Sex Education Vs. Pornography: Why Zack and Miri should think twice….

March 30, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

THE SEX EDUCATION SHOW VS. PORNOGRAPHY, Channel 4, Monday 30th March

After years of community projects pioneered by charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, and an endless, changing stream of seemingly unsuccessful condom marketing campaigns; finally Channel 4 is revolutionising televised sex education.

Unlike The Great Sperm Race, The Sex Education Show vs Pornography is more focused on tackling body image misconceptions. It is worrying to think that young people are basing their ideas of what is “normal? by what is presented in porn films. Although this particular episode focused on the female body over the male, it made some worrying discoveries. Previously, teenage boys had to rely on the underwear catalogue for their marginal masturbation material (cue hilarious pictures of the decade that fashion forgot, with string vest and pants combo aplenty). Now, pornographic images are freely available on Page Three, in lads mags and on the internet.

Despite Anna Richardson’s attempts to tackle the plastic-fantastic-anorexic-with-rounded-football-boobs stereotype (or pfawrfbs for short), by showcasing real women’s breasts and nether regions, both the female and male test groups of teenagers from Sheringham School in Norfolk felt that fake breasts and bald vaginas were the components of their preferred female body. 

From the girl’s point of view surgery seems like a perfectly acceptable choice to get the body that “makes [boys] happy? (with a 300% rise in labioplastys in the last five years, it’s not just about having big boobs anymore), and boys feel equally justified in telling a girl to “get rid of? her pubic hair to comply with their own idea of porn-perfect aesthetics.

The situation is even worse for parents, prompting the show to set up it’s own “Protecting Kids From Porn” campaign. With parents having to pay out for expensive Adult Content Filter software rather than it coming as standard, children have been given a free reign to access any pornographic sites going. Within minutes of Anna Richardson typing the word “porn” into an internet search engine, she is faced with a shocking film featuring graphic scenes of child abuse. The programme even interviews Damien Duke, a porn star who lost his virginity at 14 and has led a very sexualised life. Damien intends to dispell the myths about porn for the boys in the show that follows later this week.

Despite young people leaving the sex education classes explaining that they felt more comfortable knowing that there was no such thing as a “perfect” body, it was clear that sexualised prejudices still remain, especially in relation to the girls having to change to please the boys and not the other way around. In a society that calls itself contemporary and modern, I am shocked at how much the older, more chauvinistic traditions have come creeping back to haunt the next generation of women.


Sally McIlhone