Cindy Gallop: Make Love, Not Porn

Updated: 10 Dec 2012

The fact that "There's an entire generation growing up that believes that what you see in hardcore pornography is the way that you have sex" has predominately sets off Cindy Gallop's project, Make Love Not Porn. Speaking in this year's TEDxGurneyDrive, this bold web entrepreneur opens up to Cheng Sim about sex and younger men.

Three years ago, you opened your TED speech in the States with a confession for dating and sleeping with younger men. Why do people still talk about it?
I launched my website makelovenotporn.com at TED 2009. People still talk about it because I brought up and addressed an issue nobody had identified and talked about before: the ease and freedom of access to online pornography today, when combined with our society's reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex, results in porn becoming, by default, the sex education of today - which is not a good thing.

Since we’re on that subject, what do you find most interesting about dating younger men?
I enjoy their different perspectives on the world.

What sort of impact has makelovenotporn.com made?
Huge. The little website I put up on no money four years ago (which is why it's so basic) has gone global, and I get emails about it every day, from young and old, male and female, from every country in the world. Teachers write to me telling me they use it in sex education classes. Parents write to me thanking me for how it helps them talk to their children. Couples write to me thanking me for how it helps them talk to each other.

What is the most misunderstood fact about sex?
The fact that it's a healthy, natural, normal part of who we all are.

You and your team get to curate video submissions before running it on makelovenotporn.tv (MLNPTV). What are some of the submissions that didn’t make the cut?
None so far. We designed MLNPTV to have an acceptance rate of 99%, by which I mean we flag up very clearly what we are looking for, so people understand before they submit.

You spent a great deal of time talking to young people about sex. What is your family-friendly way of describing ‘sex’ to a child?
Just be honest and straightforward. How you talk about sex to a child matters as much as what you actually say. It's important not to display any embarrassment or shame yourself, or to shut down a child's questions, because you want to open up a healthy dialogue where your child feels they can come to you and ask questions about anything, and will continue to do so as they grow up. You want your children to be happy; this is one of the ways in which you ensure that.

Are there any rules to an effective sex education?
I'm not a certified sex educator or expert, so I can't pronounce on 'rules'. I do believe that sex education needs to start in the home. Parents need to educate their children about sex, not leave it to schools and teachers. It's important to emphasize that sex is a healthy, natural, pleasurable part of being human, as opposed to focusing solely on disease and pregnancy prevention and all the bad things that can happen. These days, it is important to talk about porn as part of sex education, and to make it clear to young people who are looking at internet porn, that that bears no resemblance to what loving, intimate sex is in the real world.

Sex ed aside, what would you say to someone to inspire and motivate them in life?
I would remind them that the only person who can make things happen for you is you. One of my favourite quotes is by Alan Kay, the computer scientist, who said, 'In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.' Decide what you would like your future to be and then make it happen. Because you can.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?
Started working for myself a lot sooner. It's tough being an entrepreneur and starting your own business, but it's a lot more enjoyable and satisfying.

What’s the funniest life lesson you’ve learnt?
I suppose this is 'funny' in terms of 'surprising', but when you say what you really think, you'd be surprised what good things happen - in business and in life. Honesty and truthfulness is often endearing and disarming, because so few people do say what they really think and believe

Lastly, what can we look forward to with your speech in TEDxGurneyDrive 2012?
I'll be speaking to the overall theme of TEDxGurneyDrive - 'Be all you can be'. I plan to talk about some interesting trends and dynamics I observe globally, and how I believe those can be leveraged in a Malaysian context, to help drive a great future for Malaysia and for Penang, and for Malaysians to 'be all they can be'.

For the latest updates on Cindy Gallop, see website.

Tags: Features