Child eyes and teenage boys

“Crawl around the house and look for dangers” a health visitor said when my son began to move. I did crawl around my home to imagine my son’s discoveries.  However, I never imagined my son would post toast through the video player, but he did – along with a variety of other antics!

Now my son is a teenager, I no longer need to crawl around looking for dangers. However, I am finding a need to consider the world using child eyes. Try it – remove your adult eyes and replace them with child eyes. The first thing you will notice is wonderful – no housework, job or bills to worry about. Now focus those eyes on the great British media.

If your child eyes are those of an under ten year old, they will not see sex at all.  They will see many tall girls in bikinis in magazines and adverts.  Alan Sinclair at Spar’s head office says that the industry thinks this is the same as child sees in the swimming pool and on holiday. It would be funny if the swimmers in our local pool were provocatively posing, pouting lips, half closed eyelids and breast implants.  These adult girls are not how real women look in bikinis. However, your child eyes will start to develop a notion of what real women should be.  Your child eyes will see grown up girls with little or no clothes in the vast majority of petrol stations and independently owned retailers.  Your child eyes lose their innocence as they see adult page 3 ‘girls’ with breasts and buttocks on display.  Child eyes do not know anything else.  Why do females wear no clothes but males do? Why do real women in your life wear clothes but the newly adult females in media don’t?

If your child eyes are those of an over ten year old, they have seen the sex education diagrams. This scientific encounter with sex thus sets them up for growing tween and teen eyes. They begin to receive new messages. They receive these messages over and over. For instance:

If my son played a piano for 5 hours every day it is safe to say he would become an accomplished pianist. Were he to play 5 hours daily on 15-18 rated computer games where you can buy women, dance with them, have sex moments later in a toilet, grope women, see them half naked and get points for running over women, what would this make him likely to be as an adult?  What if he watched hard core porn with child eyes, viewing a teenage female having vaginal and anal sex with two men simultaneously?  What if the same child eyes see men ejaculating into the faces of teenage girls dressed as schoolgirls?  What kind of lover will this boy become?  What about his expectations of females? – and schoolgirls!  If the child eyes see only pre-pubescent skinny females with cosmetically enhanced breasts, fake tan, hair extensions, collagen lips, plastered with make-up who are passive and brimming with desire, what impression will he gain of women? How will this affect his sexual experiences as a man, or those of his lovers?  How can my discussions about feminism counteract the brainwashing of the corporate sex industry?  Also, how does this impact on teenage girls? So many questions and so little time. Every day child eyes learn about sexuality – but it’s an unrealistic and dangerous learning curve.

It is well known that boys will acquire pornographic magazines or newspapers.  During their teenage years, they need to learn how to handle their new feelings and urges. I want to understand my son and help him along the road to becoming not just an adult but a confident, reasonable and overall good citizen.

The conundrum faced by parents of teenage boys is:

1)       Do you ignore this and hope for the best?  However, there is so much awful material just a click away!  It’s like leaving your toddler in the kitchen with the cooker, the hob and the kettle within reach.

2)      Do you allow them pornography for masturbation?  If so, what do you choose?  Images from the pornpapers like The Sun’s page 3,  Zoo or Nuts which include written quotes providing justifications for females to be treated as sexual objects?

3)      Do you talk to your teenage boy and tell them that objectification is wrong? This could make them sexually inept if you make them feel that their strong innate desire for the female body is wrong and disgusting!

4)      Do you ban the magazines, block the internet and hope he never sees a naked women until he falls in love with a sweet innocent girl who has also never seen porn?  This is dream world.

I do not have the answer.

Even without the issue of porn, there are pop up ads and sick virals such as ‘bog brush’.  This showed a woman’s head being used as a toilet brush whilst, well, either having sex or being raped.  Over 12,000 people liked this on Facebook before it was removed.  Many of the comments were gleefully chanting their enjoyment at this ‘hilarious’ clip. Then this week we hear of a viral child porn clip with 16,000 views.

Recently, a 12 year old boy raped a 9 year old girl. This is not a completely new phenomena but what the boy’s defence Counsel said was newsworthy. Sean Templeton warned in court that this type of case is the “tip of the iceberg”. I have been in touch with Sean who wholehearted supports the need for better education surrounding the issue. He says,

“While it would be nice to go back in time to pre-internet age that is unrealistic and the best form of defence is education so that sons and daughters know what is right and wrong, and what is legal and what is illegal.  It means having frank conversations about all sorts of things like the fantasy and unrealistic portraits of pornography in films and on the internet but it has to happen or generations will lose out the chance to have meaningful relationships and be satisfied in themselves”.

Sean went on to use the example that many adults do not know if it is legal for a man to start having sex with his wife when she is sleeping. Only in 1991 did the notion of a wife’s ‘irrevocable consent’ to sexual relations at the point of marriage become obsolete.  The difficulty is that if adults do not know this, then how can children possibly know?

I would be happy for my son to attend a class outlining what the law is on sexual offences. I do however, sense there would be the usual uproar as we are British and we like to sweep these things under the carpet.  There is a tendency to wait until something awful happens and then we blame porn, games or the parents.

We all need to do some more crawling around looking for the dangers of our digital age. The trouble is that what we will find is a very disturbing and widespread culture that is overdue for change.

Kirsty Hopley


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