“I date younger men, predominantly men in their twenties, and when I date younger men, I have sex with younger men. And when I have sex with younger men I encounter, very directly and personally, the real ramifications of the creeping ubiquity of hardcore pornography in our culture.”
This is how Cindy Gallop, advertising consultant, entrepreneur, and unabashed bad ass, opened her 2009 TED talk launching MakeLoveNotPorn.com. In the brief, but frank presentation, Gallop asserted that our puritanical, hypocritical culture that refuses to prioritize effective sex education has left porn, which is more accessible than ever, as the first (and sometimes only) information about sex that young people receive.
Make no mistake, Gallop is not the typical anti-porn crusader; in fact, she’s not anti-porn at all. She’ll be the first to tell you that she watches it regularly herself. Her issue is that most mainstream porn only presents one perspective, largely because the porn industry is primarily run by straight cisgendered men for straight cisgendered men.
Folks in both feminist and queer spaces have been working toward changing the dominant narrative in porn for over thirty years now, and the movement to discuss porn without resorting to blanket censorship has been gaining more publicity and traction. They have become their own little niches, bringing along all the bodies, genders, and orientations to the porn party. The Feminist Porn Book came out in February of this year, and in conjunction with the Feminist Porn Awards, the first annual Feminist Porn Conference took place in April of 2013 in Toronto.
The Make Love, Not Porn campaign started as a website that compared the “porn world” to the “real world,” offering examples where the norms in porn weren’t living up to the diversity of reality. The “real world” corrections are non-judgmental, and simply remove the idea that porn is absolutely representative of all sexual experiences. The site also allowed people to create their own submissions if they felt there were things they were seeing in porn that weren’t always reflecting variety.
Gallop has been working to expand her vision for Make Love, Not Porn: The beta version of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a website that allows people to record and submit their own personal sex tapes, was recently launched.
MakeLoveNotPorn.tv provides a platform for visitors to rent “#realworldsex videos” for five dollars per video, no matter its length. Users can watch the video as many times as they want for the next three weeks. The site states that the videos on the site “[are] not porn. [They are] not 'amateur. 'Amateur' implies the only people doing it right are the professionals and the rest of us are bumbling idiots.”
Gallop, ever the savvy businesswoman, insists that the issue isn’t that porn is inherently degrading to women, but that “business degrades porn.” She went on to tell Huff Post Live, “Very ironically one of the things that creates problems is the fact that they're not allowed to do business under the same conditions as everyone else.”
Unlike the anti-porn brigade’s criticisms, which often rely on an outdated feminism that vilifies sex workers, Gallop effectively addresses the issues within the porn industry while being realistic about human sexuality and its many manifestations. She adamantly believes that opening the forum and allowing the complexities of sexual expression to be as accessible as the typical porn most people are accustomed to will create a better world.
Our culture needs a shift in perspective when it comes to fucking, and Gallop is a spectacular voice amongst the community working to make it happen. In the words of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv’s homepage, we need to be “Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.”
If you’d like to find out more about Cindy Gallop, the self-proclaimed “Michael Bay of business,” you can check out her website and follow her on Twitter. If you want to learn a little bit more about Make Love, Not Porn, you can check out this fantastic article from the Sociological Images blog. She also has the coolest apartment in New York City.