If I Could Go to Catalyst Con…

I would go to these sessions (this is my wishlist!! haha) (you can see the full list of sessions here):

Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and SexualityCathy VartuliLady Cheeky, N’Jaila Rhee #cconbody
Size and body image can have profound and sometimes debilitating effects on a person’s sexual self-esteem and self-expression. Internalized shame and feelings of inadequacy are often super-charged by the constant stream of external judgment, a barrage of media and marketing pressure (individuals are exposed to an estimated 300,000 negative images or comments about weight each year), and socially acceptable prejudice against those who don’t conform.  People of size can be left feeling like a different species, and when they speak up, are often silenced by people citing health issues or the latest diet trend. Plus-size youth are subjected to additional peer pressures that include not only size-shaming but also sex-based shaming.
Releasing the internalized shame and improving our body image can go a long way towards changing this pattern. When people accept themselves as they are, and learn to love themselves and their bodies, they can start making a difference in the world. Shame creates stresses which are hard on the body and on relationships with others, and can reduce mental focus and initiative.
In this panel, we’ll examine the effects of internal and external shame, share statistics and discuss approaches and techniques for reclaiming confidence and self-love, as well as dealing with negative pressure from both society and those closest to us.


Entrepreneurial IQ: 10 keys to designing an unconventional career in sexualityFrancisco Ramirez, MPH #cconIQ

Got an innovative career in mind but no clue how to achieve it? Whether it’s a career as a trailblazing consultant, business owner, tv/media personality or other entrepreneur, learn the steps it takes to make your big dream a reality. Participants will learn skills for: identifying and refining one’s big vision, drawing a road map, and surrounding themselves with the right people at the right time. This workshop will be interactive and experiential!
Get tips on how to:

  • Think big and dream up a unique career that fits your strengths;
  • Design a personal road map to achieving your career goals;
  • Build a supportive interdisciniplary team;
  • Stand out in the world of freelancing/consulting, including: pros and cons of consulting, 
setting fees, negotiating contracts.

This workshop is ideal for those who are newer to entrepreneurship or for anyone who has a fabulous idea that they want to see come to life!


Female Sexual Freedom & Web 2.0: This Ain’t Your Mama’s FeminismKimberly A. Harchuck #cconweb

In probing the seemingly paradoxical crossroads of law, sociology and technology, we will beg the question: is the online sex industry the latest wave in feminism?
Between social media, online escorting and countless pornographic websites, the Internet Age has allegedly forced women into an over-sexualized archetype. Sex, a topic that was once a most forbidden taboo, has been thrust into everyday life thanks to a digital network that essentially eliminated all germane geographical – and ultimately social and cultural – boundaries. Images and services that were once confined to clandestine dialogue and seedy hotels are now front and center in your living room all day, every day. What does this mean for society as a whole? We’ve seen entire industries thrive as a result of capitalizing on web-based sex enterprise, but many feel it has been at the expense of almost a century’s worth of battling for women’s rights. This presentation argues the contrary. The sex industry of today hasn’t harmed equal rights at all; in fact, when utilized properly, online adult entertainment has the power to actually foster a new wave of feminism. From empowering the escort industry to a lesson in female-friendly erotica supply and demand, from bridging the wage gap to sexual, fiscal and personal autonomy – the Internet has provided women with a feminist renaissance and it’s time to start using it to our advantage.

“Good Girls Don’t Have Sex”: How Do Religion, Sexuality, and the Media Influence the Body Image, Sexuality, and Self Esteem of Young Women & Girls? Nicole Clark #ccongoodgirls

How we see ourselves plays a big role in how we view our bodies and our sexuality.  But when we live in a culture that glorifies sex yet tells us that sex is dirty, the notion that “good girls don’t have sex” becomes confusing, especially for young women and girls who are navigating their way in expressing their sexuality. How do images and messaging from the media shape young women and girls’ body image? Do religious/spiritual beliefs influence what young women and girls do sexually, regardless of what their faith actually teaches? How do marginalized groups of women and girls (women and girls of color, lesbian, bisexual, queer, etc.) view their sexuality based on faith?  How can sex positive professionals and service providers help young women and girls, when they themselves may have had negative experiences in dealing with sexuality within the lens of the media and religion? Through stimulating dialogue and exercises, participants will discuss how the media, stereotypes, & aspects of religion can affect how we feel about ourselves, how to think more critically to know when we’re receiving mixed signals, & to develop concrete ways to advocate for a positive sexuality & image while coping with the complexities of body image, self esteem and religion.

Healing and the new MonogamyTammy Nelson, PhD #cconmonogamy
Almost fifty percent of married people still divorce.  Many of these marriages end as a result of infidelity, perhaps as high as one third.  Over half of all married couples will experience infidelity at some point in their marriage.  Forty percent of Americans say marriage as an institution is “obsolete.”  Does this mean that as a society we are no longer maintaining monogamy as a norm?  Or are we just simply incapable of sexual fidelity in committed partnerships?
And how do we help couples who want it?  Betrayal happens in marriage, open relationships, polyamory and anywhere that commitments are made.  There are specific trauma reactions to being hurt that are unparalleled in any other type of hurt.  And there are specific stages of recovery, both for individuals and couples who are recovering.  And for the outside lover, ending an affair with integrity and healing has special and separate meaning as well.
Can affairs and the betrayal that is created by dishonesty, hiding and lying, be a cultural imperative, created to enhance the secrecy inherent in infidelity?  Can couples after an affair move into open sexual and emotional behaviors, have sexual and emotional relationships with others as long as there is complete honesty and disclosure and does it work?
More and more couples are broadening their understanding of what commitment and monogamy means to them, without giving up the desire for a long-term, committed relationship with one person. This new monogamy could lead to a new development in society and sexual freedom altogether.    But we need to know how to heal the hurt first.  Find the skills and strategies necessary to create a new conversation in partnerships.
Therapists and healers can help couples determine new  monogamy agreements that include updated guidelines of honesty and disclosure, privacy and secrecy directives and other issues of integrity. The new monogamy is fluid, honest, pleasure based, experimental and joyful.

How to Be an Ally to Sex Workers in Theory and PracticeSabrina Morgan, Tizz Wall, Dee Dennis #cconally
Are you interested in learning how to be an ally–or a better ally–to sex workers, but frustrated with the lack of a clear path of action? Do you want to build stronger bridges between sex workers and allies?
We’ll cover practical ways you can be a stronger ally to sex workers, how to build alliances with intersecting, marginalized, and mainstream communities (as an ally or as a sex worker), as well as how to write about sex work topics with sensitivity and class. You’ll learn what methods work best to make your space, event, or publication a more welcoming place for sex workers. We’ll also discuss the internal barriers that keep many of us from fully stepping up as allies, including the ways in which feminism and sex work intersect–and how those seeming conflicts can make both movements stronger.

Making Comprehensive Sex Education into Inclusive Sex EducationDarcy Allder, Quetzal Francois #cconsexed

The work of being an excellent educator starts well before you enter the classroom. In this session we will provide participants with information to become a well-rounded sex educator, meaning that your own background and biases do not affect your audience. Interactive exercises, personal reflections, and group discussions will be used to create a inviting and light hearted environment to open up a dialogue about bringing inclusive sex education to comprehensive sex education.
Comprehensive sex education commonly excludes individuals from the trans, queer, kinky, intersex, differently abled and non-monogamous communities. We will explore methods of curriculum adaption and vocabulary alterations that create a sex education program better suited for all types of diverse audiences or classrooms. As a group, we will examine ways to create a de-stigmatized and sex-positive environment when educating people of all ages about STIs. Finally we will discuss age-appropriate language and how to answer difficult questions both in and out of classrooms settings. Participants will leave with tools that make altering vocabulary simple, so that any type of curriculum or enrollment form is more inclusive for many types of diverse audiences.


Male Circumcision: A Humanist Perspective on the Removal of ForeskinDr. Hernando Chaves #cconmale
Male circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years. Traditionally, it has been incorporated into spiritual, religious, and cultural aspects of numerous societies. Today, those traditions are being challenged by the Intactivist movement, those against the removal of male foreskin. With modern sex research, we have begun to challenge the historical assumptions of the necessity of male circumcision beyond tradition, culture, and faith. What does the research community, the medical profession, and the field of sexology have to say? How often is male circumcision practiced? Does foreskin removal affect penile sensation and/or affect sexual pleasure? Does removing the foreskin prevent or reduce the likelihood of medical issues such as penile cancer, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV? What are the ethical implications associated with removing a body part without individual consent, which is the case for the majority of foreskin removals?  This presentation will also include a 2-minute video of a male infant being circumcised, which happens behind closed hospital doors more than one million times in the US each year. This presentation aims to discuss both sides of the argument and challenge attendees to look at their own views and opinions on male circumcision.


Ok, Polyamory’s Been Outed! Now What Do We Do?Jim Fleckenstein #cconpoly

The Showtime TV show, “Polyamory-Married and Dating” has put one version of polyamory right into America’s living rooms. Although the show has created a lot of buzz – enough that Showtime has reportedly contracted for a second season – a fair amount of that buzz has been controversy within the polyamory community itself. There are concerns about the show’s presentation of the polyamorous lifestyle, its emphasis on explicit (if soft core) sex, the relentless “drama” it seems to portray as being inherent in polyamory, and similar matters.
Like it or not, this “reality” show is shaping public perceptions of polyamory. As activists, we are faced with the question of what we want to do next. Where do we want to take the conversation? What do we want to do about potential fallout? How can we leverage the conversation started by this show into a viable national discussion about relationship choice, the many flavors and styles of non-exclusive relating, the diverse nature of the real world of polyamory, and the relatively drama free existence enjoyed by many practicing polyamory today – at least insofar as their relationships are concerned!
Activists need to develop a broadly coordinated response to the wider public exposure to polyamory and the increased attention this will generate -good and bad. We will examine some steps that the community may take going forward to adapt to the “brave new world” in which the mainstream now has a first hand impression -however imperfect – of “what polyamory is.”

Relationship Models for the 21st CenturyMarcia Baczynski #cconrelationship
It’s no secret that more and more people are moving beyond the “traditional” monogamous relationship model. What might be surprising to some is that many people are also moving beyond even a primary/secondary model of non-monogamy at an ever-increasing rate. These shifts can be tied to the economic downturn, the structure of immigration law, inconsistencies in recognition of same-sex marriages and ever more fluid understandings of sexuality. These factors and more affect how individuals perceive the relationship options available to them, and the choices they make for how to relate to others in their romantic, sexual, economic and domestic spheres. While individuals, couples and groups are making their way in the world, it can be helpful for us to gain an understanding of how these relationships can work.
Whether the structures themselves are wildly creative, idealistic, grounded, practical, or drearily pragmatic, each of them creates new opportunities for what is possible in relationship. In this session, I will present examples of unusual relationship structures that are being practiced in the real world, including information about how these structures evolved for the people involved, the needs these new models meet, and problems they solve. We’ll explore the emerging vocabulary for talking about these kinds of unconventional relationships, and how simply acknowledging the existence of such relationships begins to break down inherent hegemonic patriarchal structures, and open up yet more possibilities for relating.

Sex with Benefits: Progressive SwingingCooper Beckett, Ginger Bentham, Dylan Thomas, Shira Katz #cconswinging

No longer content to be the pervy cousin of “more enlightened” forms of non-monogamy, swingers all around the world are redefining what ethical non-monogamy means to them. As the cultural footprint of non-monogamy grows, swingers are opening themselves up beyond the former key parties and “wife swapping” and finding themselves with wonderful benefits: relationships. Swingers everywhere are asking for “friends first” and “no one night stands,” developing relationships that offer comfort, community, safety, and validation. This practice of allowing and embracing deeper emotional connections among playmates has become a phenomenon that has landed progressive swinging somewhere between the swinger sex club score and long-term polyamorous relationships. Cooper, Ginger, & Dylan from Life on the Swingset discuss taking back the term swinging, and growth toward the sexiest of futures.


Sex Work and DisabilityRobin Mandell, Sabrina Morgan #cconswdisablity

When we think about accessible services for people with disabilities, sexual services seldom make the list, though the impact of sex and healing touch on personality and behavior is immeasurable.
The intersection of disability and sex work is fraught with complexity: as therapists and educators, we’re often in a position to make referrals, but with few resources. As sex workers, we lack access to professional inservices helping us better serve clients with disabilities. As people with disabilities, it’s challenging to discern which erotic professionals can best meet our needs.
Sex educator Robin Mandell and sex worker Sabrina Morgan will explore the pros and cons of outsourcing pleasure. They’ll discuss the options that are open to people with disabilities, including sex surrogacy in partnership with therapists and the gray areas of seeking services from forms of sex work that are criminalized or otherwise without legal standing.
Robin and Sabrina will outline the current climate in the US as well as the intersection of sex work and disability internationally, examining the models we can build on as we answer the question: where do we go from here?

Slut Shaming in Sex-Positive CommunitiesSerpent Libertine, Femcar, Crysta Heart, jessica drake, Carol Queen #cconshaming

Does “sex positive” always mean acceptance of the sexual appetites of others or other communities we’re not involved in? Why is it acceptable for sex-positive individuals to bash or criticize the sexual proclivities of others while claiming to be supportive allies? Based on our collective experiences within the sex worker, BDSM, swinger, poly, and queer communities, our panel will lead a discussion that examines some of the ways we’ve witnessed slut-shaming from those we’ve expected it least. Additionally, we’ll discuss why initiating conversations about these incidents can be even more challenging than speaking with folks in the vanilla world. By confronting this issue, we hope to find better ways to stimulate conversations among sex-positive individuals and learn how our words and actions can have an impact on others who lack understanding of our communities.

What’s So Special About Sex?Ava Mir-Ausziehen #cconspecial

As professionals in the realm of sex and sexuality, it follows that we think sex is rich, important, fascinating – but have we given it more power than it’s worth? Do we do ourselves and everyone else a disservice by putting sex on a pedestal? This talk looks as everything from Foucault’s classic critique of the Repressive Hypothesis to the proliferation of sexual self-help guides, to question in what ways we do more harm than good by relegating sexuality to a ‘special’ place. In this exploration, sex educator and writer for Sssh.com Ava Mir-Ausziehen plays Devil’s Advocate by opening up the rarely asked question – is sex really such a big deal?

2 thoughts on “If I Could Go to Catalyst Con…

  1. I will try to get you information from these sessions. It was great spending time with you this week. Would you mind if I promote your blog while I am at Catalyst Con? Thanks Ryan

  2. Hi Ryan!! That would be so amazing!! Anything you can and are able to share would be awesome 🙂 And YES!! That would be incredible if you shared my blog! I hope you have a safe trip home and enjoy the conference!

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