Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors

Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors
a panel and Q&A session moderated by 
Brown Professor of History and Brazilian Studies Jim N. Green,
author of Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil

Free and open to the public!
Tuesday, May 4th @ 6:00 pm
in Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106 (View Map)
95 Cushing Street, Providence, RI 02906

This event is co-sponsored by: SHEEC and QCC

Panelists:
  • Aida Manduley: SHEEC Chairperson (that’s me!)
  • Megan Andelloux: Certified sexologist and sex educator
  • Reid Mihalko: Brown alum and presenter on sex and relationships 
  • Meitar Moscovitz: Community organizer and technology professional
  • Ricky Gresh: Senior director for Student Engagement at Brown University

What would you do if your organization were criticized for following through with its mission statement? What if you were publicly denigrated, misrepresented, and harassed for your work? What if educators themselves were trying to hamper your attempts at education

Finally, who should have a say in a college student’s sex education?

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This panel has been born out of a need to discuss the role of students, educators, and institutions in regards to censorship, free speech, and the right to organize.

More specifically, this panel has been born out of one group of incidents that have spanned this entire semester. SHEEC: the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council, an organization which I not only chair, but CHERISH, has come under vicious attack due to some (if not most) of the events it has been sponsoring, coordinating, and organizing. Who have been the attackers? Primarily, Donna M. Hughes (Prof. of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island) and Margaret Brooks (Brown alum and Prof. of Economics at Bridgewater State College). Other folks who have been involved? Melanie Shapiro, co-founder (along with Donna M. Hughes) of “Citizens Against Trafficking” and folks from the “Foundation for Intellectual Diversity,” a non-profit that is dedicated to funding the “underrepresented” ideas on the conservative end of the spectrum at Brown University.

We will briefly explain this ordeal at the panel, in the spirit of full transparency, and then we will delve deeper into other instances of censorship and moral panic so we can have a productive conversation about these issues. It’s an event that shouldn’t be missed, honestly. (If you’re curious and want to check out some back-story right now, though, feel free to peruse my SHEEC-tagged posts in this blog, which explain the matter/s and link to other sources of information.)

The event will focus on discussing censorship as it relates to sexual education and programming around sexuality issues because of the reasons why this panel came into being and because we hope to use the panelists’ experiences as “case-studies,” BUT we highly encourage EVERYBODY to attend, especially those who have had similar scary experiences with censorship or those who are curious because they don’t want to have it happen to them.

Come join us in our dialogue!

Though it’s open to the public, Brown students are especially encouraged to attend because we’ll discuss what Brown can do for YOU, and how Brown can protect your rights to hold events. This is CRUCIAL information, especially if you do any sort of “controversial” work on campus.

Also, in the spirit of bridge-building, communication, honesty, and all that good stuff, I personally invited the folks who have gone after me and my friends to the panel (and I’ve attached a copy of the email at the bottom of this post). So far, I haven’t received any sort of reply, which is very disappointing, although not terribly unexpected. Based on their track-record, it seems these people are not interested in any sort of conversation; they’re just out to bash individuals, censor comprehensive sexual education that acknowledges diversity, and shut down the things with which they don’t agree.

Perhaps they’ll surprise me on May 4th and attend the panel. It would be fascinating to finally see them in person, for once, and maybe have a chance to talk to them. All of this has gone on without them EVER asking me anything or directly contacting me–just paying eerily close attention to my online presence & SHEEC events and then criticizing, bashing, and lying about them behind my back. It seems they don’t acknowledge my humanity, or the humanity of the other people they have attacked and hurt with their mean-spirited campaigning, and that is really sad.

The worst part is, while we could ALL be spending time actually learning about and addressing the issue of trafficking & forced labor (because “sex-trafficking” is NOT the only issue here, or the only one affecting women; it is only ONE of the subsets of forced labor and human trafficking), we are instead caught in a web of animosity that distracts us from the REAL issues, confuses the public, and spreads inaccurate information. My friends and I are trying to make positive change in the world by educating and empowering people, while at the same time having to defend ourselves against harsh attacks by “educated” folks who conflate sex-work with sex-trafficking, equate kink and BDSM with slavery and abuse, purposefully lie and misrepresent those they see as “the enemy,” and deny women’s agency to make informed decisions because they somehow “know what’s best for them.”

Personally, based on the things I just highlighted, I think there are way more issues here than solely sexuality education and morality, don’t you think?

In short, I hope that if you CAN, you attend the panel.
I think everyone would benefit from hearing what we have to say and taking part in this discussion.




——————————————-


Open Letter to Melanie Shapiro, Margaret Brooks, and Donna M. Hughes:

Date: Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Subject: Invitation to Event at Brown University
To: melanieshapiro4@gmail.com, mbrooks@bridgew.edu, dhughes@uri.edu, dhughes71@cox.net

Dear ladies, Since you have shown persistent interest in the events I have coordinated and facilitated at Brown University through SHEEC (the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council), as the organization’s Chairperson, I cordially invite you to attend the next one: “Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors” on May 4th, 2010, at 6:00pm in Smith-Buonanno Room 106. I hope you will take this opportunity to constructively converse with myself and the other people whom you have publicly denigrated and misrepresented, as I feel it is deeply saddening and highly unfortunate that you are so eager to attack my organization and its events while refusing to engage with me or even do basic research about what it is that I do and promote.

Sincerely,

– Aida Manduley

KinkForAll Providence: Clarified [Updated]

While I was planning KinkForAll Providence, I was contacted by Brown officials because a community member was emailing the University with concerns about the event. Though, as I found out, most of these concerns were alarmist and visibly laced with prejudice and ignorance about the event and many of the sexuality topics that we hoped to address, the University heard this individual out and I met with various Brown officials to discuss the points that had been raised. After speaking with me and making sure I was following the appropriate protocol (which I was already doing because I’m a very experienced event organizer at this institution), the Brown officials did not find a reason to cancel the event or do much else, other than closely review my plans and tell me to keep in communication with them before, during, and after the event.

That, however, was not the end of the saga. After KinkForAll was held on February 6th, and after Get Your Heart On: Sex Educator Showdown with Reid Mihalko (a Brown alum) and Megan Andelloux (a certified sex educator) happened on Valentine’s Day (co-sponsored by SHEEC, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Students for Choice, Queer Alliance, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, and Brown Health Education), the emailing continued.

As I eventually found out, thanks to the Internet, this community member was someone by the name of Margaret (Barber) Brooks, none other than a Brown alum and professor of Economics at Bridgewater State College in MA. I was deeply saddened that a professor and Brown alum would go to the lengths she did to shut down a student event (or two, really), especially one aimed at creating a space where information about sexuality could be shared, a space where people could feel safe and empowered to discuss these issues without being judged. I appreciated her concerns and her desire to maintain Brown students and community members safe, but the overall manner in which she approached the situation was appalling. 

Aside from the emails, she and Donna M. Hughes, a URI professor, posted and widely circulated a bulletin about the event. The bulletin, however, was more about bad-mouthing my friend Maymay (the co-founder of the KinkForAll unconference model), spreading inaccurate information about KinkForAll Providence, and fear-mongering than actually addressing any real issues.

Did Margaret ever reach out to me, the event organizer? No.


Instead, she chose to contact Brown multiple times, even after the University officials responded with their final decision to allow SHEEC to make the events happen.

Did Donna ever reach out to me? I’ll give you one guess.

Neither of these individuals have engaged with anyone directly related to the events’ organization. Instead, they have paid eerily close attention to our blogs, Twitter accounts, Google-groups, and online presences and have then twisted the information found there to fit their agendas. They have spread inaccurate information (heck, they have spread flat out LIES) and incited other individuals to call us horrible things, such as sex-traffickers.

Because of this, and because I believe in what I do (and I want to be as transparent as possible), I wish to clarify certain things about KFA Providence. Though most (if not all) the information in this post is easily available on the Internet, I will attempt to make a concise summary of concerns and my responses/clarifications.



1. KinkforAll–model or organization?


KinkForAll is a conference model, not an organization. Simple as that. There are no “members” or general KFA “presidents.” Each KFA event is specific to that time, place, and set of organizers. As far as KinkForAll Providence goes, I can’t claim ownership of the MODEL, but I can claim responsibility for the drive and organization of that event.
2. KFA’s relation to Brown and who organized it

I was the main organizer, and my community co-organizer was Emma Gross. The sponsoring group was SHEEC. It’s insulting to hear people like Margaret (Barber) Brooks and Donna M. Hughes credit Maymay with organizing the event, because that was not the case. Personally, while I think May is an AMAZING human being (a-may-zing? wow, I just went there) and I appreciate his founding the KFA model, I feel my work is being invalidated and dismissed by these two women. Furthermore, I feel that one of the organizations I lead at Brown University, the one dearest to my heart, is being disparaged. This is all very unacceptable.

The idea that “No one is apparently in charge; therefore no one is responsible” is, again, insulting, because I was clearly in charge and SHEEC was the group responsible. If anything had gone wrong, it would have been our responsibility. 

Throughout the conference, we stated that the sponsor for the event was SHEEC, and that Brown was giving us access to the venue through that. This was said a few times, and in multiple rooms, and also during the live-stream. I also know that in CarnalNation, the language used was “held AT Brown,” which is accurate. Also, there were signs in the building explaining what the content was, where the livestream was, that the sponsor was SHEEC, and so on. Everything was carefully labeled.

In regards to us using Brown’s Wi-Fi and facilities, and arguments that these conditions make Brown a sponsor? By that logic, it would mean that ANY and EVERY event held on campus is “officially sponsored” by Brown University. This makes no sense, and is NOT aligned with Brown’s definition of sponsorship. In our communications, we weren’t using Brown’s name to make it sound “more legitimate” or anything; we merely had to use Brown’s name so that people would know where the conference was being HELD. Finally, GuestIDs are given to people who stay at the Brown Inn and people coming in for conferences, so this, again, was within their/our right to pursue.

3. Safety issues and children

This particular event would have never resulted in children being “approached, propositioned, or molested.” We took specific safety precautions to ensure the comfort of all our participants and to make sure that everything going on at the event was legal, consensual, safe, and in accordance to Brown’s policies and regulations, as evidenced by my meetings with Brown officials and the ridiculous amounts of signs and posters stating what was going on and what rules the attendees and presenters had to abide by. Furthermore, no minors were allowed at the conference unless they were there with a legal guardian or parent.
4. Extra rooms and “one Brown female undergraduate at the conference” that “appears to have engaged in a sexual activity at approximately 2:20 pm” 

Extra rooms, yes. I reserved them to make sure that all the people on the first floor were people we WANTED there, and who were explicitly coming for the conference instead of merely wandering in. We also had greeters at the door, time-keepers in the rooms, and people flowing in and out of presentations making sure things were going according to plan. In regards to small groups of participants going off by themselves into the extra rooms—I wandered around and people were always in rooms where presentations were actively going on; otherwise, the other rooms were empty. The only time when presentations were NOT going on was during lunch, from 1 to 2 pm, and we were on break. 

A Brown undergrad “engaging in sexual activity” at approximately 2:20…? What does that even mean?

There were NO SEXUAL ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE AT OUR EVENT (unless you count DISCUSSIONS about sexuality) and we made it clear at the beginning of the event and on the venue rules in each room that no sex/nudity/play was allowed. 
5. Credentials of presenters
The public is welcome, and thus, we don’t require people’s credentials in, say, sexology or psychiatry when they want to present about a topic they’re passionate about. This conference is a place for people to speak candidly about sexuality from their own perspectives, and that is how we describe it. We do not in any way misrepresent who is attending and what they’ll be doing at KinkForAll.

6. Videos and livestream 
All the people who were videotaped either personally asked us to record them OR specifically chose to use Room 102, with the livestream. NO ONE was taped that did not consent to being taped; we had our sticker system (orange dot = do not tape), time-keepers, and organizers helping enforce this in every room. We made everyone who was going to take pictures be identifiable on their name-tag, and the people taking pictures were basically me and Meitar. There was a huge sign explicitly stating that there was a live-stream in room 102 and what that meant (for those people who were unfamiliar with the term “livestream”). Furthermore, there were signs ON the computer that was recording and all around it cautioning people that it was taping, so no one would accidentally walk into its line of vision (another reason why we angled it in such a way that it wouldn’t capture the doorway).
7. Meitar, KinkForAll, KinkOnTap podcast, and money

Meitar is the co-founder of the KinkForAll conference/model. He has organized some KFAs, but not all of them. Re: KinkOnTap podcast, Megan Andelloux and I were on as guests the day after KFAPVD, and a) this podcast is NOT personally making Meitar money at all because whatever donations they receive are for the funding of the program itself and b) the podcast is a separate entity that is not seeking to make money off KFA Providence. The podcast is separate and, yes, we mentioned KFAPVD, but that’s because we were talking about recent events and news items (such as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy articles that have been floating around). The footage shot at KFAPVD is NOT being sold and is NOT being used commercially at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The mission statement of the KFA model is to make all this information FREELY available to everyone. That’s also the reason why the conference ITSELF is free; it’s one of the most important parts of the model! 

8. “Illegal sadist practices,” NELA’s Fetish Flea Market, and KFAPVD
As far as I know, discussing “illegal practices” is not illegal itself, or else no one could ever talk about, say, underage drinking. This conference is a place for critical analysis and discussion, where these topics can and SHOULD be addressed, especially when it comes to talking about their legal ramifications. Again, I invoke our right to free speech. As far as NELA goes, yeah, I HOPED to get BDSM advocates from across the country. The presenters at the Fetish Flea are highly respected in the community and have a lot of things to say, so they would’ve been more than welcome at our event. Also, for those of you who don’t know, NELA is  “an incorporated non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the support, education, and political organizing of the leather/fetish/SM/bondage communities in New England.”

Open Response to Brown Alum: More Sex Week Madness!

I love how people who have negative things to say about me, SHEEC, and Sex Week rarely come to me directly, and instead contact other conservative folks and start spreading rumors. I can’t decide if this is ignorant, cowardly, or what. Maybe a combination of both. Sigh.

Regardless, here is my response to the questions a Brown alum apparently sent FID here. I’ll try to be concise, but also informative, so while some answers only deserve a one-word response (or even no response at all because they’re so absurd), I will try to expound upon them a bit if I feel there is a need to do so. I think most of these questions are pretty cute (in that “wow, it’s cute how you’re trying to find ANY possible way to get us in trouble, even when it sounds and IS totally ridiculous” way).


—————-


1. Did the Wet Spots’ spanking of audience members cause injury to someone? – No.  

2. Student organizers plan to post the best “erotic” story on Brown SHEEC web site. Does Brown allow obscene material on its web site? – The website is not hosted by Brown. We’re posting it on our blog: http://brownsheec.wordpress.com/  

3. Sarah Sloane taught a workshop for sex assault survivors. She is not a psychologist. She is a sadist, etc. Her statements could be harmful to anyone who is attending this session looking for help http://www.sarahsloane.net/?page_id=208. – Since when does being a sadist in BDSM contexts invalidate one’s advice about actual sexual assault? Whatever. Feel free to email me and I can give you a copy of the handouts for the event; I’m sure you’ll find them quite positive and informative. FYI, we also discussed and made available Health Services pamphlets and information about official counseling at the event. During the week, we also had another event about sexual assault led by Trish Glover, Brown’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Coordinator. Furthermore, Sarah Sloane made her experience/educational background/interest in speaking about sexual assault quite transparent at the event and never claimed to be a psychologist (and we never billed her as such). Finally, I attended the workshop and can vouch for everything she said.

4. Sarah Sloane taught a class on safe sex. Is she qualified? She teaches BDSM. How safe is that? – To answer the first question, yes, she is qualified. For our intents and purposes, someone who is qualified to talk about safer sex is someone who has the knowledge necessary to provide an accurate, educational, and informational workshop or discussion. As someone who knows a lot about safer sex and as the person who booked her for attendance (and thus made sure that she had the knowledge to back up her event), I can stand by all the information she gave during her presentation. To answer the second question, BDSM is as safe as you make it, just like walking down the street is as safe as you make it. Heck, BDSM can be even safer than walking down the street. 

5. Megan Andelloux’s class is asking for audience participation, both mind and body. Are there could be sexual harassment issues with what took place? – Nope.  

6. Raffles were held. Were appropriate licenses obtained? Can dildos, etc legally be raffled? What about minors who may have been present or who may buy a ticket? – No minors purchased tickets or were present. And as far as we know, yes, all proceedings were legal. Finally, the sale and use of sex toys is legal in Rhode Island. What do you think they sell at Mister Sister on Wickenden? Pastries?  

7. Did Brown check IDS of all people attending Sex Week events, given the content? – Nope. Most events were workshop-sized and thus either I or the other coordinators in attendance knew the people who were there (either personally, or they at least knew their grade year, age, and/or affiliation with SHEEC and Brown/RISD).  

8. Were these events be open to the community, and will their IDs be checked? – They were open to the community, yes, and no, their IDs were not checked for the aforementioned reasons. The community-members that were in attendance were either visibly college-aged or older.

9. What is the policy about photographing students who attend any Sex Week workshops? Do attendees have a right to privacy, including the possible taking of their names for raffles? – No names were taken for raffles. If you want more information about how the raffles worked, you can check here. Also, the raffles were completely voluntary, so while names were not necessary, even if they HAD been, people would have been GIVING us their names voluntarily. In regards to the pictures, at events, pictures were taken of presenters (if they consented to it), volunteers/coordinators (again, if they said it was okay), and the venue (beforehand). The other instances of pictures being taken were by BDH reporters taking pictures from the back of the room for one event, and thus no one’s identifying features were visible.  

10. The Raunchy Bake Sale was held on the Main Green. Passersby including children could have seen these items. It’s not only offensive but could violate RI Laws. – Mm, and what laws would those be, exactly? As far as I know, Spencer’s at the mall doesn’t have signs saying “WARNING: PENIS-SHAPED LOLLIPOPS AHEAD.” We didn’t either.  

11. Is SHEEC ever going to identify all the Brown Sex Week sponsors (including sex toy companies who donated products for the raffles?) Will this raffle funding be made public? See Aida Manduley’s twitter for mentions of companies that made donations: http://twitter.com/pledgemistress (scroll back by hitting “more” at the bottom of the page) – I’m amused by the phrasing–“is SHEEC ever going to identify all the Brown Sex Week sponsors” because it implies that we’ve taken forever and a day to say who the sponsors are or something. In fact, they have been identified/promoted multiple times through multiple media, before the raffle even happened. We have been quite transparent about this. Check our Facebook event, blog (https://brownsheec.wordpress.com/), and posters for more information.

Open Letter to Slanderers

Dear Margaret Brooks and Donna M. Hughes,


I’m making this short, sweet, and easy to comprehend:

  • Get your facts straight before you bash KinkForAll and the people involved.
  • Stop spreading lies about, well, a LOT of things.
  • Have some courage to speak to anyone involved DIRECTLY instead of contacting everyone BUT the organizers and attendees. Especially since you KEEP citing KFAPVD as an example, and you are obviously very misinformed as to how that event ran, who ran it, and how it all went, TALK TO ME ABOUT IT and stop making assumptions.
  • Stop spreading lies and rumors. Did I mention that already?
  • If you’re going to quote things, quote them in FULL and IN CONTEXT.
  • GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.
  • And oh, get your facts straight.
Love,
Aida


P.S. A direct response to this infuriating and deeply saddening bulletin will be coming soon.

Re: “Brown Teaches Students How to Have Kinky Sex”

Just in case my comment doesn’t get approved, and also because I just want to publicize it for further discussion, here’s my response to this article, whose main beef with Sex Week seems to be the university support and financial backing.
On a related note, I’m proud of SHEEC for being the first entry under their Gender Issues tag and for having its OWN tag, “Sex Week.” Heck, I’m proud that now the FID website has the phrase “kinky sex” in it! 🙂
—————————-
Hey there! I’m the current Sex Week coordinator, so I can definitely speak to this topic. :)
“forums on condom use and relationship counseling—but not at Brown” – In fact, we do have those events. Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back [happening Friday night] is all about safer sex, and our Monday night workshop focused on communication and negotiation in relationships, especially when people get involved in any sort of “non-traditional” relationship because there are way less people talking about how to make it work in those settings (still, the techniques and lessons are applicable to all sorts of relationships, romantic or otherwise).
The issue of feminist and sex-positive pornography is one hotly debated in the fields of queer/feminist/women/gender/sexuality studies and theory, and thus highly relevant, especially in light of the rise of sex-positivism and the backlash of certain communities.
Our documentary (“Kinky”) and student panel centered around issues of power dynamics and their intersection with race/ethnicity, and we used the film as a springboard to start conversation, since in BDSM the power dynamics are EXPLICIT, whereas in daily life, we operate under many assumptions and systems of oppression but don’t talk about them or actively negotiate them. This was not a forum to teach students how to have kinky sex, but instead explore hierarchies, power dynamics, and their intersections with identity.
Re: sex toys and how to use them, SHEEC wants Brown students to be informed consumers, as well as sexually-aware individuals, so of course we’ll have events about these things. Because sex toys aren’t regulated in the way that other products are, standards and materials can vary widely, and we wish to inform the Brown population about what items are body-safe and instruct them in the proper care of themselves AND their toys. Which leads me to the topic of the raffles! We are holding these because, not only are prizes fun, but when we talk about body-safe sex toys, some of those are expensive and we wanted to make items available to those who perhaps didn’t have the means to purchase them.
The workshop on sexual fantasies is humorous and educational, hoping to take away the shame from healthy, sex-positive practices and bringing in scientific/medical facts to exposing myths that people believe due to lack of knowledge. Furthermore, it is run by a certified sexual educator. It’s interactive because we expect the audience to bring in questions and comments, not because we plan to have, say, an orgy.
Our other events cover a wide range of topics, such as ability/disability, sexual assault (2 events about this, actually), sexuality and the media, and immigration/trans politics, all by experts in their respective fields (be it as activists, medical professionals, certified educators, etc.), so I’m surprised you didn’t give any of these much attention. I mean, I’m NOT surprised, since they wouldn’t cause a ruckus/headlines, but still.
It is SHEEC’s mission to bring in presentations and lectures that focus on EDUCATION, first and foremost, and the promotion of sexual health, pleasure, and wellness. While we do cover kink and feel it’s an important part of this year’s content, I think this article is a misrepresentation of what Brown’s Sex Week IS and strives to do.
RE: university backing? They are backing our right as an organization to host events and, incidentally, promote a diversity of thought on campus. As far as I’m concerned, as far as events adhere to certain university policies and guidelines, they are all given the same consideration, so just like our event got funded, an event by another group could find funding as well. If this is in any way a commentary on how Brown should NOT have funded this week, I find it ridiculous. Furthermore, we gave all contributors the option to tell us what they wanted the money used for, and we respected those wishes (e.g. Late Night Fund money is only for funding our March 20th evening event), so money isn’t being funneled away in secret ways or anything. So, hypothetically (because I do not find this the appropriate forum to go into a detailed and itemized list of our SHEEC budget), something like Strap-On 101 was fully funded by student groups and not the university.
Also, not all of the offices listed supported us through a monetary contribution, I think it is important to note, since that seems to be your focus. And just because the university is funding something some people might not agree with doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fund it. Again, diversity of thought, no?
Finally, it is BECAUSE there are parties and fraternities and dorm-room debaucheries and things going on “behind closed doors” that we need to bring this dialogue to the fore and educate our campus about what they’re doing and how to engage with their respective sexualities in positive, healthy ways. As long as we determine that sexuality is a topic that must be kept hidden, or that certain topics are “too taboo to talk about,” we will breed legions of misinformed youth that will then turn into misinformed adults if they don’t get an education at SOME point, and then it all turns into a vicious cycle of shame, fear, and ignorance.
Also, the cabaret act is The Wet Spots, not The Wet Spot. ;)

Representations of Sex/uality

Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Sex Week 2010 Poster”


This is kind of a cross-post from the SHEEC blog, so forgive me.

My goals for the poster:
  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!
The RESULT:

Pain vs. Harm (and some other thoughts)

Via Nonzer0 (which you should check out because it’s fantastic).  
Emphasis mine. 
——

From my limited experience:
Pain is different from harm. Whether the two coincide often has to do with intention or context–the pain felt during childbirth is processed and experienced differently (and usually not as psychic or emotional harm, even if the body is injured) whereas an equal amount of physical pain felt when being tortured in someone’s basement or in a POW camp I would guess is much more likely to be harmful.

In less dramatic senses, I think there is more risk of harm when we are acting out of any sort of malice, retributive anger, hatred, resentment, defensiveness, aggression–anything that Yoda would put on the dark side of the force.
This purtains to kink in that, when it is done in a “safe, sane, consensual” manner, one of the intentions may be to cause pain–physical or emotional–but not to harm. Anyone who wants to do you lasting damage isn’t someone that it would be healthy for most people to get kinky with. A good top, when you are not “playing” with power or other kink stuff but doing something more serious, is more like a spiritual guide, knowing when to push and when to slow down, open to feedback, offering support and encouragement when necessary, with steady love beneath whatever else is going on or whatever the expression of it is (you know I don’t necessarily mean romantic love). And in this context, the sub has the opportunity to experience and confront some of the things we struggle most with as humans– perhaps, physical pain, which she will learn is easiest when one surrendors to it or accepts it wholely; mentally, humiliation–which can be an joyful release from selfhood, an entry into intense trance states, a way of taking the ego and breaking it against a rock, failure or guilt–which, in going into fully in the safety of the setting she will learn to fear less in daily life, and to meet fully when it arises, her psychic and physical limitiations–which may help release her from some of the perfectionism conditioned into us by our culture, fear–which she will become intimate with and learn to and enjoy, create for herself the tool of imbuing the terrible with the erotic thus helping her to face it, to make it bearable.

It is a grounds, perhaps most of all, for giving and recieving unconditional love. There is incredible risk on both sides to exposing “shadow” sides, in asking for obedience or giving it, in giving a command or following it. The scene can exist only when both parties conspire together, are in it together. And it is amazing, to humiliate oneself completely in front of someone, to for a period of time exist in a state of utter trust and let someone cause you pain without trying to escape, and instead of leaving, the person stays, appreciates, loves you all the more. And the top, I would guess, has a reciprocal experience–to demand, inflict, command, humiliate, and still be loved. It’s breath-taking, isn’t it?
The difference between this and actual abuse has much to do with explicit consent and intention. Abuse often comes from intentions to harm, defend, protect, intimidate. Kink, in good situations, comes from intentions to expand and open emotionally and experientially, to achieve intimacy, to give and recieve love, and often includes inflicting pain in the service of these things.
Of course some people use kink to channel hatred of various sorts, or to put themselves in harm’s (rather than pain’s) way, and in those scenarios, there is great potential to damage all involved. But in the best cases, sex can become a pretext, a means, a background, or simply a component of a deeply intimate, alchemical process.

KinkForAll Providence

If you’re sex-positive,

sex-curious,
&/or just plain sexy,

you should consider attending a KinkForAll.

What IS a KFA, you ask? To steal from the official website:

KinkForAll is an ad-hoc informational unconference on sexuality for anyone and everyone.

KinkForAll draws participants from an astounding range of sexuality-related communities. Anyone with the desire to learn or with something to contribute is welcome and invited to participate.

KinkForAll is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from all participants. There are no spectators, only participants. To attend, you must give a presentation or help out in some other way.

KinkForAll is an entirely free, open to the public event.

KinkForAll events aim to support participants face-to-face and to create shared knowledge with lasting benefit to humanity.

KinkForAll is inspired by and based upon the BarCamp community and unconference model.

————

I first got involved with KFA last autumn. I heard about KinkForAll (more specifically KFA Boston) from a friend and planned on attending. When the event last-minute lost its venue, I began actively working on helping make it happen and securing a venue at Brown. In the end, thanks to the efforts of many fantastic folk, we wound up keeping it in MA and holding it at Boston University. It was a rewarding, informational, and super fun experience, and I definitely wanted one to happen in Providence. So, we present to you KinkforAll Providence, happening February 6th at Brown University! 🙂

We’re currently in the early planning stages, but there is already groundwork laid out thanks to previous conferences and the clock is ticking. I highly encourage ANY and ALL of you to get involved, even if it’s in a small way. Every little bit helps, and THAT’S how these KFAs happen–thanks to the collective efforts of many people. So start clicking on links and exploring. I hope you’ll join us there. 🙂 If you have any questions, let me know. I’d be happy to answer them or direct you to the folks who can.

Some good articles

1. Things your partner wants you to know. [Mono to Poly and Poly to Mono]

2. BDSM Scenarios and sexual exploration ideas. Some of these I heard at the Fetish Flea. 🙂

3. COMMUNICATION. Yep. There’s some good stuff in this article. “Communication works best when it’s an ongoing process. It’s not something you do when things get out of hand; it’s something you do all the time. Don’t wait for small problems to become big problems before you talk about them! Keep checking in with your partner all the time; make it a habit. (…) Even though it can sometimes seem uncomfortable or even frightening to bring up something that bothers you or that is affecting you in your relationship, you need to do it anyway. Anyone can have good communication skills when communication is easy; it’s how you communicate when it’s difficult that counts.”

4. Thriving as a Secondary. It’s interesting to read this now because, being as introspective and analytical as I am, I have already asked myself SO many of these questions, especially the ones that relate to what my own boundaries and wants/needs are. 🙂

5. Total non-sequitur: Transhumanism!