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Why Porn is Important to Moms

Why Porn is Important to Moms

Cindy Gallop is a TED superstar, leader in the advertising world and now, a voice for how porn is teaching misconceptions about sex. Mamalode’s publisher met her last year and their discussion about how porn impacts children (and their parents) was mind blowing.

Mamalode: What was the impetus for MakeLoveNotPorn.com?

CINDY: Through dating younger men, I realized that I was encountering an issue that would never have crossed my mind if I had not encountered it very directly and intimately: when today’s total freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets our society’s reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex, it results in porn becoming, by default, the sex education of today. In not a good way.

I found myself encountering a number of, shall we say, sexual behavioral memes. I thought, whoa, I know where this behavior’s coming from, and if I’m encountering it many other people must be as well. I’m a naturally action-oriented person—when I come across something I feel strongly about, I do something about it. And so nearly six years ago now, I put up a very basic website at makelovenotporn.com, that posts the myths of hardcore porn and balances them with reality. The construct is ‘Porn World vs. Real World’: this is what happens in the porn world, and this is what really goes on in the real world. I wrote all the copy myself, and I deliberately made it funny, in order to defuse the awkwardness and embarrassment that goes on around the topic of sex in the real world.

Mamalode: Talk to us about children’s exposure to pornography.

CINDY: The average age today at which a child is first exposed to hardcore porn online is eight. Two years ago, the New York Times acknowledged this with an article ‘When Children See Internet Pornography’ on what to do when children see Internet porn. In fact, USA Today published a global study last year that indicates the age has dropped even lower, to six.

This is not because 6-year-olds go looking for porn. It’s because of what is now inevitable in the digital world we live in today, and unfortunately cannot be prevented, no matter how much we would like it to be. It's a function of what your child is shown on someone's cell phone in the playground; what happens when your child goes round to a neighbor's house—because it doesn't matter what parental controls you have in place at home, your kids live their lives in other places; or, because this is the most wired generation ever, and in many privileged households 6-year-olds have their own iPad—a 6-year-old does something cute and innocent. They learn a new naughty word, they google it—and one or two clicks away is something they never expected to find.

At MakeLoveNotPorn we have numerous examples of this. Parents write to us all the time with these stories. A father wrote to me on Facebook last year in a message headed, ‘My wife and I cannot thank you enough for what you’re doing’. He said, “We have a 10-year-old son, and we decided it was time to have the sex talk. So I sat down with him, and he said to me, ‘Daddy, why do men wear masks when they’re having sex?’ We have parental controls on our iPad, and my son has somehow managed to find his way to a site where men wear masks when they’re having sex. We can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing. When he’s older, we’re sending him to your site.” These children can be traumatized by what they see, before they have any understanding of what sex is, and years before they ever have their own first sexual experiences. If this is not addressed, they grow up into young men who display the kind of behavior learnt from porn that inspired me to start MakeLoveNotPorn, and they grow up into young women like the one who wrote to us only a few weeks ago:

"Hi Make Love Not Porn team,

I just came across your company through a blog (swiss-miss.com) that posted a video of Cindy Gallop speaking about your mission and MakeLoveNotPorn.

As a 19-year-old, I have been in situations in which I’ve been treated like I was on the set of a porn film, treated as though I was a dummy or a doll for their experiments and re-enactments. I’m relieved to know that there are people advocating for society to recognize that porn is not the same as real-life sex. My generation needs to truly understand this.

Thank you."

Mamalode: Your TED talk was roughly 4 minutes long and rocked the conference—did you expect the response you got?

CINDY: No, not at all. When I created MakeLoveNotPorn.com, I really had not thought much beyond the fact that I felt this was an emerging issue, and wanted to put something out there that could help people. I decided to be pretty explicit in my TED talk, because I knew the audience would not ‘get’ how serious this issue was, unless I was very straightforward about it. As a result, the talk went viral and the response to it was extraordinary. It immediately became apparent that MakeLoveNotPorn resonated with huge numbers of people, and that this was a global issue. We saw huge traffic to the site instantly, from every country in the world, but the most extraordinary thing was thousands of emails to my MakeLoveNotPorn inbox, from everyone—young and old, male and female, straight and gay, every race and nationality. They wrote and poured their hearts out to me. They told me things about their sex lives and their porn-watching habits they had never told anyone else. Receiving those emails, day after day, made me feel I had a personal responsibility to take MakeLoveNotPorn forwards, in a way that would make it more far-reaching, helpful and effective.

MakeLoveNotPorn is not anti-porn. Our tagline is ‘Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.’ The issue I’m tackling isn’t porn, but instead, the complete lack in our society of an open, healthy, honest dialogue around sex in the real world, which would then, amongst many other benefits, enable people to bring a real-world mindset to the viewing of porn as artificial entertainment. Our message is simply ‘Talk about sex’—openly and publicly, and privately and intimately with your partner. Great sex is born out of great communication—all round.

So I decided to pursue our mission of ‘Talk about it’ by deploying the dynamics of social media to socialize sex; to build a platform to act as sexual social currency, with the aim of making real world sex, and the discussion around it, more socially acceptable and socially shareable, in the same way that we share everything else about our lives on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram.

Eighteen months ago, after three very long hard years working to make it happen, I and co-founders Oonie Chase and Corey Innis and our community manager/curator Sarah Beall launched MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, which is MakeLoveNotPorn.com brought to life—a user-generated, crowd sourced site where anyone can submit videos of themselves having real-world sex, subject to curation by me and my team, with a revenue-sharing business model that gives our contributors, or MakeLoveNotPornstars, half the rental income their videos make. MakeLoveNotPorn.tv is not porn. It’s not ‘amateur.’ It’s real-world sex, in all its funny wonderful messy ridiculous beautiful human-ness.

Mamalode: Tell us about your other project IfWeRanTheWorld.

CINDY: Thirty years working in brand building, marketing and advertising led me to believe that the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously, and that the business model of the future is: Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (financial and social). IfWeRanTheWorld is social coaction software, that enables brands and consumers who share the same values to act on those values via micro actions—small, simple easy-to-do actions—that accumulate to create impacts in the real world that benefit consumers, benefit society, and benefit the brand and its business.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a naturally action-oriented person. IWRTW came out of my realization that the single biggest pool of untapped natural resource in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action. IWRTW turns human good intentions and corporate good intentions into collective action.

Mamalode: How do your various endeavors overlap?

CINDY: MakeLoveNotPorn operates on the model I designed IWRTW to inculcate: we and our community come together on the basis of values we all share around #realworldsex, to co-act (share videos, watch videos) in order to open up a healthy discussion around sex in the real world that benefits everyone. Everything I believe about the future of business is manifested in the business of the future my team and I are building with MakeLoveNotPorn.

Mamalode: If you could write a script for what you wished parents would say to their kids about sex and love, what would you say?

CINDY: I would never write a script, because every parent’s situation and relationship with their children is different. What I would ask parents to think about is the fact that in this day and age, even with so many children stumbling across online porn every day, very few parents can bring themselves to talk to their kids about sex.

Back in my day, if you were one of those very few parents prepared to have that conversation, the conversation used to be purely logistical: ‘This goes into this…the birds and the bees…when a man loves a woman…’

The conversation you need to have today needs to go something like this: ‘Darling, we know you’re online, we know you’re looking at porn, and we just need to explain to you that actually, not all women like (that) and actually, not all men like doing that either.’

99.9% of parents are not having that conversation—and they need to.  

What I would say is, you can’t start talking to your kids too early about sex. This has to start in the home, and it has to start the minute your child asks where babies come from, or enjoys touching their genitals, or in any way provides an opportunity for communication. The key thing isn’t even what you say, but the way that you say it. Never get embarrassed, angry, upset. Never slap them down or shut them up. Just answer straightforwardly, openly, honestly, in a way that will open up a channel of communication that will always be there for them, as they get older.

Every parent wants his or her children to be happy. This is the single most fundamental area of human existence that will most impact your child’s ability to be happy. MakeLoveNotPorn operates in the single biggest market of them all. No, not sex; not porn; the market of human happiness and fulfillment. We’re out to help change the way the world has sex, to make it a happier, healthier, more loving world for everyone.

This interview was published in Mamalode's newest print magazine themed 'IT'S COMPLICATED'

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December 2014
it's complicated
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Elke Govertsen

Elke Govertsen is the Founder and Editor of Mamalode. She has been featured in Real Simple, Where Women Create, 406 Woman, Ad Tech, and Entrepreneur. She speaks on a variety of topics, from social media to overcoming poverty. She also leads the Learn As You Go lecture series for small businesses and is passionate about economic development in Montana. Her special skills include extreme bootstrapping, overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities. Of the many things she has learned by doing Mamalode is her ability to work with absolute chaos/kids/mess just might be the best.
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