Speaker Spotlight: Ashley Manta

 CCON West 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Ashley Manta
Aug 282013
 

Ashley Manta is presenting Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality. Check out Ashley’s bio here.

 

Ashley MantaHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I’ve had a lot of different life experiences. I’m a rape and child sexual abuse survivor, I have genital herpes, and I’ve had an eating disorder and struggled with body image. I think my openness and honesty about my experiences creates space for others to do the same. I believe that vulnerability is a vital part of human connection, and I try to model that willingness to be vulnerable.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

In April of 2005, during my first year of college, I attended my first Take Back the Night rally. I didn’t intend to speak, just to go and support my fellow students. That night, I found myself disclosing my rape for the first time in public, to an audience of close to 400 people. I felt supported, I felt seen, and I felt relieved. It was that experience that made me realize that I love educating and sharing stories to raise awareness. That led me to start speaking out more about my experiences, and doing sexual assault awareness presentations for different organizations. Telling my story changed my life.

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

I think the biggest challenge in the field of sexuality is the pervasive sex negative culture by which we are surrounded. Everywhere you look, people are decrying marriage equality as “crimes against children,” arguing against comprehensive sexuality education, and shaming and ostracizing those who don’t fit in the heteronormative mold. The result of our sex negative culture is that the services that we provide as sexuality educators, counselors, and sex workers are not valued and are thus woefully underpaid (or illegal, in the case of sex workers). It’s difficult to find a full time job as a sex educator with benefits. Those jobs don’t really exist right now, except for with non-profit organizations, and those are few and far between.

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?

Watching DOMA get overturned was possibly one of the most joyous moments of my life. I remember sitting at work and reading the news, jumping up from my desk and doing a happy dance. Although there is still a long way to go in the fight for marriage equality, I appreciated the Supreme Court’s decision.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality, to CatalystCon West?

It’s really important to discuss fat shaming and body image, because fat shaming does not just affect “fat people.” People of any size can feel fat or have trouble with body image, and it’s important to raise awareness so that we can begin to be more loving and supportive toward one another and ourselves. I have been 132lbs and I have been over 250lbs. I had times that I hated my body at both weights. We live in a culture that has a specific aesthetic ideal when it comes to our bodies, and we need to push back against that. This panel helps to raise awareness and start a dialogue about the way we see our bodies and the way we interact with the bodies of others.

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

I love watching people get tattoos and piercings. I find it fascinating.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon West here.

Speaker Spotlight: Lady Cheeky

 CCON West 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Lady Cheeky
Jul 012013
 

Elle Chase (Lady Cheeky) is presenting Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality. Check out Elle’s bio here.

 

Lady CheekyHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

By speaking out, as truthfully as I can about my own experience uncovering, indulging and ultimately integrating my sensuality. I hope I can encourage other women to explore, embark on or continue that journey, especially women over 40 and women with body image concerns.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Oddly enough, the TV show ‘True Blood.’ By watching it during the end of my marriage it sparked a realization in me, that I craved, needed and deserved to experience passion in my life. I owe it all to Bill and Sookie!

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

One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is helping people understand that women’s sexuality and sensuality is just as vibrant, prevalent and vital as our male counterparts. Women enjoy and want to experience great sex just as much as men do … and often! We aren’t the mercurial creatures that science and the media might make us believe. Our (women’s) sexuality is rich and sensual and absolutely nothing to be guarded or ashamed of. My greatest wish is for women of all ages is to realize, that their sexuality and their sensuality is to be celebrated and expressed, not ignored, shamed or diminished.

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?

This has been an interesting year for sexuality. I think the “Mission Creep” of sustained messages, like Dan Savage’s reiteration in his column and his new book about how we might re-think monogamy as the “ideal” monotheistic norm is important. His stance of a more flexible idea of what a successful partnership can look like is a powerful and crucial discussion to keep having. Although this idea is not newly proselytized by him, the release of his new book this year brought the topic to the fore in interviews and reviews, giving society another “booster shot” to start thinking of new paradigms when it comes to the choice of monogamy.

Also Tristan Taormino reviving the question “why feminist porn?” and the popularity of her book ‘The Feminist Porn Book.’ The book and Tristan has had a main stream cultural impact, making the need for feminist porn and the humanist idea behind it, more a part of the social conscience. “Feminist Porn” is more a part of the zeitgeist than ever before and I think we owe that to Tristan Taormino. I mean it was even mentioned on SNL!

Most recently though, I don’t think we can ignore the potential impact of Daniel Bergner’s research and ensuing book on female sexuality. Because it’s been getting a lot of press, it may help to drive home the fact that ‘What Women Want’ is sex and a lot of it!

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality, to CatalystCon West?

Whether it’s my coaching clients, the readers of my blog(s), friends or even overhearing conversations at Starbucks, it’s clear that most everyone has body image concerns that either predominate or otherwise impact their sex lives. The fact is, the way you feel about how you look, not how you look is the real issue. What your body actually looks like has very little to do with real-life sexual/sensual connection. Hopefully, by getting the word out, that what someone may have believed about their body and their sexual attractiveness isn’t true, we can at the very least, start them on their way to taking back control of their sex lives and enjoying it instead of pining for it.

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

I’m fascinated by personality disorders.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon West here.

Speaker Spotlight: Cathy Vartuli

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Cathy Vartuli
Mar 122013
 

Cathy Vartuli is presenting Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality. Check out Cathy’s bio here.

 

Cathy VartuliHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I educate and inspire people who are open to seeing the world a new way. Through TheIntimacyDojo.com and ThrivingNow.com we offer new perspectives and practical approaches to build confidence and allow more self-expression and power.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

There are many sparks in everyone’s lives. For me, I’ve had several people who believed in me and helped me find a new way of being. So many people who paved the trail we’re all following.Reid Mihalko has helped me change my trajectory through life in profound ways, which is a big reason I’m his affiliate manager. I love to share the voices that inspire me and help the world find what they’ve been searching for.

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

A lot of people (I was one of them for decades) don’t know what they don’t know. They think the myths, stories and incomplete and sometimes false information they learned as children is all there is. They struggle with an incomplete puzzle and don’t realize that life would be so much easier and delicious if they found the rest of the pieces…or started playing a new game.

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 love that more mainstream information about poly is getting out there, like Showtimes Polyamory: Married and Dating. And gay marriage being more accepted and supported.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality, to CatalystCon East?

Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat? Body Image and Sexuality is close to my heart because I was single for 14 years, thinking that I had to be slender to date. I spent so many years lonely and stuck because I bought the media’s view that I was disgusting and undatable. Discovering that I let a lie control me and isolate me for so long was humbling and eye opening. I want to do whatever I can to help others find the freedom and truth- that they are absolutely acceptable and can have a beautiful life, where ever they are in their life- so they can get out there and live.

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

I can’t sing at all. My cat once slapped me when I sang to him. But I still sing in the shower sometimes. 🙂

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Lady Cheeky

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Lady Cheeky
Feb 012013
 

Lady Cheeky is presenting Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality. Check out Lady Cheeky’s bio here.

 

Lady CheekyHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I think anyone is a catalyst for change who actively pursues being a part of the discussion about how to change an outmoded ideal. Hopefully, this pursuit never ends but becomes more passionate with each endeavor.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

My blogs. Being able to express myself, unexpurgated gave me the freedom to make significant changes in my life.

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

Getting the meme out to the world that sexuality is as natural as breathing in a way that doesn’t seem preachy or “woo-woo” so that people from all walks of life can understand it.

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?

The interest of women that their sensuality, not just their sexuality is a right worth fighting for.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Does This Panel Make Me Look Fat?: Body Image and Sexuality, to CatalystCon East?

Because women need to be aware in this media rich society, that the size of your body doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be sexually fulfilled. Body image and sexuality are not mutually exclusive.

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

I have the palate of an 8 year old 70% of the time.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

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