By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno

SEX is one part of life that has remained intimate in a society increasingly eager to share everything online

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Videographer / director: Gaetan Mariage, Adam Gray
Producer: Joe Roberts, James Thorne
Editor: James Thorne

But one couple in Mexico City is helping to usher in a ‘social sex revolution’ by allowing the world to share in their most personal moments.

Fernanda Vasconcelos and her partner Walter Gutierrez have built a following online by posting videos of their sex lives on the website ‘Make Love Not Porn’ – an entirely user-generated video-sharing platform for real-world sex.

Walter told Barcroft Media: “It’s to show real people having real-world sex and fighting all the misconceptions that come from porn.”

Fernanda, who is known online as ‘Efi’, added: “It’s like this sex utopia where people don’t have taboos or boundaries or walls in front of them. It’s just real people having fun, being themselves, and just making the most of it.

“I like to turn to the camera now and then between the filming to make the ones that end up watching the videos involved in it.

“We even plan it like: ‘Oh, maybe you can put on these and we can do it on the sofa or we can make it like a really cool spot on the floor, or the window.’”

The couple, who go by ‘Efi and Walter’ on their profile page, have been together 11 years, and while friends and bosses know about their online exploits, they are yet to reveal it to their religious parents.

For now, they say sharing their sex lives has helped them in powerful ways, most notably by helping Efi ‘reclaim her sexuality’ after being assaulted during a gynaecologist visit.

She recounted her experience, which occurred just one year into dating Walter: “You really don’t expect to go to a doctor and end up being sexually assaulted. It’s nothing that really crosses your mind.

“I was so ashamed and I felt like my body didn’t have value after that. I started crying when we were having sex because I was trying to heal myself. I didn’t tell anyone.”

Efi eventually told Walter, who had noticed something was terribly wrong, about her horrific experience.

He said: “It was hard to really know how to react to that situation. I was thinking a lot of things ranging from finding the guy to going to the authorities.

“But in Mexico the justice system simply doesn’t work in favour of the victims. It’s easier here in Mexico to blame the victim.

“So there wasn’t really much we could do. I really tried to do my best. I just tried to be there.”

In 2013, Walter came across Make Love Not Porn after it’s founder and CEO, Cindy Gallop, gave a TED Talk introducing the platform.

Something about the prospect of using the website resonated with Efi, who said she hated watching porn after her assault, due to it being “all about domination and submitting women to something.”

She said: “Finding Make Love Not Porn made me think it could help other women to find out what sex is really about.”

“At first, I had my doubts because of course I didn’t know if I wanted to show my body to someone besides Walter.

“But we made a video and submitted it and it had a really good response. I just instantly felt a little better about myself and about everything – about sex, about us.”

Founder, Cindy Gallop, spent 30 years in the advertising industry before creating Make Love Not Porn, and envisions her platform as a tool to help society think differently about sex. 

She started the site in 2009 after noticing that the younger men she dated - often in their 20s - had sexual expectations heavily influenced by the easy availability of hard core pornography.

She said: “ I realized I was experiencing what happens when two things converge - when total access to hardcore porn online meet our society’s equally total reluctance to talk honestly and openly about sex.

“The convergence of these factors results in porn becoming, by default, sex education and not in a good way. I found myself encountering a number of sexual behavioral memes in bed where I went, ‘Woah, I know where that behavior is coming from. 

“I launched Make Love Not Porn at Ted in 2009, the talk went viral and and it drove this extraordinary global response to my website.

“We are not porn. We are not amateur,” she explained. “We are building a whole new category on the internet that has never previously existed: social sex.”

Gallop has even more ambitious plans for her project, and is entirely serious when she says she sees it as the first step towards world peace.

She explained: “The only way you end rape culture is by inculcating in society a universally openly talked-about and aspired-to gold standard of what constitutes good sexual values.

“That is what every video on Make Love Not Porn demonstrates.

“When we do that, we also end ‘Me Too’ sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual violence – all the areas where the perpetrators can't rely on the fact we do not talk about sex to ensure that victims will never speak up.

“I talk about Make Love Not Porn as my attempt to bring about world peace, and I’m not joking.”

Efi and Walter certainly seem to be a testament to the healing power of sharing their real-world sex experiences.

Eli said: “If you are abused or assaulted or have been hurt in any way, you can overcome it. You can get to this point where you feel even more powerful and secure and Make Love Not Porn is really a part of that.”

And while many would find the prospect of exposing the world to their intimate moments daunting at the least, and potentially relationship-damaging at worst, Gallop doesn’t see it that way.

“I regularly get asked, ‘But Cindy, sex is a private personal intimate thing, and don’t you feel that what you are doing is ruining that?.’

“My response to that is, go to Google and enter into the search box the word porn, like millions of children do every single day all around the world.

“Look at the top 10 sites that come up and go to each of those sites. Take a long hard look at the home page and then tell me that I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing.”

The project does appear to be a sincere effort to provoke a new societal discussion about sexuality, but whether increasing amounts of couples will join the site and feel comfortable with ‘social sex’ remains to be seen.

What’s clear is that Efi and Walter remain convinced of the positive influence Make Love Not Porn can have on couples, especially those trying to overcome traumatic sexual experiences.

“I think it has been a weird but mainly a fun journey for us,” said Efi. “It has really helped me get in control of myself and be more aware of how incredible it is to be a woman.

“I am really proud of being a part of Make Love Not Porn. I really think that more people should know about this and more people should submit to the platform and be less stressed about sex.”