Sunday 25 September 2016

Ireland needs to start an open, honest conversation about sex

Sex guru Cindy Gallop believes a healthy intimate life can only come about if we are ready to talk about it, writes Niamh Horan

Published 21/06/2015 | 02:30

REAL SEX LIFE: Cindy Gallop seeks to educate and inform about sex through her website.
REAL SEX LIFE: Cindy Gallop seeks to educate and inform about sex through her website.

Irish couples "very badly need" to start an honest conversation about their intimate lives, according to sex guru, Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn, the website that promotes "real-world sex."

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The tech entrepreneur sprang to fame when her talk about what really goes on in the bedroom, on the web-speeches forum TED, was one of the most watched TED Talks of all time.

She says Ireland needs to shake off a legacy of sexual repression and people need to talk openly to one another.

"I cannot emphasise this to Ireland strongly enough: The problem is not porn. The problem is the total absence in our society of an open, healthy, honest conversation around sex in the real world, which would then have other benefits."

Speaking about the recent spate of viral sex videos of Irish teenagers - which included a video that showed an Irish woman performing a sex act on a group of males while on holiday, she said: "I'm fully aware of all of this. It's my business to know these things . . . I want to talk to Ireland very emphatically and say everything you are talking about is a product of not talking openly about sex."

The businesswoman is inundated with emails from people "pouring their hearts out" to her. And, she says, the Irish are reaching out in huge numbers.

"I get thousands of emails every day and I absolutely get emails from the Irish; young and old, male and female, straight and gay, lovers and partners."

She says they tell her about "the tremendous difficulty in having any kind of healthy emotional sex life when nobody will talk about sex.

"And it's not just men who watch porn. I have young men saying, 'my girlfriends are doing everything they see in porn and it's getting in the way of real connection. I don't know if she is really into me or if she is putting on a performance'."

But she explains that people must remember "overtly porn-influenced sexual behaviour" is driven by the best of motives, not the worst: "It's because we all get very vulnerable when we get naked.

"Sexual egos are very fragile; people therefore find it bizarrely difficult to talk about sex with the people they are actually having it with, while they are having it. Because, when you are having sex with somebody, you are terrified that if you say anything at all about what is going on, you will potentially hurt the other person's feelings, you'll put them off you, you'll derail the encounter, you'll potentially derail the entire relationship, but at the same time you want to please your partner, you want to make them happy."

She explains that while "everyone wants to be 'good' in bed, no one knows what that is. So you'll seize your cues on how to do that from anywhere you can, and if your only cues are from porn, it won't have a very good effect."

She says that as an antidote to this, she launched her "Make Love Not Porn" website.

It already features one Irish couple in their 40s who have been married, with children, for more than 20 years. The couple want to share their "funny, messy, wonderful, beautiful, human" experience, says Ms Gallop.

She explains: "People use the word 'porn' like it's all one big homogenous mass. But that's like using the word 'literature' like it's all the same thing. The landscape of porn is like the landscape of literature. It's as rich, as varied and full of genres and subgenres."

Ms. Gallop's open invitation to Ireland comes after a recent study by PornHub revealed that Irish people spend longer looking at porn than residents of almost every other European country. In another study, the 'Towards A Better Internet For Children' survey found that Irish children as young as nine are watching porn - with 1 in 10 having access to it online.

Sunday Independent

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