Meet the Female Entrepreneur Harnessing the Power of More Ethical Porn

Meet the Female Entrepreneur Harnessing the Power of More Ethical Porn

"I date younger men," Cindy Gallop states in the opening line of her 2009 TED talk. "Predominately men in their 20s. 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 increasing ubiquity of hardcore pornography in our culture."

This recognition — that today's "total freedom of access to hardcore porn online" conflicts with "our society's equally total reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex" — inspired the entrepreneur to create Make Love Not Porn, an educational website that balances the myths about hardcore porn with reality. 

The tagline of the project, "Pro sex, pro porn, pro knowing the difference," reflects Gallop's goal of making porn more ethical — and revolutionizing sex at the same time.

Cindy Gallop  Bobby Longoria/Getty Images

Alternative sex ed: Gallop felt such a resource was necessary in the context of a culture that eschews comprehensive sex education while allowing porn, which is often violent and misogynistic, to not only proliferate, but also, in some instances, to serve as a damaging proxy for sex education altogether. 

While the website seeks to demystify porn, Gallop is clear that the issue isn't porn itself, nor is porn inherently misogynistic. The real problem is the stigma that surrounds sex in general and porn in particular. 

"Porn exists in a parallel universe, a shadowy otherworld," Gallop told Wired in 2013. "When you force anything into the shadows and underground, you make it a lot easier for bad things to happen, and a lot harder for good things to happen."

This results in a cultural landscape in which the attitudes promoted in hardcore porn may become ingrained in children, who access it at increasingly young ages — one survey, for example, found that the average age at which children view porn is 11 years old. Young children also often encounter this type of porn in "an environment where very few parents can bring themselves to talk to their kids about sex."  

Source: Getty

"Porn sex" vs. "real sex": While curiosity about sex and the desire to watch porn is neither abnormal nor inherently damaging, porn's images can shape children's conceptions of sex. If teens equate porn sex with "real" sex, "they are likely to feel pressured to perform when they start having sex with a partner," Sari Locker, sex educator and developmental psychology instructor at Columbia University, Teachers College told Mic. "They may miss out on true intimacy and may have a difficult time feeling a natural connection with their partner and with their own sexuality if they are just performing."

Make Love Not Porn's mission is to disrupt this reality by making it easier for people to talk about sex. "We are that external resource, that external prompt that enables people to open up and have this conversation in a way that they don't feel able to normally," Gallop told Mic. And, she noted, if her inbox is any indication, people are starved for this conversation. People pour their hearts out to me on email," Gallop told Mic. People "tell me things about their sex lives and their porn-watching habits that they never tell anybody else before. They write for advice."

People "tell me things about their sex lives and their porn-watching habits that they never tell anybody else before. They write for advice." 

Crowd-sourced #realworldsex: Make Love Not Porn is setting its sights past mere information distribution to actual demonstration, in the form of MakeLoveNotPorn.TV, a user-generated, crowd-sourced video-sharing platform that celebrates "real world" sex. Money generated benefits both the platform and the #realworldsex contributors who contribute. 

Gallop created the platform, which is still in beta, so that "people who have amazing #realworldsex can share their videos and get compensated for it and help other people without having to bang their heads against btureaucracy and hypocrisy and Puritanism in the way that we do every day," she told Mic. "We want Make Love Not Porn stars to be like YouTube stars — as celebrated for their authenticity, realness and individuality and ultimately making just as much money."

Source: TED/YouTube

The fact that this has rarely been done before hardly dissuades Gallop. "When you have a truly world changing start up you have to change the world to fit it and not the other way around," she said. But changing the world in this way has proven difficult — not just in terms of the social stigma she regularly encounters but also in her tangible attempts to build the business. "Every single piece of business infrastructure any other start-up can at least take for granted we can't because the small print always says 'no adult content,'" Gallop said. 

"We want Make Love Not Porn stars to be like YouTube stars."

But somebody has to pave the way, and Gallop is proudly willing to do so. "We're creating change from the bottom up," she said. "The answer to everything that worries people about porn and sex today is not to shut down, censor, clamp down, block, repress. It's to open up."

While disrupting damaging cultural attitudes about sex and overhauling the porn industry may seem like immensely complex endeavors, Gallop believes Make Love Not Porn's goal is a simple one. 

"Ultimately we want to change how the world has sex for the better," she says. And who could argue with that?