HEALTHY LIVING
02/13/2017 12:58 pm ET

Should A Porn Giant Teach Sex Ed?

Pornhub wants to help people have safe sex, but they may not practice what they preach.

Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center

This month, adult entertainment website Pornhub launched a new sexual wellness website aimed at adults, but open to people of all ages who might be curious.  

Some considered the initiative a forward step in the march towards sex positivity. Others, not so much: Critics pointed out the glaring irony of Pornhub’s effort, citing the well-documented deleterious effects of pornography which distort any clear understanding of sexual health, consent and human intimacy. 

And yet others in the sexual health education community hope that the popular site, which has a whopping 70 millions unique page views a month, will be able to reach the adults, and possibly impressionable teens, who will likely learn about sex from internet porn anyway. 

After all, research shows that a thorough sex education program is hard to come by in schools around the world. And both teachers and students report feeling uncomfortable discussing real questions teens have about sex. In 2014, 76 percent of U.S. public and private schools taught students abstinence, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And most teens and young people probably aren’t visiting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website to learn about safe sex. 

As it stands, what teens learn from pornography can lead to extremely sad and inaccurate ideas about sex, such as the expectation that women should endure uncomfortable situations in order to get it on.

While created by the folks at Pornhub, the site will be directed by Laurie Betito, a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist with the goal of focusing on basic human anatomy, safe health practices and relationships. Betito is already answering questions about sexually transmitted diseases, how to navigate sex during menstruation and consent.

“We understand the importance of educating the general public on a wide range of topics pertaining to sexual health and awareness, and saw an opportunity to deliver knowledge and understanding through renowned doctors and experts,” Corey Price, vice president of Pornhub, said in a press release. 

Gail Wyatt, director of the University of California, Los Angeles’ sexual health program, told The Huffington Post she disagrees.

“There’s a tremendous need for need sexual health information,” she said. “But why would you want to find it in the context of porn?”

Wyatt says there’s a slight disconnect that comes from Pornhub offering information about safe and consensual sex. Numerous videos on the adult entertainment site feature sex without a condom, violence and other visuals that might help spread misinformation and bad habits.

“[The wellness site] gives a contradictory message that somehow all of this is tied together,” Wyatt said.

A spokesperson for Pornhub told The Huffington Post that the wellness center website “exists as a separate entity” and will not be featured on Pornhub’s main page. That said, users should expect some “cross pollination.” That would make sense: Their premise, after all, is to educate those who might otherwise learn about sex through pornography. 

When it comes to sex ed, what’s most important is reaching the people who need it most. But it’s also true that Pornhub’s entertainment arm doesn’t practice what its wellness site plans to preach. 

Looking for somewhere else to learn about sex? Education sites abound, including American Sexual Health Association, Sexetc.org or IWannaKnow.org. And if you are a parent who would like to know more about educating your kid, Planned Parenthood also has good suggestions on how to approach the conversation.

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