Make Love Not Porn: Cindy Gallop’s Sexual Revolution

Make Love Not Porn:

Cindy Gallop’s Sexual Revolution

Cover Photo Courtesy of Newsweek

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Someone’s gotta do it. And according to Cindy Gallop, she might as well be the one. The 57-year-old advertising veteran, celebrated TED speaker and spirited entrepreneur is as unabashed by four-letter-words as she is starting businesses in industries that most would steer clear from. Inspired by her tenacious desire to change the world, Gallop has launched a progressive digital platform that is meant to change the way we view and talk about sex. Gallop speaks to SWAAY about how she plans to shift the sexual narrative through her Make Love Not Porn initiative. Gallop believes that by making it socially acceptable to talk openly about human sexuality and the ethics surrounding sexual behavior, we can decrease incidents of sexual abuse and harassment.

Courtesy of Microsoft

“Our mission is one thing only: to help make it easier for the world to talk about sex in the public domain,” says Gallop. “And to also talk about sex honestly and openly in relationships. We don’t talk about sex  because it’s an area of rampant insecurity. We all get vulnerable when we get naked. Sexual ego is very fragile. Everybody wants to be good in bed, but nobody knows exactly what that means and you seize your cues from anywhere you can. So if porn is the only place you see it, those are the cues you are going to take, which does not produce very good results.”

Gallop, who worked at the advertising agency BBH for almost two decades, says that after turning 45 in 2005, and she had her “own personal midlife crisis” and thought “oh my God I’ve been working for the same agency for 16 years and I think it’s time to do something different.” She had no idea, however, what that “different” entailed. Ultimately, Gallop said she found herself drawn to topics that were far from mainstream, including sex, women’s advocacy and philanthropy. She went on to found two startups: IfWeRanTheWorld, a co-action software that enables brands to implement the model of philanthropic business, and MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a user-generated video-sharing platform that celebrates real-world sex.

“[Leaving my job] was the best bloody thing I ever did in my life. As a result, I am now evangelical about working for yourself. I tell everybody that, especially women,” says Gallop. “Too many people make the mistake of thinking that a job is the safe option. And it’s totally not. In a job, you’re at the complete mercy of market downturns, management changes and industry dynamics, and I say to people, whose hands would you rather place your future in?”

Gallop’s newest project, MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, features everyday men and women and their partners having sex, and is designed to help open up the dialogue surrounding intimacy, and offer an option for sexual discussion that is not porn. “The internet has divided itself into two categories, non-sexual content and porn,” says Gallop, who is adamant that her site is not porn, but a type of sex technology. “Sexual content is not porn,” she declares.

 In 2009, Gallop took to the TED stage, delivering a talk on the difference between porn and social sex. The speech went viral due to its revolutionary approach to the subject matter of sex. The fact that Gallop said “come on my face” six times also didn’t hurt the speech’s popularity.

“I realized I had uncovered a huge global social issue and felt a personal responsibility to take this initiative forward to make it more far-reaching,” says Gallop. “ I knew that if I wanted to counter the global phenomenon of porn as  the default sex-ed, I was going to have to come up with something that had the potential to be just as influential, just as mainstream, and just as all-pervasive in our society as porn currently is.”

Today, Gallop’s platform has 400,000 members; and features 200 Make-Love Porn stars who have uploaded more than 1,500 videos, Gallop says the platform began bringing in revenue on day one, with a revenue of half a million to date.

Courtesy of AdWeek

“Anyone from anywhere in the world can submit to us,” says Gallop. “We’re building a whole new category on the internet that hasn’t existed before – social sex. So our competition isn’t porn, it’s Facebook and YouTube. On MakeLoveNotPorn, it’s: we’re madly in love, and here’s the great sex we had in our hotel room in Paris.”

Although she is up against a number of hurdles, including the difficulty of getting funding for the sex-focused business, Gallop is intent on creating a sexual revolution for the modern world.

Cindy on the porn industry

The porn industry is tanking and that’s why they are grateful I’m helping redesign the business model. Porn has become so big it’s become conventional. It has fallen prey to the business syndrome I call “collaborative competition,” which happens when everybody in the sector competes with everyone else in the same sector by doing exactly what each other is doing. It’s a bad idea. Porn is [failing] because its old-world-order business model has been destroyed by the flood of free content online.

“The explosive growth of violent porn is not driven by evil, twisted, malignant, vicious forces. It’s driven by, very boringly and prosaically, a bunch of guys scared shitless because they aren’t making any money.”

On porn guilt

I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as porn addiction. One journalist asked me, “why do you think it is that we like watching people having sex?” And I just started laughing hysterically. I burst out, “We are sexual beings! Of course we like watching people having sex.”  However, there is absolutely the fact that watching a lot of porn also makes a lot of people unhappy. Half the problem is the shame, guilt and embarrassment. The issue isn’t porn. The issue is we don’t talk about sex in the real world. Nobody ever brings it up, but they should. Because in sex, empathy, sensitivity, generosity, kindness, and honesty are just as important as they are in every other area of our lives, where we are actively taught to exercise those values.

Cindy Gallop by Jonathan Grassi
On millennial porn stars

Millennials in porn are like millennials anywhere else: entrepreneurial, ambitious, questioning and challenging the old world order and wanting to be part of the new. Make Love Not Porn is the only place on the Internet where porn stars reveal the sex they have in the real world. My gay, straight, lesbian, and trans friends share on Make Love Not Porn videos of the sex they have with their real-world partners and they talk about how different it is.

On the difference between porn and social sex

The reason amateur sex has the most explosive growth has nothing to do with porn. It has everything to do with the fact that everybody else wants to know what people are really doing bed. When you learn about sex from porn it teaches you that sex is a performance – that nothing must go wrong. We, on the other hand, celebrate the accidents, the awkwardness, and the ridiculousness. Real world sex and social sex are enormously reassuring because we celebrate real-world everything: real-world bodies, real-world hair, real-world penis size, and real-world breast size. It is glorious to see people who look just like you and me having a fucking amazing time in bed. We celebrate real-world emotions: love, intimacy, and feelings. You are being invited into somebody else’s real-world life, and that’s a privilege and an honor. When you watch two human beings love each other in the same way you do with your loved one, that completely changes your perspective.

On the language of porn

The language of porn is predominantly male-generated, since porn is a male-dominated industry. I’ve designed the MakeLoveNotPorn business model to be the exact opposite of the porn industry. Because society doesn’t talk openly about sex, we have no socially-acceptable vocabulary with which to do so, and the language of porn has rushed in to fill that gap. The person who coined the term “finger-blasting” didn’t have a vagina. At MakeLoveNotPorn, we’re building a new vocabulary for real-world sex. It’s language designed to make all of you feel better about having sex. We are changing the way the world has sex for the better. We don’t have enough role models in society who demonstrate you can live your life very differently from how society expects you to, and still be extraordinarily happy.

On sexual harassment

I talk about sexual harassment at every single business speech I do, regardless of the company. I always have two points to make, one for the men, one for the women.

 I say to the men, “stop sexual harassment, stop doing it and stop other men from doing it. All it takes for sexual harassment to flourish is for good men to see nothing. I say to the audience, “In every industry, there are good men who are seeing nothing.” Then I give actions men can take to stop sexual harassment. They include: Check the body language of the women around them. If she’s hunching in on herself there’s something going on; step in. And then I say, “women, call it out because if nobody speaks out, nothing changes.” Sexual harassment forces women out of industries. It derails careers, destroys ambitions, and defeats dreams. The world is significantly worse off due to the colossal amount of female talent, skills and creativity every single industry has lost because of sexual harassment.

On why sexual harassment in the workplace remains a problem

I have been campaigning for all of this [diversity and an end to sexual harassment in the workplace] for years and nothing is changing. Why? It’s very simple. At the top of every industry is a closed loop of white guys talking to white guys about other white guys. Those white guys are sitting very pretty. They’ve got their enormous salaries, their gigantic bonuses, their huge pools of stock options, their lavish expense accounts. Why on earth would they ever want to rock the boat? They have to talk about diversity because it’s the buzzword of the moment. They have to have a “chief diversity officer” and a “diversity mission” in place. They have to say “diversity” a lot in the media. But secretly deep down inside they don’t want to change a thing because the system is working just fine for them as it currently is.

On how to stop sexual harassment

Change the ratio and change the numbers as quickly as possible. You need to change the numbers to get to a 50/50 gender-equal work environment. You have to “bulk-buy” by hiring groups, not individuals, and that is important because the moment you have a gender-equal working environment you instantly manage out a bunch of negative dynamics that you don’t then even have to address directly. You instantly manage out sexual harassment. It doesn’t happen when you don’t have a male-dominated workplace with the implicit growth endorsement that it’s OK to behave like this.

On diversity vs. inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are two very different things. You can have one and be spectacularly failing at the other. One woman on a management team is useless because the alien organism has to adapt to the culture around it. She has to become like men, and we all know women who have done that. If we know there is only room for one token women on the leadership team, they are forced to compete with other women for that position. Two women are still not enough to make a difference. The optimum number is three or more women. What that means is when there are three or more of you, you feel surrounded and supported by your own kind. You therefore have the confidence to say what you really think. You have the confidence to debate with those white guys and boards with three or more women on them. Both the male and female directors report a better quality of discussion, better decision making and better business outcomes.

On funding for Make Love Not Porn

What I didn’t realize when I embarked on this venture was that my team and I would encounter an enormous battle every single day to build it. Every piece of business infrastructure any other tech startup takes for granted, we can’t use because the small print always says “no adult content.” It’s challenging getting funded. It took me four years to find a bank that would allow me to open a business account, and Paypal won’t work with our content. We had to build our entire video streaming platform from scratch ourselves as a proprietary technology because existing streaming services will not stream adult content.  OOur biggest obstacle raising funding is the social dynamic that I call “fear of what will other people think.” It’s not what investors will think, it’s what they think others will think, and this operates around sex more than in any other area. It’s the most paralyzing dynamic in business and in life. You will never own the future if you care what other people think. So I realized I was going to have to pave my own way, and would have to break down the business barriers in my own path if I want to make Make Love Not Porn into the billion-dollar venture I know it could be.

On creating the world’s first sex tech fund

When you have a truly world-changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it, and not the other way around. I like to say that I’m the Steve Jobs of reality distortion because if reality tells me that I can’t grow Make Love Not Porn the way I want to, I’m going to change that reality. Two and a half years ago I began defining, pioneering and championing my own category of sex tech to create a climate of receptivity in order to get my startup funded. I have found that businesses are interested but they are all waiting for that lead investor and I haven’t yet found that person. So I realized I had to take this to the next level and that in order to get my own startup funded I had to get the whole category funded. I’m now doing two things simultaneously: working to raise $2 million for Make Love Not Porn, but also raising $50 million to start the world’s first and only sex-tech fund, because if no one else is going to do it then I will. I haven’t the faintest idea how you start a fund, but I’m going to do it. If I can do all that, I also want to start an incubator and accelerator for radically innovative porn startups. I want to be the Y Combinator of porn. There is nobody in that world to mentor, coach, advise, and finance, the vision I have for the future of sex tech. I want to invest in the infrastructure of sex-tech so that we can build our own ecosystem that will make the industry explode.

Belisa Silva

Belisa is an editor with more than 10 years of experience. Prior to SWAAY, she worked as freelance writer, covering lifestyle, fashion and beauty industries. Belisa was a Market Editor at Women's Wear Daily for five years, where she interviewed rockstar business women like Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez and Iman. Belisa also contributes to Cosmetic Executive Women, where she highlights female executives making an impact in the beauty industry.

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