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Make Love Not Porn: Cindy Gallop’s Sexual Revolution

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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.

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.

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Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."