Porn Button on keyboard

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Q: I just caught my daughter watching porn. She is 11 years old and told me that she masturbates while watching. Will having orgasms at 11 affect her future?

~  The Big Uneasy,  USA

A: Dear Big,

While I am sure this was a worrying experience for you, remember that your daughter, like all healthy human beings, is a sexual being and has been since infancy. Expressions of human sexuality occur in a variety of ways throughout a child’s development, as is the case with your daughter. To masturbate and have orgasms is in no way harmful to her, but the nature of the content to which she is exposing herself in pornography is concerning.

Pornography is fantasy entertainment in the sense that all entertainment is oversimplified, exaggerated and glamorized. Porn stars have (often dramatically modified) bodies that are, like many dolls and action figures, unnatural fantasies of perfection. Pornography is predominantly male-focused – made by and for men, objectifying women and often failing to acknowledge or respect women’s sexuality. The risk here is of your daughter seeking success in such a dynamic – feeling inadequate or insecure about her body as it develops and allowing herself to be objectified and exploited by men.

When you talk to your daughter, focus on supporting her in developing positive self-image and a healthy sexuality. Try not to make her feel guilty or ashamed about her sexual feelings or masturbation. Be a resource rather than a moralizer. This is perhaps the most difficult conversation you will have with her, but it can potentially build the strongest bonds. Ask her if there is anything that she has seen that she is curious about or would like explained. Without oversharing to your embarrassment and hers, and in terms and situations that she can understand at this stage, talk about sex as a fellow female. This is a great opportunity for girl talk, for understanding her sexual development as a joyful thing – to be treasured and respected – and that sex is not a transaction, but an expression of human intimacy and trust. Ultimately, it is about love and respect, first for herself, and later for a romantic partner.

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Enjoy your media and use them in good health,

~The Mediatrician®

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