Everyone seems to have a different opinion about sex these days.
Sex needs a new metaphor. Here’s one…
In this speech by Al Vernacchio, he breaks down one of the most widely understood metaphors of sex in about eight minutes. “If you talk to someone today in America about sexual activity, you’ll find pretty soon you’re not just talking about sexual activity,” he says. “You’re also talking about baseball.”
Realizing this strange phenomenon that he’s talking about will give you all the more power to deconstruct how we perceive sex as a community—and right now, we perceive it as a competition.
Instead, he proposes, we could talk about it as if it were pizza. I’m not going to spoil it all for you, but it’s an incredibly revolutionary change of pace against the patriarchal attitude about sex we’re all used to.
It’s time for porn to change
If you know anything about Erika Lust, you know that she’s a feminist adult film maker committed to making diverse, beautiful, and vulnerable pornographic films. And in this talk, she talks about how the porn industry today is failing people and their sexual experiences.
“Horny housewives, desperate nannies, fuck bunnies…” she summarizes as the likely findings of the typical porn video. “Women—as objects—fulfilling men’s desires.”
But, Lust argues, porn doesn’t have to be that way, and she’s made a career out of proving just that to people.
10 things you didn’t know about orgasm
If you’ve ever wanted a feel-good speech loaded up on fun facts about orgasms, this is the video to watch. I’ll leave the spoilers behind—there’s plenty of awesome stories, facts, and different relationships of people and their relations to orgasms. And as you can probably bet, Mary Roach fits in plenty of hilarious jokes along the way.
The laws that sex workers really want
In Toni Mac’s very thoughtful and honest talk, she discusses what she simply puts as “sex for money”—that is, prostitution.
As someone who’s had experience in sex work, she explains first hand how the policies that legislators have done with the intention of prohibiting the sex industry has actually ended up harming most those involved that they seek to protect.
STIs aren’t a consequence. They’re inevitable.
While it should be noted that herpes shouldn’t be thought of only as related to sex, it’s important to acknowledge how socially unacceptable and stigmatized it is to talk about. And Ella Dawson does an all-star job breaking down exactly why that is.
“I had been told my entire life that I was not the type of person that herpes, and other STDs, happened to,” she says. “People with herpes, in my mind, were dishonest, irresponsible, promiscuous, unfaithful, and depending on who you asked, I didn’t consider myself any of those things.”
And people who have herpes (and if that’s not you, it’s likely you it’s some of your friends) aren’t people that you’d consider to share those qualities either. That’s exactly what Dawson is getting at—and it’s essential to understand when approaching your relationship to sex, and the encounters with STIs that come inevitably with it.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to TED talks that redefine sex, do you have any favorites?
Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.