CatalystCon: sex-positive heaven

CatalystCon is the event for sex-positive educators and activists with the best damned content ever

I have a confession to make. Usually, I don’t go to a lot of scheduled conference sessions. I find that the best way to derive value from conferences is the impromptu, serendipitous “in the hall” moments. You know, those conversations that spring from a funny badge, a recognized screen name or a quick assist finding the bar. In fact, for many conferences, I use the 1/1/1 rule: go to one session a day (harder than it sounds, especially at BDSM events), attend one hour of a sponsored party each night, and talk to one unfamiliar person.

But those proportions simply don’t work for CatalystCon. Why? Because this conference for educators and activists determined to make a difference in the sex-positive world has content-rich sessions involving some of the best educators in the business. Instead of attending one session a day, I must allow myself to SKIP one session a day so as not to get overwhelmed with too much fantastic information and ideas!

The highlight reel

Opening festivities. Since this is a starter conference stemming from MomentumCon (around 150, I’m told), and since many of us vocal sex educators are in fact a tad introverted, the festivities kicked off not only with some great humor from Maria Falzone, but Reid Mihalko‘s fun social lubrication exercises. During these all-hands-on-deck activities, we were encouraged (nay, commanded) to interact with the cool peeps in the room in a fun and entirely non-intimidating way. In fact, Reid instituted what I believe to be the most brilliant idea of the conference, which was to invite anyone identifying as an introvert to take an “introvert bracelet,” which would encourage the rest of us to initiate conversations with them. C’mon, admit it; you totally want that for your next con, don’t you?

Marcia Baczynski at #ccon

Relationship Models for the 21st Century with Marcia Baczynski. Marcia covered some fascinating material on the historical significance and evolution of marriage, noting that what we think of as “traditional marriage” really covers only the last 50 years or so. And she shared a shorthand for that type of relationship: MMKES (married monogamous kids eternal soulmates). Nothing wrong with the model, of course, as long as we are aware (a) that it is short-lived historically and (b) it doesn’t work for everyone.

Taking Sex Ed to the Streets, a panel facilitated by Carol Queen and with panelists Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence, Ava, Jessica Drake of Wicked Pictures and Sex Nerd Sandra. Dr. Lawrence pointed out what he calls the “Elders Effect”: once you step up to speak about any aspect of sex, you are an instant source. For most of the panelists, this happened when people started asking them about sex, and they stumbled into an education cycle. What I learned from this: there is always room for another sex-positive educator in the world.

My takeaway: Every non-faith-based study shows that sex education decreases pregnancy and STI transmission.

Megan Andelloux on Orgasm at #ccon

Orgasm as a Political Act, a diquietingly enlightening talk by the vivacious Megan Andelloux about the misconceptions in the general public based on a dearth of available sex education. Megan teaches sex education seminars to colleges and medical schools, and her disclosures of what the 20-somethings do not yet know about sexuality is frightening! (If you meet her, ask her to tell you the pine cone story. It’s horrifying.)

However, the most impactful segment of her talk was her decision to show the brief, two-minute video clip of Faces of Desire, which depicts men and woman experiencing orgasm from the neck up only, while looking directly at the camera. The reactions to the video were fascinating and ranged from arousal to disgust to violation, brilliantly making the point that not only do we all react differently to sex but that the primary value lies in having the conversation about it.

My takeaway: Think real orgasm isn’t disruptive? Think again.

Sex and the Media, a panel with Charlie Glickman, Lynn Comella and Shira Tarrant. Good discussion of how media’s purposes differ from ours and the importance of sound bites and question redirection. Shira suggests, “Thank you for asking me that. But the real question is… ”

My takeaway: The key to good messaging for any interview is to prepare the connect, lead and takeaway in advance.

SexNerdSandra's Tweet from #cconactivist

Content Creation for the Online Activist Yes, my own talk! It was my first time giving it, so of course I found a million places for improvement. But the crowd was GREAT! Thanks to @lunquil, @sexualcandor, @talesofthepack, @sexnerdsandra, @trixiefilms @marip0zo, @serviceslut @amyjogoddard for engaging, asking questions and Tweeting the shit outta the talk! The slides from the presentation are posted, and you inspired me to find other venues in which this content might be useful, such as a webinar or local sex-positive toy store event. In fact, if you have ideas on venues where this talk might be helpful, please let me know!

The entertainment Saturday night entertainment was sexy fun, with Ducky DooLittle‘s Dirty Bingo (always fun!), a little dancing, and some good, old-fashioned laughter as the best medicine in the Bawdy Storytelling series.

Chillaxing and wrapping up

Perfect place for a #ccon PW meetup!

For me, the conference ended a with mini Poly Weekly poolside meetup with attendees and locals hanging out chillaxing by the pool and hot tub for a few hours before heading back home. And to top it all off, I would be the social media dork that I am without checking my stats and sharing the most reTweeted post of the conference (although note that Charlie’s Twitter ID is actually @charlieglickman):

 Yes, according to my analytics report, that one Tweet was the top performer of the week!

CatalstCon was the perfect mix of stunning information and insights, sexy entertainment and phenomenal social opportunities. If you have a chance to attend in the future, you should.

Content creation for the online activist

Social media content creation and strategy for sex-positive activists and educators

First, thanks so much to Dee for inviting me to speak at CatalystCon, and second, thanks to everyone who attended and participated in this amazing session. I had a blast and hope you all did as well!

PW 334: The Ultimate Guide to Kink

Tristan Taormino tells all about kink in her new book

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1:00 News and host chat

  • I’ll be giving Content Creation for the Online Activist at CatalystCon September 14-16 in Long Beach

3:30 Tristan Taormino on the Ultimate Guide to Kink

Tristan Taormino, award winning author, columnist, editor, filmmaker, sex educator and editor, shares her insights on her new book, the Ultimate Guide to Kink. Tristan shares why she decided to write the book, why she decided to use an anthology format, and who should read the book.

Also, the book is split into two parts: skills/techniques and fantasies/fetishes—Tristan shares why and what you can expect in each section.

Where can you buy the Ultimate Guide? Your local sex-positive store such as Smitten Kitten or Babeland.

33:30 Feedback

  • David took issue with Grammar Girl’s explanations of “jealousy” versus “envy”. That full podcast episode is here: Jealousy vs Envy

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY (our new number!). And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!


What healthcare professionals need to know about poly and kink

As a health care practitioner, how do you identify polyamorous and kinky clients?

This week, I had the pleasure of participating in an event at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. (Thanks to Allena Gabosch for recommending me for the event when she was booked!) The event was called the “human library,” and about a dozen of us activists acted as “books” to the participants, who were all in the program. Since health care professional deal with people of all orientations, genders and abilities, we were there to act as open books into our respective communities and to lend advice to future naturopathic practitioners.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, and I had no idea of the questions I might be asked. Most of the students I met with were unsure what to ask and wanted a basic primer on polyamory and kink. “What do I need to know about polyamory/kink?” was the most common question. For this, I recommended two books, a paper and a local resource:

However, some did have specific concerns, including:

  • When I take a history, what would I ask to discover if a person is polyamorous?
  • When I take a history, what would I ask to discover if a person is kinky?
  • What does “polyamorous” actually mean, and what do I need to know about these people?

Creating a safe space

The first question was fairly easy to answer. Just as we poly folks create a safe space for emotional and relationship discussions, health care practitioners should do everything possible to set their patients at ease. The best way to do this is not to make assumptions: don’t assume the person is straight, of one particular gender, monogamous or vanilla. Even if it’s too personal to ask, it’s best not to be heteronormative. Or relationship-normative.

Also, do your best to create a safe, judgment-free zone to encourage your patients to be comfortable enough to reveal their orientations. My favorite personal experience with this was a fantastic gynecologist who, when I was in the stirrups, asked, “Do you sleep with men, women, or both?” I’d never heard “or both” before, and I was delighted she’d asked! I answered, “both,” to which she replied with a cheery, “Good for you!” And just like that, she established trust. I knew I could tell her about my partners, probably even my kinky proclivities, and she wouldn’t flinch, blink or judge.

Compare this to my previous gynecologist, who, when I told her I was now in a polyamorous relationship, left an awkward pause, sat back with considerable discomfort and mumbled, “it’s best if you try to limit the number of partners.” Ugh! At the time, I had TWO long-term, committed partners. She just assumed that “polyamorous” meant I’d installed a revolving door to my bedroom. I knew I couldn’t trust her to be considerate and informed, so I switched to someone I could.

So how does a practitioner establish a safe space to discuss orientations and lifestyles? “Male, female or both?” is a good start. A good follow-up question is, “What is your relationship structure?” Monogamous folks will probably reply “single,” “married” or the like, but this question opens up the opportunity for non-monogamous folks to share both their orientation and partner information if they are comfortable doing so.

What about kink?

Asking about BDSM proclivities and activities is far, far more difficult, and I’ve personally never found a good, non-offensive lead-in to asking if someone is kinky unless he or she had already dropped a significant hint. Most kinksters I know frankly will not share this information with a health care practitioner because they believe it to be private and irrelevant. One could argue against the “irrelevant” factor, depending upon the type of visit and health care practitioner, but it is definitely private and personal information. There is no good way to broach this topic in a casual way. The best you can do is to create a safe space in which your patient will be willing to share relevant details with you and ask you health-related questions as needed.

How do we tell the difference between kink and abuse?

There is of course a big difference between kink and abuse: consent. And health care practitioners are mandatory reporters, so they must by law report abuse. This is why many kinksters don’t come out to their doctors: they could mistakenly be reported as abuse victims and inadvertently make their partner suspect of being an abuser. Health care practitioners are trained to question bruises with a conversational, “Hey, how did that come about?” or “Wow, big bruise. What happened there?”

Here, I’ll give a little advice to the kinksters: be honest. When you try to hide the information, it only makes you look more like an abuse victim! A few suggestions:

  • [big smile] Oh, that? That was FUN!
  • [big smile + eyebrow raise] Do you really want to know?
  • [big smile + happy sigh] That was the cause of my last orgasm.
  • Or, if you must lie: [big smile] Carpet burn.

For the practitioners, do you notice the common theme? While most of the time kinksters will simply lie to avoid sharing private details, you can often discern them from abuse victims by a sincere but fleeting smile when you ask about bruises or marks. It’s similar to the reaction when you ask someone about a hickey: it’s not a litmus test by any means, but it might give a clue that the situation was consensual.

Back to safe

After all that, the creation of a safe space is really what’s most important for health care practitioners if they really want all the information. Doctors know that patients lie all the time: about whether they took their medication or not, about how many drinks they have, about how often they exercise. The best health care folks can do is to let their patients know that they won’t be judged and that the conversation will be easy to have. And the best the patients can do is to be honest about their lifestyle choices and be informed enough to ask your doctor or therapist all your questions, even if some of them are a little embarrassing.

PW 270: The State of Poly in 2011

The state of poly in the media in 2011: a chat with Alan, content curator extraordinaire of the Poly in the Media blog

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Introduction and host chat

Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

Announcements

Interview: Alan of Poly in the Media

At Atlanta Poly Weekend, a chat with Alan of the Poly in the Media blog. Alan covers the significant stories of the last five years, trends in current reporting on poly, and the newest poly books.

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

Poly Weekly 258: The online kinkster

Princess Kali of The Kink Academy talks about the intersection of kink and poly online

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Introduction and host chat

Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

Announcements

Miss Poly Manners: Dealing with Party Invites

How do you deal with party invitations not addressed to the entire poly enclave?

Interview: Princess Kali of The Kink Academy

Teaser

  • From Poly and Single: what to do when the couple is fighting

Wrap-up
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com

Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

Poly Weekly 256: Sex at Dawn

Primal interview with Christopher Ryan, co-author of anthropological phenomenon, Sex at Dawn

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Introduction and host chat

Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

Announcements

Interview: Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn

  • Sex at Dawn on the PW Amazon Store
  • Dispelling anthropological myths. Let’s start with what “marriage” is in the animal kingdom
  • Was early life “nasty, brutish and short”? Are humans traditionally generous?
  • What is “natural” and why does it matter?
  • Is agriculture really to blame for our current oppressive patriarchal structure and the transition from generosity to possessiveness?
  • Is it really a myth that prehistoric humans died by age 35?
  • In which cultures/models is sex removed from paternity and childrearing?
  • What do we learn about humanity from bonobos?
  • http://www.bonobohandshake.com
  • Mosuo video link he mentioned

Wrap-up
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com

Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

Poly Weekly #202: Poly History 101 (Oberon Zell)

Oberon ZellThis week’s Poly Weekly #202: Poly History 101 with Oberon Zell.

Download the mp3 directly!

0:00 Introduction and host chat
Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to www.scarleteen.com; friend me on Twitter and answer questions about what you want on the show, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums at http://forum.polyweekly.com.

Announcements
PolyCamp Ontario is August 14-16th

3:00 Poly History 101 with Oberon Zell Ravenheart
Oberon starts off by going way back and how he was always non-monogamous.
Oberon talks about reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” in 1961 and talks about what the book is about.

15:30 Oberon talks about becoming “water brothers” with people after reading the book.

19:00 He then talks about meeting his wife in 1973

21:55 Oberon talks about starting “Green Egg” magazine in 1990.

23:40 He then talks about the origin of the article “A Bouquet of Lovers”

25:00 Oberon talks about going to a New Age convention.

26:00 The first poly conference is talked about.

27:00 and then we learn where the word “polyamory” came from.

30:28 Happy Poly Moment of the Week
Ravenheart called in and talked about how her relationship was not only able to survive a major incident but
has grown.
Wrap-up
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email cunningminx@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com

Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions”

Poly Weekly #187: Is he not that into me?

This week Poly Weekly #187: Is he not that into me?.

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0:00 Introduction and host chat
Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to www.scarleteen.com; friend me on Twitter and answer questions about what you want on the show, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums at http://forum.polyweekly.com.

Announcements

11:30 Happy Poly Moment of the Week
Hamilton wrote in to talk about his great New Years Eve with his two lovers and lots of wine.

12:10 Is He Not Into me?
Krista wrote in through facebook and told her story. She is in a situation where maybe one of her lovers is not really into her. Krista wants to know, what does that concept mean to poly people? Minx gives her impressions of the book “He Is Not Really Into You.”; Minx talks about how different relationships are different and that is OK. Poly has benefits that monogamy doesn’t have. If one person does not fulfill all our needs, we look for those needs in another. A relationship will fall to its own level.

20:15 Feedback
CJ wrote in and recommended Joe Haldeman, The World Series; Pechu Jay called and thanked Minx and judges for choosing her picture for Pimp Your Boobs; Stewart from Kansas City called in with his props for the podcast and his thoughts on massage.

Wrap-up
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email cunningminx@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com

Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions”

Poly Weekly Book Club: Pagan Polyamory

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. We had 13 people, including some new faces, all hotly discussing issues brought up in Jenny Block’s book Open: Love and Sex in an Open Marriage. Plus, we created a new word:

kalosexual–those who get turned on by honesty!

Use it; love it; spread it around!

When: Wednesday, November 5th, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Lido’s Caffe, 122 N Marion St, Oak Park (near Harlem Green
line stop, street and lot parking available) , at the back room
What: Raven Kaldera’s Pagan Polyamory

Pagan Polyamory

Please come out to chat even if you haven’t read the book; we always have interesting discussions!

Please RSVP so we’ll know to expect you; thanks!

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