preparing our daughters for a culture of porn

This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in October 2018.

When I was a teenager (not so very long ago), the epidemic of Internet pornography was just beginning to be recognized. By the time I got married, most of my peers knew that the majority of guys our age had a problem with porn. We might not have understood the impact it would have on our future marriages, but we were somewhat prepared for the likelihood of marrying a man with a history of porn use.

Our parents were not as aware of the problem. They didn’t understand how easily erotic material could be accessed, or how quickly curiosity leads to addiction. Studies were not yet out on the addictive nature of porn or the compounding issue of screen addiction. We didn’t have the science on how early exposure traumatizes the brain and damages emotional development. Often times, the first conversation parents had with their boys about pornography took place only after they discovered inappropriate material on their computers.

It wasn’t that parents were neglectful. They just didn’t know. With all the education out there today, I see Christian parents being proactive; taking precautions like installing filtering software, becoming more tech savvy so they are aware of danger zones, and beginning the conversation with their boys from a very young age. I hear more talk about how to end porn addiction, and more discussions on preparing our daughters to address the issue of pornography in relationships before committing themselves to a man for life. That is wonderful!

But while we are busy protecting our boys, Satan is busy at work. In our zeal to protect the hearts and minds of our young men, let’s not overlook a rapidly growing issue among our youth: Female porn addiction.

Pornography is not just a “man’s problem.” Our girls are at risk, too. In Covenant Eye’s 2018 edition of “Porn Stats,” you can read how:

  • A 2007 study revealed that 70% of girls had accessed pornographic material
  • In a 2008 survey of college students, 62% of girls had been exposed to porn before the age of 18, and 9% had been exposed before the age of 13
  • 57 % of girls have seen group sex online
  • 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online
  • 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online
  • 18% of girls have seen bestiality online
  • 10% of girls have seen rape or sexual violence online
  • 9% of girls have seen child pornography

But that’s just the data on exposure. What about intentional viewing?

  • 23% of girls have spent at least 30 consecutive minutes viewing porn on at least one occasion
  • 76% of women ages 18-30 and 16% of women ages 31-49 view pornography at least once a month
  • 21% of women ages 18-30 do so at least several times a week
  • 25% of married women say they watch porn at least once a month
  • 48.7% of young women believe viewing pornography is an acceptable way to express one’s sexuality
  • 20% of religious women are addicted to porn

Note that most of these statistics were put together ten years ago. These are growing trends. More young women are viewing pornography at younger ages than ever before. We have got to start talking to our girls about their vulnerability to porn addiction and how to protect themselves. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your daughters to live in our culture of porn:

1.      Realize that girls are visual too. While it’s true that guys are in general more visually stimulated than women, there are thousands of girls who are just as “visual.” I have friends who are made to feel as if something is wrong with them because they are easily aroused by visual stimulation. Women can be aroused by images just like men, and they can become just as addicted to that rush of dopamine. Visual stimulation can also be a learned behavior. Our culture of porn is teaching our girls how to be visually aroused even when they would not naturally be so. Don’t spread the myth that only guys are visual. Talk to your girls about guarding their eyes.

2.      Be aware of pornography in all forms. Pornography is, “Art with obscene or unchaste treatment or subjects,” (Webster’s). Or, “The presentation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, films, or other media solely to cause sexual excitement” (Britannica’s Encyclopedia). Material that is marketed as “porn” is not the only danger. It is packaged with a variety of labels, and is abundant in mainstream media. Think of the latest PG-13 blockbusters. Just because your daughter is over the age of 13 does not mean she (or you) should be viewing the pornographic scenes found in most PG-13 movies. But pornography is more than just pictures or films. Women tend to prefer erotic stories over graphic images, and these are just as wrong as any other form of porn. Recognize the danger of “romance novels” and don’t accept the excuse that she “just skips over that part” (yeah, I used that line as a teen). Be aware of the books your girls are reading, and talk to them about the inappropriate physical reactions words on a page can arouse.

3.      Protect your girls as much as your boys. Install accountability software on all devices. Limit screen time. Put restrictions on where your daughters are allowed to use electronics (be especially wary of sleepovers and unsupervised library visits, and don’t allow electronics to be used after you’ve gone to bed). Insist on access to all passwords and online accounts. Check these regularly. Talk to your girls about the dangers of pornography. Teach them to come to you any time they stumble across inappropriate material.

4.      Have an open communication policy. One of the main reasons people get hooked on porn is curiosity. Boy, girl, adult, or child, we are curious creatures by nature. If girls have unanswered questions about sexuality, they will do their own research. What starts out as mere curiosity can turn into addiction very quickly. Talk to your girls from an early age about physical development (including boys vs. girls), sexual desires, and purity of mind as well as body. Gain your daughters’ trust by communicating with them about all areas of life. Teach them that you are a safe place to learn about sensitive topics, and encourage them to come to you with any and all questions. If you have already given them a foundation of appropriate information, your daughters are less likely to search for answers from the world.

5.      Talk to your daughters about how to handle their sexual urges. Girls have sexual desires, just like boys. It’s hard to be a single young woman with no legitimate outlet for those desires. Pornography offers an alluring way to “express sexuality.” Teach your daughters the righteous way of handling arousal.

6.      Teach your daughters about the beauty of the physical relationship within marriage. In our efforts to protect our girls against sex before marriage and other forms of immorality, sometimes we send the message that sex is bad or that girls aren’t supposed to enjoy the physical side of marriage. Make sure your girls know that sex is a beautiful gift from God for both the husband and the wife. Both were intended to enjoy sex equally. Teach your daughters that they don’t need pornography or other “enhancements” the world offers. Talk to your daughters about how they have the power to train their minds to only be aroused by sinful material, and if they indulge in doing so they will lose a glorious part of pure sex within marriage.

These are just a few ways to prepare your daughters to face our culture of porn. Teach your children – both sons and daughters – to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). We live in a world that seeks to devour our girls, turning them into slaves of sexual immorality as both the giver and receiver of illicit behavior. Don’t be naïve. Educate yourself and educate your girls on how to avoid a lifetime of bondage to sexual sin. 

If you are a woman struggling with porn addiction, you are not alone! Reach out for help. You are always welcome to email me at servingfromhome@gmail.com.

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