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Cindy Gallop: Make love, not porn

Posted by: Matthew Trost

ALERT: Talk contains graphic sexual language

At TED2009, audience member Cindy Gallop gave a 4-minute presentation that became one of the event’s most talked about. Speaking from her personal experience, she argued that hardcore pornography had distorted the way a generation of young men think about sex, and talked about how she was fighting back with the launch of a website to correct the myths being propagated. Later, she expanded her brief presentation into a provocative and thought-provoking TED Book.

Her talk’s graphic content means we can’t include it in the main run of full TEDTalks, which go by default to subscribers, including children. But we do think it’s worth posting here. Cindy is no prude, and not everyone will enjoy the graphic language on her website, MakeLoveNotPorn.com. But she has courageously (and wittily) raised an important issue, which we think deserves wider attention. Constructive comments welcome!

Tweet this talk: http://on.ted.com/206I

Comments (250)

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  • John Johnson commented on Dec 8 2009

    She missed two obvious options:
    Date older men.
    Make her own porn.

    When you date people 20 years younger than you are, they are going to act like they are 20 years younger than you are.

    • Cindy Gallop commented on Dec 19 2009

      As I have commented above, I started dating younger men because they approached me. I am very selective about whom I date and I thoroughly enjoy the experience, which I expanded on in ALL its dimensions (not only sex) in my 2008 TEDU talk ‘The Toyboy Manifesto: Why Older Woman Younger Man Is The Relationship Model Of The Future’. MakeLoveNotPorn is based on only some of my dating experiences, not all. In my experience, maturity is not a function of age. I know some very mature 25 year olds, and some very immature 45 year olds :) And because MakeLoveNotPorn is only one demonstration of the fact that when I feel strongly about something, I actually do something about it, I do indeed have development plans for http://www.makelovenotporn.tv as and when I can get funding (although they don’t involve making my own porn in the way you’re thinking of…:)

      • Richard Ellicott commented on Aug 5 2013

        so you’re competing with porn…. i see

  • Justin Stanwix commented on Dec 7 2009

    I’m stunned at how many people are missing the point of this talk. In NO WAY is is an example of misandry or any ill-will toward men.

    She’s made a valid observation, and being a man in my early 20s I can say that being a part of the internet generation, when were able to, and did, saturate ourselves with internet pornography from a young age, long before we had any sort of sexual encounter with a partner, alters your expectations and your practices.

    I could rattle off a list with dozens of examples of guys wanting to do things that take place in porn and they generally just do it without asking. This often results in “funny” stories about how the lucky lady reacted, usually ending in a situation where neither party plans to ever speak to the other again.

    Like any social issue, it doesn’t affect everyone, but it does happen. makelovenotporn.com is about creating an open dialouge. A place where people can engage a taboo topic, and engage in it freely.

    • juan moralas commented on Dec 10 2009

      Get a life you jackass. She clearly talking down to men.

  • Justin Stanwix commented on Dec 7 2009

    I’m stunned at how many people are missing the point of this talk. In NO WAY is is an example of misandry or any ill-will toward men.

    She’s made a valid observation, and being a man in my early 20s I can say that being a part of the internet generation, when were able to, and did, saturate ourselves with internet pornography from a young age, long before we had any sort of sexual encounter with a partner, alters your expectations and your practices.

    I could rattle off a list with dozens of examples of guys wanting to do things that take place in porn and they generally just do it without asking. This often results in “funny” stories about how the lucky lady reacted, usually ending in a situation where neither party plans to ever speak to the other again.

    Like any social issue, it doesn’t affect everyone, but it does happen. makelovenotporn.com is about creating an open dialouge. A place where people can engage a taboo topic, and engage in it freely.

    • John Thompson commented on Dec 10 2009

      wtf are talking about u ass she was clearly bitchin at men, i’m sure you have no women around you but other men do. So get a life YOU JACKASS, you know it’s statisticly proven to help reduce stress and make sex better, but know you wouldn’t know about that now would you.

  • Patrick Richardson commented on Dec 6 2009

    I don’t think she has discovered something new; I think she’s just experiencing something that’s very old. Typically sexually active young men divide women into two groups: nice girls they want to introduce to mom and marry, or at least spend time with in context other than having sex, and easy chicks they want to hook up with and they hope will leave them alone otherwise. They treat women in group 2 differently than they do in group 1. Hookers and porn starts are obviously in the second group, and women in group 2 are treated like hookers and porn stars. Which group do you think old cougars in leather pants who brag about how many young men have screwed them are in?

    • Danielle M commented on Feb 15 2010

      That is a bit ridiculous. Why does our society have it in our heads that older women can’t have successful sex lives? I would also think it more likely that the men who would have a relationship with an older woman would be more openminded and less misogynistic, therefore less likely to group women into your two categories.

      • Richard Cook commented on Apr 7 2010

        @Danielle: unfortunately, I believe that younger men who have relationships with older women do it for explicitly sexual reasons at least at first. Women tend to be at their horniest in their 30′s and men in their early 20′s. It’s a natural hookup that has nothing to do with openmindedness, at least IMHO. :-) And please take it easy with the “misogynistic” label. There are very few actually misogynistic men out there, I think. That’s like calling everyone “racist.” Come on, get your head out of the 70′s. :-)

      • commented on Feb 2 2012

        @Richard Yet, many people are “racist.”

      • Ruby Ryder commented on Feb 3 2012

        Younger men who have sex with older women do so because they are looking for a woman who knows what she wants, will ask for it, will participate more instead of laying there worrying about how she looks…and will have a lot more fun in bed. (Generalizing here – but this is what the men say.)
        There is a growing number of young men who want anal sex (because of porn) and young women who feel pressured to have it. Where does the idea come from if not porn?
        http://jezebel.com/5870164/the-popularity-and-perfectionism-behind-butt-sex#

  • Todd Daugherty commented on Dec 5 2009

    I do believe in a sense that porn may shape the way that young people are introduced to it. BUT that is it. I believe porn an entertainment business, and believe along the sames lines as Bob Allen below.. The positions used, the shooting on ones face or body, all uses visuals effects. I certainly don’t have sex with my partner in the positions shown on the films. It’s way uncomfortable of myself and my partner.

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  • Bob Allen commented on Dec 5 2009

    According to porn industry market research women buy about 1/2 of the sales. Ms. Cindy’s misandrist attack on men in the porn business negates whatever her original point might have been.

    Note also that the porn industry shows very strange positions because you can see the penetration The porn industry shows cum on faces and other places because they cannot film cum in a vagina where normal men prefer to put it. The scenes in porn are created because men AND WOMEN producing porn can film it, not because men or women prefer to do sex that way. Ms. Cindy’s sexist rant is offensive and wrong.

    • Danielle M commented on Feb 15 2010

      Can I get a source for the statistic you used?

    • O Mir commented on Mar 2 2010

      Those positions are not strange! They are degrading to any human (or as a matter of fact living beings). Do you ever see a man in an so called ‘strange’ position? I don’t think so. Men are always on top and in control in their positions. Also, why do you need to see cum on someone’s face? How about a leg?! And YES, you are right, the scenes are created because both women and men are there to film it at their own will. But they do not have to be degrading to anyone. PORN IS OFFENSIVE…IT DOES NOT PORTRAY PEOPLE MAKING LOVE. IT’S ALL ABOUT BANGING USELESSLY. MOST MEN DO NOT EVEN HAVE A CLUE WHAT TURNS A WOMAN ON. TRY BEING SENSUAL AND HAVING TANTRIC SEX. IT’S WAAAAAY BETTER THAN THAT VIOLENT PORNOGRAPHIC CRAP THAT EVERYONE HYPES UP!! Cindy is not sexist she is educated and if you were too, you would not be making such judgements and comments.

      • Daniel Temple commented on Apr 12 2010

        If you want people to take you seriously, perhaps you should remove your own sweeping generalizations and value judgments before you accuse others of being uneducated.

    • Joanne Gullion commented on May 15 2010

      There is no way that women buy anywhere near one half of all porn. And if the “porn industry” says we do, they are lying.

      • Kadi Rae commented on Jun 26 2010

        I agree… if the porn industry is owned and run almost completely by men, why would we believe any market “research” results they present to us, especially if it has to do with women? Would you believe marketing research about black america if it was done by the KKK? I think not….
        Now… It would be a very different thing if the Kinsey Institute researched porn.

    • flor nuñez de ciampoli commented on May 23 2010

      I dont think she was offensive i just think she was ilustrating the missconceptions when you assume “thats the way it is” and leave no room for “not necessarily”.

  • Jenius Tanner commented on Dec 4 2009

    Porn is a form entertainment. It has as much effect on youngster as gangster movies and violent media. I have a nephew who watches porn and violent movies as often as possible and he turned out okay. I personally think every effects or whatever depends on the viewer, not the material.

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    Call me crazy but I’m a ceiling fan fanatic.

  • Richard Lawrence commented on Dec 4 2009

    I’m a porn producer and I agree entirely with Cindy. Like it or not, porn is the default sex educator for millions of people and that doesn’t just mean adolescents. Responsible producers can still make explicit content with positive values that is just as effective as the degrading, misogynistic rubbish that seems to be the norm – why more people don’t provide an alternative to that I can’t imagine, becuase smart & moral people also like to get turned on.

    • Aaron Funk commented on Dec 15 2009

      Because it’s the path of least resistance. The same dynamic that makes most people not bother eating healthy.

  • Stephen Mitchell commented on Dec 4 2009

    What I said to another TED member who introduced me to the site and this thread:

    It is interesting to note the difference in women sexually over my lifetime and to see how the times have influenced them–given that there are always variables from woman to woman–and that possibly my own changes or development has encouraged more openess from them, but I really feel that women are more willing to express themselves and their wants & needs than ever before. I welcome it.

  • fonebro fonebro commented on Dec 3 2009

    I wonder how you got to believe all this amazing rubbish. Maybe it was something that you dreamed when you were awake.

  • Christopher Gonzales commented on Dec 3 2009

    She chases youngsters and is shocked and dismayed when they turn out to be insensitive and clumsy lovers?

    • Aaron Funk commented on Dec 15 2009

      That’s not the point. Hardcore porn is erroneously taken as good example. It’s a short-sighted and biased grasp of sex. Which is worth making a point about because sex is one of the most basic needs and wants of any normal person.

    • Cindy Gallop commented on Dec 19 2009

      Actually, I don’t ‘chase youngsters’. I began dating younger men because they approached me; I am extremely selective about whom I date; and as a result, I only date really, really lovely younger men. MakeLoveNotPorn was inspired by only some of my dating experiences, not all, and as per Aaron’s comment above, what I encounter is not insensitivity. We are all vulnerable and insecure when we get naked, and we will grasp at anything that we hope will help us to be better lovers. If porn is all the sex ed you’ve ever gotten, because your parents, your teachers and the world at large couldn’t bring themselves to talk openly and honestly aobut what makes for great, mutually enjoyable sex, then those are the only cues you have.

      • Daniel Massarano commented on Feb 14 2012

        Cindy that was brilliant! I know it’s been a while since the talk but that was top stuff. As a young guy myself, one bought up in a conservative environment where even the word ‘sex’ would be greeted with gasps and probably a slap, I agree with you on every point. Sure I watch porn, but it’s a fantasy, just like any other film. I realise now that it’s as close to real life as vigilantes are to batman, but as a teen that was my sex education. Imagine my embarrassment and subsequent shame when I got laid! Unfortunately one has no point of reference to base real life sex on at that age so obviously fantastical ideas are developed.
        However it also goes beyond the mere ‘positions’ and ‘idea-that-you-can-c*m-in-her-face-’cos-she-loves-it’ problem. In porn, not only are both the men and women very good in bed, they are absolutely gorgeous, giving a young fellow a (mistakenly) very high standard in women. One assumes, at 18, that any desirable woman has no bodily hair, is about size 6-8, has huge breasts and only cares about the bloke. Big shock in the making there!
        Like I said, I think you are bang on. I love porn, but people need to be more open about the whole thing. Porn is a movie, a fantasy. Talking about real sex shouldn’t be so taboo.

        Oh, and Chris Gonzales? F*** you! before my accident I could do all night what it probably takes you all night to do!

  • Addison Rennick commented on Dec 3 2009

    At first I thought to myself that I was going to disagree. That she was going to condemn porn as a whole, but she didn’t. She recognized that it has its benefits and is taking steps to mitigate its downfall. I think that’s beautiful and amazing.

    I will say that you don’t have to be taught that it’s normal. Sometimes you recognize it all on your own. Even if you don’t it takes very little to convince someone who’s never had sex or had very little sex that pron is not real life. So there is hope I think.

    • fonebro fonebro commented on Dec 3 2009

      I think most reasonable people view porn for what it is; tasteless, selfish, exciting, prurient, and ….

  • Rajesh Sampathkumar commented on Dec 3 2009

    A long overdue talk, I felt. We need for people to not be standardized in their sexual behaviour as per the norms of an “industry” and for people to be true to themselves, be natural in their sexual activities, just as with anything else. I think this lady has done something important, especially given the bastardization of popular opinion on sexuality because of hard core pornography.

  • King Kupa commented on Dec 2 2009

    Interesting topic, and I obviously agree that porn is more accessible nowadays and that it may have an effect on younger generations, but I hardly believe that there’s an adverse effect on the way people have sex. How people have sex is completely a matter of personal preference, and just because she dislikes something doesn’t mean that porn is to blame.

  • Anna Johnson commented on Dec 2 2009

    I agree – there is very little discussion about the political context of porn. It’s a huge problematic area no-one’s willing to look at. It is shaping kids’ – nations’ – minds – just by virtue of how available it is. It isn’t about telling reality from fantasy – it’s about marinading in the stuff for hundreds of hours and what it must do a brain that’s fed on such a diet.

  • Teddie Bear commented on Dec 2 2009

    She raises an important issue. The reaction of the public is childish *and* bizarre.

  • Derek Mowrey commented on Dec 2 2009

    I think porn, like movies, is intended for entertainment and presents a story. Some of the events are more plausible than others, ranging from completely realistic to laughably false. But much of categorized porn is produced for an audience that actually enjoys it. Sex IS whatever it is between the people who have it. The most important thing for people to do is talk about what they like with the person they intend to be intimate with.

  • Toma Susi commented on Dec 2 2009

    Here’s an interesting study on the effect of watching porn on sexuality:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/relationships/6709646/All-men-watch-porn-scientists-find.html

  • Adrian R commented on Dec 2 2009

    This topic is really overdue. I think her suspicion that pornography has become the “sexual education” of today is realistic. Parents are to be blamed here, no one else.

    I applaud this effort.

    p.s. The comments on YouTube have been disabled, is this deliberate?

    • Danielle M commented on Feb 15 2010

      I agree. I got no sex ed from either school or my parents. You’d better believe that I, even as a girl and therefore assumed to be less sexually curious than boys by much of society, got my first ideas about sexuality from the internet.

  • Matt Z commented on Dec 2 2009

    Necessarily frank. Checking out the website later, though I wonder if it raises awareness of porn produced by women, i.e. ifeelmyself.com, abbywinters.com, etc. I suppose those might be considered softcore, but this 20-something finds these more believable than any hardcore.

    • MJ Duffy commented on Sep 19 2012

      Absolutely! Make Love not Porn. The lady has got it right. The issue is personal preferances, not copy-kat calisthenics. And, I would interject the art and essence of ROMANCE. The mind is a wonderful instrument. We need to use it.

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