Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.

Porn, sex, tech, and Cindy Gallop

Written by Jon Evans for Tech Crunch. Originally published on April 4th, 2015.

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“A couple of months ago I sat down with Cindy Gallop, an advertising maven turned sex-tech startup founder, who delivered one of the more memorable TED talks of all time some years ago (and has the world’s best Twitter bio.) She wanted to discuss her disruptive notion, the thing she believes that few others believe: that the tech industry, and the Internet in general, should be more receptive to sex.

Which probably sounds almost oxymoronic. After all, everyone knows that sex is pervasive on the Internet. Right? “Rule 34.” Just look at Alexa’s Top 500 Global Sites, and count how many purvey pornography.

…But that’s porn. Gallop, radically, thinks the Internet — and the tech industry as a whole — should have more sex. Not at all the same thing. Sex is messy, funny, impulsive, intimate; porn is none of the above. Sex is, or should be, preceded by enthusiastic consent and discussions of STD protection and contraceptives; porn has none of that. Sex is about people; porn tends to be about bodies.

Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that. One of Gallop’s slogans is: “Pro porn. Pro sex. Pro knowing the difference.” A difference which young people can find confusing. As she puts it: “There’s a huge unfilled gap between porn and sex ed … Nowadays children encounter porn starting at age 6 to 8. [Or even earlier.] So ‘The Talk’ has become ‘Sex Isn’t Really Like That.’” (See also this New York Times piece on that same subject.)

Is the call for sexual content (and sexual technology) that isn’t porn really so radical? Well, yes. The Internet — and the tech industry as a whole — has essentially polarized into two separate, independent fiefdoms: porn, and non-sexual content. There is little-to-no room for anything in between. Anything remotely sexual is (generally) considered porn, and treated as tainted, by “respectable” businesses. As The Daily Beast puts it: “Today’s tech scene is startup-fueled and app-driven, actively encouraging disruption in every sector imaginable. Except sex.”

Consider Gallop’s startup, Make Love Not Porn, intended as a platform for socially acceptable and shareable sexual content … one which includes copious quantities of community-generated explicit material. But: “The small print always says ‘no adult content.’” It was an enormous struggle just getting the external infrastructure for her site up and running. Payment processors turned her away. Video hosting sites turned her away. Email providers turned her away. Venture capitalists turned her away. No one wants to be involved in any way with sexual content.

Head over to Tech Crunch to read the rest of the article!

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