The phrase “if you haven’t had the pleasure yet” does’t just apply to Cindy Gallop, it’s foundational to her outlook. At TED2009, Cindy amassed the attention of thousands of onlookers when she gave an extraordinary speech on hardcore pornography. Under her spell of confidence, poignance, and conviction, the audience warmly welcomed her message: if we recognize the messages communicated in hardcore pornography, we can start a dialogue to address what isn’t our pleasure as well as what is. Now with the help of youtube, her onlookers reached the hundreds of thousands. And for good reason, like consent, Cindy ventures to help us enjoy mutual, unabashed, and amazing pleasure.
It’s now The Consensual Project’s pleasure for you to enjoy Cindy Gallop and her thoughts on, experiences with, and, of course, pleasures enjoying consent!
The Consensual Project: When did you first learn about consent? And what were you taught?
Cindy: ‘Learning’ and ‘being taught about’ consent is not something that featured in my past experience. I’ve always felt able to state very clearly what I am and am not into.
TCP: Do you have a favorite question you like to ask?
Cindy:Nothing beyond ‘Tell me what you like’. Everyone is different, and I believe in feeling one’s way and tailoring dialogue and interaction on an individual basis accordingly.
TCP: Have you ever tried filling out a YNM chart?
Cindy:No – as in, no, never tried it, although I think it’s a great idea. The one thing I would say is that I don’t think anyone should regard their own answers as necessarily hard and fast. Sex is like life – you can find yourself enjoying things you never expected to, just as there are also things you know you definitely don’t like and don’t ever want to do. For example, in my case, I have no intention of ever going skydiving, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed surfing when I gave that a whirl 🙂
TCP: What are some easy ways you get a conversation started with the person you’re with?
Cindy:I recommend just being straightforward: ‘Hey, I think it would be a real turn-on for us to….How do you feel about that?’ And if you’re identifying something you don’t want to do, it’s good to also say what you do want to do: ‘Actually I’m not into that, but I would love to…’
TCP: Are there any myths about consent you would like to debunk?
Cindy:I know you do a lot of debunking anyway, so all I would say is that this can be quite a tricky area, where things are not necessarily black and white, and I would exhort everyone to do what I’m also asking them to do with MakeLoveNotPorn – TALK ABOUT IT. People find it bizarrely difficult to talk about sex with the people they’re having it with, while they’re actually having it. Just open your mouth and talk – say if you’re not happy with what’s happening or you don’t want to do something, say if you’re extremely happy with what’s happening and you absolutely love it and can’t get enough of it! Everyone’s happier when everyone talks – whether it’s to lay down boundaries and be clear about what you are and are not into, or whether it’s to say, wow, I love it when you do that and please can you do a whole lot more of this. Open communication drives much better results in every single area of life, and consent is obviously one of those.
TCP: Cindy, thank you so much! Always a pleasure!