Whatever anyone has to say about Cindy Gallop (1977, English), she is certainly never boring, writes Theo Davies-Lewis (2016, St Hugh’s College, Archaeology and Anthropology) who will be interviewing her at Somerville on February 5th.

She likes to describe herself as the “Michael Bay of business”, owing to their shared fondness for blowing things up.

A leading advertising executive turned entrepreneur, Cindy has completely transformed the way we talk about sex, relationships, and self-representation in the 21st century.

Cindy Gallop. Photo credit: Kevin Abosch

For her visit to Somerville on 5th February, I will be interviewing her about her career and experiences for a special event, and the thought of asking her questions is nothing short of daunting.

Bear in mind I have interviewed Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, BBC executives, Oxford dons, and other academics, but none as formidable and exciting as Cindy Gallop. Maybe this is because I imagine that within a few minutes the tables will be turned and I will be questioned on my views on sexual stereotypes and dating norms today, with friends sitting and giggling in the audience at any answer or awkward rebuttal I can conjure.

But this comes to the heart of Cindy’s work. Her probing nature is what we need in society today.

When she established MakeLoveNotPorn to celebrate real world sex experiences in an age of rife and accessible pornographic content, Cindy changed the discussions we have about our sexual relationships.

The importance of talking about this sort-of-thing has been amplified in the age of #MeToo and accusations of sexual harassment hitting pretty much every sector of professional life.

This is where my discussion begins with Cindy. I think most have heard of her story; there are great clips of her talking at conferences such as Ted which will give you a flavour of Cindy’s work, which started around a decade ago.

And because 2019 is so different to 2009, I want to ask about the relevance of her work in the age of these social and political movements, which also change our attitudes surrounding consent and sex.

Moreover, it’s easy to look at Cindy and just think she is an outrageously brilliant character, changing these discussions on big issues in society. But remember she is an advertising executive. She knows how to sell products and services, as well as herself on a now-international stage. The role of her previous work will be a fascinating insight how to she has built such a unique personal brand.

Finally, I want to hear more about whether her ideas have changed over the last decade, and where her ventures go from here. What does Cindy Gallop see as her role in 2019, and beyond?

I am sure the answer will be as unexpected and exciting as she always is.

Theo Davies-Lewis will be interviewing Cindy Gallop in Somerville on the 5th February. More details about the event can be found here.

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