Catalyzing Sexual Communication, Activism and Acceptance

Sep 04, 2012 • Events, Lifestyle

#ccon a sex-positive conference

The co-founder of the East Coast-based Momentum sex conference is bringing the party west! On September 14, Catalyst will kick off at the Hilton Long Beach for the weekend, bringing attendees a plethora of sex educators and speakers to energize, motivate and catalyze sexual communication, activism and acceptance.

Catalyst is inverting the model — parties first, then business. After the opening ceremony, some social lubrication and laughs comes the keynote plenary featuring Marty Klein, Megan Andelloux, Maggie Mayhem and Francisco Ramirez, taking us straight to the intersection of sex and freedom. Per their site:

Battles over sex education, reproductive rights, gay marriage, obscenity, pornography and other forms of adult entertainment and expression have played a central role in the 2012 election season. Sex is always a political issue, but it becomes even more so in challenging economic times, both dividing and uniting individuals. The Opening Keynote panel at CatalystCon tackles these issues head on as speakers address ongoing debates over sexuality at the local, national and global levels. What are the stakes and how can we spark change in productive and meaningful ways?

Saturday, September 15

The following day is when things really get interesting. At 9:00AM, you have five panels to choose from:

Erotica 101, with renown erotica author Rachel Kramer Bussel, who will walk you through the ins and outs of modern erotic writing — from getting started, finding your voice, writing against type, erotic love and lust letters, to submitting your work keeping up with the thriving erotica market. This is where you’ll learn how to incorporate everyday scenarios as well as outlandish fantasies into your pieces, and craft them so they’re ready to run in magazines and anthologies.

Or, you could jump into Payment Processing, Creativity, and Censorship with Ned and Maggie Mayhem, which will explore commercial censorship on the internet — from battles with PayPal to the kind of content Visa finds unsuitable for public consumption, this panel will explore how the limits of payment processors impact our creativity and put borders on the human narrative. Yes, you will learn work-arounds here.

Think you know which ballroom you are going to hit yet? Not so fast — Reid Mihalko’s When To Give It Away and When To Charge For It: Knowing Your Worth, Assessing Others’, And How To Make Ends Meet As a Sex-Positive Professional is a fantastic session for sex educators who are considering joining the speaking circuit. Mihalko — a sought-after sex educator and speaker — will share tools, tips and tactics for evaluating your worth, pricing your services, understanding common business models in the industry, positioning yourself as a sex-positive professional inside of these models, knowing when you should charge for your expertise and when to give it away, and why!

Sounds compelling, except Dr. Marty Klein is in the next room talking about the war on sex! America’s War On Sex and the 2012 Election: Does It Matter Who Wins? will analyze the news and identify patterns of attack on secular democracy and freedom of expression. The “War On Sex uses phony categories, dangerism, and a broad Sexual Disaster Industry,” Klein says. “It is successfully re-conceptualizing private sexual expression into public behavior, which is therefore subject to public control.”

And last for this time slot, though certainly not least (how are we ever going to choose?), is Marcia Baczynski talking about Relationship Models for the 21st Century, which explores the entanglements beyond the traditional monogamous model. All who come will be treated to examples of non-traditional relationship structures that are being practiced right now out there in the real world, along with information about how these structures evolved for the people involved, the needs these new models meet and problems they solve, and the emerging vocabulary for talking about these kinds of relationships.

Saturday, September 15, 10:30AM

At 10:30, the next five panels begin. Transmedia Storytelling, Social Networking and Sex Education: “Mainstreaming” Sex Education with Interactive Social Media, Digital Capture and Publishing Technologies with Kicesie Drew and Reid Mihalko will focus on using digital technologies for storytelling to break out of the “sex ghetto” and engage a wider audience in topics that matter.

In the next room, Davis will headline The Dirty Business of Money, which tackles the imbalance between the huge sums of money made in the sex industry and the bank accounts of most individuals working within it. This session will deal with the legal, accounting and negotiation tactics that every freelancer, creative person or entrepreneur should know.

Carol Queen, jessica drake, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence, Ava Mir-Ausziehen, and Sex Nerd Sandra Daugherty will be tackling Sex Education: Out of the Classroom, into the Streets!, a session will explore the many ways sex education is being conducted today — from podcasts to websites, adult ed classes in sex shops to alternative centers, and everything in between.

Charlie Glickman will be in the next room addressing masculinity in Act Like A Man: Masculinity & Gender in the 21st Century. This interactive workshop will shine a lens on how masculinity is constructed; how it affects sexuality, relationships, and culture; give attendees ways to talk about it; show how we can do to respond to it more productively and compassionately; and find new freedom from such oppressive gender roles.

In The Buck Angel Effect, Buck Angel will share about his gender transition from female to male, while challenging the audience’s notion of what makes someone a man or a woman. He will describe how he changed from a desperately unhappy and uncomfortable individual, to a person who is proud of his body and sexually comfortable with his genitals (which have not been surgically altered). His message of self-acceptance goes beyond gender and genitals: it is a universal concept of knowing, becoming, and loving yourself.

Saturday, September 15, 12:00PM

At noon, Paying for It: How Client Stigma Impacts the Sex-Positive Movement with Sabrina Morgan will explore how destigmatizing the role of client in commercial sex dynamics is an effective strategy in winning the war on sex.

Ebony A. Utley will be right around the corner at Sex, Sexism, and the Search for Pleasure in Hip Hop will explore the reasons that this genre of music is so saturated with oppressive images of women.

In Media Risks: Who Wins? Brian Gross, Adella, Sherri Shaulis, Gram Ponante and Dee Dennis will dig deep into the media’s approach to sex — are they helping or just exploiting it for viewers and readers while condemning it?

Alma de Anda and Mayra Lizzette Yñiguez will lead Safer is Sexy: The (Fe)Male Condom, a workshop focusing exclusively on the FDA-approved FC2 condom.

In Ex-Gay No Way! Practically Maneuvering Through the Rhetoric of “Reparative Therapy,” Dr. Jallen Rix will elaborate on the dangers of “reparative therapy” and other methods of “praying the gay away,” sharing his own story of recovery after leaving the “ex-gay” movement.

Saturday, September 15, 2:40PM

At 2:40PM, The Impact of Digital Piracy on Business with Nate Glass will kick off, giving attendees tools to combat piracy in a meaningful way, from hiring a removal service to educating yourself on established and future anti-piracy laws and knowing your rights.

In the next ballroom, Katie Garcia will lead Sex Positive in The Bible Belt: Working Hard, Playing Hard AND Talking About It, an interactive presentation that examines the process of creating sex-positive, sexual health education in conservative spaces.

Toxic Toys with Metis Black, Jennifer Pritchett and Ducky Doolittle will focus on the sex toy industry, an unregulated wild West with no health standards, consumer protections or labeling laws. Together, they will explore the history of toys and brainstorm a way to change the industry for the better.

Teaching Porn gathers together a group of college professors (Lynn Comella, Shira Tarrant, Kevin Heffernan and Constance Penley) to discuss their various experiences with and approaches to teaching porn within the context of the university classroom. Is it appropriate for faculty to show porn at all? If so, under what conditions? Should students be forewarned, and given the opportunity to leave if such images are unwanted? These questions and more.

In Creativity for Radicals, Allison Moon will explore the politics, privileges and identity issues endemic to creating art; deconstruct notions of “privilege guilt” into useful components for creativity; discuss the intersection between art and social justice; reverse-engineer activist skill sets to turn them into useful tools for the creation process; and share methods for distilling passion from conflict.

Saturday, September 15, 4:10PM

At 4:10PM, the next batch of sessions will begin. In How to Be an Ally to Sex Workers in Theory and Practice with Sabrina Morgan, Tizz Wall and Dee Dennis, attendees will learn how to be a better ally to sex workers, including building alliances with intersecting, marginalized, and mainstream communities and writing about sex work topics with sensitivity.

A New Monogamy: Catalyst for Conversation with Dr. Tammy Nelson will explore the ways couples are negotiating monogamy in their relationships to avoid the pain of betrayal and infidelity and enable one another’s natural emotional and sexual evolution.

Meanwhile, in The Anatomy of Pleasure, Carol Queen and Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence will take attendees on a tour of the human body. How many senses can you describe and play with individually? Lawrence and Queen can demonstrate at least 15. Curious yet?

When is an Orgasm a Political Act? When is Lube a Tool of the Revolution? with Megan Andelloux will demonstrate how three components of sexuality — pleasure, health, and advocacy — flow into one another. Andelloux will teach you which sexual health issues are involved anal sex, why you should care about sex workers’ rights, and how you can defend your own sexual freedom through self-love. By the end of this workshop, you will be fully prepared to get radical inside (and outside) of the bedroom.

In One in Three: Acknowledging the Reality of Abortion in the Lives of Women with Jennifer Hart, attendees will examine and discuss their feelings about abortion and work together to debunk myths.

Sunday, September 16

Sunday’s schedule is equally jam-packed. At 9:00AM on the dot, five more panels will begin. In What Color Is Your Condom? Different Self-Expressions Of Sex Education and Which Is Right For YOU! Megan Andelloux and Reid Mihalko will explore the process of figuring out what kind of sex educator one is meant to be.

Fat Sex Works with Jolene Parton, Kelly Shibari and Kitty Stryker will tackle how physicality positively and negatively affected their experiences in both the mainstream and indie sex industries, discuss the impact that fat, sexual bodies have on advertising and imagery; and dish on how they navigate multiple marginalizations (race, class, ability, gender, etc.) within an objectifying environment.

In Feminist Perspectives on “Fifty Shades of Grey”, Carol Queen leads a deconstruction session on the best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey. Bonus discussion: What’s up with spanking and Kegel balls?

Free (Sex) Advice on a Park Bench with Francisco Ramirez will share the story of how, in 2008, he took to the streets of New York City with a folding chair and a handwritten sign that read “Free Advice on Relationships, Sex & Dating,” and kicked off a career that hasn’t slowed down one bit. Listening to actual audio from real conversations he had then, attendees will ponder the bigger picture: the limitations of new media and sex, and why (and how) we must go beyond tweeting and tumbling.

In Sex and the Media: What’s Right, What’s Wrong, Why It Matters with Lynn Comella, Charlie Glickman and Shira Tarrant, the audience will take a critical look at the way the media is presenting sex and brainstorm how they can do it better to ensure sexual safety, sexual pleasure, and safeguard civil liberties.

Sunday, September 16, 10:30AM

At 10:30AM, When Someone You Love is a Sex Worker with Stacey Swimme will employ a roundtable format to discuss common issues that sex workers and their loved ones are challenged with, including: isolation, shame, jealousy and fears related to criminalization and discrimination.

Sex Positive Poetry/Entertainment with poet Mo Beasley will explore the lyrical expression of sex as a means of engendering a deeper discussion on old and new taboos around sex and sexuality. “What is erotica versus pornography? Is there a difference? What’s the big deal? Who and what set your boundaries on sex? Has sex ever been introduced to you as a positive in child or adulthood? How have you developed your ideas on ‘good sex versus bad?”

Lynn Comellla, Adella, Janet Gibson, Metis Black, and Nenna Joiner will lead Women in the Industry, discussing the rise of women in what has, until this point, been a male-dominated industry. From toy manufacturing to pornography, they will discuss their experiences in carving out a space for themselves in the world of adult entertainment.

Meanwhile, in Why Talk About Sex and Disability Anyway? Robin Mandell and Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence will tackle the intersection of sex and disability with the areas of healthy body image, self-esteem, and accessible sex education for all.

In Polyamory’s Lessons in Impermanence, Shira B. Katz will question death as the goalpost of a successful relationship, focusing on impermanence and the unique roles it plays in polyamory in the form of short term relationships, one night stands, retirement-age family dynamics and in ‘primary’ relationships.

Sunday, September 16, 12:00PM

B., Geena Rogers and Patricia West will lead A Conversation with Anti-Establishment Sex Workers, discussing the wide range of realities of sex workers, addressing “privileged status” and outlining how activists can use this privilege to their advantage and as a way to create solidarity with more marginalized and oppressed sex workers. The panel will seek to answer what goals sex workers and pleasure activists should be working toward as a movement.

In How to Succeed in the Online Adult Business By Really Trying, Ben Tao will share the lessons and insights necessary to launching and running and as a complete outsider to the industry. The session will also examine the current landscape of both adult companies and mainstream companies that are doing interesting things online and what it means for the future of adult business.

Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex with Joan Price will zero in on the most interesting, surprising, and provocative questions and concerns that seniors raise about their sexuality, along with the special challenges and satisfactions of blogging, talking and writing about senior sex.

In Talking With Your Kids About Sex: A Guide for Parents, Parents-to-be, and Anyone with Kids in Their Lives, Lanae St. John and MamaSutra will tackle the question of how to talk with kids about sexuality, relationships, decision-making, and other related topics. Other features will include how to identify your own hurdles and challenges, where to get the best info you need to support your children, and more.

The Online Activist: Creating a Social Media Content Strategy with Cunning Minx will focus on how one can use the web to put out the message of sex-positivity and sticking to it. Minx will show how to brainstorm, create, analyze and adapt a content strategy that can be used to support any one of a number of social efforts.

Sunday, September 16, 2:30PM

The closing plenary, Defending Pornography: United States v. John Stagliano with Constance Penley, Ph.D, John Stagliano, and Allan Gelbard, Esq. will address the current political climate and its challenges in defending adult material against both obscenity and intellectual property violations. What can we learn from the most recent legal battles in order to raise successful ones in the future both in the courts and the court of public opinion?

There you have it. Aren’t you just dying to attend? Us too.