Two initiatives to find out about ‘real sex’ have been launched recently. One is by high-flying advertising executive turned web entrepreneur, Cindy Gallop; the other by that redoubtable institution of sexual research, the Kinsey Institute.
As the creator of “The Lovers’ Guide”, I have long championed the cause of ‘real’ sex over ‘porn sex’. Our graphic educational videos first helped bring real sex into the public eye back in 1991 – and attracted public outrage and charges of obscenity – followed by queues around the block and over a million sales. In the LoveSpace Forum at www.loversguide.com, members can freely upload and share home videos of themselves having sex to help disseminate realistic visions of sex. And in our films, we’ve featured couples of all ages, body types and pubic stylings – plus real ejaculation, which brought us letters by the sackload thanking us for helping men feel normal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti porn and feel it has a place in fantasy both in self-gratification and sex with a partner. But it can create the impression of a world often removed from reality. The performers are generally picked for being stereotypically good-looking, large breasted or well-hung, creating an idealised vision of the body that can lead to dissatisfaction with a real life partner. And the sex can be much more raunchy on screen than it is in a normal encounter. As many commentators have recently noted, in porn sex women delight in men coming all over their faces where in real sex the response is often far from rejoicing. Similarly, unlubricated anal, multiply-orgasmic women who need no clitoral stimulation and gagging blow jobs can all create false expectations of sex. While some people do enjoy these acts – and that’s entirely their choice – it’s far from a universal preference.
To combat this, enterprising businesswoman, Cindy Gallop, has developed a website to promote real sex. It is intended to do what it says on the can – or rather the URL – MakeLoveNotPorn.com.
Cindy, now 52, is, by her own account a cougar; an attractive older woman who likes to date younger men. “I realised that I never wanted to settle down,” she says. “Never wanted to get married. All I wanted to do was have some fun. And a bunch of guys went, ‘Whoopee!’”
Her background, as the child of a Chinese mother and British Father, includes her being raised in Borneo, then moving to the UK and reading English at Oxford. From there she joined the advertising giant, Bartle Bogart Hegarty in London. In 1998 she moved to New York to head up its US office.
Her experiences with younger men came about when BBH was pitching an online dating site and Cindy decided to test the product. Though then in her early 40s, most of the responses to her profile were from younger men – and her mating habits have never looked back since.
She soon noticed, though, what she saw as a disturbing trend. Despite the otherwise great combination of the men’s youthful vigour and insatiability with her love of sex and mature experience, their performance between the sheets appeared to be drawn from their exposure to pornography. The trend inspired her to try to bring about “a certain amount of re-education, rehabilitation and reorientation.” She realised that, “To tackle porn as default sex educator, I have to come up with something as appealing to the mainstream and as all-pervasive in our society as porn.” And so she launched the website that compares what it calls the “porn world” with the world of “real sex”. But it was largely based in the written word.
She recently decided to go beyond the website to a sort of sex-ed YouTube, called MakeLoveNotPorn.tv. When fully live it will show videos by real people filming their actual sexual encounters. “It’s not about performing for the camera,” she said. “We’re looking for the comical, the messy, the ridiculous. We’re looking for the real.”
She has lofty aims, wanting ““… to make real world sex socially acceptable and socially shareable; to build a platform and tools for sexual social currency; to achieve the one thing we’d like everyone to do when it comes to real world sex — talk about it. To each other. While you’re having it. While you’re not. Openly, honestly, in a way that will improve everybody’s sex lives, and lives generally.” Sounds good to us.
How altruistic is she in this mission? We’re interviewing her in October so we’ll let you know. However, her site favours material by and for women, and that which includes condom use; and she’s already said she wants to see queefs and period sex, to help normalise both, so the signs are certainly promising.
Cindy clearly has her enterprising businesswoman’s hat firmly on too. It costs contributors $5 to upload their video – to ward off the trolls and spammers, and set a level of quality control – and visitors pay $5 to watch. It can work well for contributors who upload very popular videos, as they get 50% of the proceeds. The remaining revenue goes to MakeLoveNotPorn.com – which is why it may seem surprising that Gallop struggled to get funding. Even setting up a bank account with the word porn in the name proved problematic: a sure fire sign that we need to talk more about sex.That said, the business model isn’t without its challenges: in a time when free porn is never more than a click away, will people pay $5 to watch a video of real sex – particularly if it lacks the production values they’re used to? And do people want to watch real sex, or has the fantasy become so embedded in our consciousness that it’s an integral part of our desires? Only time will tell.
MakeLoveNotPorn.com is still in the testing phase, with 13 videos on the site. One of those is from Lily Labeau and Danny Wylde, a couple who are porn performers in their day job. Its inclusion begs the question of how far this is truly dedicated to ‘real’ sex . Is what they will show going to different from the “porn sex” they practice in their professional life? If it’s reminiscent of the touching book, Off the Set, and shows that adult performers are people too and even they don’t have sex as it’s depicted in porn, it could deliver a powerful message.
Gizmodo, the gadget blog has hailed the site as the “content- sharing platform the Internet’s been waiting for.” And there are already claimed to be 19,000 sign-ups (you currently have to request to be ‘invited’ to join) with half of those coming from countries such as China, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re looking forward to seeing how it develops
It was the desire to get more data from such countries as those that led the highly respected Kinsey Institute in the US to release a free smartphone App and website, www.kinseyreporter.org. The idea is to encourage user to provide information anonymously on their sexual behaviour, birth control use and other intimate data.
As some of these practices are illegal in some countries and cultures, particularly if they involve public displays of affection, such issues have been difficult to collect data on otherwise. In there are surveys, for instance, to gauge the extent of fetish behaviour and also on such, more disturbing, issues as sexual violence, which is particularly prevalent in war zones.
Julie Heiman, Director of the Institute, said in the original press release, “People are natural observers. It’s part of being social, and using mobile Apps is an excellent way to involve citizen scientists. We expect to get new insights into sexuality and relationships today.” After filling out a survey on a range of issues, users can see their information aggregated on the website and sorted by geographic location. The data would all be anonymous and encrypted, claimed the Institute , and would span the globe. Almost a thousand posts had been received in the first few weeks of operation.
But the Kinsey Institute is part of the University of Indiana, and, despite the project having gone through extensive review, the President there forced the pulling of the App after concerns were voiced about potential privacy issues and data protection. The University stated that there needed to be further review to “make sure (UoI) is comfortable from a legal perspective.”
Hopefully, this will prove to be a knee-jerk reaction by a University that has always been ambivalent about having a sex institute – even one as prestigious as this – on its campus. The announcement on the Kinsey Reporter website suggested grounds for some optimism though, “We sincerely apologise for the iinterruption and hope to have the Kinsey Reporter up again very soon.”
Given the very useful information it is likely to garner worldwide, let’s hope this is just a glitch brought about by nervous academics and the project will soon be back on track discovering a wealth of information on real sexual practices.