The porn identity: Overcoming cultural barriers and designing effective interventions in 21st century Ireland

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Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is often employed to solve what is seen as the "problem" of sex and sexuality among young people. The majority of programmes focus on harm reduction methods related to STIs and pregnancy; inadvertently privileging heterosexual and cisgender sex. In Ireland, RSE delivered in secondary schools is often further restricted by a Roman Catholic ethos, so curtailing crucial information exchange. Continued circumvention of the discourse of pleasure and desire has resulted in many young people turning to porn to explore their sexuality and for clarity on what constitutes normal and 'good' sex. Irish people are one of the highest users of online porn. Porn provides a wealth of information to young people who are developing intimate relationships and exploring their sexuality. As a result, the programmes that we once considered comprehensive, are now coming up short. Given the serious concerns related to child and adolescent porn exposure and empirical support for comprehensive sex education, the need for porn literacy skills is crucial. Young people need to be equipped with knowledge with which to better understand the nature of porn and the porn industry so that they can differentiate between sex as a performance, sexual fantasies and sex in real life. This chapter will explore the advancement of sex education in Ireland to date and the many challenges that we face in developing and implementing RSE which can meet the ever changing needs of those who they are intended to help.

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