I was sat chatting with my 4 year old yesterday morning. I was trying to keep my baby boy asleep in his sling and my daughter was checking what the proper names are for different parts of our bodies, most notably our genitalia! It got me thinking, when is it the 'right’ time to talk about these things?
Children are not mini adults, their brains, like their bodies, are still developing. But I don't want to lie to my child. I want to inform, to be honest and help her to navigate life. I don't have any problems telling her what the names are for our 'bits’, but when she asks what my charity does, I've only got as far as telling her that ‘we help young people to learn about what healthy relationships should look like’. That is all she needs to know just now, but one day I'll need to tell her we want to help young people protect their hearts and minds, most notably from the scourge of pornography. I'll need to tell her that porn hates love, hates connection, hates intimacy, that porn is an anathema to love. I'll need to tell her that porn is about exploitation, it's about violence, manipulation, it is based on falsehoods and lies, it's crass, damaging, destructive. It's supposedly consensual, but it is base and filled with some of the very worst things one person can do to another.
And the saddest thing is that porn is positively promoted as arousing, desirable, titillating and exciting. How much more damage can we do to relationships? Sex and relationships are inextricably and wonderfully linked, they are symbiotic. Sex cannot be isolated, it's part of relationship, connection and meaning. Sex cannot be limited to a physical act however it's dressed up, no matter how much people fool themselves.
I'll have to tell my daughter all this one day, before someone shows her something on their phone in the school playground, before someone asks her for a naked photo or before something unwanted pops up on the internet. And the worrying thing is that day is getting closer. Not simply because my daughter is getting older but the people consuming porn - the people who are addicted, the people who think it's harmless, acceptable or that its ok to watch because everyone else is doing it - those people are getting younger and younger. I don't know about you but that scares me, for my little girl and for everyone else's children.
But Love Matters is here to shine a light. We will provide understanding and hope, helping young people make better choices and have better futures through better relationships. We have the information, the facts, the tools and the passion, and would love to give them to you. One day this is what I will be sharing with my children, and before then, we would love to help you share it with yours.
Written by Kate Mitchell, Co-Founder and CEO of Love Matters