Book Review: Make Love Not Porn by Cindy Gallop

MakeLoveNotPornByCindyGallop

MakeLoveNotPornByCindyGallopCindy is half English, half Chinese and grew up in Asia, in Brunei. The majority of her career has been in marketing. She joined the British marketing firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 1989 where she ran global accounts for Coca-Cola, Polaroid and Ray-Ban. She moved on to Singapore in 1996 to start up BBH Asia Pacific then to New York in 1998 to start BBH US, which only four years later was named Adweek’s 2002 Eastern Agency of the Year, with clients like Johnnie Walker, Unilever and Levi’s. In 2003 Advertising Women of New York voted Cindy Advertising Woman of the Year.

Cindy resigned as chairman of BBH US in August 2005, after sixteen years with the agency, in order to do something different for the next chapter of her career. This currently involves independent consulting and various start-ups.

In 2009, she founded a web site called “Make Love Not Porn” and marketed it to the world by giving a speech about it at TED 2009 (Technology Entertainment and Design). (my blog Cindy Gallop: Make Love Not Porn) The web site consists of a relatively simple comparison between some sex act which exists in a pornographic movie and what happens in reality.

For example:

Porn World:
Men love coming on women’s faces, and women love having men come n their faces.

Real World:
Some women like this, some women don’t. Some guys like to do this, some guys don’t. Entirely up to personal choice.

For example:

Porn World:
Women come all the time in positions where nothing is going on anywhere near the clit.

Real World:
There has to be some sort of rhythmic pressure on the clit in just the right way to make a woman come. Can be pubic bone, tongue, fingers, something else entirely. But it has to be there.

The rest of the web site contains more examples coupled with comments from readers. The About page has an interesting essay penned by Michael Castleman, a journalist who specializes in writing about topics relating to sex.

The eBook
In February 2001, Cindy Gallop published through TED Conferences this slim eBook on Amazon. – As an aside, I don’t own a Kindle, but downloaded the Kindle software on my PC and purchased Cindy’s book to read it on my laptop.

This book takes the original concept of the web site and explores in further detail the author’s experiences and the conclusions which led her to establish the web site in the first place. It is not a long read, but it is the type of read you would want to share and use as a starting point for further discussion.

While the web site is not extensive, it is interesting to hear Ms. Gallop talk about the feedback the site has generated. While most comments have been positive with some negative, there can be no doubt her message has touched upon a need amongst people. If anything, it seems to clearly indicate that there are a significant number of young people whose sole source of sexual education is pornography. I am certain that many would immediately jump to the hasty conclusion that porn is bad but Ms. Gallop points out that the issue is not porn at all. We all do it, yet we don’t talk about it. Most parents are too embarrassed to teach their children about sex and talk to them about the issues surrounding it. … Most countries around the world have not formalized and integrated sex education into the educational system and curriculum. … hardcore porn has become, be default, the sex education of today. Is it me or is that pretty sad?

Gay Male Porn
Ms. Gallop makes a statement which I found interesting as it is an idea which I only recently learned about: women get off on male gay porn. I watch gay male porn because it gives me more of what I want to see – the camera focused on hot male bodies – and also because watching two hot men getting it on turns me on. (Kindle: Location 315 of 702) In my blog Gay male romance for women, I discovered there is complete subgenre of romance novels written by heterosexual women about gay males (romance and sex) for a target audience of heterosexual women. I’m only mentioning this as it is fairly well-known that some men, okay most men –  maybe all men? – get off on “lesbian stuff”. I’ll leave it up to the experts to delve into that Freudian blackhole but it just struck me as curious to discover this new found kinky side to the fairer sex. I lead such a sheltered life.

The real enemy: silence
Cindy Gallop is not against porn. In all of this, porn is not the enemy per se, and MakeLoveNotPorn is not anti-porn. I am pro-porn; I enjoy porn and watch it regularly myself. … The issue is not porn, which always has been and always will be with us. The issue is the lack of a counterpoint to porn, in the form of an open, healthy dialogue in our society around sex and porn, which would enable more people to bring a real-world mindset to the viewing of what is artificial and non-reality-based entertainment. (Kindle: Location 350 of 702)

Responses
Ms. Gallop talks of the posting of the YouTube video of her speech at the TED conference and the comments both positive and negative she received. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was appalled at the unbelievable viciousness of some of the negative comments she got. “Who’d want to come on her wrinkled old face anyway, shrivelled up old hag?” “Any young guys f**king her must be doing so out of pity.” (Kindle: Location 386 of 702)

I had to mention these two comments as I am sometimes shocked when somebody is given anonymity and the possibility to say anything they want to say with no restrictions, they come out with something which says more about them than their message. Anybody who could possibly say anything so mean, so nasty, so deliberately attempting to hurt, has some terrible personal issues. No self-respecting person would utter such contemptible disparagement.

Final Word
I’ve mentioned Cindy Gallop so many times as of late, I wonder if she’s going to start thinking I’m stalking her. 🙂

Ms. Gallop’s mini-opus both compliments her web site and expands on its message. While she doesn’t say this in so many words, I must ask that if a young man or a young woman is learning about sex from a porn movie, what happened to the sex education they should have received from both their parents and their school system. At the heart of it all, the issue here in Ms. Gallop’s book or in any discussion is that this is not about pornography, this is about our sexuality. I just love how Michel Castleman (journalist specializing in topics about sex) summed it up in the introduction of his book Great Sex After 40:

[Porn] completely misrepresents how women become sexually aroused and experience erotic fulfillment. Pornography is like the chase scenes in action movies–exciting and fun to watch, but definitely not the way to drive.

In other words, I really, really love a good car chase scene, but I always drive home from the cinema in a safe manner.

Ms. Gallop, hats off. You have a good little book. I love the message, but I have to add it’s only a start and it’s going to be an uphill battle. Without wanting to open a debate on anti-porn or pro-porn, I am worried that the anti-pornography movement is winning in a way that in the long run may only succeed in pushing the entire question of sex education off the table. Mom and Dad don’t seem to be doing their duty and schools don’t want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. Gee, if Mom and Dad won’t teach their kids; if the schools continue to do almost nothing, what if people started making porn that better reflects reality? Debbie does (only her husband in) Dallas.

References

official web site: Make Love Not Porn

Google image search: Cindy Gallop

my blog Cindy Gallop: Make Love Not Porn

Amazon – February 2011
Make Love Not Porn: Technology’s hardcore impact on human behavior
(TED Books) [Kindle Edition]
Cindy Gallop (Author), Rodger Ruzanka (Illustrator)
Product Description
Hardcore pornography is becoming so ubiquitous on the web, it is shaping and distorting the way many of today’s young men and women think about sex and intimacy. Cindy Gallop discovered this through personal experience. In a bold, honest book, she describes numerous examples of porn-influenced behavior from the hilarious to the disturbing, both from her own dating life and from readers of her groundbreaking website MakeLoveNotPorn.com.

“Make Love Not Porn” is published as part of the new TED Books series. TED Books are short books designed to share a single powerful idea. They can be read in a couple of hours

Amazon: Customer Reviews
[Quite a lot of positive feedback about Ms. Gallop’s literary endeavour. It is obvious there is a “crying” need for frank information and a frank dialogue about sex.]

Postscript: Ms. Gallop’s statistics
While I do not want to in any way diminish the important message of Ms. Gallop’s book, I do have to question the accuracy of some of the statistics she mentions.

“The global security company Optenet estimates porn accounted for 37% of all content hosted online in Q1 2010.” I don’t believe that sky-is-falling number. Optenet just so happens to market software for filtering and blocking content so what better sales ploy than to exaggerate the threat?

In my blog Pornography: How much is there?, I estimate the amount of porn on the Net to be under 1%, or 240 million pages. I point out how nobody seems to know exactly how many pages there are altogether, but one estimate of 24 billion seemed to be a good starting point. From there, I used Google to search for various keywords associated with sexual materials and concluded there was less than one percent. 100% accurate? Anybody can read over my methodology and prove me wrong, but I note that the word “sex” itself only seems to appear on 2.35% of all web pages. If Optenet was correct, I would expect to be looking at a much higher percentage.

In my blog Pornography: Statistics Laundering, I discuss how people are tossing around numbers as though they are one hundred percent correct when in fact they are quoting data from dubious sources. One of the most oft quoted sources of porn statistics is a Jerry Ropelato whose data is repeated ad infinitum and maybe ad nauseum by every right wing religious fundamentalist anti-porn group as proof that we’re all going to hell. Just as an odd coincidence, Mr. Ropelato runs a company that sells computer software to filter and block Internet access. Exaggerate the threat to boost sales? I point out that an investigation of Mr. Ropelato’s supposed sources raises more questions than answers about any of the sky-is-falling numbers he spouts.

FYI: I have seen in my travels numerous sites trying to horrify the reader about the threat of porn by saying there are 420 million porn pages on the Net. Wow, sounds bad, eh? Except that if you take that number as a percentage of the total or 24 billion, that only comes out to 1.75%. That is a long way from the 37% Optenet said. In other words, the sky is not falling.

Want further proof? See my blog Pornography: Searching for what? in which I analyse what people are searching for on the Net. Are people searching for sex and/or porn? Yep, but I would certainly not say that what’s going on ranks anywhere near a sky-is-falling oh my gawd end-of-the-world problem some people make it out to be.

According to TopTenReviews, the global figure in 2006 was $97.06 billion with the U.S. accounting for $13.33 billion. TopTenReviews is a web site run by the previously mentioned Jerry Ropelato. In my blog Pornography: Statistics Laundering, I quote Forbes.Com who estimates the figure to be around $2.9 billion in the United States. Porn may be very visible but isn’t necessarily as big as one would think.

Once again, quibbling about the statistics should not distract from Cindy Gallop’s message which I think is spot on.

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