Does Anyone Know What to Do About 13-Year-Old Boys, Porn, Women, and the Future?

Well. This weekend I heard the tale of a mom discovering from her son's browsing history that he has been, er, investigating the internet's copious troves of smut.

This is not the first time I've heard a story like this. While kids are aces at finding terrifying, hair-curling images online, with or without parental controls on the computer, they neglect their browser history (probably a good thing overall) and parents are confronted with: reality. Or really, not reality, but a shaved, degraded, creepy, freaky version of reality.

What are you supposed to do?

If you're ancient and wizened, like I am, you remember when it was more about a Playboy magazine in someone's garage. That seemed extremely risque at the time. And while I don't want to go whole-hog and say, "Internet porn is worse," I do sort of want to say that. Because there is SO MUCH of it. And it is SO SCARY. And also SO AVAILABLE. And how can you counter, or at least balance, these crazy images? And what about how women are portrayed? And oh my god what are you supposed to do?

There are computers everywhere, and from the story my excellent nephew told be about the bad kid at school, "We were supposed to be researching plants! But he went to a site and looked at ladies' bras!" , I think that it's very hard to keep it all out. Also keep an eye on that kid—he was 8.

It seems to me that: of COURSE 13-year-old boys want to see naked ladies on the internet (I'm trying, as I write this, to be honest but I must say I am terrified about what the keyword search situation will be on this post). But mostly what I think is that there need to be other ways in which love/sex/bodies/women are represented in their lives, and that goes beyond just the parents serving as a model for how to be. Maybe I am wrong about this? But I think it.

So I want to come up with books for boys, especially books that remember that boys are human, and girls are human, and it's all terrible and wonderful and complicated. It would be EVEN BETTER if I were able to include books that speak to boys, in boys voices, about boy stories, or have covers that are not embarrassing for boys to be seen with (though maybe they are like girls and everything is embarrassing? I think maybe this is the case). Also better still? If the books could acknowledge the reality of sex, in a humane sort of way.

Here are some ideas, all of them compromised by the fact that I don't have boys, I was terrified to talk to boys for a long time, and I am an ancient wizened crone. Still!

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Or maybe this?

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Or maybe this?

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I haven't even READ that last one, but I read The Marbury Lens and I think he's a good writer and I trust him? And it looks like a book that isn't just about the girl's story? And basically: Help me, readers! You must know something about what to read, think, or do in these situations? (Aside from talking to the kid—of COURSE you talk to the kid.)

Speak! In the comments.

4 thoughts on “Does Anyone Know What to Do About 13-Year-Old Boys, Porn, Women, and the Future?

  1. Well, no. Apparently no one knows what to do. 😉
    So I will suggest the not quite relevant but wonderful book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

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  2. I know Diamond personally and I would like to make clear that she is neither ancient nor wizened, and most certainly not a crone.
    But, whoa, it does concern me that boys (and girls) may form an idea of what sex is solely via absorbing the images and actions of internet porn. Unlovely…

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  3. .
    When I was a boy, I read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? over and over to understand girls. I’ve told my own boy this, but he hasn’t picked it up…. Maybe it’s the 1980s cover of my copy?

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  4. There was a copy of The Joy of Sex floating around our house when I was a kid and I read it and it made me feel quite happy and hopeful. I wouldn’t suggest that anyone actually give it to a kid- it is about real, grown up sex in graphic detail- but stumbling across it like I did was not bad. It is very hippie-ish, including charcoal drawings of a pair of total hippies (bearded man, natural looking woman) engaging in various acts. Has a nice humanity and enthusiasm that I recall thirty years later…probably dated in some ways now…Don’t know exactly where this fits in the conversation as one really couldn’t give it to a kid. It is the antithesis of porn though.

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