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: I've often thought about how accessible porn is today. My children have iPod Touches. Using the WiFi in the house, they can see things of all sorts going on. Back when I was young, a friend used to have to dive in a dumpster at a nearby apartment complex and find Penthouse magazines for everyone to look at. But not today. Today, EVERY sexual activity can be watched in all it's glory at the click of a button.
    But, then I think..."We all saw it when we were young, and no one went on to rape anyone."
    So...I'm torn. Ultimately, I don't know how much of an adverse effect this will have on our kids. I think all it's doing at the end of the day, is making them aware of things at a younger age.
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      Dec 7 2011: Actually, Joe, the difference is - back when we were young, the conversation parents needed to have was purely logistical - the birds and the bees, this goes into this, when a man loves a woman..The conversation that needs to happen today is (forgive me, Joe, I am going to get graphic), 'Darling, we know you're online and we know you're looking at online pornsites, and we just need to make you aware that not every woman enjoys being bound, spat on, gagged with a cock, come on and gang-banged, and not every man is expected to enjoy doing that either...' No parent is ever going to have THAT conversation.
      • Dec 7 2011: Fair enough. But I think there's something to be said for a sexual evolution of sorts.
        As society's outlook on sex becomes more permissive, and things that were frowned upon once are now commonplace, I think sex can possibly evolve as far as what both males and females expect to happen.
        That's not to say individuals don't have the right to refuse to engage in such behavior, but more to the point that it may not seem as outlandish to the coming generations, as it does, or once did to a lot of us.
        Not so long ago, women would never have openly admitted to owning vibrators, but now, women throw sex toy parties like it were Tupperware.
        Not so long ago, women would never have admitted to experimenting with other women....but now, no one thinks twice about it really.
        That's what I mean by a sexual evolution...I think it applies to other areas too.
        But your assessment of things on your site is accurate....not everyone enjoys, or wants to engage in these things. But some do, and I think it's important to point that out.
        You know, in some of my earliest sexual relationships, my partners would tell me that women "didn't like" stuff like we see in porn. But what they really meant was THEY didn't like it.
        I went on to have partners that not only loved that kind of activity...but demanded it.
        So, I think the message you're sending is important in that you admit that some DO enjoy these things, instead of making a blanket statement that "women don't really like that stuff".
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          Dec 7 2011: Absolutely, Joe.
        • Dec 7 2011: In terms of sexual evolution Joe it has happened in many societies before as they have reached their zenith.

          Romans, greeks, us, as soon as sociaties basic needs are fulfilled the next greatest driver becomes the desire to mate.

          The more affluent we become the less that becomes about probreation as we don't need extra members in society to create more wealth by more resources. Its just a "natural" cycle that we evolve as you say to this state of sexuality.

          Now we have never before in Earths history been this resource wealthy we also have never before except in the case of overlord tyranny become so sexually permissive. It is a period of time for people to watch explore and monitor the outcomes of this permissiveness and experimentation to see how far it will go. Just to extrapolate on your point of evolution.

          Previously I have commented on what positive influences to try and have with your children such that porn is not the main source of their education in sexuality.
      • Dec 7 2011: While I agree that things are different today because of the availability of media/info, I believe that what you are saying is more about media here and not pornography specifically. Yes, we need to tell our children that all people don't act like that, but lets also be honest in that some do. But we also need to tell our children that all people don't act like the characters on tv shows or look like models in magazines. That goes for all media, not just pornography.
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          Dec 7 2011: Bill - couldn't agree more. That is what initiatives like 'Miss Representation' http://missrepresentation.org/ and Jenn Pozner's 'Reality Bites Back' http://www.realitybitesbackbook.com/ are looking to address.
        • Dec 7 2011: Isn't it funny to see how many of the young audience movies like dysney cartoons and such were all about telling you to be yourself and listen to your heart, your dreams and be yourself, that the look and fortune are nothing... And later on in life it just shifts toward the opposite somehow!
          Guess statements like "go get a life and enjoy it instead of watching celebrities, reading gossip and dreaming of being somewhere else" just doesn't sells much goods nor attract people toward their TV...
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          Dec 7 2011: Bill- while i do agree with this point completely. However, I think pornogragarphy is a form of media that contains such a higher level of intensity that appeals to sexual fantasies and desires. If kids are growing up watching this before they even have sex, what do they assume sex is actually like? Just like porn? As I agree that all forms of media are through the gaze of men, objectifying women more than ever, I would argue that pornography internalizes its fantasies deeper into kids, teens, adults, or whoever at such a more intense level than the average media shown on T.V. or cinema. I think the intensity of porn is what allows its fantasies to manifest themselves into whoever watches it to thinking that is what the reality is. I think we can find one problem by how it has become so easily accessible.
      • Dec 7 2011: But they really kinda should. We never went into specifics but there was always an understanding with my parents that all choices were there and it was ultimately up to the individual. There were some taboos of course as everyone is biased for or against things especially back in the early 80's. There was always a feeling that experimenting was okay as long as it was consentual but as in every other human endeavor not everyone likes everything. The important part is to be informed and respectful when trying out some more elaborate kinks, be it bondage or oxygen play. In the hands of a novice these games can turn dangerous or even deadly.

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