Mar 312010
 

Ah, she is so happy to have been "cured"... again!

We sat at my dining room table last Sunday surrounded by laptops, sliced papaya, notebooks, wine and sleepy dogs happy to act as foot warmers.  It was our first time gathering for dinner like this and although none of us knew what to expect, we found ourselves quickly immersed in conversations that rarely had the opportunity to reach outside ourselves.

” And so now I have an office full of dildos! ”

” I know it shouldn’t be different, or should it?  I need to push myself to think of serodiscordant sex the same way I want others to think of sex between folks with genital herpes and folks without. ”

” To what degree are we ethically called to be accessible to clients with little or no income, and how can I balance my desire to work there with the need to live comfortably? ”

” It didn’t take me long to discover that the sex-positive educator community is more than a bit incestuous. No judgement there, mind you.  It’s just very different from how I was trained to think of potential co-workers and bosses. It’s good to have options. ”

” It was an abstinence-based program and…” “GASP!”

And conversation moved forward from there, guided by our sex-positive philosophies.  The sex-positive community is a broad term for those of us who look at sexuality from the perspective of holistic well-being (including pleasure), and therefore resist the push to think of sexuality from a medical, pathology, or fear-based perspective.  To be sure, we recognize the latter but choose to address it by directing our energy toward positive goals instead of letting the negative control our perspective.

For example, in my work on sexual recovery with survivors of intimate partner violence I strive to shift the focus toward the needs and awareness of my client (the survivor and possibly her/his nonviolent partner), their current experiences and their goals for the future.  Past harms are confronted and resolved while moving forward, instead trapping these clients in the power of the pain of the past with no concept of hope or goals for the future.  A client who wishes to discover her orgasms after years of abuse must heal herself along the way, but she is now determining her future (an orgasmic one!) instead of remaining the hostage of past events and low expectations revolving around the avoidance of harm.  This makes all the difference and is part of what draws me to the work I do.  It’s a sex-positive perspective in which well-being and pleasure are encouraged goals and routes to healing and/or enhancement take on a sense of pride and joy.

It’s not always easy finding fellow sexuality professionals to brainstorm and relax with.  In academia and the health services we sexuality pros are shoved into the medical/pathology crowd by a lack of jobs outside the abstinence and STI-fear perspectives.  State laws regarding psychotherapy may forbid the suggestion that masturbation could be therapeutic, even if the client’s “presenting problem” is a desire to learn to masturbate. Those of us who have the income and flexibility to attend major conferences of the academic or social types may find each other there, and one long weekend of inspiration and shmoozing (and possibly hook-ups) is certainly better than nothing.   I maintain that it isn’t enough.  Online groups exist, and the blogosphere is ripe with sex-positivity of various styles.  We deserve more.  At least I know I do, and I would want no less for you.

So I kept my eyes open and as aspiring and current educators with similar backgrounds dropped me a line, I asked if they would like to grab a bite in the district or at least talk on the phone.  It doesn’t sound like a radical idea, but in the days before I got the “Dr.” on the front of my name I couldn’t get a single sexuality mentor to meet or even call me.  I remember the sting when my biggest geek-crush, an internationally known advocate for women’s holistic sexual health, responded to my request for a quick conversation on her research with “I don’t have time to chat with you.”   Later, I sat forlornly with my cell phone after I was stood up for the third phone-meeting in a row with another well respected advocate, this one specializing in sex and disability.  And I don’t always have time to chat either, but I still have the same need for a carefully constructed, supportive, sex-positive community that I did back then.  Now, after years of advanced education and international presentations, it’s easier to get together with my fellow professionals at conferences, but I still need more.

Anyway, my new group finally got together last Sunday and I am still buzzing with excitement and satisfaction.  We agreed to make it a monthly thing, just the handful of us.  And so we’ve become one of many small, private groups that keeps the sex-positive mission alive and inspires each other to carry it forward in brave and invigorating ways.

There is a strong need for sex-positive community.  That’s part of what I build and provide for the general public during my coaching sessions and workshops, but there is also a need for sexual professionals to gather, receive mentorship, and exchange support.  If interest continues, and I’m confident that it will, I will begin to offer an web-based mentorship group for current or aspiring sex-positive educators and healers (mental and physical).  Let me know if you’re interested.  In the meantime, I encourage you to call up a few friends, slice up a papaya, and begin to build your own sex-positive gathering.

  2 Responses to “Building Community for Sex-Positive Sexuality Professionals”

  1. I’ve been wanting to be part of that community, “real life” face to face, for so long now… I heartedly agree. We need a lot, lot more sex positive individuals and community action.

  2. Hi, Jessie! Drop me a line with a little more info about where in the world you’re located. If I know your area I might be able to help out! And if you’re interested in online at all then we can brainstorm on that, too.

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