I just spent an amazing weekend at Momentum Conference in Washington, DC, a conference bringing together all sorts of individuals invested in the field of sexuality either professionally or personally. The weekend was devoted to ‘making waves in sexuality, feminism, and relationships’, and certainly did that, and much much more. It wasn’t just the opportunity to learn and think new and big things, but also to meet and develop meaningful relationships with like-minded people. And, it pushed me over the technological edge and into the 21st century, and I started TWEETING!! This was just too good of an opportunity to connect with others and stay on the pulse of the conference. Yep…you can follow me, @fearlesssexed.
My quick & dirty summary of the conference happenings: The opening plenary started the conference fire with the hilarious and upfront Maria Falzone and her bit, Sex Rules. The opening plenary featured Dr. Charlie Glickman, Bill Taverner, Dr. Logan Levkoff, and Audacia Ray, with Dr. Carol Queen moderating. My big take away…we need to focus on human rights as a foundation of the conversation on pleasure. Saturday and Sunday were stuffed with workshops, and I attended the sessions on talking about sex in the media, blogging 202, the 3 Ps of porn, the pleasure revolution, citizen science, and putting pleasure into risk and harm reduction. I would have loved to go to others, but fortunately people were tweeting up a storm, so I could follow along at #mcon. (Check out the feed if you’re curious). Bedpost confessions on Saturday night was a great shift from all the work my brain did during the day, and thanks to Good Vibrations for hosting a fun champagne party! In the closing plenary, Lara Riscol, former surgeon general Dr. Jocelyn Elders, and Esther Perel ROCKED the house, with standing ovations, and left us all inspired to keep up the momentum.
What’s my big “Ah HA” after this fabulous weekend of thinking, learning, and being around all these sexuality movers and shakers? In Shanna Katz & Lisa Pittari‘s Check Yourself workshop, we talked about privilege and isms and ways we can empower ourselves, all in a sex ed context. We dissected a few agent groups, defined as “social identity groups that hold unearned privilege in society”, such as people who are middle/upper class, cysgender, heterosexual, white, etc. and I want to add another group to the mix. I have Sex Ed privilege– the privilege of having experienced great sexuality education and growing up in a sexually supportive environment. This was apparent when I was the only one in the room who raised their hand at the question, “Who had good, comprehensive sexuality education?” (as I often am!) What does this privilege mean for me? Growing up…
- My folks were supportive of my sexual self, and even tried to talk to me about sexuality (I foolishly told them not to). My parents even taught sex ed at church!
- My religious community (unitarian universalist, of which I am still a part), actively promoted a healthy view of sexuality and encouraged me to develop my sexual self.
- I participated in a wonderful comprehensive sexuality education program (About Your Sexuality, the curriculum that was in place before Our Whole Lives).
- I had access to information and sexual health resources.
- I felt comfortable talking about sexuality with my peers, which I believe was a result of all of the above.
I feel as though my privilege is relatively unique, as was commented on my very first post, since many sexuality professionals have the opposite experience- coming from having nothing and/or growing up with people telling them to be AFRAID of sex. (Granted, I grew up in the south, so I did get some of that.) However, I also know that my experiences and upbringing inspired me to follow the path that I am on as a fearless sexuality educator, exploring the progressive idea of pleasure.
So what to do about this privilege? I certainly can’t change my upbringing or past experiences, but it is important to recognize and acknowledge our privileges, especially when working with others who come from a different background (which I feel like for me, is most everyone!). We must listen carefully to the experiences of others, and ask questions about their culture. We should constantly honor differences, and call people out on closed-mindedness. Remember that many people did not have an opportunity to learn about sexuality, sex, or even reproduction, and strive to provide that opportunity for any and all individuals. All this is part of being not only a good sexuality educator, but also an effective mover and changer.
I will always be a white women from a middle class family who got great sex ed, but I can be open-minded and aware of my privilege, which will help me stay true to myself and reach and connect with others to help people experience a positive learning environment about sexuality. And really, I hope that my experience of having great sex ed becomes less unique!!