Sex in the Media

Sexual behaviours viewed on television; in music videos; at the movies; or on social media often do not portray sex and sexual behaviour in a true or accurate light. For example, pornography frequently displays enhanced body parts. According to Men's Health magazine, the average size of a man's erect penis is 5.8 inches long, while the average size of a male porn star's erect penis is 8 inches long. Also, 85% of female porn stars have breast implants, and 100% of the pictures of porn centerfolds have been enhanced. Not only is this intimidating for the viewer, it creates unrealistic expectations for current or future partners.

The onset of puberty brings drastic changes to both males and females. Hormone levels rise, bodies go through significant changes and interest in sex increases. It can be a time of great curiosity and major confusion because your sexuality opens you up to many questions, fantasies and urges that have not existed before. In today's digital world, many turn to social media and pornography for answers. When sexual websites and porn becomes a person's primary mode of sex education, it can be harmful to his or her sexual development and expectations.

Between the ages of 12 to 20, the human brain undergoes a period of great change. This change makes a person vulnerable to the influences of their surroundings and can lead the brain to be "wired" around the experiences and information received. For example, when a young person compulsively views pornography, his or her brain chemistry can become shaped by what he is watching. Pornography paints an unrealistic picture of sexuality and relationships that can create an expectation for real-life experiences. It often depicts the attitude that relationships mean nothing and sexual gratification means everything.

Sex is common in advertising, particularly for products like perfume, cologne, and after-shave, but also for tires, automobiles, and kitchen sinks. For example, one automobile ad on network television featured two women discussing whether a man's choice of a car was related to the size of his penis ("I wonder what he's got under the hood?"). Whether on television, at the movies, on websites, in music videos or online, it is important to remember that sex is often displayed unrealistically. Accurate information can be found on this website or you can contact us at the Ottawa Public Health Information Line (OPHIL) at 613-580-6744 TTY: 613-580-9656, Toll free: 1-866-426-8885. Phone services are available in over 170 languages.

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