Billie Eilish, Howard Stern, pornography

Billie Eilish shared with Howard Stern that early porn use "destroyed" her brain.

In the internet age, parents have to talk to their kids about pornography. If parents don't, someone else will, and that someone else will more than likely be a peer or peers who don't really know what they're talking about.

But talking to kids about porn can be tricky. The when, how and how much questions are hard to navigate. Parents might worry about saying too much, too soon or too little, too late. Research shows that it's not uncommon for kids to see pornography online, either intentionally or unintentionally, and the age at which some kids are first exposed is far younger than parents might think. However uncomfortable parents might be about it, the conversation needs to start early.

Thanks to singer Billie Eilish's openness about her own porn experiences, parents now have an especially opportune "in" to bring up the subject with their kids. She recently shared with Howard Stern that consuming porn at a young age "destroyed" her brain, and that as a woman, she finds porn "a disgrace."


"I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest," she told Stern. "I started watching porn when I was like 11. I think it really destroyed my brain, and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn."

Part of the problem with porn is that so much of it depicts violence and aggression and the objectification of women. Eilish told Stern that she frequently watched violent porn, and the first few times she had sex, she didn't say "no" to things that were "not good" because she thought that's what she was supposed to find attractive.

Another problem with porn is that is gives kids unrealistic portrayals of what sex is like as well as unrealistic images of people's bodies.

"I'm so angry that porn is so loved, and I'm so angry at myself for thinking that it was okay," she said. "The way that vaginas look in porn is f—king crazy. No vaginas look like that. Women's bodies don't look like that. We don't come like that."

Hearing someone like Billie Eilish say things like this is refreshing. Eilish, 19, came onto the music scene at 14 and made it big at 17. She's attracted fans of all ages, but much of her fanbase is young, which makes her an ideal bridge between generation smartphone and the parents who didn't grow up with pornography constantly accessible at their fingertips.

If parents aren't sure where to start the conversation about porn, start here. "Hey, you know the singer Billie Eilish? Here's what she says about her experiences with porn." It's a good opportunity to ask kids what they hear in their social life, what they think, what questions they have. For kids who might think their parents are old or out of touch, hearing a young, hip celebrity drop such wisdom from a place of experience may lend some credibility to the "why you should avoid porn" lessons parents are trying to teach.

And again, it is vital that parents teach it. Dr. Michael Flood of Queensland University of Technology shared research on the negative impact of porn use on young people, including:

- shifting sexual interests, behaviors and expectations, which can impact relationships

- lowering men's relationship satisfaction and leading to coercion in sexual acts

- teaching sexist and sexually objectifying understandings of gender and sexuality

- increased violent behavior, sexually aggressive behavior and sexual harrassment, especially from men toward women

Ideally, discussions about porn are a part of larger, ongoing conversations about sex kids start having with parents at a young age. Children are curious, and answering their questions matter-of-factly (and without embarrassment, which for some parents might take some practice) provides a solid foundation for frank conversations about sex as kids get older.

Kids may not always want to talk to their parents about sex as they go through adolescence and puberty, but if they don't learn from you, they're going to learn from somewhere. It may never dawn on kids that their parents have a lot more experience with sex than their peers do, so the more we normalize talking with them about sex in healthy ways, the less (hopefully) they'll seek out answers from unreliable sources like peers and pornography.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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