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Newsletter 16.3.23

Streetworthy, rewriting boyhood & Paul Mescal on consent

How porn and sexual harassment impact our kids



Imagine travelling to work in the morning, listening to colleagues loudly marking your body out of 10. Imagine being groped in the corridor, catcalled, hearing rape jokes.


A horrifying report from Ofsted in 2021 found this is the environment in which many teenage girls are trying to learn. Nine out of 10 said being sent unwanted explicit images happened “a lot” or “sometimes” among peers. Two-thirds said the same for unwanted touching… Good sex education at school matters in a world where “leave it to the parents” would all too often mean leaving it to Pornhub and Andrew Tate



How we educate children about sex is vital. Don’t let it be part of Britain’s toxic culture war (Guardian, 10/3/23)



Young people want more involvement from their parents in their relationships & sex education (RSE), according to the Young People’s RSE Poll 2022 by the Sex Education Forum of kids aged 16-17 in England. Topics they want to learn more about are porn (58%), power imbalances in relationships (58%), attitudes and behaviour of boys & men towards women & girls (55%), LGBT+-relevant information (54%), healthy relationships, including online (54%), and pleasure (42%).

The conclusion: consult young people in developing RSE – and listen to them!

Our reaction: our children look to us as their moral compass, so let’s challenge ourselves to talk openly at home about tricky sex-ed topics, porn included…


EXTRA CREDIT! “It stole my soul”: readers on how watching porn at a young age affected their life (Guardian, 10/3/23)


 What parents and educators need to know about teens’ pornography and sexting experiences at school – by Dr Megan Maas (The Conversation, 6/3/23)


 A psychologist’s guide to talking to teens about online porn (Guardian, 10/3/23)

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Changing the script so boys can act, think and feel differently


We’ve long said that the flip side to empowering girls has got to be encouraging boys to express their feelings. That’s one goal of the Global Boyhood Initiative – it also targets standing up against bullying and connecting with others. See their excellent 1-pagers for parents on talking about radical influencers and ditching stereotypes. Also thought-provoking: their conversation starters for kids aged 4 to 13.


It’s exciting to imagine boys growing up freer to express different sides of themselves!

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• Actor Jesse Eisenberg is a dad addressing porn & sexting in Fleishman Is In Trouble


• Coronation Street actor James Craven on the soap’s new consent & rape storyline


• Space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, with a Barbie of her, on girls aiming high


• Writer JK Rowling on feeling androgynous & questioning her sexuality as a teen


• Normal People actor Paul Mescal on how violating it was to be groped by a fan


• 🌈 Closer director Lukas Dhont on how society breaks something in young men


• Actor Emma Watson on girls being smart plus International Women’s Day questions

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Takeaways from WOW (Women of the World festival) in London



If you know a woman, then WOW (Women of the World) is for you, says indomitable festival organiser Jude Kelly, an advocate of openness, optimism and activism.


Here are 2 of the 8 highlights from the London line-up that really spoke to us.


Read them all – plus other insights – in our brief blog post Rewriting boyhood

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Bigging up dads

“Role-model for your kids and make masculinity positive. As a black boy I didn’t have to look too hard for trouble but my dad encapsulated respect for my mum. Give men space to be open & access their vulnerability. Don’t put down what boys believe or interview them about misogyny. Ask open questions & be nonjudgmental”


MFF – music football fatherhood founder & Becoming Dad podcast host Elliott Rae

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Engaging boys

“Boys are at odds with the world and unengaged. For them Andrew Tate is a superhero. But superheroes can be a bit of a knobhead, like Bruce Wayne & Iron Man. We have a responsibility to write different stories about strength, about men being both strong & vulnerable. Men have to do the work on themselves”


Rizzle Kicks musician Jordan Stephens, age 31

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6 of the latest news stories to bring up at home


• Consent & rape in Coronation Street             • Boys protest skirt-length measuring

• Georgina & The Dragon: the sculpture          • An African senator shows period stains
• Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock wants girls to desire to aspire in STEM subjects

 Basketball star Dwyane Wade publicly admires his trans daughter Zaya, age 15

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READ writer Caitlin Moran on why, though she specialises in talking about girls and women, her new book What About Men looks at boys falling behind in education, watching porn, worrying about violence and not talking about their emotions. “We need to start these conversations,” she says, “so everyone feels like they can join in”


LISTEN to The Weigh Up: Eating Disorder Diaries, a podcast by Molly Smith, age 19, who had anorexia at age 14. We’d read about it in Eating disorders: “I made the podcast I wish I could’ve listened to” (BBC, 1/3/23) and appreciated their discussion of how eating disorders are like walking a tightrope, how they steal from people etc

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DO mention to your child the Streetworthy campaign led by kids aged 14 to 18. Started by Our Streets Now, it’s out to end public street harassment (PSH) – that’s unwanted sexual attention by strangers in public spaces. The idea is to put up their QR code and stickers (there are guidelines) and help #ReportSupportEmpower…

Best wishes in these not-on-my-watch times

Getting parents talking
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