Talking to Kids About Porn

If you’ve been here, you know it already. Porn, or so-called soft porn with the details blurred out, is rampant in Japan. In every convenience store window, on posters in trains, on covers of books being read by middle-aged men in public spaces shamelessly, one is barraged with images of scantily glad, barely-of-age, busty beauties.

Being of the typical American Puritanical upbringing, I’ve always been uncomfortable with it. But except for some questions at a convenience store once (why are these mags ALWAYS by the ATM?), the kids don’t seem to have noticed much.

Japanese are much more comfortable with nudity in general, maybe because families bathe together or because public baths are a national pastime of sorts. I guess up until now, my kids haven’t asked much or seemed too concerned about the overtly sexual images I can’t protect them from.

But today when I went to meet Me First in front of his school, a couple of boys from his class were holding DVD jackets. Of the adult variety.

“Look what we found!” they said to me, with a kind of questioning tone in their voices.

“Hmmm, better not take that home.”

Tonight at bath time, Me First said he wanted to tell me something but that he didn’t want me to tell Daddy.

I already knew what he was going to say.

How do you talk to an eight-year-old about something like that? I don’t want to give him more info than he can handle, and I don’t want to go down the “Nice girls don’t do that” road, either. (Though inside that is what I am thinking.) And I also have to think of my five-year-old girl who is listening as well.

I ended up just asking him how it made him feel. He said it felt yucky, but it was funny, too. I asked him what part was funny, and he said, “The girl didn’t have any clothes on, but she was outside! You can’t go outside without clothes!”

Then he said he didn’t understand why she would let someone take pictures of her without clothes on. I told him I wouldn’t like that, either.

Then I told him about how I was walking home from the bus stop one day when I was just about his age, and I came across some posters of girl’s private parts. It made me feel embarrassed and confused, and I didn’t feel like I could just leave them there, so I took a stick and dug a hole. Then I buried them in the backyard.

I’ve never told anyone else about that. I didn’t understand what I was looking at, at first. The pictures were very graphic, and I didn’t understand what it was I’d seen until I was much older, just that it was something people shouldn’t look at.

Anyway, I don’t think I was prepared to have this conversation for at least five more years. And now it’s the whole second grade who needs talking to, and silly sissy prissy me is feeling too embarrassed to inform the school staff….which is what a Japanese mom would do, I think.

At bedtime, Me First said he couldn’t get the yucky feeling out of his mind. I suggested he think about something that gave him a nice feeling instead, and he finally settled on the mice at the petting zoo section of Nogeyama Zoo. Now he won’t shut up about mice….

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gaijinwife
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 21:01:57

    I really hate that adult mags are so visible at conbinis and such. There seem to be busting out of bikini women in provocative positions down the whole aisle to the loo in every conbini. I think you do need to inform the school – as hard as that may be. The boys might start talking about it and it could turn into chinese whispers and get completely distorted. What did you do with the DVD covers? bin them on the way home? What do you think hub’s response would have been if DS had asked him? I’m interested, for when the time comes here, so please update!!

    Reply

  2. illahee
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 22:39:29

    we haven’t even had the birds and the bees conversation around here. we’ve been almost there, but the questions haven’t been asked yet. and so far, my kids ignore that soft porn stuff as well. i should prepare myself, though, so i can explain things in a way they can understand and not embarrass them. *sigh* just one more thing….parenting is so hard!

    Reply

  3. Perogyo
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 11:04:42

    Why are they all by the ATM???

    I agree with GW, the school should know. Chalk it up to one of those things we would never talk about at home, like the conversations about #2 my elderly neighbours have every morning.

    Reply

  4. Fichan
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 22:14:54

    I think you handled it really well. I’ve three wee girls and the eldest is 6. I found out very early on that lying or trying to avoid certain subjects with my eldest doesn’t do either of us any favours so now I take the straight and thruthful route (age appropriate of course). I don’ know how I would have handled that myself but if it ever comes up I’ll have a head start, thank you. I would mention it to the school, one to offset any nonsense afterwards and two because it’ll make you feel a bit better yourself. Sharing the burden so to speak but who knows how the school will manage it.

    Reply

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