The PORN Literacy Tool
This tool uses a Socratic questioning approach to help build curiosity and critical thinking around porn.
Through a process of curious and open questions, it analyses and explores the messages in porn in relation to our own personal sexual ethics and our views wider beliefs around sex and others. The questions open up conversations beyond the binary of ‘good or bad’, encourage a process of personal ethical reflection on porn, and help explore alternative ways of thinking; ultimately helping young people to develop their own sexual ethics and agency (66).

How does what I see in porn relate to my personal views and beliefs around sex and relationships?
  • What are my personal values and beliefs around healthy sex, relationships, gender, sexual diversity, sexism, and racism? What does porn say about these things? What do I think about this?
  • How does porn ‘fit’ with my cultural or faith beliefs and values around sex?
  • What are the possible impacts of learning about sex from porn? How could this affect my sex life or wellbeing? What do I think about this? Is this what I want?

What does porn teach us about sex and relationships with others, and what do I think about this?
  • What does porn show us and teach us about relating to others in terms of consent, coercion, aggression, respect, care and communication? What do I think about this?
  • How is sex in porn different to how we relate to others sexually in real life?
  • What are the messages in porn around gender, race, and sexual diversity? What do I think about this? How does it fit with my own values around these things?
  • How might porn influence or impact our sexual attitudes and beliefs around others/partners? How could it affect my sex life with others? What do I think about this?
  • How do I feel about others, particularly those younger than me, learning about sex from porn? Why do I feel or think this?

What are my reflections on the porn industry and messages?
  • What are my reflections on the wider porn industry and themes (i.e., lack of regulation of content, ethical controversy around industry standards i.e. treatment of porn actors, active marketing at children, lack of transparency, genres such as teen porn)? How does that fit with my own wider ethics and values?
  • Do the themes in porn reflect what I want to see in the world? Why or why not?

How do I navigate my own engagement with porn?
  • Based on the reflections above, what is my own personal response to porn going to look like? How do I navigate or manage that in my own sex life? What skills or support do I need?
  • How do I navigate porn use with a partner if they or I am not into it?

What is Socratic Questioning? It is disciplined and thoughtful dialogue that explores the values and beliefs behind what we think and say. Click here for more info.

“I have a lot of faith in my friends and in my generation … so I think if there was some education or some culture shift so that people started talking about [porn], I think there would be a real change in how people treated each other.”
Male, 16 years