By Liz walker
Over the past few months, with the #MeToo campaign dominating the media, it has been impossible for the public to ignore the voices of women sharing their stories of harassment and abuse. Although we live in unsettling times, as parents, we are in a unique position to curb the ongoing sexual aggression and objectification that girls and women encounter daily, by building resilience and resistance in our kids to the onslaught of hypersexualized images. These images, that form the wallpaper of our lives, normalize and legitimize an atmosphere that promotes the kind of behaviors that women are protesting in the #MeToo campaign.
At Culture Reframed, we understand it can be daunting to raise kids in a culture where they are bombarded with pornified imagery. To help parents and caregivers, Culture Reframed has launched a comprehensive program that will furnish you with robust tools, knowledge, and skills to have courageous, and compassionate conversations with your child, appropriate for their age and stage of development. These conversations will cultivate qualities within young people that set healthy and sustainable expectations for their future as well-adjusted and joyful adults. Access this free program at https://parents.culturereframed.org/ Parents need to gain the skills and knowledge for these conversations because in the absence of open, honest and ongoing discussions, young people develop their sexual blueprint and scripts from a culture awash in misinformation, toxic images, peer pressure, and sex education drawn from pornography. Studies show that these factors influence the ways a young person grows up to think about themselves and their sexuality, and can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety, risky sexual behaviors and low self-esteem.
Collectively, we want a better future for our kids, where sexism is called out and harassment stopped in its tracks. Yet there are two glaringly obvious vehicles that delivers toxic messages to our children: hypersexualized media and mainstream hardcore porn.
Pornography is a problem that harms women, children, men, and the cultural fabric of our communities. A recent meta-analysis of twenty-two studies between 1978 and 2014 from seven different countries concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression, regardless of age.
Our parents program is built on the premise that teaching your kids what they need to know does not involve just one talk about “the birds and the bees”, but requires many purposeful conversations. Core concepts that are helpful for all children by the time they are tweens include knowing the anatomically correct terms for genitalia; understanding physical, emotional, and developmental changes throughout adolescence; identifying internal warning signals that something’s not safe (both offline and online); clearly understanding public and private boundaries and appropriate online sharing; developing critical thinking skills around why pornography is harmful and how it affects the brain; and knowing how hypersexualization and pornography contribute to gender inequality.
The Culture Reframed Parents Program was developed to help you parent effectively and compassionately in the digital age. We know that parents often feel alone, isolated, and confused as to how to approach these issues with their kids. We want you to know that you are not alone, and together we can build a future where parents have a powerful and wonderful opportunity to reframe the #MeToo story. Raising young people to cultivate these qualities can cause seismic cultural shifts where gender equality and respect is the norm, and sexual integrity is considered a basic human right of all people.
Liz Walker, an accredited sexuality educator, speaker, author, and consultant, is Director of Health Education at Culture Reframed (culturereframed.org)