We are delighted to kick off our International Masturbation Month celebration with Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn. Stay tuned for more interviews with women we love throughout the month.
Who inspires you and why?
People inspire me. People are just wonderful. I meet so many incredible people making their way in the world in really interesting ways, and read about so many more.
Within that, I am feeling particularly inspired right now by the amazing female founders I keep encountering in the sextech world. I love the fact that women are the primary innovators and disruptors in this area, that we’re finally not just owning our sexuality but coming up with ventures and technologies to change the world through sex for women and for men.
And I am also inspired on a daily basis by my own team. MLNP MadamCurator Sarah Beall and Assistant Curator Ariel Martinez do such incredible work every day managing our community and our wonderful MakeLoveNotPornstars, and I am constantly inspired just seeing them in action.
We love the way women are becoming empowered around sexual pleasure. What’s your favorite example, story, or anecdote about this?
Well, I wouldn’t call this my ‘favorite’ anecdote, but it’s one that made a profound impression on me. Five years ago I spoke about MakeLoveNotPorn at TEDxYouthSantaMonica, at Santa Monica High School. I was mobbed by teenagers subsequently, boys and girls. One girl spoke to me confidentially asking for help. She was 17, having sex with her boyfriend, but she didn’t enjoy it and she’d never had an orgasm. Along with the usual advice I give in this scenario (buy a vibrator, learn what makes you come, show your boyfriend), I asked her if she was able to talk to her mother about this (I encourage parents to have open honest discussions about sex with their kids as much as possible). She said, ‘Oh yes, I have, but she can’t help me, she says she’s never had an orgasm either.’
Imagine a gender flip on what currently happens. Imagine if every woman went into every sexual encounter automatically expecting to orgasm as her god-given right, and imagine if every man went into every sexual encounter automatically expecting not to orgasm and feeling surprised and grateful if he did.
At MLNP we believe in a 1:1 orgasm ratio. Each partner should match the other in number of orgasms, and each partner should be equally dedicated to the other’s pleasure. Then everybody wins.
William Blake, the 19th century poet, wrote:
“What is it men in women do require? The lineaments of gratified desire.
What is it women do in men require? The lineaments of gratified desire.”
Blake was being heteronormative, obviously, but this applies to everyone. The biggest turn-on in the world is to know that your partner is having a wonderful time sexually because of you. Women more empowered to own and achieve sexual pleasure means much happier women, much happier men, much happier everyone, a much happier world.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting to think and learn about sex?
It’s a wonderful, beautiful thing that you should enjoy as much as possible.
What do you think has changed the most since you first started working on ideas about women’s sex and pleasure?
I should emphasize that MakeLoveNotPorn is gender-equal. We exist to help make it easier to talk about sex, and therefore to enhance sex and pleasure for both women and men equally (and everyone in-between).
MLNP came out of my direct personal experience dating younger men and beginning to observe, nine years ago, that in the absence of open healthy discussion of sex IRL, porn had become sex education by default. Nine years ago nobody was talking about this. The media wasn’t covering it. I realized this in isolation, said to myself, wow, if I’m experiencing this other people must be as well, and decided to do something about it without having any idea of the real extent of the issue. When I launched MakeLoveNotPorn at TED in 2009 I was gobsmacked by the scale of the response, and I realized this was a huge global issue. https://makelovenotporn.tv/ is literally the startup the world asked for.
So what has changed, is that now this issue is everywhere in the media, which is good for us. What is not good is that the media loves the linkbait of ‘OMG PORN!’ and lots of scaremongering and shock-horror coverage. They’re a lot less interested in celebrating, championing and supporting those of us who’ve actually been tackling this issue in a highly innovative way for the past eight years, and building a whole new category on the internet that hasn’t previously existed – social sex.
That’s why I don’t wait for things to change, I make them change. I’m pioneering and championing sextech as a category and educating the tech and business world about it in order to help us all find investors, business partners, support and ultimately huge business success and social benefit. I’m doing what I tell other entrepreneurs to do: when you have a truly worldchanging startup, you have to change the world to fit it, not the other way round.
What are the best parts or biggest challenges of your own journey as a sex-positive creator?
The best parts are, far and away, our amazing community at MakeLoveNotPorn. Our members write to us every day to thank us for what we’re doing. Our MakeLoveNotPornstars share their incredible #realworldsex and their stories of how socially sharing sex is as transformative as socially sharing everything else. MLNP is sextech that brings people closer together in the real world, and we love that we have so much proof of concept and traction for that.
The biggest challenge is finding investors. VCs pour millions of dollars into trivial apps, but won’t touch sextech. Our primary obstacle raising funding for MLNP is the social dynamic I call ‘fear of what other people will think’. It’s never what the person I’m talking to thinks – when you understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, you can’t argue with it; the business case is clear – it’s their fear of what they think other people will think, which operates around sex more than any other area. The irony is that when everyone else is thinking the same thing, the investors who realize the huge financial opportunity in normalizing and socializing sex and are the first to break through that dynamic are the ones who win. Victoria Cullen put it very well in her blog post inspired by us:
Every other big bet ever made in the history of tech, pales against sextech. Investors who have the foresight and the open-mindedness to realize that, please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂