Greetings from Copenhagen! I will participate in the Journal of Youth Studies conference titled Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks and give a talk about young people’s experiences of porn. Here’s the abstract of my Wednesday’s paper presentation:
Debate about pornography and minors has mainly been discussions of control, regulation and media policy; the urge to protect children from alleged dangers of sexually explicit content being the primus motor of this conversation. Instead of discussing online sexual activities of minors in the light of relevant research findings, notions of risk and harm are often present in discussions about young people as consumers of porn; risk being an issue of potential danger while harm signifies something that is experienced as disturbing and unwanted (Livingstone et al. 2011, 14–15).
The presentation builds on the data consisting of 4212 questions about sexuality, sex and sexual health that were sent by Finnish young people for the experts in sexual health. Out of the 4212 contributions, only 64 questions (mere 1,5%) were explicitly related to pornography. The small number of questions related to porn imply that young people do not consider porn per se to be a problem. According to the data, not all young people who are asking something about porn from the sexual health experts experience it as harmful. Rather, it is the risk talk and discourse of danger that is experienced as disturbing and confusing. Disproportionate risk talk remains blind toward both young people’s ambivalent attitudes to sex and their positive sexual experiences. It also silences the voices of young people by only referencing professionals working with youth, health and educational agencies and law enforcement as authorities of young people’s sexual cultures.