Category Archives: social equality

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Still Accepting Proposals

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Do you have something to say about the intersection of sexual freedom and social justice? If so, then please consider submitting a proposal for a panel or workshop at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit scheduled for Washington DC August 3 – 6, 2017. Proposals are due by Monday February 6. For more information click here

 

http://eepurl.com/cx6Jsv

 

 

 

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Sexuality and Relationship Related Conventions in Atlanta

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As home of a thriving film industry, the Black Glitterati, and the largest gay population between Miami and Washington DC, Atlanta is a city of rich cultural diversity. One of the elements of that diversity shows up in the incredible range of relationship and sexuality related cons to which the lovely city of Atlanta plays host. Listed in chronological order below, these conventions add a smart and sexy strand to the vibrancy of Atlanta.

 

All of these cons have online registration, meet in large hotels, have social and learning components with panel presentations and gaming rooms, and include vendors rooms with merchants selling everything from jewelry, books, and crafts to corsets, kilts, and sex toys. While the cons usually have blocks of rooms reserved for reduced rates, it can be cheaper to stay in smaller or more modest hotels nearby.

 

InfinityCon – February

imgres.jpgFresh from its first excellent year, InfintyCon specializes in the kinky side of polyamory. Touting itself as an educational conference with flair, InfinityCon aims to deliver a wide variety of information on polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy. It is a sister con to Atlanta Poly Weekend with a more adult focus to contrast to APW’s family-friendly goals. In addition to their educational tracks, InfinityCon hosts a fun track designed to help folks connect with like-minded people with social time, dancing, and relaxation. InfinityCon is scheduled for February 9 – 12 in 2017.

 

Frolicon – April

imgres-1.jpgKnown among locals as DragonCon’s slutty little sister, Frolicon is a chance to “join all your favorite deviants for a fun filled weekend of debauchery and decadence.” A kink and think con for the “naughty side of paradise,” Frolicon features fun for thinkers, artists, and kinksters. Think tracks include those for writers, LGBT+, costuming, and polyamory, The kink track has classes on techniques, theories, and relationships, and the sync track helps frolickers make connections through meetups, speed dating, and mingles. For the kinksters, there is an incredibly well-equipped dungeon (configured by Sadistic Engineering) that fills the hotel’s largest ballroom and hosts open play as well as theme parties. Partiers will enjoy the Saturday night Party Battles in which groups of people try to outdo each other with making their party the most fun. Frolicon happens in the spring, when it is time to frolic, and is scheduled for April 13-16 in 2017.

 

Atlanta Poly Weekend – June

images-2.jpgHaving just completed its sixth year, Atlanta Poly Weekend is the only child-friendly con that features a kid track and pg-13 programming during the day, with the NC-17 programming scheduled after 9pm. Established by the Relationship Equality Foundation, APW offers polyamorous or poly curious folks the opportunity to meet and mingle, learn new skills, get advice, make family connections with other polys with kids (or without kids :), and learn about the wide world of communication, negotiation, and honesty among multiple partners. Atlanta Poly Weekend is scheduled for June 2 – 4 in 2017.

 

South East Leather Fest SELF – June

Iimgres-2.jpgn addition to lots of classes and opportunities to learn everything from An Introduction to Biting or Conflict Resolution Within a Master/slave Framework to Erotic Shaving or BDSM and the Law, SELF also hosts a range of competitions. Titles include Master/slave, Ms. SELF, SELF Boy/Boi, Mr. SELF, Southeast Bootblack and Southeast Person of Leather. SELF also hosts a huge dungeon with some very sophisticated scenes – dedicated to a much more serious version of kink than Frolicon, which also has a giant dungeon but is focused more on play and less on protocol. This next SELF is scheduled for June 22-25 2017.

 

DragonCon – September

images.jpgWhile not officially a sexualities-related convention, DragonCon is the kind of sci fi geek paradise that appeals to the kinksters, queers, polys, and cosplayers. Founded in 1987 and now in its 30th year, DragonCon touts itself as the largest muilti-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe. It hosts one of the most impressive parades I have ever seen and brings media figures from Sarah Gellar to William Shatner who speak to adoring throngs. The many fan tracks focus on everything from alternate history, animation, and armory to paranormal, puppetry, and robotics or urban fantasy, video gaming, and young adult literature. My personal favorites are the science and skeptic tracks. The mingling of thousands of imaginative people in sexy cosplay (with a decent dose of alcohol) leads to sexual exploration and fantasy play. DragonCon is a great place to get your geek on, and your freak on. It is scheduled for September 1-4 in 2017.

 

Sex Down South – October

images.jpgOrganized by a cadre of smart young queers, Sex Down South focuses on the intersections of sexuality, race, class, gender, ability, religion, social justice, and pleasure. In 2015, the first year of this excellent con dedicated to diversity and sexual liberation for everyone, speakers included psychologist Dr. Rachel Kieran, writer Fiona Zedde, sexy disability activist Robin Wilson Beattie, Velvet Lips founder and sex educator extraordinaire Marla Stewart, performance artist Ignacio Rivera (aka Papi Coxxx), minister Aldalphie Johnson, and author, podcaster, and cliterati Tristian Taormino. Sex Down South is scheduled for October 13 – 15 in 2016 and includes an impressive line-up including Tyomi Morgan, Sinclair Sexsmith, Orpheus Black, Ken Melvoin-Berg, Sunny Megatron, and yours truly (Elisabeth Sheff). SDS is coming right up — October 13-15 2016 at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta.

 

Do you know of any relationship or sexuality cons in Atlanta that did not make the list? Let me know by emailing me at drelisheff@gmail.com and I will be sure to add them.

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Live Recording Podcast Let’s Talk About Sex with Dr. Eli Sheff, Atlanta, 10/6/16

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September 16, 2016 · 11:42 am09

Dr. Eli Sheff Trains Fulton County CASAs on Sex & Gender Minority Families 9/20/16

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September 13, 2016 · 11:42 pm09

Five Things White People Can Do to Make Their Poly Communities More Welcoming for People of Color

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I just finished listening to a fantastic podcast from Poly in the Cities with Kevin Patterson from Poly Role Models. Turns out white folks in the poly community routinely try to tell Kevin Patterson about his experience as a Black person: When Kevin names race in conversations with some poly folks and event or group organizers, it all too often turns in to an adversarial interaction instead of a collaborative discussion.

White people in poly communities and elsewhere, please listen to a sister white woman who is flawed and still invested in equality: We are not doing well enough at addressing race in US society. From education to health care to (in)justice, the poly community is not the only place we see evidence of white people failing to deal with race in any realistic or direct way. When the liberal white people are too afraid to talk about race, the only white people who will speak of it out loud are the white supremacists, which makes racism seem all the more fringe. In truth, racism is everywhere, deeply embedded in the social structures and institutions of the US.

How can you avoid being one of those white people who argue as if they know POC’s experience better than the POC do? How can you be an ally instead of part of the problem? Try these five not so simple steps, and keep practicing becuse it can be challenging. You may not be perfect at first, and that is OK. Keep trying!

  1. Set your defensiveness aside — Discussion of race and white privilege do not have to be about white people and our egos. Evidence that you are becoming defensive includes a desire to rebut what your conversation partner so strong that it distracts you from hearing what they are saying. If you are searching for flaws in your opponent’s argument, it means that you are not collaborating with your conversation partner if they are your opponent, and you are not truly open to what they are saying because you are not listening. You can be an ally even if you have been an “inactive beneficiary”* of the white privilege surrounding you as long as you can set aside your need to “win the conversation.”*
  2. Listen — This means more than just keeping your own mouth shut. This means really listening to and thinking about what the other person is saying, rather than formulating your rebuttal. If you are not sure what to say or how to say it, listen for a while and clarify your thoughts. If you are tempted to interrupt — especially to correct or disagree with your conversation partner’s explanation of their own experience or areas of expertise — take a deep breath and keep your mouth closed. This can be difficult for white folks who have always been very verbal and used to people listening to them.
  3. Educate Yourself — Do not expect people of color to educate you about racism — that is exhausting for them and inappropriate for you. There are books, websites, podcasts,  and You Tube presentations on white privilege (be aware of the white power folks on You Tube who also engage with the term, they are coming from a very different philosophical orientation than this blog). Plus, Google exists. Take some self-responsibility for your education and start expanding your envelop. Tim Wise is a great place to start. If you are in Atlanta, come to the Sex Down South Conference and see my presentation on Thursday October 13, How White People Can Be Allies to POC in AltSex Communities. You can also check out my blogs on using the term white privilege and some of the benefits of being uncomfortable about race .
  4. Acknowledge White Privilege — Out loud, every time you can, with your family, friends, grocers, neighbors, and strangers on the street. To successfully acknowledge the (very blatant, once you start looking for it) evidence of white privilege in your social environment, you have to recognize it yourself. Educating yourself on white privilege helps you to recognize it as well.
  5. Lean to Tolerate Racial Discomfort — Race is uncomfortable in the US, and white people have been able to shift that discomfort on to people of color for far too long. It is going to be profoundly uncomfortable for white people to talk about race — and that is OK, we should still do it with open hearts and open minds. People of color have been beyond uncomfortable with the effects of racism, and is past time for white people to share that load of social discomfort and change. Take a deep breath and use your relationship skills to work on your relationship with race.

 

  • Quotes from Kevin Patterson on the Poly in the Cities podcast

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Dr. Eli Sheff speaks in Asheville North Carolina Tonight from 6 to 8 pm

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I am thrilled to be speaking to the Asheville Poly Network tonight at 6pm. Tickets are $15 and available at the door, and there are still spaces available. Hope to see you tonight!

The APN meets at 68 Kentucky Dr, Asheville, NC 28806

Important parking information below:

Look for the large building in the back straight up the driveway (called the “Awarehouse”).  We’re supposed to park on the street along the fence, to the right of the driveway if you’re looking at the driveway.  There will be a sign in front saying something about the poly meetup.

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Community Response to Abuse in D/s Relationships

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I am currently writing a series of blogs on abuse in poly relationships for my Psychology Today blog, and working on a more in-depth blog on abuse in kinky relationships for the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom. Obviously, the topic of abuse in sex and gender minority relationships is really on my mind lately. So when a reader commented on one of my PT blogs and I interpreted the situation the reader described as possibly abusive, I had to stop and think if that was just because I am somewhat obsessed with the topic right now and projecting abuse where there is simply a difficult situation? Or is the situation truly abusive and it just happens that i am already thinking about this topic and the message fell in my lap? Truly, the initial message does not provide enough information to make a call either way, and it would take considerably more discussion to determine the nature of the interactions.

 

The bigger question is how can we tell when something is abusive? It is a complicated question in a shifting cultural landscape where ideas of what counts as abuse have changed drastically in the last 100 years. AltSex communities have developed an affirmative stance towards demanding consent and placing everything else on the other side of a bright line (except for consensual non-consent, which is a different story). Thing is, humans are complicated and their interactions a tangle of mixed viewpoints, self-delusion, good will, and unclear motivations. Not every non-consensual act is abusive — there is an enormous middle ground populated by shades of gray so vast an elephant would be jealous. At it is that middle ground that is most often where AltSex community members and leaders must make decisions about how to deal with the boundary pushers in their midst.

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This is a long way to say that I am interested in your ideas about abuse in AltSex communitiesHow can we tell when something is abusive? How should we deal with it? Who gets to decide? Please comment and let me know what you think.

 

Even more specifically, does anyone know of resources for someone in a D/s relationship that is potentially malfunctioning? My reader described their situation as: “…a mono person married to a poly person, I only feel tremendous pain. It is most definitely not about control since I am the submissive in our M/s relationship.” So far I have recommended  the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom and Fetlife — can anyone think of an especially supportive forum for submissives in trouble on Fetlife?

Below is my response, please let me know what other resources I could offer to this reader.

Thanks!

 

Hi,

It sounds like you have the worst of the mono/poly conundrum happening in your life, and I am really sorry to hear it. Just because your partner wants to be poly does not mean that you have to “put up with it” and stick around in a relationship that gives you only pain and no control. Even as the submissive in a power exchange relationship, you are allowed — even required — to think clearly about your own boundaries and enforce them. A “good” Dom takes care of “their” submissive(s) and that also means caring for their emotional wellbeing. There is a big difference between power exchange and abuse, and it might be that your relationship has crossed that line. If your Dom does not care at all that you are in tremendous pain then you might need to move along and either find your own center for a while and/or find a healthier power exchange relationship.

Please consider checking out the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s statement about the differences between SM and abuse at https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/435-sm-vs-abuse-policy-statement.html

Poly is not an excuse to exploit and abuse people, and if you are feeling that your boundaries have been crossed then please please please take care of yourself. You do not have to put up with tremendous pain and no good from your relationship — you can leave!!!!

Your Dom might be poly by orientation and might really need poly relationships, and that is fine. But it doesn’t mean that is has to be with you if that relationship style does not work for you. It is better to be alone and hopefully find a different partner who fits you better (if that is what you want, a lot of people find they love being single) than to put up with agony.

Also, consider reaching out to other submissives to find out how they handle their emotional interactions with their Doms. If you are not on Fetlife yet, get an account and find a forum for subs in trouble. You can definitely get some support and advice from your online community.

All the best to you,

Elisabeth

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