Letting Skinemax Raise Your Son

QUESTION: I'm a 40 year old mother of a 14 year old son. We have cable tv in all of our bedrooms including my son's room. I recently discovered that Cinamax shows porn [my husband calls it soft porn!] after 11PM every night. When I discovered this I wanted to either get rid of the Cinamax all together or at least block it from my son's room. I know he stays up late sometimes watching TV after I've gone to sleep but I don't know what he looks at. I do not want him looking at porn, soft or hard. My husband doesn't think its a big issue, I actually think he hopes our son is looking at it. He thinks its normal for a boy to see naked women and sex. Am I out of my mind or is my husband? One of us is crazy, who do you think it is?

GARLAND - Uh, I think your husband may be the screwball.

I'm sure many fathers think its no big deal for their sons to see naked women. It's kind of like a right of passage thing for some dads. They may even feel like they don't even have to have the "birds and the bees" talk now, since Junior has seen the business going down for himself.

But this is wrong and dangerous. Sex is a powerful thing and if young boys go out into the world thinking all there is to sex is putting a penis into a vagina, then they are heading for trouble with the quickness! Having no guidance to sex will lead to STD's or HIV or unwanted pregnacies or serious emotional and psychological problems - OR all of the above!!!

I think you need to get that Cinemax out of his room and sit down and make him talk to you about what he may have seen. I think there is a good chance that he has either discovered it or his friends have told him about it. And yes, the porn is classified as 'soft,' but there is plenty of nudity to keep your son pitching a tent under the covers for hours. Try to make sure he understands the complexities of sex, before he goes out and ruins his life.

PS. Please go smack your husband for me!

CHUCK: First of all, I want to say that this country is one of the most hung-up, repressed, and hypocritical places on the subject of sex in the entire world. The Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes pornographers, but Fortune 500 companies (like Time/Warner) make a mint on it. Janet Jackson's still wearing a scarlet letter after her (remarkably stupid) Superbowl flashing of a few years ago, but Justin Timberlake was allowed to grovel his way back to respectability. Endless acts of violence are no impediment to a PG-13 rating in the movies, but the merest implication of an adult sexual relationship can get you banned. And furthermore...

Let me get off of this soapbox.

Of course, all of my arguements stated above are voided where children are involved. Children should NOT be exposed to explicit depictions of sexual conduct until they are of legal age. Like Garland, I agree that discussions of sexually transmitted diseases, sexual responsibility, and the emotional/psychological toll of the sex act are subjects that should be confronted by parents as their children mature. Unfortunately, some children will never have these discussions, which brings me back to my initial argument (repression, hypocrisy, etc.).

Anyway, your husband's apparent approach to sex education, passing your son on the way to the bathroom in the morning, and saying, "Enjoy Lord of the Thongs last night, son?" and winking, isn't very responsible. And by irresponsible I mean that he is expecting those cheaply-made, poorly-acted, Eurocentric pieces of drivel to do the work helping him grow up that you should be doing. He's not crazy, just irresponsible. You don't need your husband's permission to block Cinemax on your son's TV. You can do it with a few pushes of a button or a phone call.

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