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Debby Herbenick on Making Sex Normal at TEDxBloomington Transcript

Debby Herbenick

Full text of Making Sex Normal by Debby Herbenick at TEDxBloomington conference.

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These days I work as a sex researcher and educator. But when I first accepted a job in 1999 at the Kinsey Institute for Research in sex, gender and reproduction, I was really nervous to tell my family that I would be working in sex research. I was particularly nervous to tell my grandmother.

Now my grandparents lived around the corner for my family and I growing up and I was really close with them, and they were loving and kind and generous people and also very Catholic and very traditional, and people who didn’t talk about sex. But when I went to Boston to visit my grandmother and I told her about the job that I was taking, she surprised me by saying that she was proud of me and that she thought it was really important work to be doing. And this was not the grandmother that I knew. But then she told me a story that helped me to understand.

This is my grandmother and my mom as a young girl. My granny told me that she and my grandfather had tried for years to become pregnant and when they finally did, it was a dream come true for them. Until she went into labor and it was only in the midst of labor that she learned for the first time that her baby would be delivered not through her stomach, which is how she thought babies left the body, but through her vagina, although she didn’t use the word vagina when she told me the story.

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