Category Archives: Soap Box

Why We Still Need #CondomWeek

What is condom week?

Condom week is a national campaign to raise awareness not only about the importance of safer sex, but also how condoms can add to your sexual pleasure. Yes, contrary to popular belief, condoms don’t make sex less good. Many studies have found that those who report condoms reduce pleasure are men and women who do not use condoms, or don’t use them often. In other words, people who use condoms often- because they approach it with a better attitude and because they’ve learned what condoms they like- report greater pleasure with protected sex. Attitude, condom education and experience all play a role in sexual satisfaction.

That, my friends, is why we need National Condom Week.condom week

Condom Week lands at a time in our calendar when people are puckered up with Valentine’s sweets. From Valentine’s Day to February 21st, while the air is plush with intimacy, what better time to integrate safer sex into the national conscience and give out lots of free condoms!

Condom Week originally began at the University of California in the 1970s, and has grown into a educational event for high schools, colleges, family planning organizations, AIDS groups, sexually transmitted disease awareness groups, pharmacies and condom manufacturers. Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth are just a few of the hundreds of non-profit organizations who participate in Condom Week, setting up sex education booths at universities all over the country and distributing over 50,000 free condoms. These booths, as well as open public seminars, will discuss topics such as safer oral sex, using lube with condoms, internal condoms, consent, and how to talk safer sex with your lover.

So again, if National Condom Week has been celebrated to raise awareness since the 1970s, why do we still need it today?

Because…

– Only 19 states require that, if provided, sex education in school must be medically, factually or technically accurate. That leaves schools in 31 states without fact-based sex education oversight!

Over 19 million people in the United States are diagnosed with an STI. That number increases dramatically if we account for those who do not know their status.

Two-thirds of all individuals who acquire an STI are younger than 25.

– In 2013, 66 percent of sexually active male high school students reported that they or their partner used a condom at most recent sexual intercourse, compared to only 53 percent of females.

More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 7 (14%) are unaware of their infection.

– The United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world (68 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2008)—more than twice that of Canada (27.9 per 1,000) or Sweden (31.4 per 1,000).

If I haven’t convinced you yet to celebrate National Condom Week, jump over to this article by Heather Corrina which debunks all the condom myths you’ve probably faced.

Do your part in public health and stay aware.

Yes, Condoms Deserve A Holiday Too!

Forget the Valentine’s Day candies and roses. What better way to gear up for Vday romance than celebrating International Condom Day! (#ICD2015 to you, Twitter.)

This year the AHF is changing the way we think about condoms.

This year the AHF is changing the way we think about condoms.

February 13th marks this holiday of awareness as a time to educate and celebrate safer sex. World, be prepared for thousands of free condom dispensaries and numerous safer sex events across 31 countries. In the US, the AHF (AIDS Health Organization) has organized 37 events in 12 states including some “hot zones” like the District of Colombia, which has the highest national rate of HIV in the country; and Mississippi and Texas, two states which have some of the strictest laws against public sex education and (by no coincidence) the highest national average of teen pregnancies.

Indeed, there is plenty to celebrate when it comes to condoms.

The first being that condoms are the most effective method available today that protects against both STIs and accidental pregnancy. Can’t beat that.

Each year, the AHF curates this holiday around a theme. This year’s theme is “Coolness”; that is, “Condoms Are Cool”. Now, before you roll your eyes and think, “Not another lame, out-of-touch attempt to get youth to use condoms,” I challenge you to check out the AHF corresponding video series. They launched a trio of videos related to young people buying condoms at a local corner shop or “bodega”.

Here is the first of the AHF’s “Bodega Nights” video series. Trust me, you have never seen a condom commercial like this one. Unlike traditional public service announcements (PSAs) that are overtly serious and fear-based, this one actually combines condoms with confidence, fun and sexiness.

The coolness doesn’t stop there. In addition to their “Bodega Nights” video series, the AHF also released a catchy party song. It is a condom-related parody of one of today’s global hits, Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”. The hope is to renew attention of the importance of safer sex in a way that will never go out of style.

Because I wrap it
Put it on and get in on, if that’s what you want to do.
Because I wrap it,
Cause you know that you are hot, and these condoms sure are cool.
Because I wrap it
Wrap it, put your hands up, and let yourself be free,
Because I wrap it
Just love your self enough to know that protection is the key.
– “Because I Wrap It” by Danny Fernandez

You can listen to the song and download the lyrics for your Karaoke pleasures here.

View more domestic and international Condom Day events here.

There Is No Cancer in #CondomTruth

Fear-based condom marketing is the real “cancer” here.

condom_truthLast month, a new condom brand called Sustain began promoting a petition that demands the FDA to “Get Carcinogens Out of Condoms”. The possibility that condoms could cause cancer will scare the shit out of consumers and make them think twice about what condoms they invest in (that is, if they don’t turn away from condoms entirely).

And that’s exactly how Sustain wants you to react.

They center business principles around transparency, thus, making it their duty to educate the public of lurking dangers within the condom industry: “Fear not. Because their product is clean of any health risks. Want to avoid carcinogens? Sustain is your best and only option.”

Thankfully, these grand claims have not passively swept under the radar.

Melissa White’s investigation on RH Reality Check, Cigarrettes Cause Cancer, Condoms Don’t, reveals that the petition is based on a non-scientific, non-peer reviewed study, which is partly financed by Sustain themselves. Despite the fact the World Health Organization has never found any condom carrying health threatening amounts of nitrosamines, the study continues to favor Sustain over other condom brands; competitive brands which also profit in the vegan, fair-trade condom niche. As a result of White’s call-out, the group that conducted the study publicly clarified their findings stating that, indeed, there is no scientific proof that any condoms cause cancer.

Leave that worry to rest. Great! But the real issue at hand is the company’s irresponsible marketing and misuse of information.

Sustains efforts to “cleanse” the condom market of (unfounded) health risks is clearly motivated by business profit at the detriment of public health. In reality, to tout that “all other condoms except ours cause cancer” is a dangerous lie. As Melissa White states, Sustain’s marketing strategy has “the potential to unravel decades of committed work focused on saving lives through encouraging condom use and education.”

It’s completely unethical to skew consumer information with fear-tactics. The last thing we need is more lies to fuel safer sex stigma and condom hate. Hence we must to counteract.

Join the #CondomTruth campaign!

SHARE THE ARTICLE: Cigarettes Cause Cancer, Condoms Don’t http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3

TWEET: copy/paste these tweets or make your own

– Cigarettes Cause Cancer. Condoms Don’t. http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth #bettercondoms

– I prefer my fiction at the library. Stop the misuse of safer sex information. http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth

– Faulty studies & scare tactics risk lives http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth #bettercondoms

– Misleading marketing hurts public health http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth #bettercondoms

– Trust #science, not misleading marketing http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth #bettercondoms

– Choose condoms with ethics not scare tactics http://bit.ly/1w5jzd3 #condomtruth #bettercondoms

TWEET at Sustain Condoms and share your thoughts with the campaign hashtag: #condomtruth

@sustaincondoms
@JeffHollender (Sustain’s Founder)
@missmeiks (Sustain’s co-founder)

Let’s take a stand and remind Sustain what true business transparency really means. 

#TwitterWTF? Let’s change their condom stance

Social businesses who exists to normalize and improve public knowledge of safer sex are not allowed to extend their messages on Twitter.

Twitter’s ad policy is under pressure to change their convoluted and conservative stance against condom (and other contraception) promotion.

This week, Melissa White, founder and CEO of Lucky Bloke, sent a letter to Twitter owner Dick Costolo, urging him to take condoms off their blacklist. She also launched a petition for the public to get on board in ending this faulty policy.

This is the tweet that got Lucky Bloke kicked off the @TwitterAds program because it was deemed too sexually explicit. tweet-censored1

This hardly seems too sexual for daytime viewers! Twitter would not respond to White’s requests for more information. That was it. Her safer sex promotion went on complete lock down.

Unfortunately, we live in a time in which the clutches of puritanical fears continue to muffle public discourse around safer sex. Why haven’t we shaken this off by now?

#Tweet4Condoms because sexual care is health care and global health! http://bit.ly/LBpetition

We know that access to condoms does not entice young people to start fucking in locker rooms. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics- a very official authority on health) released a position statement last October arguing that condoms should be made available in public schools and other community venues. With the backing of numerous studies, they firmly state that access to condoms does not cause sex. To be clear, it increasing the chances of young adults practicing safer sex. In fact, as Amanda Marcotte reports, nearly half of the studies cited by the AAP show that kids who have access to condoms and condom education have sex later than kids who do not have access.

So what does this have to do with Twitter? Their block on condom advertising and messaging stems from this cultural shame we’ve constructed around sex. Consequently, instead of being a platform to discuss and support safer sex messaging, Twitter reinforces stigma of condoms usage.

[UPDATE: More sexual health businesses and organization have spoken out about their struggle with Twitter’s policy, including The STD Project and Bedsider]

Lucky Bloke isn’t alone of course, as Twiter’s blockade is far-reaching and unconditional. The company Momdoms explained that their custom product for condom storage has also been deemed “too x-rated”, making it virtually impossible for Momdoms to share their videos and promotions to a wider audience. They showed Condom Monologues a copy of Twitter’s notification. It’s the same message Lucky Bloke received: “Your company is ineligible.”

Join Us!
stop_censorship1

Let’s show Twitter that condoms are perfectly normal, lovable item, and essential health items. Not something to exclude from public space! Visit this Action Page to share images, tweets, and links to your friends and networks.

How Young Gay Men Are Changing the Meaning of Swag

The term “swag” is generally used to describe someone of confidence and respect. A group of young guys from ASCNYC’s mPowerment program have revamped this meaning to make people recognize that taking care of your sexual health is fundamental to respect. This post is about S.W.A.G.

Members of S.W.A.G.

SWAG guys making safer sex sexy, handing out condoms and lube and talking to folks about knowing their HIV status.

Sitting in a New York bar or night club you may be lucky enough to chance upon the lively SWAG Mpowerment – a group of 19 – 29 year old gay and bisexual guys who are on a mission to normalize HIV prevention and safer sex. They jump bar to bar in a sort of flash-mob way, passing out condoms, lubes and information pamphlets about HIV testing. You might even get a free candy.

“It’s a really effective way to get condoms out there,” says Lance, one of the members of SWAG. “Sometimes people will be really curious and ask questions and that starts a dialogue which can lead to a person in another day or two getting tested at the agency.”

That agency is the ASCNYC which initiated SWAG Mpowerment five years ago as part of their outreach to reduce HIV transmission among YMSMs (Young Men who Have Sex with Men). Young gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 – 24 are the hardest hit by new infections in the United States today.

What’s different about SWAG- which stands for “Sexy With A Goal”- is that, instead of focusing solely on individual risk behavior, the project addresses wider interpersonal and social issues identified by the group volunteers and coordinators themselves; issues like asserting safer sex, self-esteem, homelessness, racism, homophobia, education and employment pressures. All aspects which directly and indirectly impact young gay men’s abilities to consistently know their status and take care of their sexual health. As Guy Williams, Assistant Director of Prevention at ACSNYC explains, “SWAG is like family for a lot of the guys because they can’t really be themselves around other family and friends” due to deeply rooted stigma of being gay. SWAG is a safe sex-positive and fun space for these young men to forge meaningful friendships and take on community issues that impact them most.

Over our phone interview, Williams explained that their condom distribution strategy came about through a series of rejections by bar and club owners who didn’t like SWAG’s proposal to set up an information table in the bar and hand out condoms to patrons. “Many bar owners said ‘Nah, that will kill the mood because patrons come in to have a good time. They don’t want to talk about HIV,” Williams describes. “So what SWAG decided was, well, if we just run into clubs and bars quickly and just hand out condom packs and leave than we didn’t need the owner’s permission.”

This is just one of their many project activities. Along with weekly meet ups and educational outreach, SWAG members organize pro-gay events ranging from talent shows to more serious affairs like taking on New York State congress by speaking with policy makers about the dire need for funding to support young gay men. SWAG has also produced this “Why Safer Sex Is Sexy” video.

Throughout June, which is Gay Pride Month, SWAG is launching a weekly event series titled “The 50 Shade of Gay”. Gay porn stars will come in and talk with young men about HIV prevention in the porn industry, such as HIV testing practices, safer sex negotiation, and “sero-sorting” they face in the industry. They’re also launching a video in June that crushes one-dimensional gay stereotypes. Members will tell and represent their own stories of what it means to be gay and share their video across the internet.

As William explains, SWAG Mpowerment is about addressing HIV status, testing and prevention, but “doing it in non-traditional ways that are not always talking about HIV. That’s why we are always trying to do fun and inventive stuff to support each other.”

SWAG is always open to new members and volunteers. They are also searching for volunteer sex educators who have experience teaching and demonstrating condom usage. They meet Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays between 4:30 and 6:30 at 85 University Place, 5th floor, New york, NYC, 10003. For more information, contact Guy Williams gguy.williams@gmail.com.

Shout out! New Collaborations in HIV Advocacy

New relationships of advocacy are vamped. Lara, an editor of Condom Monologues, explains what’s in store to help creatively support the HIV Disclosure Project.

Gay Pride, Toronto, 2011. Photographer Wayne Bristow. Posted with permission.

Gay Pride, Toronto, 2011. Photographer Wayne Bristow. Posted with permission.

Hi there! As an editor at Condom Monologues writer’s collective, I am excited to announce my collaboration with the HIV Disclosure Project. I will be actively involved in their social media, mostly on Twitter (@sexpartnersHIV), helping promote their blog, their campaigns and continued dialogue with HIV networks and allies. I’ve teamed up with them because I fully support their work to re-frame the way HIV impacts interpersonal relationships.

The HIV Disclosure Project is

…designed by and for the HIV community to work through obstacles that prevent people living with HIV from disclosing their status to potential sex partners. Drawing from various tools in theater, humor, storytelling, photography and more, the project functions to address stigma that takes place on the dating scene. Everyone works together to educate the public and change perceptions of people living with HIV.

What we want is a world in which every HIV disclosure to sex partners is received with acceptance, understanding and tolerance.

Emphasis on story and lived experience is what bridges The Disclosure Project and Condom Monologues. Condom Monologues is a growing archive of personal narratives and story illustrations made collaboratively with the storyteller and graphic artists. As a collective dedicated to sex education through real life storytelling, I feel this partnership will sharpen Condom Monologues’ focus on HIV awareness and open our platform to respectfully listen to the concrete realities of managing stigma, disclosure in the dating scene, and navigating safer sex options without fear.

Watch Out For New HIV Public Messages

Also newly on board the HIV Disclosure Project is Wayne Bristow – HIV advocate, blogger for PositiveLite.com, Canada’s best online HIV information magazine and he is their social media coordinator. He has taken part in two of the CTAC Positive Sex – Train the Trainer workshops and recently facilitated one where he trained some of his peers through community engagement. Emanating such passion and advocate spirit, Wayne is an invaluable asset to the HIV Disclosure Project. He is currently planning the video production of HIV public service announcements for the HIV Disclosure Project. In his spare time Wayne is a hobby/freestyle photographer.

If you are interested or have questions about the video project contact wayne_bristow@hotmail.com 

I am excited to help support and engage in such a crucial and progressive movement. Let’s keep the dialogue expansive and inclusive. Meet you on twitter!

Lara
Editor & contributor @CondomMonologues.com

#MySexPositivity by Angel Noir

This self-help Kinkster and leather champion understands how sexual and gender stereotypes can constrain our minds and fear our authentic selves. Her workshops function to breakdown shame and help people discover and play with sexual creativity in safe, holistic ways. Angel Noir believes that sex positivity is fundamentally collaborative. It will not continue to progress as a community and philosophy without support from each other.     

1) Identify one or two trends, or influential people in the Sex Positive community that you identify with (or are inspired by) and those trends which you relate to not-so-much.

Narrowing down my answer to this question is by far the hardest part of this interview! There are so many exciting sex positive folks and trends right now that it is difficult to choose only one or two! One of my very favorite projects ever is The Gender Book. It allows one to easily discuss gender and breaking free of stereotypes with a wide array of age groups and even provides colorful visual aids. It’s inspiring and easily relate-able. Within the Kink community, I’ve been able to play with gender identity and explore my own expression. I have found great freedom within androgyny as it subverts and transcends simplistic binary, masculine/feminine categories.

I’ve also been inspired by Kali Williams and her work on informed consent and sexuality education accessibility. Erotication is an amazing body of work. Her collaborative site showcases a host of educators I admire in one smart package and gives me hope for a future that includes safe options for exploring sexuality without the threat of being ostracized.

2) How do you define “sex positivity” for yourself and your work? In other words, what is your primary passion and how do you distinguish your writings and interests from other branches of thought within the sex positive movement?

AngelNoir-We-have-a-lot-of-work-to-do-QuoteI believe that everyone should have the right to love and explore their sexuality in the ways that feel right to them without fear of judgment provided there are no consent violations. We have a lot of work to do to break down the many cultural stereotypes that shroud sexuality in shame and secrecy. It’s my goal to support any work that serves that agenda and this is an ever present goal in my own work. Every mind control workshop I conduct or behavior modification program I craft spends at least some time examining each participant’s motivations to ensure that my work is being used in ways that promote this version of sex positivity. Sexual freedom and the responsibility it entails seems to me a logical part of human evolution. It seems equally obvious that we all must work together to evolve.

3) What directions do you think sex positivity will take within the next 5 – 10 years? Or what topics and with what platforms would you like to see sex positivity develop more thoroughly within the next 5 – 10 years?

For me, there are four areas which I watch closely and feel strongly about: Polyamory, Kink, Consent awareness, and sex workers’ rights.

I would love to see far more acceptance of polyamory, the decriminalization of kink, and a serious shift away from the rape culture we currently live in. I believe we have the capacity to accept and embrace the importance of companionship and create safer more fulfilling career options for sex workers. In general, I support the growth of activism that promotes abandoning shame and embracing our authentic sexual selves.

Angel Noir is a sex positive activist, kink and sexuality educator, and neuroplasticity warrior. She is the titleholder for Miss Virginia Unlimited Leather 2014 and is working towards releasing a book on erotic mind control. Her central goal in life is the creation of mutually beneficial interactions and relationships with other self aware, sex positive individuals. Angel Noir spent her early life immersed in a kink-charged environment. This helped mold her views on the horrors of sexual shame that society perpetuates. To overcome her own demons she harnessed the power of neuroplasticity and is now reprogramming the parts of her personality that don’t suit the person she wants to be.

Opinions shared are the author’s own. Want to participate in this interview series? What is your sex positivity?

Gwenn’s Condom Research and Personal Use

There’s been a lot of talk in the past 12 months about women’s preferred contraceptive methods. With the coining of the “Pull Out Generation” and the launch of the ACA’s (Affordable Care Act) contraception mandate, much of this talk has been centered around birth control. This is an important discussion that pleases many sex educators: it’s about applying informed choices to people’s lifestyles and relationships, and determining the method that best suits that person’s circumstances.

However, hardly any time in this discussion has attended to those women who use the simple condom as their primary contraception. Even less attention is given to STI testing and prevention. These important topics have been swept aside and treated as a separate issue that seemingly doesn’t apply to long-term sexual relationships.

I spoke with a woman who fits within that cohort of condom-using relationships. Gwenn Barringer is part of the well known sexual health and HIV activist duo, Shawn and Gwenn. Gwenn wrote her Master’s thesis about condom usage in short term and long term relationships among college women.  Now she is a public speaker and vlogger busy busting HIV ignorance. Her approach?  Using her 15+ years sexual relationship with her HIV positive partner, Shawn, to teach others about sexual health.

Over email, we talked about Gwenn’s research findings on the likelihood of condom use in “trusting” relationships. We connected her thesis to her personal life and the contraception strategies that she’s chosen. First, Gwenn lays out the terms of her research and main findings:

Yes, Gwenn found that women in shorter relationships depended on condoms more than women in long term commitments. This wasn’t a big surprise. What was striking was deciphering the meaning of “short” and “long-term”.  Gwenn states, “I found across the literature that a short term relationship was defined as 3 weeks or less, and therefore a long term relationship was defined as more than 3 weeks. This is what I used in my study to define relationship length, so when we are talking about condom use being decreased in long tern relationships, we are talking about a month or so.”

Gwenn continues: “My findings had a lot to do with the vague notion of trust. Women felt like they trusted their partners at the magic 3 week mark. I wish I had more time back then to go further with the trust notion but that was beyond my scope at the time. I do find anecdotally that college women feel that time spent with a partner equates to trust. And while I understand this, I try to encourage STI testing as a trusting experience.”

Gwen makes a key point- notions of trust and sexual health are intrinsically linked. This is a fairly general statement because what “trust” actually means varies from person to person. But all contraceptive methods- all consensual sexual acts -involve degrees of trust. “Pulling out” relies on a partner to be in control of his climax. Condoms are also about partner cooperation and protecting each other.

However, when it comes to public discourse around birth control in long term (heterosexual) commitments, male condoms are often portrayed as unpopular. In fact, some people struggle with getting their partner to use a condom because the other views it as a symbol of distrust in their relationship. Gwenn responds to this contradiction:

“As far as my thoughts on the condom paradox of trust, I do think that is an interesting observation. I feel like it has to do with trust but also has a lot to do with breaking some fantasies that people have about new partners. When you are in a new relationship often times it seems like everything is perfect and magical. Thinking about or discussing a condom inserts the realities of life into that which isn’t always fun.”

We ended the interview by Gwenn reflecting on the prevention regime Shawn and her practice. She is quick to debunk the notion that condoms connote distrust and non-commitment.

“My own relationship has an incredible deal of trust. I don’t think you can really be in a healthy relationship without trust and I certainly don’t think you can be in a serodiscordant relationship without a great deal of trust. That trust for Shawn and I came out of much communication about sex before we ever had sex.”

“Our prevention strategy is condoms each time we have sex. When we first were together, I was also on hormonal birth control but discontinued that (for reasons not related to Shawn’s status or our sex life) about 6 years ago. So we are also using condoms at this point as pregnancy prevention as well. We have discussed the issue of Shawn’s “infectiousness” due to his undetectable viral load and while we haven’t made any major changes to our sex life because of that, we do feel another level of security because we know it would be highly unlikely for him to transmit HIV to me even if there were a break or slip.”

There is no single birth control that suits everyone.  However, condoms remain the only birth control that prevents STI infection. The issue of transmission should not be glossed over when discussing contraceptive methods. Furthermore, the conversation needs to include and represent serodiscordant couples and relationships in which both or one partner carries STIs.

You can read and watch more of Gwenn at her blog and YouTube Channel, Shawn and Gwenn.

Galen Fous’ #MySexPositivity

You may never imagine how unconscious symbols, fantasies and archetypal personas inhabit and drive your sexual desires until you open your mind to this unique sex positive approach to understanding the many depths of erotic expression. Pychotherapist and fetish sex researcher, Galen Fous, believes we are in a new era of human sexuality in which more people than ever before are discovering their sexual uniqueness in spite of cultural shame. He is weary of a trend in some sex positive circles that values only clinical, so-called objective science of sex, thus dismissing the emotional depths of erotica and fetish. The beautiful metaphors he invokes are worth a read.

1) Identify one or two trends, or influential people in the Sex Positive community that you identify with (or are inspired by) and those trends which you relate to not-so-much.

Galen profile picAfter centuries of repression, fear, persecution, misinformation and denial, Eros is showing up all around the world in a way that is unprecedented in the history of civilization. The “normal” range of human sexual expression and desire has shifted profoundly. Millions of people across the globe have already crossed the threshold of previous cultural, moral and spiritual norms for acceptable sexual behavior. Millions more stand at the threshold, eagerly peering in.

New tribes are finding each other to participate in, express and explore every range of kinky perversity imaginable, while others seek to connect with a spiritual path of ecstatic consciousness, centered in a sense of divine regard, achieved by channeling their sexual “energy” through the nervous system.

These early-adapters, and there are tens of millions of you currently, are exploring the wilderness of Eros that has been taboo, forbidden, inappropriate and off-limits to the general population of every age since the rise of “civilization“ and organized religion.

Human sexuality is like a gold mine, buried deep within us, that culture, religion, morality, superstition, law and fear has kept secret. Thanks to the Internet, the secret treasure is gushing out of the depths in a volcanic torrent, stoked by the millions of humans digging for and finding the gold within their Eros.

Eros is finally being embraced and recognized as an integral aspect of the human psyche. It is a vast territory, largely unmapped, but rich and alluring in the promise of great sex. While the allure is an irresistible, lusty come-on, it is just the gateway to the depths that are now known to be available. These new pathways have brought about conscious practices that allow you to be in integrity with your values and agreements while being true and authentic in who you are erotically…no matter how dark or perverse, or as light and spiritual you might seek to be.

This new era of Eros offers us the opportunity to: communicate honestly and openly with our partners about our most taboo desires; safely, authentically express, embody and engage our darkest erotic edges; heal the inevitable psychological wounds of sexual repression and shame our cultures embed in us; learn techniques to be more fully present, aware, embodied, enlivened, connected, intimate, and cultivate Eros as a personally sacred experience; develop tolerance and give support and encouragement to those on other sexual paths; and learn to integrate being liberated sexual creatures into our everyday cultural, family and spiritual life.

In other words, the opportunity to live our lives as if our sexuality is normal!!

There are many other researchers, educators and therapists I would like to mention that promote tolerance and sex-positive views that support each person to find their own shame-free truth, sexual and otherwise. But I will limit it to two here:

Stanley Siegel has devoted over 40 years to sex-positive views as a therapist and author. He has recently started Psychology Tomorrow magazine that offers insights and analysis of many current emerging aspect of sexuality.

Another is personal coach and writer Pamela Madsen, author of Shameless:How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure…Pamela works primarily with women to resolve deep shame around their bodies and sexuality, and embrace their authentic desire from an empowered place.

A trend I find disturbing is people seeking to find safe ground for the mystery and complexity of their erotic desire within the standard socially acceptable frameworks such as scientific, clinical and evidence based theories. On the whole at this point, these tend to remove or dismiss much too much of our human, emotional, embodied erotic experience. I am concerned people will miss out on the mythic ecstatic depths offered by experiencing their own epic erotic psyches and personas, by only focusing on or acknowledging what can be stated within the parameters of the “science or brain chemistry behind this or that”, or the “evolutionary survival rationale” as the reason for all manner of sexual variation, or a “recent clinical study” shows that…”!

This “Science of Sex” approach, in my judgment, may keep us in a heady, rational experience and removes the mythic potency from the soul of our experience. These approaches mask or discount the depths of emotional intimacy, trust and connection that are occurring, the personally meaningful primal mythic journeys that are taken, and overlooks the profound somatic/ecstatic depths of the human erotic experience.

2) How do you define “sex positivity” for yourself and your work? In other words, what is your primary passion and how do you distinguish your writings and interests from other branches of thought within the sex positive movement?

GALEN-Eros-is-finally-being-embraced-Quote

Eros, the god of love

I feel “sex-positive” means to be supportive and tolerant of sexual diversity and to be committed to discover, embrace, and cultivate one’s own personal sexual identity.

My focus within the sex-positive realm as a psychotherapist and sex-researcher is on what I call Fetishsexuality.

A Fetishsexual is a person driven to orgasm or other deep erotic states through their innate, inherent, life-long desire for a particular range of kink, fetish, Dominance, submission, sadism, masochism or other alternative erotic expressions. Just as gays and lesbians are a distinct sexual identity considered to make up 8-10% of the gene pool (Kinsey, 1948), I believe Fetishsexuals are a distinct sexual identity making up a similar or higher percentage  of the gene pool. This is an unverified rough guess extrapolating from my anecdotal review of internet search term data found on sites like porhub.com and similar sources. The PEM survey is a preliminary work that I hope may initiate future scientific studies about Fetishsexuality.

I believe Fetishsexuality operates through both conscious and unconscious aspects of the personal and collective psyche. In this regard, it is my experience that someone with Fetishsexual identity also has what I define as a Personal Erotic Myth (PEM) that is engaged, from within the unconscious, when they become sexually aroused.

A PEM contains the fantasy imagery, storylines, mythic personas, props, attire, dialogue and actions that drive a person who has a PEM to orgasm or other deep erotic states. This mythos is often expressed in Fetish, Kink, and D/s-BDSM oriented sex, where symbol, myth and archetypal personifications abound.

Some people are quite aware of their PEM. For others it is still buried in the unconscious but shows up in private masturbatory reveries or brief moments in the rush right before orgasm, within sexual engagement with a partner. Many may have caught glimpses of their PEM, or more, engaged it secretly, even well before puberty. In a recent survey, I conducted with over 600 anonymous respondents drawn from a sex-positive and alternative population; nearly 60% stated that they had begun having distinct sexual fantasies before 10 years of age. Furthermore, 40% stated they were already masturbating to their fantasies by 10 years of age. Over 70% self-identified as believing that their sexuality was driven by their PEM.

Some may also have multiple PEMs that ebb and flow in their sex life. For many others, it is still an unconscious but compelling force, just below acknowledged awareness, that drives their sexual desire. This is the aspect of their Eros that they may not have looked at nor engaged in consciously; however, during sex, in the moments right before orgasm, their authentic erotic persona, or “sex creature” as I sometimes think of it, can flood into the body in wild, fierce gestures, accompanied by profane, blasphemous invectives—sound-bytes from their PEM.

My ongoing statistical research project on the nature of Fetishsexuality, the “Discover Your Personal Erotic Myth Survey” has broken new ground in developing a theoretical and therapeutic psychological model in this emerging aspect of Eros. This initial glimpse into the nature and depth of peoples’ Fetish, Kink and D/s-BDSM desires, their origins, and what resists their desires has been illuminating. My mission is to expand and deepen this initial research. You can learn more about participating in the completely anonymous online survey here.

From my work with clients and groups over the last 13 years, I have developed The 5 Keys for Fetishsexuals to consciously engage their darkest edge and find fulfillment in sex, life and relationships. These are: Sexual AuthenticitySexual Honesty, Sexual Empowerment, Sexual Shadow and Paradox. An in-depth definition of these and other aspect of integrating your fetishsexual desires into your everyday life can be found on my site.

3) What directions do you think sex positivity will take within the next 5 – 10 years? Or what topics and with what platforms would you like to see sex positivity develop more thoroughly within the next 5 – 10 years?

I believe the full range of sexuality is heading mainstream. The next few generations will gradually feel the effects of the diminishment of sex-negative attitudes and the expansion of sex-positive attitudes. Hopefully this will make it easier for people to find, embrace and embody their sexual authenticity in a conscious way.

The biggest obstacles will be to shift embedded institutional psychological and moral models of human sexuality. Key areas are in the academic education of undergrad and grad level psychologists and therapists, and in the actual revamping of the psychological and therapeutic models themselves. These are currently well behind the curve of understanding the panorama of sexuality being lived by people in the current era, and will not serve those in the future.

Opinions shared are the author’s own. Want to participate in this interview series? What is your sex positivity?

#MySexPositivity with Kali Williams

This sex positive is all about action and open access. Kali is a BDSM expert with 13 years experience in the adult industry and has devoted herself to sexual education for adults. Her sex positivity is to enable informed choices. She founded the Kink Academy in 2007 and branched out to Passionate U, both education websites for adults of all levels of experience. She is also the founder of the Fearless Press, which explores the intersection of sex and other aspects from everyday life from relationships to spirituality and personal style. She wants to see more inclusion of Kink in the mainstream and sex workers’ legitimate voices taken seriously in academia. 

1) Identify one or two trends, or influential people in the Sex Positive community that you identify with (or are inspired by) and those trends which you relate to not-so-much.

It’s exciting to see Sabrina Morgan growing in her public writing about the sex positive community and the sex worker perspective. She’s really insightful and gets straight to the heart of whatever she’s talking about. Also, Charlie Glickman has always been one of the most inspirational people in the community in my opinion. He manages to talk about really complex issues, particularly regarding sexuality and gender identity, in a way is easy to relate to and understand.

As far as trends go, I’m excited to generally see a lot more people actively interested in being sex educators. Even more importantly I’m excited to see some nationally known educators doing trainings for up and coming sex educators. When I started doing BDSM workshops there weren’t any ways to find mentors or learning specific to the sexuality field.

I’ve been thinking about it and while there are trends that I don’t relate to as part of my personal identity, I am still excited to see progress that’s being made in those other areas of the sex positive community.

2) How do you define “sex positivity” for yourself and your work? In other words, what is your primary passion and how do you distinguish your writings and interests from other branches of thought within the sex positive movement?

For me, the definition of “sex positive” is the same as it is for “feminism”… it all comes down to choice. Even the Kink phrase “safe, sane & consensual” is pretty subjective, at least the “safe” and “sane” parts. The #1 requirement is consent, and more specifically, enthusiastically informed consent.

For-me-the-definition-of-sex-positivity-KALI-QuoteSo the “informed” part has become a driving part of my personal mission and is the reason I founded Erotication in the first place. There are a lot of “risky” activities in creative sex, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from them. There are a lot of risky things in any aspect of living life outside of a closet! But to educate ourselves in every and any way possible opens up the possibility for a lot more successful (aka positive!) sexual experiences.

In terms of how that distinguishes my work, it has been particularly important to me that “sex positivity” is reflected in the wide range of topics made available on Kink Academy and Passionate U. It can be easy to censor based on my own preferences and interests, but instead I look at whether the people teaching and being taught are highly considerate of physical and mental health, safety and consensuality.

3) What directions do you think sex positivity will take within the next 5 – 10 years? Or what topics and with what platforms would you like to see sex positivity develop more thoroughly within the next 5 – 10 years?

My biggest personal and professional hope is that sex positivity both within the community and in the mainstream will continue to give kinksters more acceptance. I truly believe the ‘kink movement’ needs to take a similar path to the ‘gay movement’ in coming out and talking with others. When more people realize they know someone who is kinky then the stigma will finally start to fade. I also hope that sex workers become more recognized and respected within the academic sexuality arena. It’s been beyond frustrating to be left out of important discussions because of what I like to call ‘in the field’ work. When sexuality professional organizations acknowledge the kind of learning and insights that can come from being a sex worker, there will be a lot more potential for cross-over activism.

Obviously, I have a bias but I hope that video-based, online learning about sexuality continues to grow. I believe it’s like the VCR for porn. It opens up this huge opportunity for private learning on the user’s end and massive reach for educators.

Regardless of all the online community that’s building these days (which is an awesome thing!), in-person events will always play a big part in both activism and education. I think using videos and forums to create a strong foundation allows the face-to-face time to be more meaningful and efficient.

Opinions shared are the author’s own. Want to participate in this interview series? What is your sex positivity?