“We end rape culture by doing something incredibly simple that nevertheless, nobody else anywhere on the internet is doing. We end rape culture by showing you how wonderful, great consensual communicative sex is in the real world.”
The bold claims are made by Cindy Gallop – a trailblazing woman if ever there was one.
An “action oriented” person, as she describes herself, she is aiming to change our shame-based culture around sex.
Born in England in 1960 to an English father and a Malaysian Chinese mother, she worked for years in the advertising world. She rose through the ranks of this male dominated world, and in 1998, was appointed the Chair of the Board of the British BBH advertising company franchise in the US.
In 2003 she won the Advertising Women of the Year Award.
But Gallop was just beginning.
Not resting on her laurels at the top of the advertising world, she then switched direction and decided to become the world’s positive sex education specialist.
Her tool: a clunky, self-financed website that was meant to discuss the differences between porn and real-world sex.
A TED talk she gave quickly went viral, and Gallop turned the website to the world’s first – and only – user-generated, human-curated, social-sex, video sharing platform.
I first heard of Gallop on Jamila Jamil’s podcast a couple of months ago, and she blew me away.
To my great surprise – she agreed!
Our talk over Zoom was one of the most interesting and thought-provoking conversations I’ve had.
I thought about editing our talk into one article, but I decided that it’s better to let her talk, in her voice words, about her mission and goals.
So here it is.
P.S – If you’re a VC and looking to make real, innovative, disruptive changes to the world – give them to Gallop.
Like, right now.
“I Felt I had a Global Responsibility To Teach The World Positive Sex Education”
One of the most enraging double standards in our society comes to dating younger people.
While Leonardo DiCaprio is pretty much free to date as many 25 year olds as he wants to, older women who date younger men are mockingly called “cougars”.
Men who date older women tend to be looked at suspiciously, and their “real” motives are questioned.
Gallop, however, does not play according to these rules.
Not only does she freely talk about her preference for dating younger men – these experiences led her to starting MakeLoveNotPorn.tv .
“Creating MLNP was an accident”, Gallop says.
“It came about because I date younger men, they tended to be in their twenties. And 14, 15 years ago, I began realizing through dating younger men that when we don’t talk openly and honestly about sex in the real world, porn becomes sex education by default in not a good way.
And, you know 14, 15 years ago, nobody was talking about this.
Nobody was writing about it.
And so this was me based on my own experience going, wow, you know if this is happening to me, it must be happening to other people as well.
And I’m a naturally action oriented person. And so I decided that I want to do something about this.
So, 13 years ago, I put up with no money, a tiny clunky website at MakeLoveNotPorn.com, that in its original iteration was just words.
The construct was porn world versus real world.
Here’s what happens in the porn world – and here’s what really happens in the real world.
I had the opportunity to launch it at Ted in 2009.
My Ted Talk went viral and it drove this extraordinary global response to my tiny website that I had never anticipated.
Thousands of people wrote to me from every single country in the world, young and old men, female, straight and gay, all pouring their hearts out.
And I realized I’d uncovered a huge global social issue.
And so that was what made me feel that I now had a personal responsibility.
I had to take MLNP forwards in a way that would make it much more reaching, helpful and effective.
But I also saw an opportunity to do what I believe in very strongly, which is that the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously.
I saw the opportunity for a big business solution to this huge, untapped global need.
I knew that if I wanted to counter the global impact of porn as default sex-ed, I would have to come up with something that at least has a potential one day to be just as mass, just as mainstream and just as all pervasive in our society as porn currently is.
And so that’s why turned, MLNP into the world’s first – and only – user-generated, human-curated, social-sex, video sharing platform.
“I created MakeLoveNotPorn.tv to take the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment out of sex”
The most important thing to me about MLNP is that it’s a shame changer.
I created MakeLoveNotPorn.tv to take the shame, guilt, and embarrassment out of sex.
And so, what we are doing is we are socializing sex.
Very simply, I took every dynamic in social media and applied them to this one area of universal human experience that no other social network platform would allow.
And so we are what Facebook would be if it allowed you to socially sexually self-express naturally.
If porn is the Hollywood blockbuster movie, MLNP is the badly needed documentary.
We are a unique window onto the funny, messy, loving, beautiful, wonderful ways we all have sex in the real world.
The important part of the power of MLNP lies, not just in what we do, but the way that we do it.
Everything about MLNP is designed to present as socialized and normalized. To bring sex out into the sunlight.
And so in the 13 years, since I first launched MLNP, we have had a universally positive response from every single person who’s encountered MLNP all around the world.
And nobody has attempted any slut shaming because there’s nothing to be ashamed about.
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“When you talk to your child about sex, you must at the same time, talk to your child about porn”
There are two very important pieces of advice that I give parents who ask me how to talk to their children about porn or sex.
It’s very important to do it as early as you can though, because there have been studies showing that today the average age at which a child is first exposed to hardcore porn online is six years old.
And that’s been the case for many years, by the way. That’s based on a BitDefender survey that came out in 2011.
So what I say to parents is, two key pieces of advice.
First of all, today, you cannot begin talking to your child about sex too early.
And when I say that, I don’t mean literally talk about sex.
What I mean is the very first time your child asks where babies come from, the very first time they play with their genitals, the most important thing isn’t even what you say, as much as how you say it.
Never ever get visibly embarrassed, never get flustered, never get angry, never shut them up, never change the topic of the conversation.
Instead, answer them calmly straightforwardly, truthfully, and you will open up a channel of communication that will be there for them, for the rest of their lives, which both of you will very much want to be the case.
And the second thing I say to parents is today, when you talk to your child about sex, you must at the same time, talk to your child about porn.
And this is a lot easier to do than most parents think.
All you have to do is say a version of what I’m about to tell you, and you dial it up or down, depending on the age of the child.
So you say to your child, Darling, we’ve just talked about sex and you know how together we watch movies and videos and cartoons where things happen that aren’t real.
Well, there are also movies and videos about sex, and they’re not real either.
And because of that, they can be quite confusing.
And so we’d rather you didn’t watch them until you’re older, but if anybody ever shows you anything like that, or you stumble across it, come and talk to us, come and talk to me.
We can explain it.
I can explain it.
That’s all you have to say.
End of conversation.
Because just by saying that you’ve done two critically important things, number one – you have set up in their minds for when they stumble across porn as they will, that it’s not real.
And secondly – you have said to them, come and talk to me, come and talk to us about it.
You’ll want them to do that because what they stumble across is like to be utterly traumatizing.
“Seeing Real World Sex Can Change What People Think of Queer & Trans Folks”
Porn can fetishizes trans, queer, and other gender-nonconforming or people with different sexual orientation.
I designed MLNP to be fully diverse and inclusive.
Our contributors, whom we call MakeLoveNotPornstars, are male, female trans, non-binary, asexual, queer, whatever.
MLNP helps people who are transitioning come to terms with everything they’re going through. We have a MLNP star right now who’s transitioning.
And they tell us that we are an incredibly important part of their journey and really helping them with acceptance.
I’m trying to raise $20 million now to scale MLNP because social sex at scale has the power to overcome and transform bias.
The nature of the MLNP brand is such that people who would never watch gay porn elsewhere, could watch gay sex on MLNP. And that video had the power to completely transform your view of what you think gay male sex is.
Because if you are homophobic, you think that gay male sex is whips, chains, dungeons, orgies. But when you have the opportunity to watch two human beings, loving each other the same way you love your partner, I believe that has the power to be transformative in terms of how you view other people whose sexualities are different from yours.
“I am pioneering a whole new category on the internet: social sex”
It’s an indication of how fucked up we are about sex that people think, oh, people having sex on video – it must be porn.
Porn is entertainment.
Porn is produced and performative, people are acting and performing.
MLNP is social sex – it’s social media like Facebook, Instagram, etcetera.
If porn is the Hollywood blockbuster movie, MLNP is the documentary.
And by the way, we don’t compete with porn.
We’re a counterpoint and a complement and a balance to it.
People like watching movies, people like watching documentaries, sometimes you’re in the mood for a movie, sometimes in the mode for a documentary.
But let’s be very clear: I do not work in porn.
I am pioneering social sex.
“Any industry that is lead by men objectified women”
Reporters often ask me – so Cindy, do you think that porn objectifies women?
And my response is – I think that any industry that is led by men at the top and dominated by them, inevitably produces output, creative product that is objectifying, offensive, and objectification of women.
And I will then point the reporter to the commercial advertising breaks in the super bowl, because advertising is as objectifying as male-centric porn
We, as women are the primary target of all advertising and marketing because we are the primary purchases of everything and the primary influence as a purchase.
And yet we are sold to ourselves all the time through the male lens.
Advertising is as fucken objectifiable, as male centric porn.
And it’s very important that people understand that this issue is the same in every single industry in popular culture.
Hollywood, movies, television, advertising, publishing, literature, etcetera.
“We have men leaving comments on our videos at MLNP saying, you make me want to be a better man”
In the 10 years we’ve been operating, we’ve observed that MLNP is especially a revelation to men.
More men write effusive emails about MLNP to us than anybody else.
More men leave amazing comments on our videos than anybody else.
We are something utterly unique that men will find nowhere else on the internet: a safe space where men can be, and watch other men being open, emotional, and vulnerable around sex.
You would not believe the number of men who write to us and say: “I just watched my first video ever on MLNP and afterwards I cried”.
I’ve been saying for years, I wish society understood the opposite of what it thinks is true. Women enjoy sex just as much as men, and men are just as romantic as women.
Yet, neither gender is allowed to openly celebrate that fact.
And we’d all be a whole lot better off if they were.
I’ve taken everything I’ve learned in 37 years of working in brand building marketing, advertising, and applied it to my own business.
We have men leaving comments on our videos at MLNP saying, you make me want to be a better man.
The only way you end rape culture, the only way you achieve the equality, which every feminist wants, is by making men want to be better men.
And that’s what we are extraordinarily effective at.
MLNP exists to celebrate the full glorious spectrum of human sexuality.
And one of the things that men also find a revelation is that we showcase all the amazing and wonderful ways in which you can enjoy yourselves with non-penetrative sex.
And that’s a serious education point for straight men.
“My next Goal is to Build the Khan Academy For Sex”
My tiny team and I fight a battle every single day, just to keep this business alive.
That’s because every piece of business infrastructure, any other tech startup can take for granted, we can’t, because the small print always says “no adult content”.
And that is a problem across every funding, banking, payments, tech services, etcetera.
And one of my biggest business growth inhibitors is that we are banned from advertising anywhere.
We cannot advertise MLNP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok – we can’t advertise it anywhere.
It’s rampant hypocrisy that is founded in gendered bias.
It’s not just us and sex related ventures, any female lens, sexual health and wellness ventures, also barred from advertising.
Menstruation ventures, menopause, fertility – all can’t advertise.
In the meantime, male sexual health and wellness – fine. Erectile dysfunction solutions? Not a problem.
So I’m raising 20 million dollars to do four things.
The first is to optimize and scale MLNP because I’ve never had the money to have an in-house tech development team. There are so many things we can build to optimize conversion and revenue.
And then also to build three product expansions.
Which are designed collectively to make up what I’m calling the MLNP Universe – an entire social sex ecosystem that will power the growth of MLNP while also providing infrastructure for other female lens, sexual health and wellness ventures to thrive and scale.
So the first product expansion I want to build is as I referenced earlier, the 0 to 18 version of MLNP – MakeLoveNotPorn.Academy.
I bought the URL many years ago.
I want to build what I characterize as the Khan academy of sex education, because Khan academy tutors on every other topic under the sun, except this one.
Educational technology, ed-tech is exploding as a category, but not in this area.
So, I want to build MLNP academy out on the same principles as MakeLoveNotPorn.tv.
User-generated, human-curated, revenue-share, because I’m not about reinventing the wheel.
I want to build an aggregation hub for every piece of brilliant sex education content already out there.
And we then invite global sex educators from all around the world to submit to us their own content, coursework, materials, videos, books, comic strips, whatever it may be.
Now we will curate because human curation lies at the heart of everything you do at MLNP.
There is no self-publishing of anything ever, which is why we’re the safest place on the internet, by the way.
So for example, let’s say you are an American sex educator and you submitted what is depressingly popular over here – abstinence only materials.
We are not publishing that shit.
Because it doesn’t work.
We will then publish segmented by age appropriateness.
So if you are a parent freaking out going, oh my God, my six year old just asked about this. What do I say? You would have entirely age appropriate tools and content to be able to have that conversation with a six year old.
If you’re a teacher of 14 year olds, for example, you’d find here are your age appropriate teacher materials.
If you’re an adult you can access all areas because adults are desperate for information as well.
MLNP Academy is where children and young people can go and access age-appropriate sex education by themselves without any parental or teacher gate keeping.
So if you are a 10 year old, okay, you can just enter your age and you’ll be served, age appropriate sex education.
I have a dear friend who works with us as a pro bono consultant on MLNP for many years.
And she has a friend who’s a mother, and this mother quite rightly monitors her kids’ browsing history.
And so this mother saw one day that her eight year old son had searched on Google: sex for children.
So she did the right thing.
She stayed calm, she didn’t freak out.
She sat her eight year old son down.
She went, oh darling. You know, I noticed that you were looking for this. Why was that?
And this is adorable.
Her eight year old said he wanted to learn about sex.
And he, he knew he was a child. And so he wanted to learn about sex in a way that was appropriate for him.
So he innocently googled: sex for children, and you can imagine the results.
And he was utterly traumatized.
So that is why MLNP Academy would be where an eight year old can go online to learn from age appropriate materials, as eight year olds are entirely capable of doing these days.
Now some of this will be free to access, but we’ll also charge to download, subscribe, bulk buy if you are a school.
There are different revenue streams for different use cases.
We will then split the income 50/50 with its creators, the educators, the same way we currently do with our MLNP stars, because right now, as you will know, nobody goes into sex education to make money.
I have friends who are brilliant sex educators all around the world.
They face all the same barriers I do.
Their content gets blocked on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok.
They can’t make a living doing this.
They’ve had to take other jobs to survive.
I want to change that because this is enormously valuable work.
MLNP Academy is designed to be a highly compelling, very, very profitable standalone business.
So that’s just one example of, and I’ve got a couple of other products I’ve plan to build, but basically the idea is to scale MLNP to be the Facebook of social sex.
Because as a unique venture, we have an utterly unique capability.
We have the power to change people’s sexual attitudes and behavior for the better, in a way that nothing else does.
And so we are out to change the world through sex.
“Real World Sex is Not Competitive”
We are the only video platform on the internet that does not show you, which videos are most popular and most watched.
And we designed that deliberately for two reasons.
The first is that real world sex is not competitive.
And secondly, we don’t wanna create a dynamic where people think, oh, if we have sex like that, we’ll make more money.
Some Top Creators at MLNP
While I do love all of our creators, I’ll give you a couple that I think are especially worth pointing out.
- Teeny Tiny Taylor. She is interesting because she is on a journey of sexual exploration herself. At the moment, she’s in a throuple. She and her very long-standing partner invited another man into their relationship.
We showcase at MLNP not just how we all have sex in the real world, but the fact that there are many different ways of designing relationships that work for you that are not society’s very limited constrained, monogamous model.
Teeny Tiny Taylor and her two partners have showcased the enormous sensitivity and trust and empathy with which they embark from doing this.
And so on our YouTube channel we have a 30 minute long video, which is the three of them just sitting on a couch, talking about how they negotiate and operate this relationship.
- SexyJammies – They’re a married couple and they are hysterical. They’re living an ordinary life where they’ve got kids. So when they want to have sex, they need to find a way to escape from the kids.
And so there’s this one video where they snuck off into the garage and they were having sex in the garage. Then everything in storage all came tumbling down, I mean, it’s just hysterical, absolutely wonderful.
- Goddess Erica -she operates as a dominatrix. But she also has this wonderful real world sex relationship with one of her Dom partners. And so Goddess Erica’s videos are just astonishing and educational for people to understand how much BDSM is an act of love.
And she is brilliant at all of this. People are just blown away by the profundity and the intimacy/