By Alexa Day
Cindy Gallop is my hero. If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you’ve heard me talking about her before. Yesterday, I got to listen to her for an hour at the HarperImpulse Romance Festival, at an electrifying Google Hangout. There’s so much to love about Cindy: she opens the conversation by talking about the younger men she dates, she’s on a mission to put porn and sex into perspective for everyone’s benefit, and she is a strong, confident, savvy, successful businesswoman.
I’m going to touch on just a bit of what she covered in the Hangout, but you can see the whole thing right here on YouTube.
1. Make Love, Not Porn. Cindy developed MLNP upon discovering that her younger partners were drawing their techniques from porn in the absence of other information about sex. MLNP is a video-sharing platform through which participants can upload videos of themselves having real-world sex with their partners, and stream videos posted by others. Even porn stars are into it. Porn stars have real world sex, too, after all, and it isn’t anything like the sex they have at work. (Which makes sense, right?) Cindy recalls the TED talk she gave on MLNP: “I am to this day the only TED speaker ever to utter the words ‘come on my face.'” It took her talk viral, and her project, MLNP, reaped the benefits.
2. Erotic fiction. Sexting is evidence of the written word’s power to excite and arouse in a world that’s often driven by the visual. Cindy sees an opportunity for those of us working in erotic fiction — we can tap an individual reader’s creative vision in a way that porn can’t. She also sees a future in erotica for men. So many men are interested in romance and its erotic components in that context, but society’s prevented them from exploring it. Men don’t want to be locked into an artificial gender construct any more than we women do, Cindy says. Erotic fiction also socializes sex and sexual issues. Fifty Shades of Grey made huge strides in this area; because “everyone” was reading it, everyone was talking about the subject matter.
“Women challenge the status quo because we are never it. That’s uncomfortable for men, but from that discomfort comes greatness.” — Cindy Gallop
3. Women in business. Fear of what others think is paralyzing to businesspeople in general and businesswomen in particular. If we continue to bow to that fear, we “will never own the future,” Cindy says. It’s keeping us from self-promoting — nice girls don’t brag. It’s keeping us from stepping into the spotlight — I’m no expert, I only know 99.9 percent of the subject matter. It’s keeping us from participating in the public forum — I have to be here in the office/at home in case someone needs me. Yes, men are in the majority in the business world, Cindy says, but we are still in our own way, and we have to stop that, for ourselves and for the girls who are watching us work.
4. Porn in perspective (or, your kids have probably already seen it). We would be better served to have even more sex and sexual content in YA books, Cindy says, because kids are being exposed to hard-core porn online at a pretty early age. Like at 8. Or maybe even 6. So many of the issues we have about sex in general can be resolved by opening up, says Cindy. Kids’ exposure to porn is no different. The new ‘sex talk’ means saying that not everyone does do the things you’re seeing out there. Some people really like the sorts of things you’re seeing, but others really don’t. Everyone’s different. Parents need more resources to really have this dialogue, and YA literature can supply those resources.
There’s still lots of Romance Festival left. Keep it here for all the hot updates and highlights … you know, if you’re not at the Festival yourself. Which you should be.