Emily F. Rothman

How porn changes the way teens think about sex

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About Emily F. Rothman

Boston University professor Emily F. Rothman is a leading public health scholar on sexually explicit media and its impact on adolescent dating relationships. She has conducted research studies with teenage participants to identify what they view, when, why, and how it may affect them. She also co-designed and co-taught the first graduate-level course on pornography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission to create a “pornography literacy curriculum” for teenagers. Emily has led several federally-funded research projects sponsored by the NIH, the National Institute of Justice, and various foundations in an effort to help identify causes and consequences of adolescent dating aggression, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She also founded and served as Chair of the Violence and Trauma special interest group at the Society for Behavioral Medicine, authored a report on batterer intervention programs for the World Health Organization, and is an appointed member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Sexual and Domestic Violence.

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About This Talk


Amongst bored high school students, the word "pornography" can capture a room's attention in seconds. Emily F. Rothman, Pornography Literacy Scientist, had this discovery while she was speaking to a group of students about teen dating violence, which happens to affect 1 in 5 teenagers each year. While studying dating violence, "pornography" became a recurring topic. She dove further and discovered correlations between pornography, lack of comprehensive sex education, and sexual violence.

Now Emily speaks to students about Pornography Literacy - teaching them to think critically about the sexual images that they consume from the media in order to build dialogue about safe, healthy sex. Watch Emily's TEDMED 2018 Talk to see how Pornography Literacy can re-shape the future of sexual violence in the US.

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