Monday, October 17, 2011

Poly Advice for Newbies on Polyamory Weekly Podcast

I recently posted a review here of the awesome time I had at Polycamp NW in August. While I was there, I got an invitation from Cunning Minx to sit down and record some of what I contributed to the discussion in a workshop she had done earlier in the afternoon. It was a thoroughly gorgeous day, bright, warm sunshine and the glories of the Pacific Northwest all around us. We found a picnic table under a tree away from the crowd and had a very easy and natural conversation, which you can listen to here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 23 is Sexual Freedom Day!

Tomorrow is Sexual Freedom Day, established as such by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, September 23 being its namesake Victoria Woodhull's birthday. I thought I'd take a minute and let you know that I will be attending and participating in tomorrow's activities as a recognized member of the polyamory leadership community. I did this last year as well. Woodhull is based here in DC and does excellent work on behalf of all of us. In case you aren't familiar with them, their mission is, in part: "... to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, working towards a world that fulfills the words of the United States Supreme Court that
“…our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. In explaining the respect the Constitution demands for the autonomy of the person in making these choices, we (the court) stated as follows:

‘These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992) quoted in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)"

Pretty awesome, huh? Woodhull Executive Director Ricci Levy (right) is a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network and very well connected to the polyamory community. As such, all of we polyamorists have a connection with Woodhull, so it seems doubly appropriate to call your attention to tomorrow's festivities.

Another poly leader also participating in tomorrow's Sexual Freedom Day activities is New York City poly community organizer and attorney Diana Adams, Esq., (left) who will be one of six panelists to speak tomorrow afternoon to the topic "Sexual Outlaws: The Prohibition of Pleasure." Tomorrow evening I am attending a VIP reception hosted by Woodhull board members sex educator Nina Hartley (yes, THAT Nina Hartley, below left) and author Carol Queen (below right) of San Francisco's Center for Sex and Culture. After that there will be dinner and the presenting of the "Vicki" Sexual Freedom Awards to three deserving individuals whose work has substantially furthered the cause of sexual freedom. It promises to be a great day.

In 2010 Woodhull published the 163 page report, "State of Sexual Freedom in the United States" to which Deborah Anapol contributed and which is definitely worth the read. You can download the pdf of it for a (small if necessary) donation here .
Lest anyone wonder whether there will actually be any examples of sexual freedom associated with this event, a local friend is having a play party this weekend at which Nina Hartley will be a special guest, and all the proceeds go to support Woodhull. Nina is a friend and an awesome sex educator these days, and it will be fun to see her in, um, action, doing something that she does best - raising awareness of the importance of the mission of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance.

I know times are tough and budgets are tight for a lot of people, but every donation, even a small one that you wish could be larger, will be greatly appreciated and put to good use on behalf of sexual freedom for everyone. Please think about supporting The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance with whatever treasure you have to share. You can do this here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Excellent Summer Vacation, Part I - Polycamp NW

So it's back to school time, and I'm here to answer that time-honored question asked of students returning from summer break - what did you do on your summer vacation?  Somehow I doubt anyone answered quite like this.  Well, except for the kids who were at Polycamp NW, and there were a lot of those. 

Last October at the Poly Living conference I met Quintus, the organizer of Polycamp NW, a family-friendly camp event held at the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in Millersylvania State Park near Olympia, WA.  The ELC is a wonderful private area nested under old growth cedar and fir trees near Deep Lake - breathtakingly beautiful!  Quintus invited me to present poly programs, I agreed, and I'm so glad I did. 

Seattle is one of my most favorite places with it's rocking poly/alternative community, it's natural beauty, and its rep as US studioglass mecca.  Usually looking at art glass is a must do activity for me when I visit Seattle, but this time I didn't buy any glass but instead spent my time with the wonderfully warm and loving local poly community, as well as many who came from Western Canada, Portland, Oregon, and other parts of the region.  The sun shone brightly and the weather was spectacular during my entire visit.    












Quintus's charming and handsome house mate Lydia (pronounced "li-DAY-uh", above right) picked me up at SEATAC, and we took the ferry across the sound to west Seattle.  There we found Quintus, his beautiful wife, Francisca, (above left) and his extended poly family in the final throes of preparing food and loading a van and two trucks with supplies and a huge abundance of fresh foods to feed the 195 people who would be in attendance.  And feed us they did.  His friend Doug did an awesome job as chef, he and the volunteers cooked up delicious, nutritious meals all weekend long. 

The weather was perfect and the drive south to Olympia spectacular!   I had a hard time focusing on my community organizing conversation with Quintus with a sweeping expanse of water on our right and Mount Ranier in all it's magesty floating on the horizon to our left. 

Anyway, we arrived early Friday afternoon and immediately started unloading and helping set up the large and well-equipped lodge kitchen. 

The program for the weekend was quite eclectic, partly on poly topics and partly on fun classes for families with kids.  It was so good to see so many families there and to know that the older kids had a place to be where their family was more similar to those of the other kids than is often so in the mainstream world.  The ever beautiful Cunning Minx gave a workshop on poly dating, and then she interviewed me for her latest Poly Weekly Podcast on advice for poly newbies.  I gave two workshops, one I call Emotional Edge Play:  Polyamory for BDSM/Leather/Fetish Folks, and a second on Poly/Mono relationships that got huge attendance. 

There was an adult cabin section that was set well apart from the cabins and camping area for families with kids, and that gave those interested in adult activities a place in which to pursue them.  There was a class on rope bondage and a good discussion on the latest in safer sex practices.  There were also activities at night for everone, including a talent show and a blues dance at which someone taught the adults how to do a very sexy, sultery dance to blues music.  Very hot stuff.   

It was SO lovely to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen in a while, like Minx, the Erosong family, Teresa Greenan, and Sue Tinney and Christopher Bingham of The Bone Poets Orchestra (formerly Gaia Consort).  Sue and I shared a ride back to Seattle, and I admit to developing a bit of a girl crush on her as we got to know each other better. 

I had such a great time at Polycamp NW.  Quintus and his dedicated team created a very happy space for 195 poly people and their kids to get together and revel in what it is that we all have in common.  It was worth the money and travel time, and this definitely won't be my last time at Polycamp NW.  Join me there next year, won't you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FetFest Poly Village

I am delighted to be hosting the Poly Village at the first ever FetFest. This event is shaping up to be amazingly unique. Every village has it's own activities planned, plus there will be many, many event-wide activities. Fell free to click on the blue ad to the left here to register, easy breezy.

The poly village theme is Free Love 2.0, i.e. Free Love all grown up where we know better how to make it work while holding on to the spirit of non-judgmental love and sexuality freely shared.


FRIDAY

Free Love 2.0 party - We'll kick off the poly village activities Friday night with a Free Love 2.0 party/open house, so get out your hippie gear (there will be groovy prizes for the most authentically dressed hippies), bring a bottle of Boones Farm, share some munchies and feel the love. We'll be playing Hendrix, Joplin, Crosby Stills Nash, Led Zeppelin. There will be black lights and posters, and with your the participation it will be the Summer of Love all over again.

SATURDAY

Workshop: The Green Eyed Monster - Lolita Wolf will present a workshop on dealing with jealousy tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning from 10AM to 11:30AM. (See program to verify time and for location.)

Workshop: Emotional Edge Play, Polyamory for BDSM/Leather/Fetish Folk Yours truly will present a workshop that will give you what you need to know to create or enhance your kinky Free Love 2.0 experience, tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon from 2:30PM to 4PM. (See program to verify time and for location.)

Animal House Toga Party FOOD FIGHT! The Poly Village will sponsor this not-to-be missed and essential element of any Animal House Toga Party. Sploshers welcome!

SUNDAY

The Free Love Guru is in! Bummed out because somebody harshed your Free Love buzz? The Free Love Guru (um, that would be me, Anita) says "Lay it on me!” Sunday between 2PM and 4PM and get some sound poly advice. (Also known as “Office Hours”)

ALL WEEKEND

Poly Cocktails - We tend to gather for BYOB cocktails (though some have been known to mix up batches of fun stuff to share) about 5PM each day and sit in a big circle chatting, drinking, having a hell of a good time. We've done this at other events and it's great fun with a lot of camaraderie.

Poly Community Kitchen - Why buy the food plan when you can join the village denizens for a delicious, moderately priced meal prepared by our own excellent cooks? And where better to fulfill your two hour work commitment (if you don't buy it out) than by making a contribution to community meals by assisting with meal prep and cleanup? Dinners will be served Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Bring your own breakfast and lunch (though there might be leftover dinner food for lunch, not guaranteed.) Or buy breakfast and lunch elsewhere onsite.

Lucky Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Club - We are fortunate to have poly village denizens and veteran amateur strip club operators Tasty Tina and Pagan Paul, with the able assistance of Joester23 running the ever popular Lucky Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Club, which is sponsored by the Poly Village. The Club will be open every night - be sure to bring some $$$ for the dancers, all contributions will go to NCSF.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poly Lyrics in Contemporary Hip-Hop/Rap

Looks like the most powerful artists in hip-hop today are including poly concepts in their writing.  I'm speaking of Kanye West's & Jay-Z's No Church In The Wild featuring Frank Ocean (From the album Watch The Throne 2011) 

The following is the second verse of the first track on the new album  The song is called "No Church in the Wild" and was written by Kanye West:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission’
And deception is the only felony
So never f-ck nobody wit’out tellin’ me

Sunglasses and Advil
Last night was mad real
Sun comin’ up, 5 a.m.
I wonder if they got cabs still

Thinkin’ ’bout the girl in all-leopard
Who was rubbin’ the wood like Kiki Shepard
Two tattoos, one read “No Apologies”
The other said “Love is cursed by monogamy”

That’s somethin’ that the pastor don’t preach
That’s somethin’ that a teacher can’t teach

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CARAS Con Addresses Polyamory Community Needs

Yesterday was a great day.  I had the privilege of mixing and mingling with about 50 people, a great mixture of academics, students, researchers and community advocates, who gathered together in Washington, DC, to learn about and discuss issues and methods around meeting the therapeutic and informational needs of alternative sexuality communities, including polyamorists, at the 5th annual conference of the Community-Academic Research Consortium for Alternative Sexualities.

The day started with a plenary address by author and sex therapist Gloria Brame who spoke about many things, including the need to correct misunderstandings about what constitutes sex addiction and the continuing effects of sex negativity in the United States.  Gloria is a well known and highly respected champion of the BDSM community, and after our having become friends on Facebook, it was delightful to finally have an opportunity to meet her in person.  I am very much looking forward to reading her new book, The Truth About Sex, A Sex Primer for the 21st Century Volume I: Sex and the Self.

Some of the poly-related programs included the presentation of research results around polyamory and bisexuality, and about polyamory in the context of personal freedom.  I facilitated a discussion at lunch time about what alt sex communities need from researchers.  There were many good suggestions, including emphasis by three attendees who were college students who spoke about the lack of options to gather with other non-monogamous and/or kinky people on their campuses.  NCSF's Judy Guerin spoke on behalf of that organization, and we both encouraged others to establish their own groups but to also reach out to those of us who can advise them along the way.

Programming continued in the afternoon with great choices for an advocate like myself - I had no problem deciding what to take in, there was always at least one session I wanted to attend. 

Networking opportunities abound at this conference.  I connected with people I hadn't seen in many years who had traveled to Washington to attend the conference.  It was great to have the opportunity to see and meet CARAS board members who live elsewhere.  I was delighted to see the awesome Catherine Gross, and to finally meet Kink-Aware Professionals founder Race Bannon. 

It is CARAS's tradition to present a case study as it's closing plenary, and my partner, who is a recovering sex addict, and I were the case, with a focus on healing sex addiction/compulsion and sexual sobriety in a polyamorous context.  We told our story of closing and then rebuilding our relationship after my partner revealed his addiction to me about nine months ago, our journey in therapy both together and separately, and how it was necessary to find our own path to wholeness again since the traditional prescription for sex addicts/compulsives and their partners doesn't work for us, at least not for me as a sex-positive advocate.  A local employed psychiatrist (whose name I can't use for fear of career repercussions for him) answered questions from the audience from a clinical perspective.

We were told that it is highly unusual to have a case presented where more than one partner participates.  That my partner and I were both there to tell our story together is a credit to my partner, who has made serving others who struggle with sexual addiction/compulsion and serving those who help them a part of his own recovery journey.  Today we are doing well together, and I couldn't be prouder of him.

I'm hoping that the CARAS conference will be a longer one in the future.  This one day meeting was scheduled the day before the American Psychological Association conference that is now going on in Washington, D.C., and the polyamory and bisexuality program I reference above will be presented there as well.  I learned that this is the second year that polyamory appeared somewhere on the APA conference program, and that is a big development indeed.  For years we couldn't get any mainstream organization that serves the psychology community to touch the topic.  The times, they are a'changing, and CARAS gets a good sized piece of the credit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Calling All Therapists! CARAS Alternative Sexualities Conference August 3, 2011

I'm excited!  The Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities ("CARAS") is holding it's "4th Annual Alternative Sexualities Conference: Cultural Competencies, Clinical Issues, Research" here in DC on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 9AM to 6PM.  My partner and I will be presenting as a case our experiences and challenges with sexual addiction/compulsion in a polyamorous relationship context, and psychiatrist Dr. Gary Wynn will provide a clinical perspective, and facilitate the conversation.  Of course, the conference is about a lot more than that.

In my polyamory advocacy and educational work, I frequently encounter people who have had a bad experience when seeking therapy from a counselor who is not savvy about alternative relationships.  Some are so unaware as to be biased against nonmonogamy and are convinced that monogamy is the only healthy way.  Not so!   So if you are sick of having to bring a therapist up to speed in order to get the help you and yours need, please pass this information along to any therapist you know who could benefit by attending. 

For more details, click the flyer and read on.  Registration link and continuing education credits follow below. 


 




 

The registration form is here.

Lunch is provided .

California MFT and LCSW Relicensure:
Course meets the qualifications for 8 hours of continuing education credit
for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of
Behavioral Sciences. CARAS’s PCE # is 4789.

Psychologists: CARAS is approved by the American Psychological
Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.
CARAS maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The Conference Schedule and Instructor credentials, including
relevant professional degree and discipline, current professional
position, and expertise in program content will be provided on the
CARAS website or by email request by July 21, 2011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Polyamory Leadership Network

Over the last three years, the Polyamory Leadership Network has evolved into a very active entity, however loosely organized.  It includes people from around the world who make some kind of contribution toward raising awareness of polyamory and supporting those who live poly lives.  Basically its members make whatever contribution they wish to make without red tape approval processes.  There is no board of directors, because we poly people are an independent, ornery bunch, don'tchaknow, none of us being especially inclined to answer to authority.  :)

But seriously, check out the PLN website, and if you are someone who makes a contribution to the poly world or has a burning desire to do so, consider becoming a member.  PLN members collaborate via a very active google group.  We hold summits once or twice a year, so far mostly following Loving More's Poly Living conferences, where the picture above was taken in October 2010 following Poly Living in Seattle.  That's me in the second row, last person on the right, sitting next to the awesome Dossie Easton, she of The Ethical Slut co-authorship fame.  All I would need is Janet Hardy on my left to make my day.  Make that make my year.

Hope to see you at the next PLN summit, which is yet to be scheduled, and in the meantime, on the PLN Google group.   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maria's Pride and Arnold's Dog House

I posted this political cartoon to Facebook today, remarking "Would that the public drew a more realistic conclusion from this than this "trend" being due merely to powerful, wealthy men being immoral. (Not that they aren't, but there's more to the story, say Sex at Dawn authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha.)

A poly friend of mine remarked, "I don't see why they have to necessarily split over this.... Just acknowledge it and be open."

Of course that's what he and I would say and for good reason. But betrayal is still betrayal, especially when a long-time commitment has been betrayed in such a spectacular fashion.  Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child's mother reported directly to his wife, Maria, as a member of her personal household staff for 20 years. Having this long-time member of her household *and* her husband both betray her by hiding this huge secret for ten years may just be more than Maria can tolerate, at least right now. A cuckolded spouse almost always imagines that others, i.e. friends and maybe family members, knew about this situation and kept it from them as well.  I've had that feeling myself when I was cuckolded years ago, and it's a very miserable feeling indeed, very hard on one's pride. 

Even a lot of poly people are hard pressed to stick around if a partner betrays their trust in such a devastating way - not everyone is willing to deal with doing the long-term work it takes to restore trust and emotional order to the relationship. For some the betrayal destroys the love, which they don't want to recapture, at least not any time soon, all things considered. And Maria has the additional burden of public humiliation on a massive scale to cope with, plus four children she wants to protect from shame, pain and chaos. I think we have to give the lady some time, though surely she's being told by a lot of people that he's an irredeemable untrustworthy bastard. He may very well be so, but she needs to decide that for herself.

I feel compassion for the entire family and wish them love and peace of mind and heart.  Enlightenment as to other ways of arranging relationships that facilitate healing and unity is probably a bit too much to hope for in the short term for Schwarzenegger and Shriver, but one never knows as to the long term, especially when it comes to Hollywood marriages.  Still, betrayal isn't an especially healthy place from which to create a more functional framework.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Staying Out of our Heads

This is this week's "Living Compassion" tip from Nonviolent Communication author Marshall Rosenberg, something I signed up to get via email. It very much resonates for me and says:

----------------------------------------

For most of us, learning to communicate has meant staying as Rosenberg puts it, "up in our head" rather than in our heart. "Feelings are simply not important. We are trained to be 'other-directed' rather than be in contact with ourselves," says Dr. Rosenberg

We have more words for calling people names in our everyday vocabulary then we have for clearly expressing our emotional state. It's easier to call someone a name than to stop and connect with our own feelings and needs.

We are taught to approach a problem in an analytical way. Finding the "right way to think" will serve us better every time, we're told.

But what we really need for guiding our way and finding a solution that best serves all involved is to keep our head out of our heart. This means checking in with how we feel in the situation first and then using our head to develop strategies for dealing with the present challenge.

It's important to use both our ability to think AND to feel.
-------------------------------------------

This is most excellent advice, even for me, and I'm very much a feelings kind of person. It's especially good for people contemplating polyamory. It's all too easy to plunge in based on a thoroughly rational assessment of the concept and in so doing being completely unprepared for the emotional aspects of taking this big step. So if you are working on some challenge related to an alternative relationship, please be sure to give your heart equal time and consider how you feel about it as much as what you think about it. Notice what words you use when discussing it. Do you begin sentences with "I feel ....." or with "I think ...."? It's a big tipoff as to whether you are presently speaking from your head or heart. By doing both, you are much more likely to find happiness.

Beltane is Almost Here!

So spring has finally arrived, and come Thursday I'll be heading to NE Maryland for that exceedingly adult rite of spring, Free Spirit Beltane. Registration has closed and it is sold out, and no wonder considering what a great job Turtlehill Events does at organizing this event. Every year there are new opportunities to explore sacred sexuality, along with learning practices and skills to utlize to heighten and enhance these experiences.

 
I suppose my workshops fall into the latter category. In other workshops attendees might learn how to experience physical pain as an ordeal and rite of passage, but my work is more about learning to manage, resolve or avoid pain of the relationship-related emotional kind. I'll be presenting three workshops:
This year's Beltane theme is Feast for the Senses, and one thing I'm really looking forward to is the first ever Sensual Feast described as, "Continuing this Beltane’s “Feast for the Senses,” we come to the celebration of Taste. You are invited to experience a sensuous garden of decadent delights as a divine banquet of sweet, savory, and spicy selections are laid before you, offering up seductive scents and heavenly flavors. Lights sparkle like stars and music murmurs erotic promises; all around you are smoky eyes and sly smiles. In this lush paradise, the only rule is that you must feed others and allow yourself to be fed. Whose fingers will your lips caress tonight? What aphrodisiacs will fan the flames of your desire? In the garden of sensual delights, the Divine Beloved nourishes us with Love and intoxicates us with Beauty."

 
Dinner will lead directly into the Fires of Venus ritual, described as "Tonight we begin a Sacred Love Spell.  A spell that will touch our lives, open our hearts, and change the way we move through the world."  And, of course, somewhere along the way we'll dance the maypole (phallic design complete with Prince Albert piercing) and add a fourth or so layer of interwoven ribbon that takes on layer and layer of energy and meaning with every passing Beltane celebration. 

 
I'll be staying with all my friends from Sandbox Explorations, and as usual, we have a community kitchen planned.  My job is to set up the coffee station and make sure we all have hot, immediately available, good quality coffee each morning. 

 
Now, if only the Gods and Goddesses will smile upon us and gift our senses with warmth and sunshine!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sustaining the Momentum

Friends, I am still feeling the Momentum. By that I mean I still feel the incredible energy, passion and intelligence that everyone concerned with last weekend's Momentum conference held in the DC suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland contributed to it. Of course, there is never enough time to meet everyone, see everything, and catch up with friends while spending several hours videotaping programs for KinkAcademy.com and PassionateU.com, as well as sitting on two panels and giving a workshop, but I did my best.  Our task was to talk and collaborate about how to advance the cause of feminist sex-positivity and support alternative relationships, all via the use of new media. This served to inspire a wide range of amazing and thought provoking programs.

Probably the best and most impressive aspect of this event for me was the keynote panel on Friday night. It was such a thrill to see so many of my favorite sex geeks on one panel and speaking brilliantly as to the challenges we still face in achieving a more sex positive world. The panel was moderated by Las Vegas professor and media comentator Dr. Lynn Comella (on the right), and participants continuing right to left were sexologist and author Dr. Carol Queen, sex educator Reid Mihalko, sex educator and author Tristan Taormino, and author Jenny Block. Though I had never met Lynn before, I am friends with the others, and considering how infrequently I get to actually see them, with us being spread out all over the country, it was quite a thrill to see and hear them put their collective heads together - very powerful! These really are a substantial portion of the U.S. sex positive brain trust, if you will. 

I absolutely must give a shout out to Tess Danesi and Diva, a/k/a producers of the New York Sex Bloggers Calendar, for putting on an inspiring, intriguing and affordable conference. This was the first MomentumCon, but we are assured that it will not be the last. 

About 30 of us spent Saturday night in Baltimore at Baltimore adult toy shop Sugar's Red and Black Ball, an excursion arranged by ball emcee Reid Mihalko, who got us all there on the sex geek bus.  (Here I am in a picture with fabulous sex educator and Babeland sex toy reviewer Dr. Ruthie as we gathered to board the bus.)   And I would be remiss not to include the picture to the right of the ever fabulous Cunning Minx of the Poly Weekly Podcast, looking absolutely regal in her red and black costume.  And I mustn't forget to give a shout out to Sugar owner Jacq Jones, who has a lot to be proud of and who put on a fabulous celebration of what I believe is Sugar's fourth anniversary supplying quality adult toys to the people.  That's me with that gorgeous goddess of a woman below to the left. 

Considering the focus on new media, it was great fun to read all the live blogging and tweeting that went on from the conference.  Those who couldn't be in attendance can still see all the tweets, many of which were instantaneous quotes from presenters, panelists and audience members, via the hashtag #mcon.  Such brilliance! 

And this barely scratches the surface of all that is and was Momentum.  Though this was it's inaugural event, it sold out, as I suspect it will every year considering all the positive buzz it's getting so don't get left out - buy your ticket early in 2012. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Presenting at MOMENTUM: The Shadow Side of the Internet and Its Role in Sexual Compulsion

The phenomenal growth of online communication has given rise to an amazing amount of sharing, learning and experimenting with different expressions of sexuality, relationships and feminism. MOMENTUM provides a safe place to listen, discuss and learn about the ways the web has impacted our sexuality without the fear of reprisal or shaming. It is a space for acceptance and appreciation of diversity, including for those in the LGBTQ, sex-work, BDSM and non-monogamous communities.

Along those same lines, in addition to the two panels I'll participate in (for more about those see here and here) the organizers have just added my newest workshop to their lineup, The Shadow Side of the Internet and Its Role in Sexual Compulsion, which will happen Sunday, April 3 at 1:30 p.m. Here's the description, hope to see you there!

The internet offers every sort of sexual resource and service imaginable. As it applies to consenting adults, this has significantly improved the quality of and led to the healthy expansion of the sex lives of millions. It also makes it more and more possible to share ideas and earn a living supporting and advancing the cause of sex positivity.

Unfortunately this trend has it’s shadow side. The numbers of individuals, couples and moresomes seeking counseling for problems with sexual compulsion/addiction are steadily increasing in both sex-positive culture and the mainstream.

What is sex addiction/compulsion?

Does it really exist?

What does it look like?

What does the internet have to do with it?

What are the challenges for sufferers and their partners, especially those who live within sex-positive culture fueled by the internet?

In this session you will learn about the challenges presented by easy access to the internet’s sexual content that is for some a dark shadow that it is important that they avoid. Come hear a polyamorous, sex-positive community leader tell her and her partner’s story of how together they are challenging the conventional wisdom of the addictions treatment industry and finding their own path to healing while refusing to give up their sex-positive life. Learn more about this highly controversial and misunderstood topic as she brings it out into the light.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

MOMENTUM CON - Featuring New Media Roundtable – Tips and Tools for Social Change

Hi all - Here's info on the second of my panels at Momentum. In case you haven't heard, it's amazingly affordable to attend this event, well under $100 ($55 as I write this.)

New Media Roundtable – Tips and Tools for Social Change (will be presented on Saturday, April 2nd, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:10 p.m.)

New media provides a wide variety of optons for individuals and groups to create an online presence. Publishers can choose to blog, podcast, vidcast, or collaborate through wiki-based platforms. In addition, there are numerous resources for promoting your content. How do you choose which tools to get your message across and to build awareness about your cause?

This discussion is for those who have considered publishing new media content, or who want to use tools like Facebook or Twitter to build an audience and community, Hear from our panel of experienced educators and activists on how they used (or built upon) existing tools in order to engage their respective audiences.

New Media Roundtable is a panel discussion moderated by Cunning Minx aided and abetted by panelists Avory, Jenny Block, Jessica Karels and Anita Wagner.

MOMENTUM CON - Featuring Defining Non-Monogamy: Bridging the Gap in the Community

Hi all - Here's info on one of my panels at Momentum. In case you haven't heard, it's amazingly affordable to attend this event, well under $100 ($55 as I write this.)

Defining Non-Monogamy: Bridging the Gap in the Community (will be presented on Saturday, April 2nd, from noon until 1:10.)

Today we shine a light on another sector that has to deal with intolerance, prejudice and judgement, often from within the very community that should ideally be nurturing and supportive. This session is moderated by Brian Ballard with panelists Mia Martina, Cunning Minx, and Anita Wagner.

The various faces of non-monogamy, from swinging to polyamory to open relationships are often individually defined, meaning very different things to different people.

Too often there is judgement and prejudice by practitioners of non-monogamy, the very same people who seek tolerance in the mono world for their choices, who condemn and vilify people in their own community who may not operate the same way they do. We believe that non-monogamists have the capability to create a much needed shift in social attitudes surrounding relationships, one that is more accepting of alternative lifestyle choices that are custom designed to fit the people who choose them. Building a focused community and determining how to create a harmonious and tolerant mindset that bridges all of these different ways of approaching and experiencing responsible non-monogamy is something to strive for.

Topics -

• The many faces of non-mongamy – swinging, poly, kink, open, et al
• The subgroups’ non-productive attitudes towards each other
• The marginalization of non-monogamists by mainstream groups and organizations
• Why it’s important to build a harmonious community

Brian Ballard

Brian Ballard has been actively pursuing a life of honest and ethical non-monogamy for nearly 7 years. He is passionate in encouraging and inspiring others to find their ideal relationship and life style, and to own and project them completely. Through his work and association with The Martini Society, freedomcommunity and through organizing special events welcoming positive self-expression, play and exploration, he has had the pleasure of watching many people open themselves to new possibilities and new ways of being.

Brian is also founder and artistic director of The New York Rock Opera Company (NYROC), which will open its inaugural season in Fall 2011, presenting a full slate of rock-based musicals and operas with the intention of moving and inspiring audience members to consider new possibilities for themselves and their communities.

He is thrilled to be a part of the first MomentumCon… and to be a part of a loving and successful triad. Jasmine and Lisa inspire Brian to learn and grow every single day.

Mia Martina

Mia Martina is a writer and smut podcaster. Mia’s podcast – I Want Your Sex – is told in the form of a serialized narrative about her adventures at sex parties, her experiences with open relationships, and her tales of modern urban sexuality. As one listener raves, “Mia walks the listener through the door and into a bedroom of complex physical bliss and intense emotion.”

Mia looks to inspire people to explore their sexuality and be open to new experiences. She has taught workshops on non-monogamy and is excited to be a co-host of an erotica reading series in her new home of Austin, Texas. In closing out her ten-year chapter in the big apple, Mia was featured in the 2010 New York Sex Blogger calendar. Aside from the Library of Congress indexing her tweets, Mia’s writing can be found on Nerve, Ravenous Romance and Paper Bag Press.

Cunning Minx

Cunning Minx has been the tireless producer and host of the Polyamory Weekly podcast (www.polyweekly.com) since the spring of 2005, now with over 230 episodes in production. A kinky boobiesexual, Minx founded the show as a resource for the poly and poly-curious to form a community, share experiences and help guide each other on their journeys of poly exploration. And hopefully, also guide each other away from common relationship land mines–or at least share sympathy when they step on one!

Poly Weekly has received accolades from the likes of ErosZine, Fleshbot and the Chicago Sun-Times, and Minx has spoken on poly, kinky and Web 2.0 community-building topics at the Heartland Polyamory Conference, Leather Leadership Conference, Dragon*Con, Galleria Domain 2 and New York’s Poly Pride Day. Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/polyweekly or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/polyweekly

Anita Wagner

Anita Wagner is a passionate polyamory coach, blogger, spokesperson, educator, and sexual freedom activist. She advocates for the interests of polyamorists with enthusiasm and determination, and loves to help them find their poly bliss. She does this via her website and blog at practicalpolyamory.com by providing helpful information in her educational programs, and on her website and blog, on subjects like polyamory and spirituality, jealousy and other pitfalls, poly/mono relationships, and poly for kinky people.

As a veteran community organizer Anita co-founded Chesapeake Polyamory Network, as well as The Institute for 21st Century Relationships, which is the foundation of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, where she also served on the board of directors. She has presented educational programs on polyamory at Good Vibrations, Sex 2.0, Dark Odyssey, Transcending Boundaries, Poly Living, The Floating World, Black Rose, Loving More® Retreat, Primal Arts Festival, Free Spirit Alliances’ Beltane Gathering and Fires of Venus, Florida Poly Retreat, and Washington Area Secular Humanists.

Anita is a faculty member at KinkAcademy.com, a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network and serves as poly community advisor to CARAS – the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Loving More® and Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taormino says to 'be proud of who you are' - News

Taormino says to 'be proud of who you are' - News

This is a victory over the slut shaming Oregon State University Administration's cancelling Tristan Taormino's keynote speech only a week or so before a conference on sex being held there due to her website content and that she is a porn producer. I am so proud of Tristan. No matter how many lemons life hands her, she always makes kickass lemonade.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oregon State Uninvites Tristan Taormino as Keynote Speaker

As many if not most of you know, Tristan Taormino is known in the poly world for authoring the book Opening Up.  Tristan is a prolific writer, a passionate sex educator, and a dynamic speaker, especially on issues having to do with sexual freedom.  Despite her amazing credentials, she has just been done a great injustice.  Oregon Statue University, which recruited her as keynote speaker months ago, has now gone back on its commitment, citing as the reason Tristan's "resume and website." 

Now one would think that an institution of higher learning like this one would make sure to do due diligence on its keynote speaker BEFORE sealing the deal to be sure the speaker is right for their conference.  But not so with OSU - go figure.   

If you support free speech and Tristan Taormino's mission of sexual empowerment, please voice your opinion to the people listed below about OSU’s last minute decision to cancel her appearance as keynote speaker at it's Modern Sex conference next month and not reimburse her for travel expenses - see press release below for details.

Thanks for your supporting Tristan and her work.

-------------------------------

Write to the following (Press Release with details below.)

Larry Roper
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
632 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2154
541-737-3626 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax)
email: larry.roper@oregonstate.edu

Dr. Mamta Motwani Accapadi
Dean of Student Life
A200 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2133
541-737-8748 (phone)
541-737-9160 (fax)
email: deanofstudents@oregonstate.edu
twitter: @deanmamta

Dr. Edward J. Ray
President
600 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2128
541-737-4133 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax) email: pres.office@oregonstate.edu


PRESS RELEASE:
SEX EDUCATOR AND SPEAKER TRISTAN TAORMINO, SET TO GIVE CONFERENCE KEYNOTE, UNINVITED BY OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY BECAUSE OF HER ‘RESUME AND WEBSITE’

January 19, 2011

Contact:
Tristan Taormino
tristan@puckerup.com

Award-winning author, columnist, sex educator, and filmmaker Tristan Taormino was set to be the keynote speaker at Oregon State University’s Modern Sex conference, scheduled for February 15-16, 2011. Yesterday, she was uninvited by a university representative, who cited her resume and website as the reason.

On October 28, 2010, organizers of the OSU Modern Sex conference booked Taormino to give the keynote talk; they confirmed the date and agreed to fees, and Tristan’s management received a first draft of the contract on November 1. That contract was incomplete and sent back to OSU for revisions. As with many negotiations, the contract was pending as all the paperwork got done, but in late December, OSU again confirmed Tristan’s appearance and conference organizers told her manager to purchase airline tickets, for which OSU would be reimburse her.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Steven Leider, Director of the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services contacted Colten Tognazzini, Tristan Taormino’s manager, to say that the conference had come up short on funding. Tognazzini told him that since the travel was booked and the time reserved, they could work with whatever budget they did have. Leider said that would not be possible: “We have to cancel Ms. Taormino’s appearance due to a lack of funding. It has been decided that OSU cannot pay Ms. Taormino with general fee dollars, because of the content of her resume and website.” At OSU, ‘general fee dollars’ include taxpayer dollars given to the University by the Oregon State Legislature to defray various costs. They differ from ‘student activity dollars,’ which are part of every student’s tuition and help fund student groups and activities.

Taormino’s resume includes her seven books on sex and relationships, the 18 anthologies she has edited, numerous television appearances from CNN to The Discovery Channel, and her award-winning adult films. She was a columnist for The Village Voice for nearly ten years and has given more than 75 lectures at top colleges and universities including Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, NYU and Columbia. Her website, http://www.puckerup.com/, includes sex education information, advice, and information about the films she directs for Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult companies in the country.

“In my ten years of booking Tristan at colleges and universities, of course there has been some controversy. But I have never had a university cancel like this last minute,” says Colten Tognazzini, Taormino’s manager. “It’s not unusual for contract negotiations to drag on. Once they confirmed we should book her travel, I felt comfortable the event was a done deal. I continued to work with them in good faith that a signed contract would be forthcoming. I believe that the conference organizers’ hands are tied, and this decision came from much higher up. They have cancelled with less than a month’s notice during Tristan’s busiest season. She gave up other opportunities to go to Oregon. Without a signed contract, we may have no recourse, and were told we will not be reimbursed for her travel.”

Tognazzini spoke to a source at OSU who speculated that the University feared that when it went before the legislature in regards to future funding, legislators would use OSU’s funding of a “pornographer” on campus as ammunition to further cut budgets. This source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Tognazzini, “I think they’re uninviting Tristan because they don’t want to have to defend her appearance to conservative legislators.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that OSU has decided to cancel my appearance. I’ve been protested before, but never uninvited. I have never misrepresented who I am or what I do. I am proud of all the work I do, including the sex education films and feminist pornography I make,” says Taormino. “The talk I planned to give at this conference, titled “Claiming Your Sexual Power” has nothing to do with porn, but the porn is such an easy target for anti-sex conservatives and censors. I find it ironic that one of the missions of the conference is to understand diverse perspectives of sexuality. Apparently, my perspective—one of educating and empowering people around their sexuality—isn’t welcome at OSU.”

If OSU students and others still want to hear Taormino speak, she will be teaching two workshops at She Bop (sheboptheshop.com) in Portland on February 13 and 14. “She Bop supports a healthy perspective on sex and sexuality and we are proud to have Tristan Taormino present two years in a row at our shop in Portland. Tristan is a leading educator paving the way for others to help break down the stigma around sex in this country. It is part of our mission as a female friendly adult shop to support sexual empowerment and growth,” say co-owners Jeneen Doumitt and Evy Cowan.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More on Sex Addiction in Sex-positive Culture

I've been talking about this subject online in several different forums, and wow, does it make some people cranky - not only that, but some also outright reject the idea that sex addiction even exists. If only.

As irritating as it is to know how much criticism and false accusations are made toward we in the sex-positive world, it's easy to question the concept of sex addiction. But it's a very real emotional illness for a lot of people that eventually turns their world upside down. Many desperately wish they could stop but find that they can't. Instead they compulsively take greater and greater amounts of risk to get a very temporary sense of satisfaction that soon turns to guilt and shame. There is a general sense that if people *really* knew who they were, they would be rejected and ostracized.

This is not just true of vanilla mainstreamers but is also just as true for some in the sex-positive world. In many cases our more open attitudes is what draws sex addicts to the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. It's a cycle that keeps repeating itself as feelings of shame cause anxiety to build which acts as a trigger to act out again. And around and around it goes.

The risks are significant:

• Getting STIs and bringing them home to unsuspecting partners;

• Being arrested having public sex or hiring a pro off the street;

• Getting caught surfing porn and masturbating at work and losing one's job;

• The financial drain on the family by paying for pros, porn, phone sex, etc.;

• Loss of time spent acting out needed for maintaining healthy relationships;

• Humiliation at having one's addiction publicly exposed - you don't have to be Tiger Woods or David Duchovny to have that problem - and to friends and family; and

• Risk of losing intimate partners who feel betrayed about what has been going on without their knowledge or consent.

Sex addiction is growing at a rapid pace due to the easy availability of sexual goods, services and hookups via the internet. Yes, we all know that these can be used in healthy ways. If you do any of this and it doesn't cause you problems, they you aren't a sex addict. You're sex positive - good for you!

Still, this affliction most definitely exists in our own communities, likely in much larger numbers than any of us suspect. It doesn't get talked about by the addicts because of fear of being ostracized.  Their partners don't talk about it due to the shame and self-doubt it raises for them about their own desirability. Codependence is rampant, just as much as with any other kind of addiction.

This is not to raise fear but instead awareness and compassion for those who suffer from feeling out of control around their sexuality, and for their partners who must find a way to deal with betrayal and doubt about themselves and about their partner's love and commitment. If you are an SA or the partner of one and would like to talk, confidentiality is assured, just drop me a line at anita.wagner@practicalpolyamory.com