Sex in the Public Square: Not just online!
Twice in the last week I had chances to talk to groups of people face to face about what we're doing here at Sex In The Public Square, and twice I got a tremendous sense of support and encouragement. The building of spaces on the Internet where sex -- of all sorts -- can be discussed openly, and where the connections between sex and the rest of our lives can be explored instead of studiously ignored, is so important. I know I'm not speaking just for myself when I say we're glad to be part of that effort.
And part of that effort involves, happily for us, stepping away from the computer and meeting face-to-face with other folks who are doing related work. In the next couple of months I'll be talking about different parts of this work in four very different settings. They are:
On February 23rd, in NYC, I will be presenting a paper called "Consciousness Raising 2.0: Sex blogging and the creation of a feminist sex commons" at the Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting.
On Saturday March 8th, in Austin, TX, I will be co-facilitator with Lux Alptraum of a Core Conversation at the South By Southwest Interactive festival. The title? "Pink Ghetto Blasters: Destigmatizing sex via online community building".
Sometime during the weekend of March 14-16, back in NYC, I will be on a panel discussing sex work, trafficking and left politics at the Left Forum. It's a fantastic panel. The fabulous Audacia Ray is on the panel, and Amber Hollibaugh, Kerwin Kaye and Tristan Taormino have also been invited. Antonia Levy organized and will moderate the panel.
Then, in April, the event I'm really most excited about because it exemplifies the kind of community-building that I think is so important to this work: Sex 2.0 . I've told you a bit about it before, but the press release is out and I'm posting it below. I'll be there presenting a more discussion-oriented version of my "creating and maintaining the sex commons" stuff.
Sex 2.0 is a really new kind of venture, and Amber Rhea, the lead organizer, has done an enormous amount of work to make it happen. Think about it this way: it's a grassroots effort to bring together, without any formal organizational umbrella or support, people who occupy one or more of the following positions: sex worker, writer, activist, scholar, organizer of kinky people. This is unprecedented, and I'm going to ask a favor: If it sounds like something you hope really works, and maybe even happens again, consider clicking the "Support Sex 2.0 button" on the right hand side of the front page and making a small donation. Or, if you'll be in the Atlanta area, consider registering and attending.
I'd love to see you there!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sex 2.0 will explore sexuality, feminism and social media
ATLANTA -- What happens when technology, sex, knowledge, and power enable women to meet up, act up, and hook up like never before? These questions and more are the focus of the Sex 2.0 unconference in Atlanta, Georgia on April 12th, 2008. Held at 1763, a 10,000-square-foot, fully equipped dungeon located 10 miles north of downtown Atlanta, the unconference will feature conversations among activists, social networking pioneers, bloggers, swingers, cruisers, sex futurists and kinksters who have been sexing up Web 2.0 from the beginning -- whether in Bangalore or Bangor, Maine.
Maybe you've heard of Web sites like Facebook, Craigslist, or Flickr. They're all social networking sites, the heart of a revolution in the way people produce and share knowledge, make friends, reach out for support, and create professional and personal networks.
When women need help with health, sexual, or personal problems, where do they turn? In a recent Pew Poll, researchers found that women were more likely to turn to the Web for knowledge and support. (Reference: Pew Internet & American Life Project, "How Women and Men Use the Internet," online at http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Women_and_Men_online.pdf).
It's that heady combination of technology, sex, and knowledge in the hands of women (and men) that fascinates well-known Atlanta-area tech/sex blogger Amber Rhea and inspired her to organize the event. She's not alone. The grassroots unconference will explore these issues with notable and notorious Web-based activists. On April 12, Sex 2.0 participants will:
- Hear keynote speaker Audacia Ray -- blogger, video podcaster, award-winning porn director and author of Naked on the Internet - Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing in on Internet Sexploration.
- Stimulate your "Sex Drive" with Regina Lynn, Wired magazine's sex-tech columnist and author of Sexier Sex: Lessons from the Brave New Sexual Frontier. In her session "How Love/Sex Happens Online," Lynn will explore the powerful and unexpected experiences people have with online lovers and what it all means inside the hearts of geekdom. Because sex is the first use for any new technology, Lynn will demonstrate how to get the most out of your phone, webcam or laptop and how to use your everyday gadgets to enhance intimacy, pleasure and fun.
- Explore sexual relationships that spring from online meeting places like blogs and forums in sessions with sex futurist Melissa Gira, who runs the award-winning sex blog Sexerati, and contributes to $pread, WHORE!, Best Sex Writing 2008, and Dirty Girls.
- Make history with T.A. Hines' session, "A Brief History of Sex." Hines is the irreverent, popular podcaster and Nerve magazine columnist who chronicles her funky brown chick take on sex and New York City in her weekly Internet radio show Dating Roadkill.
- Tempt your inner erotic writer with sex bloggers and writers like Rachel Kramer Bussel, who keeps things tingling at her Lusty Lady blog, and Viviane, who heats up the Web with her blog Viviane's Sex Carnival.
- Mix it up with j. brotherlove, Joseph G., Minx and Ren, who'll host rollicking sessions about online dating, cruising, hooking up, BDSM, and swinging whether for kinksters, sexual, ethnic and racial minorities, straight, curious, and in-between
Rhea says she wants the interactive sessions to be a place where people create the experience they need. "This is not your father's sex conference," she said. "An unconference belongs to the people who come -- double entendre intended."
People are often puzzled by an unconference, said Rhea, but it's almost always an experience that makes you never want to attend an ordinary conference again. "You won't be in a room, sitting on your hands, waiting for a one-way presentation. It's just like sex, really: a powerful interaction between people that makes the experience more than the people involved."
Registration for the event is $10 by February 17, $40 until March 28, and $50 after March 28, with the rest of the cost underwritten by volunteers and sponsors. There are still opportunities for sponsors who want to reach their audience -- people at the center of a new media that's changing the way we live.
Rhea thinks that the approach will attract a wide audience: "Everyone will be there to both raise and answer questions, teach and learn -- you can do both in one session. It's up to you."