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CNN’s Christiane Amanpour needed a break — so she traveled the world, talking about sex

Amanpour got the idea for “Sex and Love Around the World” while brushing her teeth.

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Celebrated international TV journalist Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, knows where she was when she decided to make a show about sex: Brushing her teeth, listening to a radio story about the Syrian refugee crisis.

“What I thought was, ‘Self, you have done all this extreme reporting in the most extreme parts of the world,’” Amanpour recalled on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “‘You’ve watched and reported individuals cope with sniping and shelling and genocide and disease and famine and natural disasters. You’ve told that story.’”

“As I was listening to this radio thing, I thought, ‘What about women and girls?’” she added. “What about how you live, how you maintain your dignity, how you maintain your intimate relations, how do you keep your partnership going? How does a mother keep her daughter safe and not off to some forced marriage? Do they talk about sex, mothers and girls in villages in Afghanistan?”

The resulting series, which premieres tonight on CNN, pointedly avoided the TV-ready world of sex workers and adult film stars, focusing on regular people in places like Berlin, Delhi and Japan. Speaking with Recode’s Kara Swisher in front of a live audience at South By Southwest 2018, Amanpour said the experience of filming it convinced her that men are “liberated to respect us as human beings.”

“We cannot do this without the support of our male relatives, our male bosses, our male friends, whoever it might be,” she said. “This is not women against men, men against women. This has to be the beginning of a real joining at the hip, to win this struggle once and for all.”

On the new podcast, Amanpour also talked about the era of “false news,” which she stressed did not begin with Donald Trump. However, the American president has weaponized falsehoods to the detriment of journalism, she said.

“[He] has therefore lowered the bar of what’s acceptable, in terms of treating journalists and fact, and has also empowered the worst kinds of leaders around the world, who have no respect for independent journalism or the truth,” Amanpour said, “That’s all a problem. Now we understand that, we just have to keep up the good fight. We all need to be implicated in this, we all need to be involved in this.”

When Swisher noted that the leading social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have resisted calling themselves media companies, Amanpour was surprised.

“Well, it’s just bullshit, isn’t it?” she said of YouTube’s aversion to the label. “And it’s just lies. When you’re under attack, you have to figure out how to get out of the hole and fortify your boundaries. I don’t understand why they keep saying that and why they keep letting stuff happen to them. How much bad publicity can they take? How many devastating consequences in society do they want to be blamed for?”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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