TEDx to talk trans spaces and gay porn

by Emily Tanaka / Beacon Correspondent • April 7, 2016

From the visibility of the transgender community to why women watch gay male porn, TEDxEmersonCollege will feature six speeches from the Emerson community, according to Christina Safford, the event’s speaker coordinator and sophomore political communications major.

TED—Technology, Entertainment, and Design—is a non-profit that conducts informative talks on subjects that are applicable to the broader community. Emerson’s independently produced version of the event is slated to take place on April 9. The theme, “Evolution through Expression,” comes from the college’s original motto, “Expression Necessary for Evolution.”  All of the speeches are based off of prompts that are both interesting and prominent to the college’s community.  

Alumna Ashley Cunningham said she will conduct her talk on why women watch gay male porn, focusing on gender relations in regard to creating an erotic safe space.  She looks at why so many women feel better watching gay male porn and how that relates to how our society views female sexuality, Cunningham said. Cunningham, a marketing communication major, graduated in December 2015. 

Cunningham’s TED talk is based on the thesis she wrote in the honors program at Emerson. Though her paper is available online, she said she had intended to make her research available in a format that people could more easily understand.

“An 80-page thesis is not necessarily something accessible,” Cunningham said.  

Another speaker is Sam Amore, a junior journalism major and Beacon correspondent. They said they will talk about creating transgender-inclusive spaces in colleges and universities.  They wanted a platform to speak about how to be inclusive of someone who doesn’t live within the gender binary or identify within the social constructs of “male” or “female.” 

Amore said they hope to use their talk to spread awareness of suicide rates in the trans community, and the relationship between identity and personal pronouns. 

“TED has a very few talks about transgender issues,” Amore said. “There’s nothing like what I’m doing. So I’m hoping to generate enough traffic where people at other colleges or universities will look at it and say, ‘Okay, this is something we need to pay attention to.’” 

Cunningham, Amore, and the others were chosen in late February by a speaker committee.  Safford said she and three to five of the 10 committee members interviewed the potential speakers, and later chose speeches that were the most original and had the best evidential support. 

The venue is Tufte Studio A, which only holds 50 people. Students will have to enter a lottery online to get seats to see the show live, according to Anastassia Tenewitz, the event’s content executive producer and sophomore visual media arts major.  

President M. Lee Pelton will be making the opening remarks and other members of the administration will be invited as audience members, according to Tenewitz.  

“They’ve been excited because it’s going to be good for the school,” Tenewitz said. “It’ll be good publicity for the school, it’s also a good way to promote the community here at Emerson.” 

The program is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The TEDxEmersonCollege website will broadcast the event live, and individual speeches will be uploaded after the event, according to Tenewitz.

 

Sam Amore uses they/them pronouns.

 

Deputy news editor Katherine Burns, who is friends with Amore, did not edit this piece.