Sep 072016
 

Reid is presenting Sex Geek Conservatory Primer: Teaching Sex Ed Without FearHow To Make More Money as a Sex Educator: Dating Your Business Model  The Art of Accepting No with Monique Darling and Reid Mihalko and Finding Your Unique Voice and Brand to Wow Your Perfect Clients (and Create Bigger Value). Check out his bio here.

Reid MihalkoHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

For the past four years I’ve been geeking out hard on helping sex educators become better at the business of being educators and how to reach more people and make a better living doing what we love.
The way I see it, the more people’s lives we can touch, and the more peace of mind we can foster by paying our rents and bills, then our Industry as a whole becomes stronger, healthier, and happier. And happy, well-paid, self-expressed sex educators have more resources to be catalysts for the kind of change the planet needs right now!
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Seeing how much my Mom and Dad loved each other and how “Love” wasn’t enough to keep them happy was the catalyst. Their growing pain -my mother would become an alcoholic, my father would become a workaholic, with things just getting worse and worse- and inability to heal it had me vow to never “be like them.”
My father also lost everything in his once successful business and my folks ended up living in their van with the family dog for several years, so I also “inherited” a great fear of finances and owning a business/“having a career.”
Lucky for me, I had friends and mentors who helped me overcome my fears and unleash my natural curiosity and geekery about people, business and life… And I’ve been able to make a career out of it, even to the extent of helping other sex educators win at business!
It’s very inspiring to help men and women not have to go through what I saw my parents go through.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?
Decolonizing sex education and how white people in our industry are learning why and how to help other white people be more inclusive and savvy with things like racism, classicism, abelism, ageism, sex workers rights, sexism, body shaming, etc.… These conversations and the actions/growth surrounding them are SO important!
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?
One of the biggest challenges happening right now in our industry is how sex educators are handling consent violations, consent accidents, and predatory behavior inside our own community/industry.
We are at a lack of tools for how to invite our industry to heal itself. We need to be able to hold people accountable and take personal responsibility while giving people room to have their feelings and voice/be witnessed in healthy, empowering ways.
Our industry and the sex-positive movement, like other movements that came before us, is prone to “eating it’s own” and using banishment and bridge-burning as means of bringing justice and creating safety. The unfortunate outcome of this is that we’re at a loss for protocols and role modeling on how we invite community members to step-up, grow, heal, and improve.
I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been having lots of conversations with folks who specialize in geeking out on these things. I invite all sex educators to look into the areas of Restorative and Transformative Justice, Call-In and Calling-Out Culture, as well as other areas and communities and brilliant minds, and help us find tools and concepts that can empower our industry and help all of us upgrade how we hold space and role model for each other. These tools need to include how we can leverage social media to build bridges rather than burn them.
Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?
I look at getting better at business as a kind of self-care for sex educators. One of the most powerful ways to avoid burnout and stress is to not make the common mistakes I made “re-inventing the wheel” as I built my career.
Anything I can do to help my peers shorten their learning (and frustration) curves means there are more of us transforming the world! And THAT is important to me.
I’m teaching two pre-con workshops on business skills and public speaking  bad-assery. I’m also co-leading two presentations, one on how to say and receive No powerfully as well as a 2nd talk on how to use your personal life’s story as a sex educator to reach clients and create a career that’s a great fit for you… All of these discussions help sex educators build businesses that excite them and pay the bills rather than stress them out.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?
I used to play flute in 7th grade band, but couldn’t read music at all, so I just faked it
 

Speaker Spotlight: Robert G. LeFavi, PhD

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Sep 062016
 

Bob is presenting Treating low libido in women: What sexual health professionals should know about the latest research, with emphasis on hormonal therapies. Check out is bio here.

Robert LeFavi, PhDWhat do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

In the past decade, great strides have been made in the understanding of the causes of low libido in women. The most dramatic change in awareness has been in the importance of how hormone levels affect physical sensation, emotions, and human sexual response. This awareness is slowly moving from labs into medical practice, and is most often adopted into use by those treating patients with hormone replacement therapy. Those physicians often see dramatic results, and their treatments should be made known to wider populations and women of all ages.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?
There is simply no reason we have not been as focused on female sexual dysfunction than on male sexual dysfunction. And low libido is indeed sexual dysfunction for those who experience it. The information gained in recent research on hormones can change much of that. I am passionate about getting this information to as many sexual health practitioners as I can so the opportunities for successful treatment can be increased. The awareness of the importance of the hormone-sexual response interaction can empower all of us to be catalysts of hope for those women who suffer from low libido; this knowledge is indeed power.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?
I have dual citizenship (Italy & U.S.) and was a competitor in the 2013 World CrossFit Games

Speaker Spotlight: Rebecca E. Blanton, PhD

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Aug 262016
 

Rebecca is presenting Claiming Female Sexuality Through Performance. Check out her bio here.

Rebecca E. BlantonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I don’t really think of myself as a “Catalyst for Change.” That idea seems to big for what I do. What I am concerned about it the growing need for everyone to be certain about everything at every moment. This leaves little room for growth or change without being painted as a dilettante or flip-flopper. I have long been concerned with both identity and sexuality in a person’s life. Both healthy identity and healthy sexuality require an ability to explore and grow and change — which is antithetical to the current need to certainty in identity at all times.

I have opted to live as open and authentically as I can as a way to free people from the need to pretend to be something they are not. I have used my sexual and emotional path to illustrate things on stage through comedy and burlesque performances. I think the boom in burlesque and the growth of women in comedy allow women a new and unique way to talk about the constant “becoming” that is the human experience.

Who or what was a catalyst for you? 

My biggest catalyst to this day was The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. I saw the documentary when I was 11 years old on PBS. Milk’s statement that “If a bullet should ever enter my brain, let it blow off every closet door,” became my mantra. I have been out and proud as queer since I was 13 and realized I was gay. I am out about my kink and my mental illness. People, much braver than I, came out before me so I didn’t have to fight the hardest battles. I owe them being open and out an it is my gift to the next generation.

What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

I think the ability to talk more openly about sexuality is, by and large, a good development. I see us as still a nascent culture when it comes to talking about sex and sexuality and there are growing pains as we open the culture. However, the ability for people to connect with community and get information about things is a good thing.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? 

I see the pushback against changing ideas of gender and sexuality as dangerous. As much as we have pushed to decriminalize and de-pathologize queerness and trans folks, we are still based in a medical model for sex and gender identity. Medicine is a field of late adopters for any ideas. The fact that we conflate sex and gender to what sex is assigned at birth by some doctor and that we still require trans folks to prove things like “gender dysphoria” to multiple medical professionals before getting any help will always slow and limit the development of new ideas of sexuality.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

I know hundreds of female and female-identified performers who have used the stage to claim who they are sexually and with their gender. I find it absolutely fascinating what parts of their sexuality and gender they choose to claim on stage and how they go about doing that.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I was raised on a farm in southeast Idaho by parents who were escaping their role as Baptist missionaries.

Speaker Spotlight – Walker Thornton M.Ed

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Aug 232016
 

Walker is presenting Addressing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder—It’s Not as Simple as Popping a Pill or Using a Sex Toy/Device. Check out her bio here.

Walker ThorntonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I speak about topics of vital importance to older women—menopausal and postmenopausal women (and a significant number of older men as well). We’re a segment of the population that is pretty much overlooked in many areas. We are seen as past our prime, old…not interested in sex, and invisible in some ways. Women this age, as a general rule, don’t feel comfortable talking about sex and sexuality. I believe that my job is to help normalize and demystify sex in the middle years and beyond. I don’t hold to the myths about aging and menopause. I try to present a pro-aging, natural approach to getting older and maintaining our sexuality. My willingness to have “that” conversation, any time, any place, is just one way to remove some of the stigma and provide space for change to happen.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

I hear from women who struggle with issues around sexuality. Women who want a different, better sex life but don’t know who to talk to…and in some cases don’t really know what it is they need.  Much of the available information for older women portrays sexuality in a negative light. The prevailing myth is that menopause will bring an end to desire and sex and that the best answer, if any help is offered, is pharmaceutically based. Instead of helping women understand their desire, or give them tools to enhance their understanding of sex and their bodies, women are pushed towards expensive toys and medications. Low female sexual desire doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it can’t be “treated” as a deficit that begs for a fix. The idea of inviting desire, which happens to be the title of my new book, is a way of helping women do their own work—giving them tools and resources, readily accessible and practical. I’m excited about the opportunity to help workshop attendees look at how we work with women (and their partners) in providing ideas and tools for increasing sexual desire.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

I’m a small town girl. I grew up in a town of 500—on the water, at the end of a road that doesn’t really lead to anywhere else. Somehow over the years I’ve managed to shed that awkward little girl, small town image. Oh, and… I drove a bus for the University of Virginia when I was in college.

Speaker Spotlight – David J. Ley, PhD

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Aug 192016
 

David is presenting Ethical Porn For Dicks: Encouraging Users to Embrace Mindfulness in their Porn Consumption and speaking on Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. Check out his bio here.

David LeyHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Each of my books has been the first of its kind. Insatiable Wives was the first scholarly exploration of the cuckold/hotwife fantasy and fetish. Myth of Sex Addiction was the first popular book to challenge the concept of sex addiction, as morally-based, shaming model. Ethical Porn for Dicks (EP4D) is the first book to approach the men of our society with a model for responsible use of pornography, in a way that does not demonize either porn or male sexuality. I’ve been deeply humbled to have my work honored as an inspiration by the many people who have been shamed for their sexuality, and have felt that my writing and advocacy has led to them being able to challenge social elements who shame and suppress sexual diversity. When Myth came out, I was one of only about 3 people who were publicly challenging the notion of sex addiction – now, dozens of writers, therapists and researchers around the world are publicly attacking the concept as dangerous, ill-informed, and harmful. To have their support and encouragement in this fight has been one of the great successes of my life.

Who or what was a catalyst for you? 

Truthfully, I’ve had any number of mentors and catalysts. But the ones who have meant the most to me have been the countless people around the world who have reached out and told me about the shame they have experienced at the hands of counselors, doctors, media and writers. These people’s stories spurred me to advocate on their behalf, challenging our society’s use of mental health and addiction diagnoses to enforce morally-determined sexual values. I believe strongly in the values and ethics of my profession as a clinical psychologist – but, I believe equally strongly that we must be ever mindful of the intrusion of morals into clinical practice, especially around sexual issues, lest we replicate the many times through history when our field has harmed our own patients, by labeling women as nymphomaniacs or homosexuality as an illness.

What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

Recent research on the role of religious/moral values conflict with pornography is one of the biggest, most recent bombs which as gone off, revealing that the majority of people who struggle with their porn use, are doing so because of a moral conflict between their religious values and their sexual behaviors. The implications of this are huge, as it helps us to now better help the many people who struggle with porn use, even when they use less porn than other people. Those folks deserve assistance – but the simplistic “Blame porn” approach has been ineffective and often worsens the problem. Now, we can begin to help them, and society, understand that a lack of sexual education, lack of sexual self-understanding and acceptance, and a basic fear of sex that these people (and their religious communities) hold, leave these people desperately ill-prepared to deal with the modern world of sexuality available to them. Educating therapists, religious leaders, societies, policy-makers, porn-users, porn-producers and parents about ways to understand and resolve this conflict is one of our next biggest hurdles. But it’s also at the same time, a very positive way in which we can now begin to address peoples’ pain and struggles MUCH more accurately and effectively.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? 

I say often that we are in a “sea-change” environment when it comes to sexuality. Core beliefs about sexuality, orientation, gender and what sex actually “means” are being rocked by changes in our society and world, mostly wrought by ripples of the Internet and increased private, independent access to information, community, and acceptance. These are scary times, for those people who fear sexuality, both their own and that of others. Many religious people believe that internet porn and transgender bathroom issues are greater social concerns than are gun violence or racism. These feelings reflect their deep fears of these changes, and what the changes might mean for them and their understanding of the world and sexuality. Currently, I don’t think anyone is doing a good job, understanding and acknowledging these fears, and at the same time, presenting a courageous and informed way in which we can help people move beyond their fear.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

Men who use porn have been deeply shamed and isolated by the modern porn panic. EP4D is the first text that is written for them, for the layman, that acknowledges both the positives and risks of porn, and empowers men to make decisions from places of self-knowledge and integrity. I hope that my work serves  in some small way to empower both men and porn producers/performers, to push back against the shaming, attacking elements who pathologize all porn, and want people to fear it. Ethical Porn is a way we can all rally together, to protect our sexuality, or free expression, and our own determination of our sexual values.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I was born with one hand. It’s a very obvious physical disability, which has not been that disabling. But, I have a lifetime of feeling, and looking, very different, and being singled out for that difference. As a result, I am very sensitive and attuned to those who shame others for differences, particularly differences in sexual behaviors or preferences. I view such shaming tactics as akin to those bullies I’ve experienced all my life, who shame others for being different in some way. Throughout my life, I’ve always aggressively fought such bullying, whether it’s directed at me, or others. My writing is a unique expression of that aspect of my personality.

 

CatalystCon Partners With jessica drake For Downtown Women’s Center Donation Drive

 CCON West, CCON West 2015, fundraiser, Special Event  Comments Off on CatalystCon Partners With jessica drake For Downtown Women’s Center Donation Drive
Aug 192015
 

One of our favorite members of the CatalystCon community is jessica drake.  Many of you may know jessica from her work with Wicked Pictures and as a sex educator, but we also know her for her support of the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles.

CatalystCon founder Dee Dennis and jessica would like to invite everyone to take part in a special CATALYST DWC donation drive. During CatalystCon West, we will be collecting unused hotel toiletries and other items for the Center’s showers and welcome packages for new residents. For a list of the Center’s most needed items, please see the DWC Wishlist.

“For years I’ve been a supporter of The Downtown Women’s Center,” said jessica. “Not only do they house over 70 full time residents, they also run a huge day center, assisting the homeless women of Los Angeles, providing them with food, medical care, rehabilitational resources, and more! Thank you so much for helping out with such a great cause, and one I hold very dear to my heart.”

We’re happy to partner with jessica on this project and look forward to supporting this important cause during CatalystCon West.

 

 

Jul 202015
 

Good Vibrations Founder Joani Blank Heads List of Keynote Speakers for CatalystCon West Sexuality Conference

Dee Dennis, founder of the CatalystCon sexuality conference, announces the lineup of Opening and Closing Keynote speakers for CatalystCon West, which will take place in Burbank, CA, September 11-13, 2015. Created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality, CatalystCon features more than 40 sessions and panel discussions on sexuality and related issues.

CatalystCon West officially begins on Friday, September 11 with an Opening Reception, followed by the Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. The panel will include Dr. Chris Donaghue, Jenny Block, Alex S. Morgan, and Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, and will be moderated by Tristan Taormino. The panelists will address the ongoing debates over sexuality at the local, national and global levels and discuss how they’ve created their own sparks and been catalysts for change.

“Current culture is still unable to have a healthy conversation about sex,” said Donaghue, who is a nationally recognized sex & relationship expert, sex therapist, and author of Sex Outside the Lines. “CatalystCon creates the needed space for important and diverse conversations in the field of sexuality, that expand and push us all forward. CatalystCon is the much needed antidote and healing force that we all require for our sexuality.”

The Closing Keynote Plenary Address will take place on Sunday, September 13 and will feature author, educator, and Good Vibrations founder Joani Blank, who will be interviewed by Lynn Comella. “Joani Blank is a sex-positive pioneer,” said Comella, Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “She helped popularize the idea of vibrator shops for women, and I’m beyond excited that she’ll be the closing keynote speaker at CatalystCon West. We’re in for a treat.”

“I’m thrilled to take part in the Closing Keynote at CatalystCon West,” said Blank. “It will be fun to go back in time and talk about what motivated me to start Good Vibrations in 1977, and reflect on what’s changed the most—and least—over the past 40 years.”

More information on the Opening and Closing Keynotes may be found at CatalystCon.com/sessions/keynotes.

CatalystCon West takes place September 11-13, 2015 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport. Registration is currently open at CatalystCon.com/register. Regular registration ends August 30.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm

CatalystCon West Announces Sessions & Speakers

 CCON West, CCON West 2015, Press Release  Comments Off on CatalystCon West Announces Sessions & Speakers
Jun 222015
 
More than 70 Speakers Sign On for CatalystCon West Sexuality Conference This September
 
Dee Dennis, founder of the CatalystCon sexuality conference, announces a wide-ranging list of more than 70 speakers participating in CatalystCon West in Burbank, CA, September 11-13, 2015. Created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality, CatalystCon will return to the west coast with over 40 sessions and panel discussions on sexuality and related issues.
CatalystCon West’s lineup of sessions will include Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed, The Limits of Sex Positive, Toys For A SexAbled Life, and Writing Sex & Pleasure, and panel discussions on slut-shaming, new views on pornography, social media best practices for sex educators, and kink as a sexual orientation. A complete list of sessions may be found at CatalystCon.com/sessions.
Speakers include sex educators Alex Morgan and jessica drake; academics Lynn Comella, Ph.D. and Mireille Miller-Young, Ph.D.; activists Yoseñio V. Lewis and Kristen DiAngelo; sex therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue, and author Jenny Block, plus sex writers, sex workers, and other experts in the field of sexuality. A complete list of speakers may be found at CatalystCon.com/speakers.
“CatalystCon continues to grow and has become THE go-to event for sex-positive professionals from a range of backgrounds and industries,” said Tristan Taormino, who is teaching a pre-conference Sex Educator Boot Camp, moderating the Opening Keynote panel, and recording Sex Out Loud Radio live at the conference. “You can’t miss it!”
CatalystCon West will be held September 11-13 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport in Burbank, CA. Registration is currently open at CatalystCon.com/register. Early Bird pricing ends on June 30.
 Posted by at 9:33 pm
Apr 092015
 

Founder Dee Dennis Announces CatalystCon West, September 11-13, 2015

Over 350 attendees gathered in Arlington, VA March 27-29 for the CatalystCon East sexuality conference. Created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality, the event featured 40 sessions and workshops on topics such as body image, sex and aging, racial justice in sexuality education, and sex positive parenting, as well as live podcast recordings in the CatalystCon Studio. Described by founder and organizer Dee Dennis as a “melting pot of sexuality,” CatalystCon unites sex educators, sex workers, public health professionals, writers, activists, and others with a passion for creating change.

During the CatalystCon East Opening Reception, Francisco Ramirez was presented with the Catalyst Award by Dee Dennis. “Receiving the Catalyst Award was unexpected, touching and above all, encouraging,” said Ramirez. “Many of us working in sexuality function independently, rarely receiving formal praise of any kind, and many of us are attacked for doing the work we do. To be celebrated in a room among my peers and mentors was a uniquely humbling experience.”

CatalystCon returns to the west coast September 11-13, 2015 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport. Rachel Kramer Bussel will be returning with her pre-conference erotica and sex writing workshops, and CatalystCon West will also feature the return of Tristan Taormino’s sex educator boot camp.

CatalystCon West is accepting speaker submissions until June 7, 2015. The conference welcomes anyone who has something to share and the desire to spark conversations about sexuality, activism and acceptance. To apply to speak at CatalystCon West, visit catalystcon.com/call-for-speakers.

“Interacting with participants at CatalystCon was a great reminder that we are stronger than the challenges we’ve experienced and the backlashes we’ve endured in our work,” said Ramirez. “More than ever, I feel encouraged to continue to be vulnerable and to take risks with my work. Attending CatalystCon reaffirmed my conviction to speak up around injustice—and more importantly—to continue listening to those around me.”
 Posted by at 1:52 pm
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