ISAAC LORENZO MARLEY
Isaac Lorenzo Marley has agreed to speak to me about his experience growing up in Spain and learning about sex from his father. Born in Marbella, Málaga, Marley lived in Majorca for seven years, he now studies in Manchester.
What do you remember about the sex education you were given in Spain?
It was vague, we were given very little information. It felt more like a comedy sketch- I remember there were cucumbers involved…I know we had some fun with it…. To be honest none of it stayed with me! We never took it seriously.
Did you receive any other form of sex-ed?
We just ended up teaching ourselves. There was a lot of stuff online and there’s even more now. You have to be careful though. Luckily for me, my father gave me the sex pep talk when I was around 17. I think he thought I was still a virgin (Chuckles). He didn’t know the half of it. He also thought I was gay for while. He asked my sister that, “Is your brother gay?” (Grins).
What age did you lose your virginity?
Was your dad’s advice helpful?
Yes it was. He talked to me about porn. He told me that Porn is not real, that sex in real-life doesn’t work like in porn. He told me “What you see on the internet is not love-making.”
That changed my perspective quite a lot…about how to approach women in the first place. It was very interesting. I’m grateful for that talk.
Did it shock you to learn that sex in porn was not reflective of real-sex?
To a certain extent. I mean you obviously know that ‘sex in porn’ isn’t what ‘sex in real-life’ is like. I mean, you know it’s a film and that films are fake….It’s a short video, it’s not real but….I guess, in your head, it can be as real as you want it to be. If the girls into it, and the guys into it, at the end of the day, yeah, it does feel real.
Do you think that porn had already influenced your ideas about sex?
Well, I was very young. I didn’t realise porn might be influencing my ideas about sex.
I wouldn’t say porn has influenced how I think about women, or how I approach women but I do think it may have influenced how I behave physically during sex.
When you were growing up did your friends watch a lot of porn?
(Considering) I couldn’t tell you to be honest. It wasn’t really a topic we brought up with each other, we never talked about it in my friendship group. I guess we all took it as a given. We assumed everyone else was watching it. Do you know what I mean? We were all just horny teenagers (Giggles).
How often did you watch porn as a teenager?
Three, maybe two times, a week.
Did you watch it at home?
Yes- I never had a public experience if that’s what you mean. I think friends of mine have had those, but not me. It’s just one of those things…. It’s funny to hear about…personally I would never do it.
Your friends watched porn outside?
Possibly, or in a public space somewhere, or in a toilet. I’ve heard about those stories. Not good friends of mine…! But friends of friends, put it that way.
In the talk you had with your dad, did he bring up consent?
No, he didn’t talk about consent. In the context of our chat, we were both assuming consent would have been given. If you’re dad’s having the chat with you, he assumes you know about consent.
My dad taught me to have massive respect for women, that’s one of the reasons why I’m not such a massive fan of porn, some of it’s very undermining to women. I actually believe that Women are more important than Men in the world…! Sadly that’s not reflected in Porn or Society.
Was your sex pep-talk with your dad a-one-off? Did you ever talk to him about that kind of stuff again?
Possibly a bit…he wasn’t my go-too person. Look I’m a very sentimental guy but I don’t like to show my emotions. I don’t like to talk about girls that often with my family. It’s also a respect thing. You don’t want to talk about that stuff with your mum and dad. I like to keep it very separate. Sex is sex, I do it, my parents don’t need to know about it!
Did your mum ever have a separate conversation with you about The Birds and The Bees?
No, but she always asks me about girls (Mimicking his mum) “What are you doing…? Make sure you wear condoms” all this kind of stuff. It’s good, I guess, it’s part of being a mum. But I always kept that stuff, as I said, very separate. That’s just me…(Reflects) I guess I’m a complicated guy!
Did your dad have any real-nuggets of advice to pass on to you?
Not to do with sex and porn, but he had some great advice in general. “Wait for the right girl, and everything will fall into place”, “If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be”. Those kind of phrases always stuck in my mind.
Who would you speak to now, if you wanted advice about sex and relationships?
Probably my best friends- Kadj and Hassan. And my sister, she calls me every so often. She talks to me about her problems. I’m quite good at helping people, I don’t necessarily seek a lot of help. I tend to keep those things to myself and see what happens. I either find a solution or I just hold it in and…wait.
Do you think “holding it in” is a male thing?
I think men are less open about their emotions. I think it stems from stereotypes really, men are taught to be less open about this kind of stuff. Some men are really bad at showing their emotions, others are very open. I don’t know, I guess both women and men are complicated. Girls and boys are complicated!
Did going to university change your ideas about sex and relationships?
At University I try to focus on making good friends, nights out, meeting the occasional nice girl and having a nice time. I don’t want to commit to anything without love.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self (vis-à-vis sex, relationships, porn) what would it be?
(He laughs) That’s a tricky one…I like to think I’ve treated girls well…I don’t think I’ve ever hurt anyone intentionally. I think I can be at peace with that. But I’d tell my younger self to be more open-minded, I’d tell myself to act more maturely with women! Learn to be more empathetic!
We’ve already talked about The RAP Project and what we do. What do you think about the role of education within all this?
I think Education is so important- I especially think we need to learn more about the role of Social Media. Social Media can be very dangerous. Children are spending a lot of time on phones, without any supervision…I think it’s scary. When kids of 11-12 are walking round with their brand-new iPhones, I worry about some of the stuff they might be exposed too. I think parents need to be careful. There’s a lot of weird stuff on the internet, your kid could be watching anything. When you see those kinds of things at a young age that can really alter how you think, and how you approach relationships.
Have you ever been affected by anything you’ve seen online?
When I was younger I used social media as a tool, for learning. I was really interested in hair and men’s fashion. I used social media to get in touch with hair stylists. I followed models, and messaged hair barbers to ask what kind of hair products they were using. I became interested in photography after that…now I’m into music.
In my opinion, one of the major flaws in the education system is the focus, the emphasis on English and Maths, over creative and social subjects that teach you to be freer and more expressive. We are teaching children to think in very rigid, structured ways. In art classes, as a kid, I couldn’t draw between the lines, and I was told I wasn’t creative. This kind of teaching enforces stereotypes and damaging thinking. Now I’m older I can look back on that moment and see it was a lie, I am a creative person!!
Education needs to prepare children for the wider world, it can’t just be about teaching kids to deal with numbers and to read books, there’s more life than dissertations. We need to teach kids to be open minded. In the UK I think we have one of the best education systems ever, but we still need to get a better balance- more expression- more creativity. Teach kids to be more themselves and to challenge stereotypes of what it is to be successful.