Make Love, Not Porn

Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, believes there is an opportunity to reinvent the porn industry in Britain. She tells how it can ultimately be turned into something “to be proud of”

Cindy Gallop believes you can change the world through sex; her team are looking to try and make sex better for all of us. “We are working to change the world of sex and porn for the better. The world of business is doing everything it possibly can to stop us, where’s the sense in that?”

In an open letter to David Cameron, ‘Don’t Block Porn, Disrupt It’, she calls on the Prime Minister to ‘Reinvent human sexuality as entertainment in innovative, healthier ways, and turn the British porn industry into something to be proud of.’

Cindy is the woman behind the website MakeLoveNotPorn, a sharing platform that celebrates ‘real world sex’, and anyone from anywhere in the world can submit videos of themselves. Cindy insists it’s not about performing to the camera, “it’s simply about recording what goes on in the real world, in all its funny, glorious, messy and wonderful humanness.”

MakeLovenotPorn was a product of Cindy’s sexual experiences with younger men. “About six years ago I realised that I was encountering an issue that would simply never have crossed my mind, if I’d not encountered it very intimately and personally. I found myself encountering, a number if you like, sexual behavioural means, and thinking Wooahh I know where that behaviour is coming from. And if I’m encountering this, then other people must be as well and I want to do something about it.”

“we all watch porn and we never talk about it”

Cindy found young men attempting to emulate the performances they’d seen watching hard core porn, something she believes only happens when today’s total freedom of access to online porn is allowed to flourish in a society reluctant to talk openly about sex. “It’s the intersection of those two dynamics that results in porn becoming, by default, the sex education of today.”

MakeLoveNotPorn is not anti- porn, and Cindy’s tagline is pro sex, pro porn, and pro knowing the difference. The team curate and view every video to make sure they are real, and operate a revenue sharing business model, where you pay to rent real life sex videos. 50 % of that income then goes to the contributor, or as Cindy likes to call them “MakeLoveNotPorn stars.”

Whilst most of us might cower away from the prospect of actually recommending young people to engage with pornography, could ‘real sex’ and ‘normal’ body types help navigate young people to find their way to those parts of the porn landscape that could be actively helpful?

The advertising consultant, founder and former chair of the US branch of advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty, launched her website during a TEDTalk during the 2009 conference. To this day, Cindy is the only Ted speaker to have used the words ‘come in my face’ six times in succession. The talk went viral as a result; it drove an extraordinary response and went global immediately.

Cindy received a barrage of emails, from 15 year old boys to fifty year old women, all craving sexual advice. It was the cumulative effect of those emails that made Cindy begin to have the feeling she had the personal responsibility to take this initiative forward, and in a way that would make it more far reaching.

“We all watch porn and we never talk about it. So porn exists in a parallel universe, in a shadowy underworld, and porn therefore lacks a number of the tools that we use in other parts of our society and lives to improve them. There is no Yelp for porn and there really should be. And by the way that’s a billion dollar business idea, because this landscape needs navigation.”

Porn is like literature, Cindy tells me, and she has a huge issue with people talking about porn as if it’s one big homogenous mass. “That’s like using the term literature as if it’s all the same.” It is a vast landscape of many genres, sub-genres, styles and approaches that are just as varied across just as huge a spectrum as literature.

“there is no Yelp for porn and there really should be”

Cindy has a particular perspective on the ‘pornification’ of our culture, which very few are articulating. She believes everything that worries people about porn, and everything that worries people about Miley Cyrus, is entirely driven by business reasons. This perspective is only rare “because the people whose brilliant brains populate the pages of the Harvard business review have no interest concerning any of that brilliance on the adult industry. And they should.”

“Porn is like any other industry sector that I study as a business person. It’s gotten so big it’s now gotten conventional. So porn has rules of convention which is why so much is repetitive and boring.” The porn industry has fallen to the syndrome Cindy calls collaborative competition, when everyone in a sector is doing exactly the same thing everybody else in the sector is doing. And it’s taking a hit because its world business model is being destroyed by the advent of free porn online, and it hasn’t invented a new one.

Every dynamic cited is also true of the music industry, journalism, publishing, television, and of advertising. “It just the way those dynamics manifest in porn is much more controversial and distressing. So I regularly have to explain to people the reasons for the explosive growth and extreme violent porn is not evil, twisted, malignant, vicious forces of work within the porn industry. It is not due to ‘OH MY GOD we’ve all become more depraved and corrupted human beings. It’s due to, very prosaically and boringly, a bunch of guys scared shitless because they’re not making money, doing what bunches of guys scared shitless not making money do in any industry.”

The porn industry is male dominated at the top. Cindy is adamant that the day we have a porn industry that is 50/50 equally, informed, influenced, designed and managed by women as well as men, will be the day we have a porn industry that looks “very, very different, and in fact a much better industry, creating much more interesting, innovative and disruptive products.”

The argument is that currently all industries are male-dominated at the top and therefore male-biased in their targeting and focus. As many women as men running the porn industry would see the industry targeting 50 per cent of its product equally at women and men, as opposed to currently mistakenly thinking men are the only targets for porn. The same thing absolutely goes for the music industry. “The day we have a music industry 50/50 equally managed and led by women as well as men, that therefore makes 50 per cent of its money from women as well as men, and makes 50 per cent of its money out of female musicians just as much as male musicians, is the day we have a music industry where women express themselves and their sexuality in the way they want to, and not as packages created by men, and reflected back to themselves through the male gaze.”

“Women want to listen to male singers; fewer men want to listen to female singers. And as long as you have a male dominated music industry, you have men packaging female singers.”

“people are dying to talk about sex”

The entrepreneur is all for women expressing themselves sexually, but she wants to know how they really want to express themselves, as opposed to, “‘here’s the male selling machine, now you need to prove you’re not a kid anymore, go out there and be sexual in the way that all the male rap artists are representing sexuality, which is a bunch of hoes dancing around in the background.”

The biggest problem for Cindy is that people classify anything involving “naked people fucking as porn.” And there’s an automatic negative connotation to that term. “Porn actually, in the broadest possible sense, is extremely useful, particularly in a society that refuses to talk about sex openly and honestly.” We operate this “ludicrously artificial compartmentalised approach to sex in the real world,” and so that option does not exist.

Cindy has made a conscious decision to take every dynamic that exists out there in social media, and apply them to the one area that no other social media platform is ever going to go. “Our mission is to socialise sex, and to make real world sex socially acceptable and therefore just as socially sharable as anything else we currently share on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter and Instagram.”

For the team behind MakeLoveNotPorn, the issue here isn’t porn; the issue is our complete failure as a society to talk openly and honestly about sex. “And so the answer to everything that worries people about porn right now is not to shut down, clamp down, censor, block, repress. The answer is to open up. People are dying to talk about sex, we all have it, and we all enjoy it.”

Featured Image Credited to Bert Werk

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