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Archive for August, 2012

Sex, reproductive rights, gay marriage and pornography have been at the center of an often heated 2012 campaign season, which makes this conference especially timely.” says Lynn Comella, who will moderate the keynote plenary session at the inaugural CatalystCon sexuality conference making its debut in Long Beach, California September 14-16.

CatalystCon: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism & Acceptance will be held at the Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center, and is being organized by Dee Dennis, who also founded CatalystCon’s East Coast predecessor, the popular MOMENTUM conference in Washington, DC.

“Knowledge is power, and sharing that knowledge is the first spark in igniting change,” Dennis says.

This week Dennis and the promoters of CatalystCon released the full schedule and speakers list, designed to “inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality,” beginning with a Pre-Conference CE Seminar on Friday, September 14 titled When Sex Gets Complicated: Working With Couples Around Affairs, Pornography, & Cybersex lead by Dr. Marty Klein, author of the recent bestseller Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex and How to Get It.

Comella — Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a popular sex columnist for the Las Vegas Weekly — will moderate the opening keynote plenary session on Saturday September 15, Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance, with Klein, The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health founder Megan Andelloux, adult film star Maggie Mayhem, and sexual health expert Francisco Ramirez as panelists.

Dozens of other speakers are featured on the schedule, including The Center for Sex & Culture founder Carol Queen, Sex With the Lights On author Ducky Doolittle, erotica writer/editor extraordinaire Rachel Kramer Bussel, adult film star Jessica Drake (of Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex fame), Good Vibrations’ Education Program manager Charlie Glickman, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty author Joan Price, Smitten Kitten and Coalitiona Against Toxic Toys founder Jennifer Pritchett, ReidAboutSex.com editor Reid Mihalk, Evil Angel founder John Stagliano, Faith Aloud executive director Reverend Rebecca Turner, Pink Visual founder Allison Vivas, Sex Workers Outreach Project Bay Area director Patricia West, and many others.

Here’s more, via CatalystCon.com:

CatalystCon is a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality. It is about reaching out and stimulating those who attend to create those important conversations in their own communities, changing how we as a society talk about and treat sexuality. It is about stimulating the activist that is within all of us and sparking transformation in the way our friends, neighbors, children and even politicians discuss one of the most important aspects of humanity.

This is a conference meant to energize, enlighten and exhilarate. It is a conference where everyone is welcome, everyone is respected, and everyone is encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences. With the most current attacks on women’s rights such as birth control, mandatory transvagainal ultrasounds as well as sex education being pulled from our schools, it is more important than ever to come together and have these important conversations on all areas of sexuality.

Registration for CatalystCon is open now, starting at $100 for Saturday and Sunday’s events or a full weekend pass for $125.

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What does sex positive mean to you and why is it important to your life? This is a question I ask those wanting to join my Sex Positive Meetup.com groups in Los Angeles and Portland, OR, and the answers have delighted me and given me hope. As a longtime advocate for a sex positive world, I can answer that question without even thinking, but to find so many others who understand what it means, people from walks of life as diverse as physicians and plumbers, full-time mothers and bankers, lawyers and yoga teachers is inspiring and satisfying. That they took the time and gave truly considered answers does even more to warm the cockles of my heart. (I love saying “cockles”)

I know how many men and women carry wounds from living in a sex-negative culture: I work with them as a sex educator and intimacy coach, I talk to them when they attend the workshops I lead and the events I coordinate, and I hear from them when they write asking for help. From countless pulpits and various media, one would think that sex itself is the culprit—if only people could stop being sexual these problems would go away they say. But this could not be farther from the truth. To paraphrase a tired “new-age”ism, we are sexual beings having a human experience. We were sexual long before we could be called human and according to many evolutionary biologists, it is precisely our sexuality that has given us much of our humanity, including our massive cerebral cortex and much of our limbic system; in other words, our ability to think rationally, and much of our ability to empathize.

The wounding comes from the co-option of sexuality by dominator culture, in conjunction with religion, (religion was also co-opted by dominator culture) as it uses shame, guilt, and fear to control sexuality. It also limits sexual expression while keeping sexual desire, primarily male sexual desire, at a heated frenzy. And the reason for the co-option is not about sex, it is about power and control.

First, we need to address what sexual wounding is. Most think of it in terms of rape, incest, and harassment, which it is. But it is also experienced by those who have been slut-shamed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXH2K7OC37s) and those who feel shut out and rejected, objectified, denied, controlled, and disrespected. Almost everyone alive has experienced some or all of this at some point.

Next, let’s take a look at dominator culture. Dominator culture is best described in the Old Testament, where stories of conquest and violence exemplify the methods used to instill control: pain and death. Now one might not think that we, nor most of us in the west, live in a dominator culture, but we do, only the violence that we fear is no longer that our village will be destroyed or that we will be hung in the public square or burned at the stake, but that memory lingers in our evolutionary consciousness.

Of course, one can still see dominator culture alive and well and in its full manifestation in many parts of the world, for example some Muslim countries and parts of Africa. And where one sees it, one sees that the incidence of sexual violence goes hand in hand with sexual oppression and you see alienated, frustrated, and angry young men willing to commit the worst atrocities. Why? Because they are not allowed to do, what nature put them here to do: give and receive pleasure and love and nurture a woman (or a man!). Of course, homosexuality, though widely practiced in dominator culture is forbidden as a form of love and is only permitted as domination – penetrator, and submission – penetrated.

Check out this compare and contrast box.

Sex Negative

Sex Positive

Someone else “owns” and controls your sexuality, your father, your brother, your spouse, your church, your village (Afghanistan for instance).

You own your sexuality.

Strip clubs treat women like meat and men like marks.

Clubs would feature men and women dancing sensually, artistically, as a joyful expression. They would get paid hourly, not hustling for tips.

Prostitution is illegal but rampant: women are victimized, sold into slavery, pimped, and arrested.

Prostitution is legal, but hardly needed since sex is readily available from friends, lovers, husbands, and wives, and casual encounters.

You are called a slut because you like sex.

You are called friendly and a “sex aficionado.”

Pornography is rife and a multi-billion dollar industry, often depicting very young women being treated in a degrading and violent manner.

Erotic art is appreciated and valued as a representation of how beautiful the sexual act is.

Rape is used as a weapon in war and in prisons as a way to show superiority, and is used against women by angry and frustrated men.

Rape is inconceivable and only happens in rare instances where insanity is present.

Sex is used to sell everything from cars to alcohol.

Sex can’t be used to sell anything, because there is no pent up demand.

Desire for sex drives people into marriages and relationships they don’t want and can’t get out of. (Since, you shouldn’t give away the milk when you can sell the cow!)

People choose relationships wisely.

 

As promised, here are the words from everyday folks.

                “It means that I enjoy a robust life-affirming respect for sexuality, sexual diversity, and the complex ways we all try to get sexual needs met without screwing up other areas of our lives or other people. Sex is a way of connecting to other people, but also exploring oneself; inhabiting the body, but also feeling one’s way beyond it in a sort of spiritual seeking; reconnecting with one’s own youthful energies, but also learning to grow into new phases of life. It’s all fascinating, even the difficult bits.”

Male 41, Los Angeles

                “Sex-positive is a belief and understanding that sensuality and sexuality should be embraced and explored in a safe and consensual manner. I’ve always considered myself sex-positive individual long before I heard the actual term. I’ve always known that sex and my sexuality are normal and healthy facets of life.

Female 35, Los Angeles

                “Sex-positive, to me means a happy, healthy, playful approach to our sexual selves, & not just fucking either. It’s about PASSION; connecting to other people on a different level that is so intimate & personal. And it’s about finding things erotic & sensual that most people don’t even notice in everyday life. Also being tolerant & understanding of other peoples choices…”

Female 53, Portland

Sex-positive culture is coming to a neighborhood near you (it is actually already in your neighborhood, your neighbors just haven’t come out yet) in the very near future. It is the real sexual revolution, the grown up sexual revolution. And this one is not going away any time soon, because like Dr. King’s and Gandhi’s non-violence resistance movements, you can’t argue with it, there are no victims, only winners. And there is nothing to lose, accept for five thousand year old system of brutal control and suppression, a war on sex that never worked to suppress sex, but ultimately suppressed humanity’s evolution toward love, connection, and compassion. 

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