Crazy Smart Asia: Cindy Gallop—Porn, Woke-Washing and Sex Tech

By Lee Williamson

In the second episode of Gen.T's Crazy Smart Asia podcast, Make Love Not Porn founder Cindy Gallop talks #MeToo, fixing the system from the outside and her plans to launch the world’s first sex tech fund

Tatler Asia

Cindy Gallop wants you to talk about sex. More specifically, how hardcore pornography is destroying our ability to have a healthy sexual relationship. The goal of her user-generated sex tape sharing platform, Make Love Not Porn, is to spark a social sexual revolution. 

Known for her uncompromising style, Gallop, describes herself as the Michael Bay of business as she likes to "blow shit up". In the past few years, that's meant acting as a vocal advocate for the #MeToo movement and fighting against sexual harassment in the advertising industry. But despite her appearance as the archetypal bold New Yorker, Cindy was born to a Malaysian-Chinese mother, and grew up in Brunei.  

In the second episode of Gen.T's new podcast Crazy Smart Asia, which chronicles the unexpected stories of Asia's disruptors, the former advertising executive and entrepreneur talks to Liz Bacelar, host of the Innovators podcast and co-founder of the Together Group, about pornography, "woke-washing" and why Sheryl Sandberg is wrong.

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation. Click the audio player below to listen to the episode or subscribe via Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts

On changing the system from the outside

“The very concept of Lean In is about embracing the existing system. The movement puts the onus on women to change. But it's not us who need to change; it’s the system.”

“I used to think that I could help drive change within the system. I now encourage women to drive change from outside the system. Sheryl Sandberg wants us to lean in within the existing system; and I want us to redesign the system completely. Corporate change is very, very slow.  And the reason for that is because at the top of every industry, and every company, is a closed loop of men talking to men about other men. And those men are sitting very pretty—why on earth would they ever want to rock the boat?”

On the concept of ‘balance’

“I don't want a relationship. I'm not a naturally monogamous person. I date younger men casually and recreationally. I adore being single, I cannot wait to die alone. And I'm deliberately very public about all of this because we don't have enough role models in our society, for women and for men, that demonstrate you can live your life very differently to the way society expects you to and still be amazingly happy—and I'm the happiest person I know. So when I'm asked in interviews, as I regularly am, ‘So Cindy, as a startup founder, what’s your best stress management tool?’ My response is not having a husband and children.”

On #MeToo

“The women and men who wrote to me are terrified, and they are too terrified to speak up on the record and name names, because the powerful men doing the harassing are the gatekeepers of everything. They're the gatekeepers of jobs, pay raises, promotions, awards, career paths. So much so that what I heard time and time again was 'Cindy, I'll never work again if I tell my story.'”

“I am still trying to get those stories told, and I'm still hearing from women in Asia. The social cultural barriers are even more difficult in Asia. But at the same time, the women I speak to across Asia, they've had enough. Women in Japan, which is one of the most sexist countries in Asia, they've had enough with their place in society. So I am very confident that more and more of us are determined to change this, even in Asia, and I'm confident that we will.”

Tatler Asia
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: MakeLoveNotPorn Founder & CEO Cindy Gallop speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Above  Cindy Gallop (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Woke washing

“We need to see a lot more men not talking but doing. What you say and what you do, regrettably, can be very different for men in every industry. There are a lot of men out there who are deliberately, as the term goes, woke-washing. Talking a great game, and totally against it in private. But there are equally many very good men out there who are not acting as they should.”

Male allies

“I often get asked by men, ‘Cindy, I want to be a male ally. What can I do to help?’ And I say, it's very simple. As a man, you just need to do two things. The first is to listen to women. Because you don't, men. Every day as women, we are man-terrupted, mansplained to, talked over, not heard, not listened to, ignored. So men, number one: listen. Stop talking. Listen to women. And number two, believe women. Because again, you don't. Believe us when we tell you what our lived experience is because your lived experience is not our lived experience. You will not believe how many men mansplain our own experiences back to us.”

Listen to all released episodes and subscribe using your preferred podcast platform on the Crazy Smart Asia hub page

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