I’ll be presenting a workshop on Yes, No, and Consent, based on the article I wrote a while back and some subsequent conversations and feedback. Here’s the description:
Yes, No, and Consent:
It tends to be a basic assumption in kinky and sex-positive communities that sexy explorations must be done consensually, that both parties must express a YES (verbally or non-verbally), especially when getting into the dirty stuff. And many of us know that in order to say YES, we have to be able to say NO, to have full agency and full options available to us. But what about when you want something, your partner says they are into it, but you feel guilty? How do we take the YES more seriously? How can you use social media & the internet as explorations of communication, increasing the desire and friction in your sex life?
There are many other amazing presenters at the conference, including Essin’ Em and Maymay, who I’m really looking forward to seeing and hanging out with. Check out the full session list!
I don’t know which day or time I’ll be presenting, but I’ll let you know when I do know. If you’re in Seattle, please do consider coming! It’s a relatively inexpensive conference, and I always hear amazing things about it. I wanted to go when it was in DC last year, but couldn’t make it.
I went to college in Seattle (at the University of Washington, majoring in Gender Studies and Creative Writing, graduated in 2004), and lived there for almost seven years. I can’t wait to go walk around Greenlake, eat at Rom Mai Thai on Broadway, get a beer at the Elysian, and have a happy hour $4 double whiskey at the Rosebud. I only wish Pete’s Pizza hadn’t closed, I’ve never had calzones that good anywhere else. I haven’t been back in a while, I’m really looking forward to it.
He is one of the big minds behind both KinkForAll, which is an “unconference” of folks coming together to skill-share and discuss topics relating to kink and bdsm, and also Kink on Tap, which is a weekly internet video show where participants and special guests discuss the week in kink and what’s been going on in the media, as well as dozens of other things (tune in live at 8pm EST/5pm PST on Sunday nights at live.kinkontap.com and chat with other folks watching it in the chatroom!).
And like I mentioned, I attended KinkForAll Providence this past weekend. Kristen and I drove up from New York City for just the day, and we co-presented a workshop on Gendering Power (the short version—only twenty minutes—and I’ll be doing it full-length at the LSM here in New York City a few weeks!). And of course I saw many fantastic workshops—they are only twenty minutes long, in unconference style, very compact and specific, so you gotta really be precise about what you want to get across, and go for it.
Maymay’s was phenomenal. It’s called “On Dichotomies that (No Longer) Jail Me” and it kinda blew my brain. Now that I’ve re-watched it (and read along), I think it’s even more brilliant, and I highly urge you to set aside just twenty minutes, sometime today, and watch it.
The full text is available over at Maymay’s blog, which you should possibly follow along with in a side-by-side window situation when you finally watch this video of his presentation. There were so many parts that I loved, but in particular, this quote:
People speak of ’sexual morality,’ but that is a misleading expression. There is no special morality for sex. No matter what you do with yourself, whether you go to bed with girls or with boys, and no matter what it occurs to you to do with them or with yourself, no moral rule applies to that sphere of activity other than the principles that govern every aspect of life: honesty, courage, common humanity, consideration. —Jens Bjørnboe
[And then Maymay goes on to say:] What Jens understood that I think is so valuable is that people who dichotomize consensual sexual activity into obscene and decent acts also tend to approach morality as a dichotomy; they couple obscene with immoral and decent with moral. Indeed, Jens sees that the failure to recognize one false dichotomy actually blurs one’s view of which other dichotomies are true and which are not. On the other hand, when you begin to see the gradations between things you once simplistically believed were absolutes, you empower yourself to break out of all false dichotomies.
Now, before I go any further, it’s important to mention that false dichotomies are not inherently bad things; they can be useful, as I mentioned, and they can be a lot of fun. Case in point, I think dichotomies of power are really fucking sexy! Specifically, I have always loved (and still love) playing—but not being—powerless. That is, I enjoy being sexually submissive.
Trouble is, I’m a man. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: DUH! Thing is, the fact that I’m a man wasn’t always clear to me. In fact, thanks to this really strong tendency that false dichotomies, when we incorrectly believe they are true, have of reinforcing one another, for the longest time I thought I was actually a woman! Yeah! Let me tell you why.” —Read the full text over at Maymay’s blog!
Maymay goes on to explain what I’ve called identity alignment assumptions, though in a much more illustrative and specific way than I ever did in that post. Dichotomies can be so jailing, so harmful, so specific—but we also have an infinite number of tools we can use to break out of those and come into ourselves, fully.
And because Maymay has been working probably non-stop since Saturday to get these videos working and live, here are a few more talks from KinkForAll Providence which were PHENOMENAL.
In this KinkForAll Providence presentation, Marty, Brown University Alumn (Class of 2008), reads from his impassioned graduate college application personal statement. “One reason I have chosen to out myself is to legitimize my identity and the identities of those I care about,” he says. By the end of obtaining his linguistics undergraduate degree at Brown University, Marty was already an accomplished sexuality freedom advocate. While in high school, he started a date-rape awareness theatre troupe, he helped found and run an ongoing male sexuality workshop at Brown University, and wrote a sex education and advice column for a local newspaper. Now, he works at Planned Parenthood in Boston and volunteers for Men Against Sexism.
I’m looking forward to talking to Marty more, especially about masculinity and his work as a sexuality freedom advocate. I think that might make for a great Radical Masculinity interview, don’t you?
If you were following my twitter stream over the weekend, you also know that Kristen and I got to spend some time hanging out with Megan Andelloux, and her two talks were fantastic. She recently opened The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, Rhode Island—and she showed us around! It is such a cool space, if I lived closer I would go hang out there all the time, read a book on the comfy couches or browse my RSS reader and chat with the visitors about what’s going on in the world of sex. If you’re anywhere nearby, I urge you to check it out.
But it wasn’t as easy as just “hey, I’m going to open a center, kthxbye!”—Megan was threatened and barricaded from opening for more than five months. In her second talk at KinkForAll, she explained what happened, and how she fought it—and won. Check it out:
When Megan Andelloux wanted to open the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, RI, “freaked out” residents barricaded her opening for 5 months and the local police threatened to arrest her. At KinkForAll Providence, 1 week after Megan’s education center opened, she gives a talk about the “sex panic” that swept the state and captured national headlines. Megan tells of a University of Rhode Island professor who waged a “war” to stop her from educating adults about sex, how locals demanded that “we should outlaw sex!” and how Megan fought for your sexual freedoms—and won! Learn more about Megan Andelloux at OhMegan.com and about the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health at TheCSPH.org
KinkForAll is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people of the kink, queer, sex-positive and related communities to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from all participants. It is inspired by and based upon the BarCamp community.
I don’t know if or what I’ll be presenting on exactly. When I signed up I wrote that I might give a presentation about “gender theory, identity development, butch/femme identity, presentation, and dynamics, strapping on & sucking butch cock, how to fall in love without losing yourself … and probably a bunch of other things …” but it’s also really possible that I’ll just be there as a participant. I mean, look at all the other amazing people who have great ideas about what they can present on?
What: A no-limits sex-positive gender and sexuality unconference. Why: To inspire a creative, interactive and open environment where everyone feels comfortable talking, learning, and being inspired by all kinds of sexuality. When: March 8, 2009, Sunday, 10AM to 5:30PM Where: LGBT Community Center, Room 310 at 208 West 13th Street, New York City Who: Everyone How much: Free (as in beer as well as freedom)
KinkForAll is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people of the kink, queer, sex-positive and related communities to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from all participants. (It is inspired by the BarCamp community.)
ANYONE WITH SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE OR WITH THE DESIRE TO LEARN IS WELCOME AND INVITED TO JOIN. When you attend, be prepared to share with others. When you leave, be prepared to share it with the world.
A KinkForAll is a special kind of gathering because there are no spectators, only participants. Attendees must give a talk or a presentation, help with one, or otherwise volunteer/contribute in some way to support the event. This is called sharing and we like it. All presentations are scheduled the day they happen—there are no pre-scheduled presentations or keynote addresses. The people present at the event will select the presentations they want to see.
Anyone can present, on any topic related to sexuality. You do not necessarily have to teach a new skill or idea. You might share an experience, review a product, or read a poem. The goal is to start a discussion, make connections, and exchange knowledge. Presentations promoting specific commercial products or companies are discouraged.