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21 Jan 2021 (Last updated 01 Sep 2023)

Top 5 TED talks about sexuality

Sexual Journey 3 min read
Smile Makers Author
2 of The Romantic by Smile Makers floating in the air framed by red flowers

Our pick of the best TED Talks on sex and pleasure.

Welcome to our sex talk... Here at Smile Makers we are always on the look-out for people and spaces that are breaking norms around female sexuality, just like us! We love hearing orgasms, pleasure anatomy and sex-positivity spoken about out in the open. Especially on a global stage by some of the world’s greatest thinkers and speakers. Here’s our pick of the best TED Talks on sexuality, presented by some awe-inspiring, taboo-breaking vulva owners!

1. The Keys To A Happier Healthier Sex Life by Emily Nagoski.

Author of “Come As You Are” and sex educator Emily Nagoski is a beacon of sex-positivity. She starts with a science lesson in sexuality; from the mechanism in our brain that controls sexual responses (hello dual control model) through to how our brain interprets sensations. This physiological perspective then sets the foundation for finding confidence, joy and body positivity to look after our sexual wellbeing.

Our favourite quote: ‘Create a context that allows your brain to interpret the world as a pleasurable, safe, sexy place.’ @enagoski

2. The Virginity Fraud by Nina Dolvik Brochmann & Ellen Stokken Dahl.

Doctors Nina and Ellen hope to break down anatomical myths that make life difficult for women, especially the misconceptions of the hymen. Find out what the hymen really is anatomically, and how its existence – or mythological breaking – is part of a ‘virginity’ check tradition in some places around the world. This form of sexual oppression stems from fallacies, and one way to overcome this control of women is by teaching everybody about the hymen!

Our favorite quote: ‘You simply cannot look a woman between her legs and read her sexual story.’ @wonderdownunder

3. A Case For Cliteracy by Sophia Wallace.

This TED talk focuses on female anatomy, especially that of pleasure! Artist Sophia Wallace looks at the misuse of words such as vagina and vulva (can you map your vulva?) before diving into the surprising ‘discovery’ of the clitoris – surprising as in shocking, as it took humans so long to find this female organ. Sophia uses her art installation ‘Cliteracy’ to play with language and create sculptures that put the clitoris at the centre of conversation.

Our favorite quote: ‘We never learn about the clitoris. We never learn that girls have desire. That this is natural. That girls have sexual dreams. That girls have fantasies.’ @sophiawallaceartist

4. One Woman, Five Characters and A Sex Lesson From The Future by Sarah Jones.

An alternate take on what we have come to expect from TED talks, comedienne and playwright Sarah Jones explores sexual shame and societal expectation through a futuristic perspective on the past. Or, what we would call the present. The funny personas portrayed and the outlook they have on sex work provide a lot of food-for-thought.

Our favorite quote: ‘But, girls especially were expected to be sexy while avoiding being perceived as sluts for being sexual – right, so there’s that shame piece. Yes, of course men were having sex as well, but male sluts were called men.’ @yesimsarahjones

5. What Young Women Believe About Their Own Sexual Pleasure by Peggy Orenstein.

From a young age, vulva owners are encouraged to engage in sexual activity but not find pleasure. This is one of the key issues that Peggy Orenstein highlights when it comes to how we understand our sexuality. After carrying out a study with girls between the ages of 15-20 years old about their attitudes and experience of sex, she explains how clear it is to see a gap in teaching children about the joy and pleasure in sex. That gap in education turns into an orgasm gap.

Our favorite quote: ‘I want them to see sexuality as a source of self-knowledge, creativity and communication despite its potential risks. I want them to be able to revel in our body’s sensuality without being reduced to it. I want them to be able to ask for what they want in bed, and get it.’ @pjorenstein

As you know, the sex education taught at schools and sexuality resources available are not nearly enough – especially for vulva owners. That’s why we created our free sex ed program Vulva Talks, and the reason why we continue to learn as much as we can about sexuality.

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? Let us know on Instagram - @SmileMakesCollection.

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