Kate Dawson 'It’s hard: The challenges of designing Porn Literacy interventions.'


I don’t know about you, but my Sex Ed was terrible. We were shown worst-case-scenario pictures of infected genitalia. How we teach Sex Ed has changed dramatically (it’s not perfect, but it’s not infected-genitals-bad). However, important aspects of sexuality, like sexual pleasure, masturbation, sexual behaviour and exploration are still largely omitted from school-based RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education). In this absence, teenagers look to porn to answer their questions about sex – This is an uncomfortable reality.

My work aims to tackle this problem and involves developing educational interventions for teenagers to challenge the messages they may receive about sex from watching porn. As you may have guessed, talking about porn with teenagers comes with its challenges and criticisms. In my talk I will discuss RSE politics and how we can overcome the resistance to RSE reform in Ireland.

About Kate

Dr. Kate Dawson in a post-doctoral researcher on the Active Consent campaign at The School of Psychology, NUI Galway. Kate’s research explores what young people learn about sex from watching porn and how we can develop age appropriate and engaging porn literacy interventions that meet the sexual health needs of young people. Kate has a keen interest in women’s sexual health – you’ll often find her reading books about vaginas in her local café (highlighting bits she particularly likes).

Kate is the author of the ‘Porn Report’, the largest study of porn users in Ireland, and has collaborated on several international research projects, including a study which explored the links between pornography use and sexual violence, and a project exploring sexual satisfaction among couples in consensually non-monogamous relationships. Kate also has ties with the elusive art-world and has collaborated with Bedfellows research project on “Porn as Pedagogy”, a visual art installation which explored queer sexuality, which was premiered at Tate Modern in 2016.

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