Tag Archives: technology

On Sex, Defining Normality, and the Wonders of Technology

I was wandering around the interwebs a few weeks ago, and came across this interesting, and rather disturbing, TED talk from Cindy Gallop. Now, it’s not new — it’s four years old — but I believe it’s at least as relevant now as it was in 2010.

Note: This video is NSFW and includes graphic sexual language. If you’re not up to listening to it, I’ll recap below.

For those who didn’t watch, what Gallop is basically saying is that young men and women (in their mid-twenties and younger) are growing up believing hard-core porn to be an accurate depiction of sex. And so young women pretend to like things that they don’t actually like (because it’s “normal”) and young men behave like… well, like male porn stars.

But let’s face it, we all know that real sex — sex based on mutual love and respect — is very rarely, if ever, like a hard-core porn film. At least, I assume it isn’t for everyone else. And if it is, then I would like to think that it’s still based on mutual enjoyment and respect.

Another point Gallop raised is the idea that parents don’t talk to children about some of the most important aspects of sex — from consent, to mutual pleasure, even to respect. She blames this on being a puritanical society, which may well be true. But I wonder if her parents talked to her about those things. Mine certainly didn’t.  And so if nothing’s changed, why has everything changed?

And that brings me to my next point.

In the same week that I saw this TED talk, I read about some other worrying situations. Children as young as 12 engaging in sexual acts far outside what any reasonable person would consider “youthful experimentation”. Twelve and thirteen year olds addicted to hard-core porn. Children as young as 10 being charged with sexual assault. Playground antics that are anything but innocent.

I’d link to some articles but, honestly, I don’t want to read them again.

Whenever these situations occur, there is one overriding response from the general public.


Where were their parents?

  • What have their parents been teaching them?
  • What have their parents been letting them watch?
  • Why didn’t their parents know what they were doing?

Valid questions, certainly. But before casting judgement, I’d like to share a little story.

When I was ten years old, school was full of children giggling about new words and concepts they’d learned from older brothers, sisters, and TV shows. The word ‘sex’ had everyone blushing and giggling, even though none of us really knew what it was. Words like “penis” and “vagina” had us in paroxysms of hilarity. Lunch-times had us giggling about the idea of being *heeheehee* naked with someone else.

So one lunch time, we snuck back into the classroom and — wait for it — got out a… dictionary.

dictionary“Look up *giggle* sex,” said one girl.

And so we did.

(In case you’ve never done it, the dictionary definition of ‘sex’ is profoundly unsexy.)

And then we looked up penis. And vagina. And intercourse. And tampon. (Because clearly someone had been remiss in delineating certain facts about puberty.)

And when we’d finished, we put the dictionary away and went on our way, proudly able to tell the boys in the class that we knew all about sex. Because, you know, dictionary.

If our parents and teachers had known what we were up to, would they have demanded they remove dictionaries from the school room? Probably not. They probably did the same thing when they were children.

But the question is moot. Because our teachers and parents didn’t know. And why would they? We were at school. Using school resources. In a safe, school-based environment. Sure, we were giggling a lot, but we weren’t smuggling in magazines, or reading erotica. We were looking up information in a state-sanctioned, parent-purchased educational resource.

Fast forward to today.

Most kids don’t use dictionaries anymore.

Many children wouldn’t even know how to use one.

When they want to know what a word means, they refer to the state-sanctioned, parent-purchased educational resource that sits on their desk at school or at home.


Do me a favour. Go type the word ‘sex’ into Google and see what happens.

And then tell me again how important it is for children to have access to their own laptops, tablets, and phones.


Filed under Opinion

Museums, Mummies, and Modern Technology

For the last six months, the Queensland Museum has been displaying an exhibition entitled Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb. The exhibition is on loan from the British Museum, and “reveals the life and death of an Egyptian priest and tells his story through an extraordinary 3D film and an exhibition showcasing more than 100 ancient objects”.

As any parent of small boys will tell you, there is nothing cooler than a real, live Mummy. (Especially one that’s been dead for a few thousand years.)

I’ve been meaning to take Big Brother to the exhibition ever since it opened in April. But you know how it is, there’s always something. When I realised that the exhibition closes this weekend, I threw all the excuses out the window and packed the boys off for a grand museum trip.

And it was awesome.

The exhibition focuses around the mummy of a priest named Nesperennub. The mummy was discovered in a tomb at Luxor in the 1890s, and has been a prized part of the British Museum collection ever since.

Over the last decade, he’s been the subject of a really fascinating investigation. Scientists have used modern non-invasive techniques (like x-ray and CT scans) in conjunction with graphic technology to create 3D renderings of exactly what lies hidden under Nesperennub’s linen wraps. And we got to see it all.

The first part of the exhibition was a 3D movie. This described the techniques used to determine Nesperennub’s gender, age, occupation, and cause of death. It also showed how scientists were able to perform a virtual facial reconstruction on Nesperennub, and how he would have lived. Then it detailed the embalming process, and touched on the religious significance of the trinkets and amulets buried with him.

It was fascinating. But to be honest, the highlight for me was that the movie was narrated by Jean Luc Picard.


I’m sorry, my husband has just informed me that referring to such a great man by one of his character’s name is insulting and potentially offensive. I apologise.

The movie was narrated by Professor X.

So there we were, sitting in a darkened room at the Queensland Museum, with the Professor’s calm voice washing over us as we watched Nesperennub’s 3000-year-old face take shape in glorious 3D based on nothing more than virtual measurements of a skull.  And all I could think was….

Holy macaroni! The Angelator is real!

Also, the exhibition was good.

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Filed under Random Stuff, The Inner Geek