TED Conversations

Cindy Gallop

Founder & CEO, IfWeRanTheWorld


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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: 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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