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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  • Ruby Ryder commented on Sep 17 2010

    @Mathai – I don’t think extremes were intended or stated here. Certainly there are some women who like men to come on their faces, just as there are women who want to see caring, gentle porn…and everything in between. Why not just increase the variety instead of condemning any one form?

    I agree with Ms. Gallup – we could use a little variety instead of just the one type of porn. Sex as fun, sex as love, sex as role-playing, sex as sensual, sex as wild, sex as gender switch, etc…let’s just open up the field here a bit, please. Comstock films have a different point of view that I particularly like.

    As a mature woman, I also agree with Ms Gallup re: younger men. You go, Girl!

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  • Mathai Fenn commented on Sep 5 2010

    Yeah Nathalie has a point. The woman is confident. But then confidence comes with age. The rest is just old wine in new bottle. What if there are women who LIKE men who cum on their faces. The idea that all women want caring, gentle, sex is as old as mars and venus. I learnt this entire drivel in school… What are little boys made of..what are little girls made of. There is fun in treating sex as just FUN and not as the pinnacle of true love.

  • commented on Aug 10 2010

    Love a confident sexual woman on a podium speaking openly and positively about sex. Love, love, love it.

  • Eddie Quinones commented on Jun 26 2010

    The message of the talk is great.

    My only complaint – I found the sound of her earring clanking up against the microphone continuously for all 4 minutes to be quite distracting and irritating.

    Probably not a big deal for most, though it honestly was quite distracting for me.

  • Amy Lang commented on Jun 10 2010

    Thanks for this brilliant idea! I’ll be adding your site to mine.

  • M Artian commented on Apr 27 2010

    I can’t believe these comments. An intelligent woman opens up a cultural dialogue and the latest posts I see are tastelessly name-calling and belittling her because she is confident enough to talk about her sex life?? This is TED. On TED, people make pleas for help fixing what they see is wrong in the world. You don’t have to agree with her but make your comments constructive and intellectual. I just can’t believe in this day and age people are still feeding a social climate that shames women into silence regarding the topic of sex.

    Cindy Gallop, thank you for your work and good luck!

  • SAM JAM commented on Mar 30 2010

    - i wouldn’t have said this had been useful several years ago and yet it is amusing the way age adjusts the manner you experience many creative concepts, thanks with regard to the blog post it is actually nice to read something intelligent occasionally in lieu of the popular crap mascarading as blogs on the net, cheers
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  • O Mir commented on Mar 2 2010

    I would really like to address MOST of the above comments and add that from reading them it is quiet evident that your comments are based on personal beliefs and NOT on actual academic based evidence. Teaching your children about sexual education will not 100% ensure that they will not be exposed to pornography and in any away be influenced by it. Your children’s education is not limited to their home environment. We never stop learning, and as we are exposed to explicit images that are portrayed by our society we will be influenced by them, and that includes our children who will google porn and eventually attempt to experiment what they have seen. Cindy Galop is not suspicious, she is an educated woman, otherwise she will not have been so privileged to speak for TED. Cindy is absolutely right, whether you are a man or a woman, you are surrounded of sexually explicit images and messages that women are sort of sexual objects, ready and willing to submit to men’s manipulation.

  • cassia parent commented on Feb 15 2010

    I love this talk – I’m very glad that this dialogue is happening…. thanks so much Cindy! I will repost your video and site to all my friends….

  • mr jhonson commented on Jan 31 2010

    did anyone else hear the guy laugh when she said she dated younger men rofl i’m sorry but you don’t date people in their 20′s thats complete BS

  • Hober Mallow commented on Jan 13 2010

    I’ve had a love hate relationship with porn for most of my life. A bit like fast food porn comes luridly packaged, doesn’t fill you up and for the most part makes you feel a bit cheap afterwards, but I in no way accept it as reality. Even when I read my first few pornographic magazines at the age of eleven I never thought this is the way women want to be seen and apart from a few exceptions since my view remains the same. Speaking to friends and partners over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that most normal people make this distinction.

  • Cindy Gallop commented on Dec 19 2009

    The commenters on this thread might be interested to see this post from Mashable today:


    revealing that ‘porn’ is among the top search terms for kids, and the 4th most popular search term (ahead of Club Penguin and Webkinz) in the ’7 and under’ age category.

    This is why, in the absence of more willingness from parents and the educational system to ensure that kids are exposed to open, healthy conversations and education about sex, I started MakeLoveNotPorn.

  • CS Lewiston commented on Dec 15 2009

    Learning about sex through porn is like learning about the rest of life from TV. The entertainment industry follows a fixed formula based upon whatever it thinks will sell product or get ratings. Many people take what they see on TV at face value (this explains the success of Fox News). This approach ends up being applied to other popular media, like pornography.

    Amen to what you said below, Matt Z. Woman-produced porn is definitely a dozen or so notches above much of what’s out there. Who’d have thought that sensuality would be much hotter than money shots? :~)

    @Adrian R – Right on to what you said about parents. They need to overcome their own shame-based conditioning around sex and start raising their children, rather than letting TV, the Internet or “abstinence-ed” do it for them.

  • Aaron Funk commented on Dec 15 2009

    It’s a shame that infamous youtube.com idiocy has found its way to TED comment fields.

  • Henrik Ahlen commented on Dec 12 2009

    I am sad to see in the vitriolic comments here that we have not progressed further in the ability to talk about sex openly. And TED’s shyness about this video also clearly shows that you americans have a very long way to go. Being Scandinavian, it is hard for me to understand that the majority of hard core porn is produced in the same country that is so scared about discussing any type of normal sexuality. We have lots of problems with sex here in Sweden too, but I do believe that we are better off than the Americans due to a somewhat more open discussion here.

    • William Ross commented on Dec 14 2009

      We have more problems here with sex than you have there in Scandinavia because your women are all so good looking while ours are as fat as nuclear power plant cooling towers. We routinely get caught in the folds. So, be thankful that you were born there.

    • connor edington commented on Nov 3 2011

      Henrik I don’t think a lot of these vitriolic comments/responses are actually anything to be concerned about. I think a lot of these responses hopefully represent internet trolls, if not then indeed this is a terribly sad state to see. Please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29 for a more accurate description of what we are dealing with.

  • russ faulkner commented on Dec 12 2009

    Her contention that the industry is run by men for men was definitely true 10-15 years ago, however a vast majority of production companies and videos are made by women for men/women. The following people have gone on to make their own production companies: Belladonna, Joanna Angel, Jenna Jameson, etc. Even Playboy is overseen by Hugh Hefner’s daughter. Women make more money, men are just ‘there’. It’s becoming evermore female focused and controlled. So, I have mixed feelings about her presentation. I would say ‘dumb’ guys think that all girls want facials, etc.

  • William Ross commented on Dec 10 2009

    I think she has discovered that she not only wants to bang these young men, she also wants to mommy them on her website! “Now, Johnny, its not NICE to cum on Mommy’s face, is it?!”

    • Cindy Gallop commented on Dec 19 2009

      Darling, ‘mommy’-ing could not be further away from what I like to do and what I do do. As, ahem, any of my dates could testify to….:) In all seriousness, I have gotten a huge volume of responses to MakeLoveNotPorn from young men and women as well as men and women of all ages, that demonstrates all too sadly and movingly, on many occasions, that what MakeLoveNotPorn is designed to do is very much needed.