Written by Marianna Manson for Phoenix. Originally published in April, 2018.
Hear the term ‘sex tech’, and what images come to mind? Scarlett Johansson in next-gen sex robot mode, all shiny male fantasy made from AI factory-flesh? Or a bunch of real women discussing how they like their cunnilingus on a simply-designed website?
In 2009, when Cindy Gallop first set up her “little, clunky website” makelovenotporn.com, she hoped to change the narrative around technology and sex, and undo the negative impact of widespread, mainstream porn. Her site showed real people, having real sex, “as it happens spontaneously in all its funny, messy, beautiful, ridiculous, awkward, wonderful, glorious humanness” – and it was a revelation to many of us.
Makelovenotporn.com is now part of a big community of female-friendly sextech, all focused on making public conversation about sex more authentic and positive. The Women of Sex Tech is a collective of business and tech entrepreneurs from all over the world. As well as teledildonics start-ups (sex toys that connect through apps, and long distance control, like We Vibe), there’s educational platforms like O.School and OMGYes; there’s sexy gaming software, like Desire; and there’s support networks, like Reach Out, which helps survivors of sexual assault and rape. Technological advancement is creating a space for women to actively fight for unmitigated sexual freedom and connect with each other and themselves, which means better sex for everyone.
“It’s an area of rampant insecurity for every single one of us all around the world, no exceptions,” says Gallop. “We all get vulnerable when we get naked. Sexual egos are very fragile. People therefore find it bizarrely difficult to talk about sex with the people they are actually having it with, while they’re actually having it. But everyone wants to be good at sex, and so you will seize your cues on how to do that from anywhere you can.”