DID YOU SEE: Cindy Gallop’s TED Talk on Make Love Not Porn

A colleague sent me a link to this TED Talk by Cindy Gallop, correctly assuming that I would be interested. I’d read an article about her in the New York Times that made me feel like I’d discovered a kindred spirit. She certainly speaks my language. As she says at the beginning of her talk, dating younger men has put her in direct contact with “what happens when total freedom of access to hardcore pornography online meets our reluctance as a society to talk openly and honestly about sex and results in porn therefore becoming by default the sex education of today.”

Gallop launched a website, a YouTube channel, and a kind of movement she calls Make Love Not Porn. What I like about her vision of Make Love Not Porn is that she defines her philosophy succinctly as: Pro-Sex, Pro-Porn, Pro-Knowing the Difference. Like me, she has concerns that pornography adversely affects the sex that people have by giving a distorted picture of what constitutes pleasurable erotic interaction. Commercial porn often depicts certain extreme acts (slapping, hair-pulling, ejaculating on faces) as if they’re commonplace and universally desirable while leaving out lots of stuff that contributes to satisfying sexual encounters. “Real-world sex is funny, messy, and responsible,” she points out, and she is determined to make real-world sex socially acceptable to have, to talk about, and to witness. Her solution is to create a Web 2.0 TV channel where regular people can submit videos of themselves having “real-world sex” that, for a modest fee, can be viewed by people who want to watch something that looks more like their own sex lives than commercial porn.

I’m all for the idea in theory, with a couple of reservations. I don’t share her assumption that all, most, or even many people are eager to share video of themselves in the throes of erotic intimacy. I know that social media make it seem like no one cares about privacy anymore and we’re all letting it hang out for the world to see. But I also know that’s not true and that people who post pictures and videos of themselves having sex online constitute a self-selected minority. They may be generous and right-minded and wonderful, but they’re still members of the tribe of exhibitionists, which I don’t think includes everybody. Also, when I go to the website and check out the free previews (“peeks”) of the videos (which are carefully curated by Gallop and her associates), none of them make me want to plunk down my $5, mostly because they are 100% hetero but also because they don’t look that different from the enthusiastic amateur videos you can see on XTube. I wonder what MakeLoveNotPorn videos made by and for gay men would look like.

Check out Gallop’s video and let me know what YOU think.

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