Mar 042014

Ashley Manta is presenting Living With An STI. Check out Ashley’s bio here.
Ashley Mantra

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
Drawing inspiration from the work of Brene Brown, I try to model vulnerability and transparency in my life. I share my personal triumphs and struggles in the hopes that by sharing my story, I will give permission to others to share theirs. I try to be, as Kate McCombs would say, a “beacon of permission.” I believe that vulnerability is the key to connection, and that by being authentically and unapologetically ourselves, we can have rich relationships with one another.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Coming to CatalystCon East last year was a catalyst for me. I had been doing sexuality education for almost 6 years at that point, but never as part of the community. I went there not knowing a single person and came away with great friendships and a solid professional network. That network has grown exponentially over the past year, and I am thrilled to be going back to CatalystCon East this year as a presenter. Being part of this community has given me the courage to “come out” about having genital herpes, the opportunity to meet people who have been my professional heroes for years, and the confidence to put myself out there professionally in ways I didn’t think were possible this time last year. Tristan Taormino’s Sex Educator Boot Camp was especially vital in developing myself as a business owner.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

I think anytime you have a community of people, be it sex positive, progressives, etc. you have the possibility of falling victim to the “curse of knowledge” and forgetting that not everyone has the same education, background, and opportunities for nuanced understanding that we have. We all started out as beginners at one point or another, perhaps made mistakes or had uninformed opinions, and I think it’s important that we remember that not everyone is as far along as we are. Rather than either assuming that everyone is on the same page or chastising those who may not be as informed as we are, we need to identify “teachable moments” and encourage people to learn and grow and ask questions.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
I think Feminist Porn really came into the spotlight this past year. With the publishing of the Feminist Porn Book, the first ever Feminist Porn Conference, the establishment of a Porn Studies academic journal, and the inclusion of a Feminist Porn panel at mainstream adult industry event XBiz360, there have been many leaps forward for the Feminist Porn movement.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of Living With An STI to CatalystCon East?

Even in our face paced, tech-savvy, information overloaded world, most people are still operating with the understanding of STIs that they learned in high school. There is so much stigma surrounding STIs and people who contract them, right down to our vernacular: “I got tested last week and I’m clean.” The clean/dirty dichotomy is one of the many things we’ll be touching on in our panel, but suffice to say it is incredibly problematic and stigmatizing to refer to someone with an STI as “dirty.” I hope that by starting the conversation with fellow sex positive professionals, this information will disseminate into mainstream conversations.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I used to have horrific stage fright. I hated public speaking and would break out in hives every time I had to get up in front of people and give a presentation. I would wear turtleneck sweaters anytime I had to speak in front of my class in high school so that people wouldn’t be able to see them.


Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

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