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Why Ali Wentworth Watches Porn With Her Kids

Plenty of people watch porn. Plenty of parents watch porn. And, spoiler alert: The kids of those parents often watch porn, too. But parents and kids watching porn…together? We had yet to hear of such a thing, until this week’s episode of The Dissenters with Debra Messing and Mandana Dayani, which starred actor, comedian, author and mom Ali Wentworth.

Wentworth, Messing and Dayani are all great friends, so it’s no surprise that the trio wasted no time getting super real about everything from kids and social media to mental health problems to, yes, porn.

“In porn, women have been conditioned to look and act a certain way…big boobs and a completely shaved vagina, so you look like you’re 12,” Wentworth said on the episode regarding the problematic nature of mainstream porn and the unrealistic gender and sex stereotypes it perpetuates. She added that very young porn watchers are “seeing what’s not typical. So they see a real vagina and they’re like ugh…They’re watching women react to sex in a way that is not real,” “They are performing, and it’s dangerous to have boys see this as something women want,” she added. True that.

This was in response to the trio’s discussion of the fact that studies have shown that nearly every child has seen porn at some point. So, the best way Wentworth has found to combat those stereotypes, or at least address them honestly with her own children? It’s by watching porn alongside them — and using it as fodder for an open, honest discussion regarding what’s real and what’s not. (Hint: The nails, the spray-tans, the orgasms, the squirting…well, there’s a lot that’s not real about mainstream hetero porn in 2020, y’all).

“I will show them girls in tiny bikinis with their asses sticking out. And I’m like, do you see this girl? She’s got a hole she’s trying to fill… It’s all bullshit, what you’re looking at.”

That’s why Wentworth’s solution is to educate, explain, and invite ongoing conversation. “You can’t stop them. You certainly can’t stop them. If they look at porn, I would look at the porn with them,” she says. “I’d sit there with them, like you’re in school, and go: ‘This is what’s going on.'”

“You could also say, ‘People use this in the privacy of their own home because that’s how they pleasure themselves…but this is a performance. This is not real,'” she continues.

“To block it and say no piques their curiosity; it’s more about them knowing what it is… can’t stop them, so I am going to watch it with them,” Wentworth told Messing and Dayani of her decision to watch porn with her kids — teen daughters with George Stephanopolous (who recently recovered from COVID-19, bless!), Elliott Anastasia and Harper Andrea.

And Wentworth’s open approach is actually what the sex educators recommend. Well, you don’t necessarily have to sit through porn alongside your kids if you’re not all comfortable with that; but you do have to talk to them about it.

Portland-based family educator Deb Ice Thornton told SheKnows that educating your teen “about her body and its processes is so important, and in no way condones having sex. In fact, there are good studies that show abstinence-only education does not work. I always tell parents: This is the age where you get to reap the benefits of your parenting and practice trusting what you taught them.”

The goal, she adds, is to support an “ongoing discussion over time” — about porn, sex in general, you name it. “Keeping your girl safe by taking care of her body and feelings is a great example of what she will continue to take over herself in the next few years. Treat her with respect. Treat her how you want her to treat herself and expect to be treated in all relationships.”

And yes, that does mean being super honest and calling out when something is fake — be it fake nails or a fake orgasm. Your kids deserve to know that porn is a performance; it’s the best way to prep them to enjoy it in a healthy way (and maintain a healthy sex life of their own) when they’re ready.

Here are all the different kinds of orgasms you can have — and that you can educate your teens about, too.
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