TED Conversations

Cindy Gallop

Founder & CEO, IfWeRanTheWorld


This conversation is closed.

What do you think each and every one of us can do to counter the impact and influence of porn as default sex education, everywhere?

Today hardcore porn is more freely and widely available online than ever before, thus accessible by kids at earlier and earlier ages (the average age at which porn is first viewed online is 11; a friend of mine recently found her 9-year-old son watching hardcore porn on her iPhone). At the same time, we do not as a society talk about sex openly; the majority of parents are too embarrassed to teach their kids about sex, and sex education is generally not taught in schools in a realistic and directly relevant way. As a result, and I can testify to this through my direct personal experience of dating younger men, an entire generation (guys and girls alike - girls watch and are as influenced by porn as guys are) is growing up believing that what you see in hardcore porn is the way that you have sex, with some very fundamental, ingrained negative impacts. As someone working to counter this with my venture http://makelovenotporn.com, I would love all thoughts and ideas from the TED community as to how we can collectively address what is, quite frankly, the single biggest impact technology is currently having on the most fundamental aspect of huma behavior - our sexuality, which informs everything to do with how we feel about ourselves, other people, our relationships, our lives and our happiness.

This is a global issue that is currently impacting everywhere.

We'll start this conversation at 1pm EST on Wednesday December 7. I am very much looking forward to conversing with all of you!


Closing Statement from Cindy Gallop

Everybody - I loved this conversation! Terrific free and frank exchange of views, many aligned. I found this enormously helpful, both to me personally as I take MakeLoveNotPorn forwards, but also in the context of the many friends I have who are all tackling different aspects of this whole area in different ways, and will also find a lot of this useful. Many thanks to everyone who participated - I really appreciate it. I hope to continue the conversation in due course, and certainly to add to and expand it when I and my team launch http://makelovenotporn.tv in spring 2012.

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    Dec 7 2011: The single greatest thing you can do to counter the impact of porn is to de-stigmatize sex and have free and frank conversations about it. As long as we continue to treat sex like it's in prohibition, it will continue to be a sin that is dominated by porn.

    When you can more easily discuss how to rob a bank or kill someone than how to have fulfilling and safe sex, we've become prudes in the wrong areas. "The Talk" should not be one talk, it should be an ongoing dialogue both in the home as well as in the general discourse. When healthy, consensual, fulfilling, rewarding and monogamous sex becomes the imagery, video, and general dialogue as strongly as porn does, porn will loose it's influence. As long as we continue to treat sex like it's in prohibition, it will continue to be a sin that is dominated by porn.
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      Dec 7 2011: Kevin - hear hear!
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      Dec 7 2011: Right, restrictions never brought us any good. It's all about forbidden fruit and/or unsatisfied curiosity.
    • Dec 7 2011: I find it tragic that a breast shown briefly on TV or breast feeding in a store causes upset with many people while at the same time display of weapons and violence has high tolerance esp. in media?
    • Dec 7 2011: In terms of education too, as well as being an ongoing discourse parents and their children, they need to share an ongoing positive re-enforcement through positive imagery too so that porn is not their only source that satisfies the sense of sight.

      Appreciation of art of the human form, athleticism i real life, positive and romantic storylines in movies that include a level of sex from talk to physical interaction that gradually increases to the point that full sex ed actually means watching a positive image of people enjoying sex.

      This act first and foremost without fetishes or kink or any kind and later varieties of sex can be discussed and why people enjoy them should be a little more than voyeurism or cheap eroticism. It should be a matter of some clinical education as well.

      We are wrong to ignore or deny the sexuality of our children because of our own hang-ups or feelings, they feel it and see it anyway even just in ads for perfurme or aftershave the imagery is sexual in the majority although not necessarily sex on display its implied. Our children should not be treated as either ignorant or stupid or else you may well create a person who is ignorant of sex until it is too late for them not to say no when they need to. Or how to say yes with the confidance and freedom that comes only from knowledge.
  • Dec 7 2011: About 800,000 people are trafficked as sex slaves every year, a lot of these are women, a lot of these women end up being forced into doing disgusting or humiliating stuff for porn sites. Forced live and cyber prostitution. Cracking down on human trafficking may decrease porn. Making people aware that a lot of the sex on this sites is slave, coerced sex may bring the whole thing into perspective.

    Developing alternative erotic sites that show sex but without all the humiliation so as to have some variety of points of view may also help.
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      Dec 7 2011: Melissa - as per my response to another commenter who raised this issue too, there are fortunately many great initiatives tackling the issue of sex trafficking, including this one that I donate to monthly: http://www.catwinternational.org/

      However, there is also the fact that many women - and men - work in porn by their own free choice and are professional and committed about the job they do (I have a lot of friends in the porn industry who fall into this category), but find themselves unable to take pride in their work and live open lives because society demonizes the porn industry and sees it as one evil amorphous mass.

      To your last point, I think you'll find http://makelovenotporn.tv when it launches in the spring very interesting....
  • Dec 7 2011: I think that the way to address the Porn as sex ed situation is to simply open the dialogue with the child. There's this whole undercurrent that speaking about sex with your child is an unpleasant activity more akin to water torture than communication, with parent usually saying things that are redundant to kids. That's usually played up for laughs in the media. But I'll freely admit that pornography was part of my life from a very young age and my parent knew all about it and my parents took me aside and reminded me that what I was seeing and reading was fanatsy and a biased idealization. It sunk in.

    So to me the key is to overcome the shame and to speak and teach your children about sex even earlier than you think you should and even up to a certain point teach kids about pornography and how it does not reflect real life in the same way that other forms of entertainment doesn't reflect truth. War is nothing like an action flick, romance nothing like a romantic comedy. The same is true with pornography and sex.
  • Dec 7 2011: Sheltering children does not protect them from negative influences, but arming them with real knowledge will! I think we need to be honest in education, instead of tiptoeing around the issue, we need real honest sex education. I really do believe that the more open and honest we are about sexuality the whole porn thing will take care of itself.

    Also, I don't believe porn is inherently bad or damaging, what is damaging though is our unwillingness to be open about sex and sexuality, and this is probably why pornography exists in the first place. On a side note, sex and love are two separate things that sometimes go together.
  • Dec 7 2011: What can we do? Stop lying to our children! My daughter is 8. When she was 4 and asked me about how babies were made, I was honest with her about it. I didn't freak out when she checked out a book from the library about human reproduction when she was 5. Her godmother, who is a parole officer who does a therapy group with sex offenders insisted that I read her "The Touching Book" to her to protect my daughter against predators. And what does the book teach? Honesty. Quit lying to kids about this stuff or anything for that matter, and that way when they are confronted with pornography, they will already have information that they need to process it. You can't keep your kids locked up in a closet in order to protect them from what the world offers, good and bad. Inform them, be honest with them. Let them know what your feelings are on the subject, but keep in mind that they may feel differently about it, and that's okay. And keep this in mind, if you can't be honest with your children, how can you expect them to be honest with you, when they need to be? What happens when your children are confronted with pornography at any level, will they feel comfortable asking you about it? What happens if they are confronted by a sexual predator, will they feel comfortable telling you about it?
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    Dec 7 2011: So I guess it comes down to what can we do as parents, though I am not one at the moment - but I have given a thought to what will I say to my child and how will I tackle the issue of sex and love.

    I see a solution in creating a more transparent awareness in schools, even workplaces - for parents, institutions and of course people's homes!

    Being aware of what you are actually doing and experimenting leads to better control of yourself and the ones around you if they are following the model.

    Kids are extremely easy to be influenced. We love them, we buy them iPhones and the rest is history. The kid is happy, I am happy that he is happy. End of story.

    I think this is not the end of the story but the beginning. One could restrict hardcore porn sites but creating a parental lock on the handheld device itself or the computer or any other media device. And openly, try, to discuss with their child or children what is the difference between sex and love - thus the difference between the porn world and the real world.

    Great initiative with your website. I wish you best in making it score no.1 when google-ing for the word porn :)
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    Dec 7 2011: Kids are always gonna look for sex so I'd say make sex films that aren't demeaning freely accessible, whilst at the same time, making the demeaning stuff more difficult to find. And of course, be open and candid with your children. Recently my 5 year old surprised me when, during a nature documentary, a pair of monkeys started having sex, and my son said "They're having a fight," and I said "No. they're not. They're making babies," to which he replied, "Oh, they're having a shag!"
  • Dec 7 2011: I think we need to address our society's reaction to sex before we can begin to address the issue of pornography. As stated in the initial post, people aren't talking about sex with their children; it is taboo, shameful, disgusting, what have you. But too few people ask why. Why is sex taboo? Why is it shameful? Why is it disgusting? The Victorian Era notion that sex happens in the dark, face to face, only for making babies (which, I might add, porn is helping [correctly or not is another matter] to dissolve) is a driving force in why sex education is so underfunded and ill-supported.

    However, I admit that changing this is unrealistic in a practical, pro-active way. To address the question of pornography specifically, kids need to be given a real explanation of sex. That yes, it does feel good, and yes it is for making babies. That they should wait for someone that they love before having sex, but that if they decide not to, then they shouldn't be ashamed in buying condoms or other contraceptives. As stands now, we tell kids and teenagers to do this, or don't do that. We shouldn't be telling them what to do so much as reasons why they should and should not. Telling a child "do not place your hand on stove" is far less of a deterrent than explaining to the child "if you place your hand on the stove, your hand will get burnt and it will hurt very, very bad."

    Moreover, I think that we should EMBRACE pornography rather than ban it. Pornography has opened a lot of things to our children that we may or may not wish for them to see. But, like it as we may not, it's not going anywhere. With the ever growing prevalence of technology for younger persons, it is becoming ever easier to access. So instead, let us embrace it. Push the porn industry to make porn of more realistic sex between a loving couple. As children become interested in sex, make this available for them so that their sexual urges can be fulfilled without skewing their views of what sex is supposed to be.
  • j m

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    Dec 7 2011: thought about having dynamic drawing class where models were doing it. Really doing it, not posing, but i guess some of that too. See here its almost just technical, and appreciation, not moral or mystical, or depraved or taboo. Its a field of study, whatever that form takes for each unique indivual.

    But frankly, we just dont understand attention, human attention, its motivations, intentions. We take its dynamics for granted and assume a certain righteous stance on what is good for other people. more often than not by denying what we deem bad, but rarely supplying what is good, instead imposing that the oher should seek it out.
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      Dec 7 2011: Absolutely. And unfortunately, because of the societal taboos around open discussion and acknowledgement, if you did attempt to hold that class, you would instantly be arrested :)
  • Dec 7 2011: I think media literacy and sex/health/relationship education are equally important, starting at a young age and continuing throughout the school years!

    It's absurd that there isn't time spent in school teaching kids to read and think critically about media when they spend so much of their lives consuming it.

    Just as absurd as not teaching kids the basic science of human anatomy and reproduction - just like any other science. Or teaching teenagers about consent, communication, and healthy relationships.
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    Shean F

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    Dec 7 2011: TRUTH = EDUCATION = LOVE
    Most importantly is to Educate, teach the truth, from all aspects and angles. Apreciate nudity as something beautiful, its us, its our body, dont censore it, the ancient sculptures always showed this. Its natural in the Indian culture, expressed in their arts, literature etc (kama Sutra)
    REAL HONEST SEX EDUCATION--why censore something so natural and enjoyable and without it none of us would exist, it´s part of us, our history and survival. Sex is impulsive, instinctual, and enjoyable! This meaning we can´t just focus sex ed merely on a biological facet rather as something integrated with thw WHOLE of us.
    As written by S.L O´B. on FB "we need to nurture sexuality (as many have said here), and not just as gay or straight or bisexual, but as diverse as the human behind the sex. That as long as you are with someone who consents, and you are not hurting anyone physically, emotionally, or mentally, including yourself, that it is okay to enjoy the kind of sex you want, and that includes watching other people have sex, if they are consenting to allow you to do so, as in porn and porn actors. I don't think porn is the issue here. People raped and molested before porn existed, and people degraded themselves and others before porn existed, and they will continue to do these things until we cure our ill society of sexual oppression.
    Stop making it Taboo, and as a part of our daily ilves(which it already is) but naturally accepted & spoken
    I´ve been told that in Brazil since kindergarten you´re taught about sex from books made by sxeologist (not sure its a fact).
    To end a Quote by John Lennon "We live in a world where we hide to make love, but violence is practiced in full light of day".
  • Dec 7 2011: throw some humans into the national geographic specials with other mating animals. call us out on our sex culture the same way we examine the bird of paradise.
  • Dec 7 2011: I think we need to NORMALIZE Sexuality. It is one of the most innate drives we posses, and appropriate sexuality needs to be LEARNED, not through pornography that is easily accessible on the Internet. I think we need LAWS that target the inappropriate publication of porn on the Internet. We also need to shift sex education from schools to organizations that can teach our youth about health boundaries and what is not just safe sex, but healthy relationships and healthy intimacy which may then progress to healthy sexuality.
  • Dec 7 2011: Thanks for the links. And while they may be having trouble now, I think it's probably one of the best routes. If Facebook can pick up 700 million users or so, imagine how many lives a couple great sex education websites could impact. They say the pioneers have to clear the trails so that the people coming afterward have a path to go down, and this might be one of those situations. Guess you guys just have to work on finding the right rich friends for the funding ( :P) and then work more on publicity. You know, if you guys could get some ads out on tv stations that are more trashy or less family friendly to begin with, ones that teens and etc often watch (MTV and others), it might be easier to get the ads on those stations to begin with, and it would target some of the very people who need your knowledge the most. Maybe even try to put ur ads on a few porn stations as well. It is sad that the ideas that sometimes matter the most are the ones that people are the least likely to fund. Maybe even make some sex-related Flash games on your website or that can be used as downloadable apps, maybe that could get people talking. You could even make a sex fact app.
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      Dec 7 2011: Actually, Adrian, http://makelovenotporn.tv, which will launch in spring of next year, is my initiative with MakeLoveNotPorn to try and address at scale exactly what you are talking about. I am setting out to take every dynamic that exists in social media currently that makes it so appealing, and apply them to real-world sex, to make real-world sex socially acceptable and socially shareable, in a way that no one to date has managed to achieve. (Nothing like a big goal, eh? :) Do check it out when it launches - I think you'll find it very interesting..
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        Dec 7 2011: I'm really curious as to what you mean by this...
        So is it a social media site?
        Is it a real world sex porn site?

        What exactly is it?
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    Dec 7 2011: The problem is that we're usually having the wrong conversation. It isn't so much that sexually explicit media is damaging, it's the current state of the porn industry that's so damaging.

    Thousands of years of repression have given way to the explosion of the porn industry as we know it today. What we see is a reflection and reaction to the sexual shame, guilt, and fear that we collectively hold.

    It is time for the industry to evolve.

    If only this conversation were happening a week from now.

    This Monday, we are launching the website for the upcoming film, "Endless Seduction: An Initiation into Ecstatic Pleasure..."

    This film is to be a catalyst sparking a new paradigm of Conscious Erotic Media, crafted to help us reconnect to our bodies, our spirit, our hearts, and our passion...

    In Service,
    Destin Gerek
  • Dec 7 2011: I'm not a mother or anything, but I am a woman. I find pornography completely degrading and I think it teaches a completely skewed view of what sex really is (be it lovemaking, one night stand, etc.). However, my OPINION is not going to change the fact that pornography will never go away. In this case, we need to teach children about sex immediately. We cannot PROTECT them from porn, all we can do is TEACH them about real sex......that it happens even when man and woman, man and man, woman and woman do and don't love each other...that sex is wonderful and is to be ENJOYED. The reason porn has gotten so out of control is because we (in particular WOMEN) are taught that sex is to happen between a man and a woman who love each other and are married. Then the reality hits, we get turned on....we want to kiss and touch.....but wait! We aren't married or in love! Children need to be taught that sex is enjoyable and can be enjoyed....and that being true and real to one's self is the best way to experience that.
  • Dec 7 2011: Fair enough. So what are you defining the issue as, then? Yes, pornography builds a fantasy world. Whether one realizes that or not from the beginning, eventually reality would kick in, wouldn't it? I think that any reasonable person would, after enough sexual encounters, figure out that the pornographic universe isn't the realistic universe. And perhaps some wouldn't, but such a person would probably be thinking irrationally in the first place.

    Its for that reason that I don't really see it as a "global issue." I think you're missing the real issue, and its more basic than the specific example of sex, though certainly applies: We are an enlightened species, why are we still ashamed of anything at all? I think that it is weak and cowardly to dance around any subject because it is socially taboo. That attitude, in my opinion, does far more harm than good.
    • Dec 7 2011: Young people, girls especially, can be really hurt -- physically, emotionally and practically -- before reaching that point of "after enough sexual encounters." Teens do tend to "be thinking irrationally in the first place."

      It's not a question of socially taboo or shame; it's a practical and safety issue: for example, do teens think condoms are necessary? Porn "teaches" that they're not. Do they understand that abuse is never acceptable? Do they understand consent and that it's ok to say no?

      The concern is not that porn might teach kids new moves. It misleads them into thinking dangerous or hurtful behavior is normal.
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        Dec 7 2011: Agreed, Kit. The ways in which porn as default sex education impacts can be much more fundamental, insidious and ingrained than simply to do with 'sex acts'.

        For example, the bulk of mainstream porn is made by men for men. When female pornstars produce and manage their own content, they are still targeting men and so operating by the industry conventions: the sole raison d’etre of porn is male pleasure, and therefore the be-all and end-all of every scene is to get the man off. Which has led to a generation of guys and girls alike growing up believing that the be-all and end-all of sex itself, is to get the man off.

        I’m old enough to remember, back in the day, when it was important to the men I slept with that I came, that I came first, that I came more than once. These days, if I don’t come, it’s regularly not even remarked upon. (And I only date utterly lovely younger men.) This isn’t deliberate selfishness, it’s unconscious ingrained imprinting – reinforced for men by sex with women equally imprinted, who are focused on getting the guy off without expecting, asking for or claiming their own pleasure, because they believe from porn that that’s what makes them ‘good in bed’
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      Dec 7 2011: Eric - you and I are very much on the same page. :)

      Unfortunately, reality doesn't always 'eventually kick in'. I can personally testify to that based on, ahem, quite a lot of personal experience (I freely admit I date younger men casually and recreationally, and I date a lot of them :) and based also on the hundreds of conversations and exchanges I've had about this since I launched MakeLoveNotPorn nearly three years ago now.

      It is indeed a global issue - you can find more detail on all of the feedback I've received from people in countries all around the world in my short TED book: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/make-love-not-porn/id452296228?mt=11 - and I totally concur that the issue is that we should be open and not ashamed at all about anything to do with sex.
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      Dec 7 2011: I think you've got a point there Eric. Porn is a fantasy world. Maybe if it were "sold" like that - in a sense of: if we built a culture around sex as a form of fiction - the positive effects of porn would get to overshadow the negative ones
      • Dec 7 2011: But then again when you watch an action movie or a police drama, you don't really think life works like that. Fiction is fiction. So why is there assumption that porn is any different?
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          Dec 7 2011: Philippe - because the lives we live openly don't involve Tom Cruise running down our street or getting caught up in car chases. The sex we have behind closed doors and never talk about in public is never openly displayed in the same way as the real world option vs the fantasy world of porn.
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    Dec 7 2011: How about to give children proper sex education before they start watching porn? The more common the topic will be within a family the less will be the impact of improper education from outside. And we should start educating children about sex as soon as possible. How hard is it to tell a child: "me and mum make love and that's how you were born"
    Our ancestors lived in communities where children watched adults having sex from their birth-day. I don't say it's necessary to do it exactly the same way, but we should definitely stop trying to pretend there's nothing like sex just until they start getting interested and try to find out by themselves.
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      Dec 7 2011: Ondrej - I couldn't agree more. Plus, I always tell parents, it doesn't matter so much what you say when your kids start asking questions related to sex and their bodies, what's much more important is how you say it - ie not reacting with shock or embarrassment, hastily shutting them up or in some way making them feel there is something bad or guilt-ridden about what they are asking. Being relaxed and matter of fact helps ensure they keep talking to you about sex, even if you keep actual information relatively minimal for the time being till they get older.
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        Dec 7 2011: You are right, the answers don't have to be absolutely detailed or precise, but the child must have it's curiosity satisfied and it shouldn't feel like doing something wrong. I think there should be a list of forbidden answers like: "you're too young, who told you about this and so on" :-)
    • Dec 7 2011: i'm not sure it is as important to help our kids before they see porn, it probably has a lot more to do with how we react to their seeing it.
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        Dec 7 2011: It's too late. If a child watches porn (not accidentally, but on purpose), it's already too late to start the education. In my opinion the right time to start is many years before this happens.
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          Dec 7 2011: Kelly - the average age at which kids see porn online today is 11, and as I mention above, a friend of mine found her 9-year-old son had accessed porn on her iPhone. Sadly, early sex ed and addressing kids viewing porn are coinciding at very much the same stage of kids' lives these days....
        • Dec 7 2011: I think it is never too late but I agree it is easier to start sooner than later. =)
      • Dec 7 2011: I agree with Kelly, My parent never freaked out when they saw that I had found the porn stash. They simply were not judgmental and kept tabs on my state of mind making sure that I understood that porn is fiction.
  • Dec 7 2011: How about this- If government has no sanctions on the internet, for the most part, why don't we just get a group of people to run an awesome sex education website (free classes) online? You could have a chat/video chat room to have live discussion; you could advertise it a lot so the word gets out; you could have links to scientific and reliable resources and books. And best of all, kids would be able to access it even if the parents don't want to teach them about sex. You could even have a section that shows horrible and improper sex acts that are shown in porn and could explain why they are not safe to do, or why they are degrading to women or etc.
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      Dec 7 2011: Adrian - there are a number of terrific sites online already trying their best to do this - unfortunately they have trouble reaching a scale where they make enough of a difference to enough of a mass audience, partly through lack of resources but also because there are many social and societal barriers to a willingness to have sex education be widespread (now that I am working with my team on taking MakeLoveNotPorn forwards as http://makelovenotporn.tv, launching spring 2012, I can tell you that I personally am encountering all of those obstacles..) Do check out sites like http://www.scarleteen.com/, http://midwestteensexshow.com/, http://bishuk.com/
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    Dec 7 2011: I would say that we truly need to go back to the basics. I'm 24 and I was introduced to sex through porn and conversations with peers and family members in my age group. This is not the best way for a child to learn about sex. Fortunately, I did not find anything appealing about porn and applying it to my sex life (in the future). I wish my parents would've sat down and talked to me about it though. No one did that and I don't know many friends who've had "the talk".

    I did find that a lot of guys I knew (not friends) were very much into porn sex, as I like to call it. They had no idea about making love and no interest in it. They also didn't understand how deeply the issue was affecting their lives. To them, it was just the norm and most young males are criticized for going against the norm, especially when it comes to sex.
  • Dec 7 2011: having sex is sexy. sexy thoughts are nice, not dirty. i've been making porn of my very authentic, messy, fuzzy, happy lovemaking for about a year now and there is a bigger audience for it than i'd initially imagined. nudity is ok in my household and exploring & understanding your body is encouraged. get sex out of dark shadows and scandalous whispers; it belongs with us always, as part of who we are. take away the taboo.
  • Dec 7 2011: We desperately need age appropriate sex and relationship education for all ages in schools. Sex, sexual relationships, and platonic relationships are fundamental part of life. How can we expect people to just have sex "let it work itself out" and end up with healthy adults? It is ludicrous. Yes parents are uncomfortable talking about it, that is why we need trained professionals who can and do teach it. Knowing that sexual abuse occurs so often and with such young kids, we can not wait until the teenage years to start cherry pickings topics to teach children. At that point we are already losing the battle to help foster healthy individuals.
  • Dec 7 2011: You stated the only real problem here in the initial post... "At the same time, we do not as a society talk about sex openly." There's no good reason for this attitude at all. I think that continuing carrying on the delusion that sex is some taboo thing that shouldn't be talked about openly is harmful to society overall.

    That said, I learned about sex through porn and personal experience, and I turned out just fine.

    Sébastien Cloutier is absolutely right with his comment. "Porn is damaging" isn't the default position. You have to prove that assertation first.
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      Dec 7 2011: Eric - I should just reemphasize again that I am not anti-porn - I'm entirely pro-porn, and have many friends in the porn industry.

      Please do check out the 'About' page of http://makelovenotporn.com now for some of the emails I get that do demonstrate that in the absence of that open conversation that you, Sebastien and I all want, the impacts are not great. You can also read many more responses that go into the effects in a lot more detail in my short TED e-book: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/make-love-not-porn/id452296228?mt=11
    • Dec 7 2011: I think porn has many positive aspects but one also very negative.

      Some women shown in porn are forced to be part of it. My understanding is many women, esp. in developing countries, are abused, forced and even kidnapped to serve as prostitute and be recorded for porn industry?

      There needs to be effort to prevent this from happening and viewers should be aware of this issue.
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        Dec 7 2011: Zdenek - there are many great organizations fortunately dedicated to tackling sex trafficking and its victims, including one I donate to monthly: http://www.catwinternational.org/

        However, you raise inadvertently a perception that is often used to generalize about the porn industry as a whole. There are many women - and men - in porn who have actively chosen tht as a career and are very professional and committed to what they do, and would like to be able to take more open pride in their work - but because society demonizes the entire industry, they have to live lives significantly affected by that.
        • Dec 7 2011: Cindy yes I agree. Many women choose to do so and should be treated by society and government the same way other professions are treated with protection, rights and benefits. cheers
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    Dec 7 2011: Hi. However interresting this topic may be, I think the whole approach is biased from the beggining. Much more honnest would be to ask WHY and HOW porn is damagable, instead of just assuming it is.
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      Dec 7 2011: Sebastien - do check out the 'About' page on http://makelovenotporn.com for just some of the emails I receive daily from young and old, male and female, all around the world, that demonstrate that this is indeed an issue. One that would never have crossed my mind if I had not encountered it personally. (I am not 'assuming' anything. :)
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      Dec 7 2011: I freely admit I do have a specific personal bias: the issue I personally am tackling with MakeLoveNotPorn is not porn. The issue I am tackling is the lack in our society, as I mention above, of an open healthy dialogue around sex and porn, which would then enable people to bring a real-world mindset to the viewing of artificial entertainment.
      • Dec 7 2011: I think it's about taking more responsibility for our children's education all around. If you don't teach them about sex, someone else will be more than happy to do so and make money doing it. My concern with porn is how phallocentric it is. The woman is the center of attention but yet the pleasure is very male centric. Of course it's catered to males because of market demands and I think that biased view might be the most dangerous part. In pornography female pleasure comes second (if at all) and girls who receive a pornography education might see this as the norm thinking her pleasure as secondary.
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        Dec 7 2011: A lot of what I see on your webpage and talks is about the normative, what is considered "normal" by people. Now this of course has an impact on what they think is right or wrong. So this issue IS about morality after all. I personally believe that "dialogue" and "testimony" don't make science. They are not sufficient to point out there IS an issue, more that just behaviors shocking to our moral judgment. If we want to have an honnest debate about porn, it has to be grounded in psychology and medecine...
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          Dec 7 2011: Sebastien - I put http://makelovenotporn.com up on no money nearly three years ago now as a very basic, clunky, minimal website, and I have to admit I had no idea at the time of the extraordinary response it would engender. I'm happy to say that its next iteration as http://makelovenotporn.tv - launching spring 2012 - will correct what you are concerned about, and I hope you'll find it more relevant (I actually managed to find some funding for this after failing to for a very long time - people go all funny around anything to do with 'sex' and 'porn', as you can probably imagine :)
        • Dec 7 2011: Sébastien, I think you are totally correct that truly founded-opinions can only be based on scientific and psychological study. I think however that you have not researched the topic as fully as you should. Gail Dines is a sociologist who, unlike Cindy, is against porn culture entirely. She has studied and performed decades of research on the subject. This is a link to her website that might give you some more insight into just how damaging porn can be:
        • Dec 7 2011: Color me unconvinced. Your link seems more like a knee jerk reaction to social conditioning that sex is supposed to be something. Sex is always and has always been what you make of it. trying to put reins and blinders on it only drives it underground which is what got us in this mess with the kids in the first place. Drag it out into daylight and talk about it with an open mind. The answer is non-judgmental dialogue.
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    Dec 7 2011: The impact and influence of porn as default sex education, everywhere can be easily understandable when you think about the psychology and effect of porn to individual level from father to daughter, Mother to son, and think collectively to the solution of implementing a policy for school level or community level sex education.
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      Dec 7 2011: Munish - thanks for this - where are you based and what is the approach to school/community level sex education in your area?
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    • Dec 7 2011: Sometime the answer to a nail is a hammer. You are welcome to try and come up with something better.
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    Dec 7 2011: I just tried to access your site, Cindy, but it has been blocked by my server on the grounds that it is porn. Go figure.
  • Dec 7 2011: It is important to make sure our children understand that porn is the depiction of people having sex, but it is not real, nor does it depict actual "love" making. Essentially, they are actors, being paid to perform as actors. We need to accept that our children will be exposed to this sort of obscenity, and give them the tools to appreciate it for it's intended purpose, but not to confuse it with what sex is actually like. We need to help them understand that sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of, but that love making is something special to be shared when you trust and love someone.
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    Dec 7 2011: A very good question and, for me, points to the fact that we, as adults, have an amazingly poor ability to allow kids to be kids until it's time to move on. IMO we allow children to be babysat by screens, rather than show a full and active interest in their progression, and life, sex and religious education becomes a mish mash of what teachers pass on and what the vogue culture of the day delivers. I'm as guilty of this as anyone.

    I'm a youthworker and further ed teacher, my wife is a primary school teacher, my sister in law a secondary school special needs co-ordinator. The tales we could tell. Terrifying because we only deal with a few hundred kids a week and every teacher in every school in most countries can tell the same stories. Today I was told of a 12 year old we're aware of, already on facebook for three years, who's dressed up as a movie star for her 12th birthday. Which involved wearing a dress which was in no way suitable for her age and posing in a manner which kissed goodbye to a childhood already lost. All posted on a social networking site with the privacy filter turned off. Not a daily discussion for us but not rare either.

    And porn, as free and available as it is, becomes the understood norm for something which should be sweet, joyful, wonderful, clumsy, new, fresh and beautiful. Milf becomes a standard description for one of the teachers I work with, as if it's not a clumsy and unpleasant and awful way for a student to mention a colleague while I'm in earshot. In fact they've asked me who the milf is, and then they're amazed when I blast them out for it.

    I was reading a semi-related article which said that the power of swear words is diminished with overuse. A non-swearer who stubs their toe and says the first word which comes to mind will have the pain exascerpated by the thrill of saying a taboo word. Whereas someone who uses a swear word as a comma will not. As it is with language so it is with sex.

    And all to the OST of BEP: Ma Humps.
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      Dec 7 2011: Paul - absolutely.
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        Dec 7 2011: Black Eyed Peas have a lot to answer for :)
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      Dec 7 2011: I would try to offer various possible steps in the right direction which might not be mutually exclusive

      - More acceptance of love-making in the media. Perhaps we should be aiming to get to the point where a TV show shows some awkward, funny, loving sex between two characters. The knee-jerk response is "No way, what about the 11 year olds?" But that no longer seems to apply - they've likely seen adults having sex already. At least if they are hell-bent on putting themselves in situations they aren't ready for, they might emulate some more realistic adults rather than porn. At the same time we perhaps need...

      - More acceptance of love-making in our philosophies. Here is not the place for me to lament what sexuality has become to some worldviews. But sex is indeed too fundamental a part of humanity to be suppressed to anywhere near the extent of something like waiting for marriage. I mean, wait if you would like, but that is no longer the norm, and it never should have been the "ideal". It's simply not necessary, and I think we should be glad that way of thinking is on the decline. What actually matters to sex and love-making is emotional maturity and good knowledge about risks.

      -Fearless sex education. And I would add, throughout their school years. Teenagers can either have sex while the adults keep themselves idealistic, or we can all make sure these kids have better survival and safe sex training (i.e. condom use). That takes ongoing reminders, not one class. When the world demands that kids face adult decisions (e.g. in times of war, how to use the internet, and so on) we must equip our kids more quickly and effectively. What is the alternative?

      Also, that site "make love not porn" is pretty cool. Except, one you go through all the interesting panels comparing sex and porn, it just says "see, they're different!" What about finishing off with some small request to commit to the idea - "like this on you facebook"

      Just some thoughts
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    Dec 7 2011: So, we're thinking about sex courses with criticism... something like the walls of Pompéï?