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! 🙂
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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:

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.