5 TED Talks That Will Change How You Think About Sex & Sexuality

Sexuality is an incredibly broad topic; subtopics within sexuality can range from sexual orientation to marriage and infidelity to desirability and love. With so much to learn about, what better way to do it than by watching as many TED Talks about it as you can? In the past few years, I've watched a huge number of TED Talks that have changed my perceptions on sexuality, whether by introducing me to a new idea or concept or helping me fine tune knowledge I already had. These short, informative speeches are definitely worth the 10 to 30 minutes of your day each one takes to watch.

Although I (obviously) learned a ton from watching all of these TED Talks, the most important takeaway I took from them as a whole was to approach issues like sexuality with an open mind. Topics like gender, sexuality, and feminism are such vast ideas, capable of playing host to hundreds of different viewpoints — which makes it all the more important to remain accepting and tolerant of what other people have to say outside of your own little bubble. You don't have to like it and you can definitely disagree with it, but it's always useful to learn from someone else's stance. Indeed, my favorite TED Talks about sexuality haven't been the ones I've "agreed" with; they've been the ones that have challenged my own understanding of the subject.

Here are five of talks that will definitely make you stop and think:

1. "Rethinking Infidelity... A Talk For Anyone Who Has Ever Loved" By Esther Perel

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Relationship therapist Esther Perel starts off this TED Talk with a simple question: How do we begin to unpack infidelity, something that is universally condemned but also universally practiced? In her talk, she takes viewers through a variety of ideas: who cheats, why we cheat, and why we hold certain stereotypes about cheating (for example the stereotype that, men cheat because they're hungry for sex, whereas women cheat because they're lonely). She also offer ways to think about and understand cheating and infidelity that the media we consume doesn't often encourage. But my favorite discussion Perel presents in this TED Talk is one about how we define cheating. In 2016, is sexting cheating? How about watching porn? Or having a Tinder account, even if you're not active on the app? These questions lead to some thought-provoking answers, and an important, larger conversation.

2. "A Little-Told Tale Of Sex And Sensuality" By Sheeren El Feki

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Activist and writer Sheeren El Feki studies the Middle East through the lens of sexuality, and in this insightful talk, she discusses the current state of sex and sexuality in the Arab and Muslim word. She explores some questions such as: Why do women still believe in virgin births two millennia after Christ? Why are conversations about sex, pleasure, and sexuality so taboo (and was it always that way)? And most importantly, what can be done to advance sex education in a part of the world that doesn't necessarily want anything to do with it? El Feki's talk is an incredibly important look at the relationship people have with sexuality that may differ significantly from our own.

3. "This Is What LGBT Life Is Like Around The World" By Jenni Chang And Lisa Dazols

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In this uplifting talk by super adorable San Francisco couple Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols, we learn about different ways that LGBTQ people in the non-Western world overcome persecution and abuse, and get a chance to hear about their inspiring journeys from a documentary created by Chang and Dazols called Out and Around. It's a refreshing talk because so often, LGBTQ people and characters are shown to have tragic lives, whether it's in fiction or non-fiction media. Chang and Dazols, however, offer us a glimpse of people who have been able to overcome hardships, as well as people who have been able to live freely because of their country's progressive laws.

4. "One Woman, Five Characters, And A Sex Lesson From The Future" By Sarah Jones

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If you have 25 free minutes in your day, spend them watching playwright Sarah Jones' performance: She plays five different characters who, in one way or another, interact with sex or sexuality, specifically on the topic of prostitution. The performance is a nice removal from the non-fiction narrative we've seen in the previous talks, but just as poignant and informative.

5. "The Birds And The Bees Are Just The Beginning" By Carin Bondar

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Tired of hearing about human sex and sexuality? Biologist Carin Bondar is, too, so she's talking about animal sex. In this talk she goes into details about the science behind — and complications with — animal anatomy and sexuality, as well as how it compares to our own. If you thought you'd never hear an articulate biologist talking about Mexican guppy genitalia, think again.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

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Image: Nathan Walker/Unsplash

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