Smut for Teens? More, Please

In the Age, Michelle Griffin wrote a passionate plea for why we should be exposing teens to more ‘dirty books’. She says that in an age where teens can easily access actual porn over the internet and formal sex education emphasises disease and danger (and is often awkwardly delivered by well-meaning but reluctant teachers), dirty books are ‘the best chance they have to free their fantasy lives from the shackles of banal commercialised sexuality’.

In yesterday’s Age, Michelle Griffin wrote a passionate plea for why we should be exposing teens to more ‘dirty books’. She says that in an age where teens can easily access actual porn over the internet and formal sex education emphasises disease and danger (and is often awkwardly delivered by well-meaning but reluctant teachers), dirty books are ‘the best chance they have to free their fantasy lives from the shackles of banal commercialised sexuality’.

She reports that only half of Year 10 students have had sex (though ‘surely all of them are thinking about it’) and suggests that it’s far better for them to imagine their own scripts – based on their own desires and fantasies – than to leave them with only the restrictive scripts provided by porn:

We should fill school libraries, family bookshelves and e-readers with all manner of explicit literature: not just copies of The Joy of Sex, but steamy airport novels, raunchy teen lit and straight-up smut.

Controversial feminist Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, spoke at the Wheeler Centre last year about how porn can shape sexuality, particularly for adolescents who are still discovering theirs.

In an essay following Dines’ visit, Rochelle Siemonowicz, publications manager for the Australian Film Institute (and mother of a primary-school-age son) wrote about her own discomfort with the way porn shapes sexuality, in unimaginative ways. Her conclusions weren’t too different from Griffin’s – after reflecting the way erotic films can enhance sexuality, she concluded that she plans to leave such films ‘accidentally’ lying around the house for her son to discover when he’s ready, as a so-sneaky-it-just-might-work way of combating the influence of internet porn.

Writer and bookseller Krissy Kneen – author of erotic memoir, Affection, and erotic novel, Triptych – has also spoken at the Wheeler Centre on the difference between erotica and porn (though she also has no problem with the latter). Kneen, too, is emphatic about the positive effects of ‘dirty books’.

In the (very busy) comments section for Griffin’s article, some have reflected on their own formative erotic reading. Books mentioned ranged from Jean M. Auel’s fantasy series The Earth’s Children to Jackie Collins’ Gino, Judy Blume’s Forever and the Kama Sutra.

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