Speaker Spotlight: Tristan Taormino

 CCON West 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Tristan Taormino
Sep 232013
 

Tristan Taormino is presenting Sex Educator Boot Camp with Tristan Taormino, Feminist Porn 101: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it matters, The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe and the Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. She is also recording Sex Out Loud with Tristan Taormino live at CatalystCon West. Check out Tristan’s bio here.

 

Tristan TaorminoHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I am committed to educating and empowering people around their sexuality, and I do so through several different mediums: my books, lectures and workshops, my radio show Sex Out Loud, and my feminist porn movies.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

For sex education, there are so many people who paved the way for what I do today: Betty Dodson, Jack Morin, Carol Queen, and Nina Hartley immediately come to mind. In the arena of porn, one of the very first porn films I saw was How to Female Ejaculate starring Deborah Sundahl and produced by Fatale Media. Fatale Media (which was made up of Sundahl, Nan Kinney, Susie Bright, and the folks at On Our Backs) produced some of the earliest feminist porn, and that film showed me that it was possible to make revolutionary, educational porn.

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

Abstinence-only sex education is still a dominant model in schools; not only has it been proven ineffective, it’s very disempowering to withhold information and give misinformation to young people about sex. The lack of comprehensive sex education is the U.S. is appalling. The campaign by the right wing to pass anti-choice legislation throughout the country is an ongoing problem. When women do not have control over our own bodies and health, we cannot be equal. As a feminist pornographer, one of the biggest challenges I face is the rhetoric of anti-porn feminists like Gail Dines. Dines gets a lot of air time arguing about how awful all porn is; she does not allow for the possibilities of alternatives nor will she listen to sex workers who don’t fit into a victimization narrative.

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?

Quite frankly, it’s been a rough year for sexuality. If I had to point to some glimmers of hope, I’d say that the landmark Supreme Court decisions striking down DOMA and Prop 8 have really propelled the GLBT rights movement. I also think that the increased public discussions about sluts and slut-shaming have been productive, and I hope they continue because they have the opportunity to affect real change in the way our society represents and seeks to control women’s sexuality.

Why do you feel it is important to bring your pre-conference workshops, Sex Educator Boot Camp with Tristan Taormino, to CatalystCon West?

I feel very passionate about my Sex Educator Boot Camps. As I developed a career as a sex educator, I had very few role models. There are plenty of people who have incredible ideas and are amazing thinkers, but there are few people out there teaching business and marketing skills to the next generation of sex educators. It’s so important to me to pay it forward and share my knowledge and experience to help the sex educator community learn how to create sustainable businesses.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topics of your sessions, Feminist Porn 101: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it matters and The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe, to CatalystCon West?

Since the publication of The Feminist Porn Book, there has been a huge increase in curiosity and awareness about feminist porn. I feel really lucky to be a part of two different presentations about feminist porn at CatalystCon West. Feminist Porn 101 is really a primer for folks about the history and context of it and The Politics of Producing Pleasure puts porn scholars and porn producers and performers in conversation with one another to discuss feminist porn as a philosophy, a practice, a movement, and an industry. These are such vital discussions to have, especially right now. The challenges we face in feminist porn—activism, accessibility, visibility, censorship, sustainability—are core issues that I think lots of people at CatalystCon West are interested in.

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

I am severely allergic to perfume and cologne—if someone’s wearing it, I usually cannot even hug them.

 

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

Speaker Spotlight: Jackie Strano

 CCON West 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Jackie Strano
Jun 252013
 

Jackie Strano is presenting Feminist Porn 101: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it matters, Lesbo Retro: A Dyke Porn Retrospective and the Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. Check out Jackie’s bio here.

 

Jackie StranoHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I have dedicated my life’s work to changing stigma around pleasure, sexual health, gender equality, gender roles, and sex and giving more people access to trusted information. I have worked hard at changing the way people think about sexuality in general whether that be as an independent film maker, performer, producer, or as an Executive at a Sex Positive Feminist retail company who also does product development.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Creating the movie Bend Over Boyfriend after helping couples pick out sex toys while working at a feminist sex toy store… working at Good Vibrations changed my life in so many ways…it’s where I met my future wife, some of my life-long friends and colleagues, where I experienced my own sexual awakening and identity so many years ago. It was quite a life changing lesson to be a big bull-dagger teaching men how to be penetrated… very feminist.

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

I am fearful of anything that calls out ‘female sexual dysfunction’ and prescribing a pill for it paid by big pharma and insidious slut shaming going on with mainstream rape culture especially with our young adults in this country and youth abroad. I am also devoted to getting more information out there regarding the rampant transmission of HIV among the young African-American male population.

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?

More mainstream conversations about vibrator use, masturbation, self-pleasure, as well as more access via Obamacare for health and reproductive rights for women… defeating of right wing women hating conservatives who ran for congress.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Feminist Porn 101: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it matters, to CatalystCon West?

Being a sex positive feminist informs everything I do and say. I care for my sons and family, the earth, my staff, my company, my town, my country and I want to be a force of good and an agent of social change.

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

I wasn’t born in this country and my father and his side of the family are holocaust survivors.

 

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

Speaker Spotlight: jessica drake

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: jessica drake
Mar 062013
 

jessica drake is presenting The Facts About Measure B and How It Impacts Us All, Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities and the CatalystCon Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. Check out jessica’s bio here.

 

jessica drakeHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I really think we all have the potential to be catalysts in our own ways. Personally, I come from years in the adult industry as a contract performer, writer, and director for one of the top companies, Wicked Pictures. First, I realize I come equipped with a large fan base to get my message out, and I use this platform to help spread knowledge about sexuality and to encourage people to be open and comfortable communicating their needs and desires. At the same time, I also combat the stereotype pervading the very industry making me who I am. From my line of instructional DVDs to lobbying against Measure B and everything in between, I love and defend the adult industry, while challenging the misconceptions many people have about it. I change opinions, often just one at a time.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

I recognized very early in my career the need for more realistic sex education – porn does have an entertainment value, but for some, it is their sole reference for information. At a store signing, I had a woman come up to me worried she wasn’t always “ready” for anal sex the way she saw it happening in porn. It made me much more aware of the public perception, and it showed me the need to portray a more accurate representation of sexual experiences. This is but one of the many catalysts leading me down my path.

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

The biggest one is the stigma surrounding it. I’m not even talking about the stigma of my industry, but of sex in general. In a world where sex is supposedly so “mainstream,” the field of sexuality is still cloaked in shame. Most all of us have sex… why can’t we talk about it?

An international challenge in the field of sexuality right now is the educating of women in impoverished countries who have no real resources. Lack of HIV/AIDS awareness, family planning assistance, female genital mutilation, STI education – these things are only worsening the outlook of underdeveloped countries. If we strive to educate women, we can potentially impact future generations and in time, truly bring about change.

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 the emergence of conferences like CatalystCon, which bring together like-minded people for the sake of discussion and progress brings about change in a direct way. When I attended last year, I had no idea what to expect, or how motivated and inspired I would be afterward.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities, to CatalystCon East?

I am honored to be speaking on a few different panels with some amazingly iconic, inspirational people, but “Slut Shaming” hits very close to home… actually, it dive-bombs into my living room. I won’t give away the ending, but I’ll say it will be a very insightful panel.

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

I abhor wet socks almost as much as Dee and the Evil Sluts love Nutella. ; )

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

Speaker Spotlight: Hernando Chaves

 CCON East 2013, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Hernando Chaves
Feb 202013
 
Hernando Chaves

How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Being a catalyst for change is something that each and everyone one if us aspires to be in the field of sexology. We all do it in our own unique ways. Whether it’s with one person in private or touching the lives of thousands via social media, we all are catalysts for change. For myself, I am a catalyst for change because I put myself in places that can benefit from sex positive perspective. I volunteer for a research organization (The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality – SSSS) even though I am not a researcher. Working to help create conferences and bring in sexuality speakers to help educate professionals helps plant seeds for change in others. I also work as a sex therapist at a clinic that focuses on sexual addiction, even though I do not believe in sex addiction. We collaborate, share ideas and influence, and find the grey areas of agreement; a dialogue that is desperately needed rather than the continued polarization of two opposing belief systems. I help organize a monthly luncheon in LA that brings sex positive people together. It’s not only about speakers or networking, but about support. We all can benefit from a sexual recharge with friends and colleagues from time to time. I also make efforts to mentor those starting out on their journey in the sexology field. I was fortunate enough to have people guide me and I think it’s our responsibility to pay it forward. Our field is too small to thrive without mentorship and support for those starting out on their sexology journey.

Who or what was a catalyst for you?

My mentors were inspirations and catalysts for me: Dr. Winston Wilde for erotic community-focused sex therapy, Dr. Janice Epp for human sexuality education training, and Dr. Ava Cadell for media work and public speaking. Each of these mentors helped challenge me, offer advice, push me, provide guidance and give me the tools and skills to grow. I think we all need mentors to inspire and demand more from us than we demand from ourselves. I hope I can do the same for others. Another catalyst for me was my perverted psyche. While I tend to keep a lot of it inside my head or with sex partners, it definitely reinforces my love for this work. Do what you love right?

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

There are so many challenges and concerns; I don’t know where to start. Human reproductive rights, challenges to free speech such Measure B in CA or pornography obscenity laws, the orientation and sexual identity civil rights movements, and the opposition to youth comprehensive sex education are just a few of the important topics that motivate me to continue being a catalyst. I’m most passionate about youth comprehensive sex education in the US. If approximately 1/3 of US teens do not receive sex ed and about 1/3 get abstinence only sex ed, that means about 67% of teens are getting screwed with nothing or garbage filled with fear and misinformation. How are we supposed to navigate sexual changes if we as a public aren’t equipped with the basic tools to understand them? All sexuality issues are extremely important and if we could become a country of sexually educated youngsters, it would have a positive snowball effect on other sexuality issues we encounter as adults. Can you imagine what this country would be like if we had access as youths and adolescents on information on sexual health, being gay, kinky, porn-literate, sexual decision making skills, and debunking sexuality myths used to control people? Probably a little more like the people of the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, or Denmark with more progressive views on sexuality.

Another challenge is our political system and politicians. Before getting into the field of sexology, I didn’t follow politics. It wasn’t on my radar. Today, I find its imperative to stay on top of sociosexual topics within politics. Our biggest political challenge is the people representing us aren’t very knowledgeable or invested in sexuality issues or change. We are going to need more advocates, senators, representatives, etc. within the political structure to represent our sexuality interests. While there is hope for this support with the recent election wins from gay, lesbian, and bisexual politicians, we also have the prominent display of ignorance this last election year by some politicians with flawed perspectives on basic anatomy, human reproduction, how conception occurs coupled by a moralistic faith-based controlling thought process that supersedes the importance of personal choice and freedoms

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?

Say what you will about 50 Shades, its opening doors. People are getting curious, asking questions, even experimenting with the lighter side of kink and reflecting on their own psychosexual arousal. It may not be the perfect manuscript most knowledgeable kinksters envisioned as the catalyst to bringing BDSM to the mainstream, but we have to deal with whatever is thrown our way. The way I see it, the 50 Shades book series is out for the world to read. As sex educators, we should use this opportunity to educate, mythbust, and build on its popularity.

Another important and positive change is the shift in opinion on gay marriage over the last decade. While there is still a lot of work to be done, it’s incredible that we now have 9 US states with laws that support same sex marriage. England just approved same sex marriage for the country. President Obama used the word gay for the first time in a Presidential State of the Union Address. We are in the midst of radical civil rights change. I just hope our Supreme Court is equally progressive and modern in their upcoming court decisions on same sex marriage.

Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Male Circumcision: A Humanist Perspective on the Removal of Foreskin, to CatalystCon East?

I think male circumcision is an important topic in sexology that needs more discussion. Most people are not well-versed with the research, concepts, and arguments. It’s become a normative part of our culture and I think it’s important to raise awareness on the practice. I hope the session will do just that. If the male foreskin is homologous (homo=same; ologous=structure) to the female clitoral hood, what would be our response if about 1 million US newborn girls each year had their clitoral hoods removed?

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

%d bloggers like this: