Written by Kristen Sollee for BUSTLE. Originally published on September 23rd, 2016.
The future of sex tech is female, affirmed Make Love Not Porn CEO Cindy Gallop to an engaged audience of entrepreneurs, writers, and researchers in New York City. At a sex tech panel held at Knotel Flatiron, Gallop, along with Polly Rodriguez, co-founder of Unbound, and Janet Lieberman, CTO of Dame Products, discussed how cultural stigma shapes the business of pleasure and limits female sexual expression around the world.
In 2016, there are more woman-run sex tech startups than ever. Female sexuality is finally being highlighted as a subject worthy of attention, and yet, sex tech startups aren’t able to get the funding and advertising they need to change lives with their products. Many investors are squeamish about getting into bed with sex tech, SBA loans and payment processing vendors are nearly impossible to secure, and major sites refuse advertisements that are sexual in nature. And yet, through the help of crowdfunding, word of mouth, and a few rogue investors willing to take a chance, sex tech is still poised to be the next big thing.
During a two-hour panel conversation, Gallop, Rodriguez, and Lieberman shared both personal and professional experiences while fielding questions from the audience about the sex tech market, sexual expression, and female pleasure in the 21st Century. These are five powerful statements from the event that highlight the social and financial issues in sex tech, and their proposed solutions.
1. Porn Isn’t The Problem, Sexual Stigma Is
As Cindy Gallop stated at the beginning of the night, “The issue isn’t porn, but that we don’t talk about sex.” Mainstream — and often misogynistic — pornography has become the de facto sex ed for millions of people because sex isn’t openly discussed in a majority of cultures. Because of this, a lot of people have no idea what “real world sex” can be. Gallop emphasized a “global need” for the socialization of sex. Bringing sexuality out of the dark and into the light will lead to a decrease in stigma surrounding sex in general, in addition to de-stigmatizing non-normative or alternative sexual practices.
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