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: 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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