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OUR JOURNEY TO PORN

By Daria Luna Laroy & Wendy Kodden.

With a quick phone call talking about puberty, periods and sex, the two of us, Daria and Wendy quickly got to know each other on a deeper level, and decided we should take on a value creator journey about sex and sexuality of youth together. Unsure of what form the project would take, we were only sure of two things – we are not happy with the information we were given as youth, feeling like guidance for exploration for learning about healthy relationships with self, and others was missing, and we see many mental health issues of youth in the transition into adulthood.


Through researching we discovered in our explore phase that our perception of lacking education, and mental health concerns is not unusual. Youth in the Netherlands rate sex education at 5.3 out of 10, and 25% of all young adults develop mental health disorders. Further, the Rutgers ‘Seks onder je 25e’ survey with 20,500 Dutch teens (which you may even be part of, if you were in school in the Netherlands, in 2017, and between the age of 12-25 years old) gave us other insights, with sexual coercion and risks of STI’s, and HIV/Aids being highest on the list. The survey showed that three percent of young men and 14% of young women are forced into sexual acts and sex, and only 29% of young men and 19% of young women always use condoms during intercourse, as well as little test for STDs and HIV/Aids. Dutch students also say they use the Internet and TV to educate themselves on sex more than consulting with family and friends, which is concerning regarding internet portrayal of sex and relationships.

To get an understanding of what organizations and institutions are doing to help, we created a Network Visualization with all possible stakeholders for different topics in sex and sexuality. We had many inspiring conversations with professionals; Marcel Kodden from the COC in Zwolle to talk about issues of sexual diversity, more specifically the issues for LGBTI in the Netherlands, Josephine Breman, the owner of Ubuntu consultancy and community manager at Dance4life to talk about issues surrounding abortion and sex education and Suzanne Vink, the founder of the consent campaign @consent.altijd.enthousiast to talk about consent, boundaries, respect, toxic masculinity, and toxic feminity. We asked Dennis Bontje from Sexmatters about involvements of adults in the conversation for educating youth, measuring impact, and intimacy. By continuously sending each other links to stories, and views on educating youth about relationships, sexual heath, sex culture, etc. We became very frustrated and overwhelmed, now being in the engage stage and still dealing with the complexity of the presented issues.


Knowing that Dutch students use the Internet and TV to educate themselves on sex more than talking to family and friends, we thought it was concerning that organizations rarely focus on Internet usage of youth impacting their relationships and connections with those around them. We struggled to find valuable information on the impact of digital media on the mental health and relationships of youth. As we mentioned this to our coach Deanne, she encouraged us to contact the researcher Joris Van Ouytsel about his publications concerning digital media consumption and youth shaping sexual attitudes. Communication and access to Van Ouytsel articles gave us inspiration for our topic, but also made us uncertain about its feasibility. However, a call with Ava Leyla Laroy, a 14-year-old girl confirmed the concerns and necessity for addressing the digital environment to youth. She saw porn as the biggest concern for expectations, behavior and relationships at her school. Having found an issue that has not been tackled sufficiently, we took on the challenge to regards its holistically and tackle cause and effect. We decided to look further into media consumption and youth, especially pornography, spending many more hours of research, and making use of the limited available information of research studies, and academic viewpoints. We attended an NVVS webinar about Ethics, Diversity and Porn, for which Wendy patiently dedicated her time for translating to English what sexologists, and the producer for the porn site Blue Artichoke shared. We left the meeting inspired, and encouraged, as the speakers were supportive, and also interested in our project.


We proceeded to step elaborate of our project. Through a combination of regarding existing research about the negative, as well as positive aspects of porn, comparing already existing porn literacy guides, and learning about the history of the Internet and porn, we created a Porn Literacy Guide. We address different aspects of porn, from positive aspects such as liberating some to be confident in their body, feeling empowered by seeing their sexuality represented as desirable and desired, and satisfying fantasies and fetishes they do not touch on in real life. Regarding concerns, we wrote about misogyny, hook up culture, the industry and porn addictions. We finished off with recommendations on being well informed, consuming alternative, rather than mainstream porn, reducing consumptions, and educating youth about laws, to ensure they are aware. To create value and develop a more holistic education, and inclusive, caring society, we shared this guide with our stakeholders that give sex education in the Netherlands, so they can distribute it to youth, in their own formats, in our evaluation phase. We hope to achieve respect from a young age, and permit aware, safe, and caring sexual interactions of youth through the creation of this porn literacy guide.

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