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Articles tagged with: HIV prevention

Sep07

More gay men say bareback porn is to blame for riskier sex...

Wednesday, 07 September 2016 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Social Media, Gay Men, Youth, Research, International , Opinion Pieces, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

From FS Magazine, Iain Howley on the results of the big 2016 FS porn survey

More gay men say bareback porn is to blame for riskier sex...

This article by Iain Howley originally appeared in FS Magazine, a publication of GMFA, here. 

Back in 2012, FS conducted what was then its biggest ever survey. We asked over 1,000 gay and bisexual men to tell us all about their porn habits. One question we asked was: Do you think watching bareback porn has led to you personally having unprotected sex? Back then six percent of the men who responded said yes, while another seven percent said they didn’t know.

Fast forward to 2016, and we decided to run another porn survey, firstly, to see if there were any major changes in gay men’s porn habits, and secondly, to ask some much needed questions about sex and relationships education. We asked the same question to another 1,000 gay and bisexual men. This time 13% of gay men said that watching bareback porn led them to personally have unprotected sex, with a further nine percent saying they did not know. That’s a potential 22% of gay and bisexual men who, in their own opinion, said bareback porn might have led them to have unprotected sex. This is up nine percent from 2012.

"You’d think that in 2016 we’d be at the stage where young gay men wouldn’t have to rely on porn as a way of learning the ins and outs of what it’s like to have sex with a person of the same gender. But alas, we’re still stuck in this position. "

The truth is we cannot say that bareback porn is to blame for the rise in unprotected sex (or HIV infections). To do this we would need a much more complex research project, e.g: find gay men who have never watched bareback porn, study their current sex lives, then introduce a some of them to bareback porn and monitor changes in their sex lives a period of time. Until a study like that is done we don’t really have proof. Yes, it’s someone’s own personal opinion, that doesn’t make it fact. Sometimes we may say something (e.g: porn, alcohol, drugs, parents) made us do something that we might well have done anyway. But what do gay men think about the effect of bareback porn on other men?

We asked: Do you think watching bareback porn can lead others to having unprotected sex? Even though only 13% of people who took this survey said that bareback porn has led them to have unprotected sex, a huge 55% believe that it can affect others. In other words the majority of people believe that watching bareback sex does not lead to them having unprotected sex but that it does for others. Which is a contradictory belief.

You’d think that in 2016 we’d be at the stage where young gay men wouldn’t have to rely on porn as a way of learning the ins and outs of what it’s like to have sex with a person of the same gender. But alas, we’re still stuck in this position. Rather than spending time trying to fight bareback porn, I believe we should be collectively challenging the government to provide proper sex and relationships education for gay men (of all ages). Until the government has the courage to introduce adequate sex and relationships education for everyone, we must do our best to make sure that when a 13-year-old googles the words ‘gay sex’ he’s not met with images and videos that he shouldn’t be looking at, but with appropriate content that helps him develop a healthy and informative attitude to gay sex.

Porn is here for a reason. It’s adult entertainment and we need to remember that. Should porn companies have some responsibility to provide a safer sex message? Yes, I do think they should be held accountable to some extent, but we’d be doing more good by putting effort into supporting those who are trying to educate gay men about the risk of STIs and HIV, while helping them develop happy and healthy relationships.

We now live in an era when the vast majority of young gay men will access the internet to find out about all things gay. It’s very possible that these gay teenage boys are accessing porn when curious about their sexuality. If the government doesn’t want to roll out mandatory sex education that will benefit the thousands of gay teenagers who are seeking this information on the internet then they should think twice about cutting the funding of charities that are providing this service. Porn is meant for adult entertainment, not education. We need to make sure those who seek out sex education, no matter what age, get the best and most appropriate information possible.

This article by Iain Howley originally appeared in FS Magazine, a publication of GMFA, here. 

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