen in porn, well it’s not!
A: Discussing the most popular genres, trending features in porn or what keyword people use searching for porn, is not the same thing. Besides, one cannot know that the so-called amature porn genre is less violent than other porn genres, or even if it is “home made”. We have said that there are mainstream porn videos where women have their heads forced down toilets. However, if the reader has perceived this as if it happens on a regular basis, there is a misunderstanding. Our point is that these extreme scenes are not exceptions and it is not unlikely that our children find them on the major free porn sites. In order to prevent misinterpretations though, we have exchanged this example by something that occurs more regularly.
Q: You misunderstand the terms gonzo and hardcore – they say nothing about the content.
A: It is true that gonzo and hardcore are not necessarily violent. In practice, however, they are very often violent. We have clarified that paragraph after the release.
Q: Why do you use unscientific references such as debates and news articles?
A: The text is based upon research, clinical experiences, interviews with experts as well as children’s and young people’s own experiences – but it is not a scientific text or a comparing article. The purpose is to give parents an overview of online porn and its health effects on children. Unlike an academic, scientific article, this text has valued readability, which is commonly prioritized in these kinds of texts, and news articles etc. can therefore be very interesting and descriptive.
Q: Det finns inget vetenskapligt belägg för att porrberoende och porrimpotens är riktiga diagnoser.
A: Porrfri Barndom har aldrig påstått att dessa tillstånd är medicinska diagnoser, däremot att många söker hjälp för dessa två problem.
Q: You act like adolescents don’t know that porn is fantasy, when actually they do.
A: Adolescents are of course capable of making rational and reflective judgments of what they see, but they are not always accurate in their self-evaluation. Many adults follow the same pattern, for example when claiming not to be affected by advertising. If we were not affected, there would be no advertising, right?
Reports produced by RFSU, an organisation which works and talks with children about porn, reveals that children very commonly say that others become affected by what they see, but not themselves. When it comes to porn consumption among young people, it is also important to know that their brains are not fully developed yet. According to brain scientist Sissela Nutley, the frontal lobe is not developed until the age of 25 (Nutley, 2019).
In spite of this, Porn Free Childhood is convinced that young people have the ability to reflect about their sexuality, and it’s precisely what we would like to support. Today we have a multibillion porn industry being a primary source of inspiration and information about sex. This industry is so natural in children’s lives and we believe it harms their possibility to contemplate their sexuality and develop at their own speed.
Q: Why aren’t you unbiased?
A: The purpose of The Porn Chat is not to have an investigative role comparing the positive and negative sides of porn. Our standpoint is clear: we believe today’s easily accessed mainstream porn is harmful for children and that is what we work with. With that said, it is obviously of great importance that our writing and saying are well anchored.
Q: It is not possible to make direct conclusions of e.g. porn consumption and purchasing of sex. There might be a correlation but you cannot say that one leads to another.
A: In most quantitative analysis it is almost impossible to guarantee that one behaviour leads to another. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say there is a connection. And that is interesting enough!
Q: Porn is not the same thing as prostitution!?
A: No, and we have never said it is. There are however, according to Talita, common factors between them, meaning one could lead to the other. Talita has a lot of experience in this field and you can read more about this subject at talita.se/pornografi. Similarly, Unizon highlights research indicating that the backgrounds of people in pornography are very much alike those in prostitution, e.g. experience of violence, economic exposuredness and sexual abuse (Unizon, 2016).
Q: Isn’t porn filters violating freedom of speech?
A: No, Porn Free Childhood’s intention with porn filters and age verification has nothing to do with prohibiting the production or deployment of porn material nor adult’s choice of taking part of it. It is exclusively from a children’s rights perspective. Porn filters are one of several actions to prevent children’s exposure of porn. Today, there are regulations regarding children’s access to porn and exposure of porn offline. It is illegal to put up porn pictures in public places and the porn industry has voluntarily a 18-year limit, even though it is not regulated by law. We consider similar limitations should be exerted online.
Bridges, A. J. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update”. Violence Against Women, 16, no. 10
McKee, A. (2005). “The Objectification of Women in Mainstream Pornographic Videos in Australia,” The Journal of Sex Research, 42, no. 4
Melissa Farley et al, Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries:
An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,”, 2003
Nutley, S. (2019). Distraherad: hjärnan, skärmen och krafterna bakom. Stockholm: Natur & Kultur
Svedin, C. G., Åkerman, I., & Priebe, G. Frequent users of pornography. A population based epidemiological study of swedish male adolescents. Doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.04.010, 2011
Talita (2019). Pornografi. Stockholm: Talita
Unizon. (2016). Porr och Prostitution. Rapport. Stockholm: Unizon
Waltman, M. (2014). ”The Politics of legal Challenges to Pornography: Canada, Sweden and the United States”. Stockholm Studies in Politics, no. 160