Why Is Sex a “Thing”? Making Good Relations for a Decolonial World
Sunday Closing Panel
moderated by Dawn Serra
Dr. Kim Tallbear, Erin Tillman and
Beyond Yes and No: A Discussion on the Nuance & Cultural Impact of #MeToo in the Age of Consent
- Alternatives to Monogamy
- Beautism and Sexuality: How Society’s Representation of Beauty and Image Impact Sexual Self-Expression
- Breaking Shame
- But Wait, There’s More! Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Ability and MORE with Sexuality and Desire
- Consent in the Wild
- Facing the Monster Under the Bed: Navigating Sex & Relationships While Coping with Depression
- From Survival Mode to Sacred Mode: How to Heal Reactivity and Create Sacred Relationships
- Fumbling, Failing, Fucking Up, and Finally Feminism
- Group Sex Demystified
- Healing from Sexual Harm: Our Role as Community Leaders
- How professional cuddling changes individual lives and social landscapes
- Humor In Sex Ed: The Value In Laughter In Releasing Shame and Trauma, And the Art of Using It Appropriately
- Kinky: An Intro to Playing with Shadows
- Learning From the Green Monster
- Red Erotic and Indigenous Erotic Lit
- Rewrite Your Body Story: Embracing Nourishment, Pleasure, & Community As a Path to Embodiment
- Resurrecting Sex – Awakening to and Liberating From Repressed Sexual Shame
- Sex Positive Parenting
- The Monogamy Hangover
- The Power of Pleasure: Masturbation For Healing and Creation
- The War on Toxic Toys
- The Wisdom of Whores: Sex Work as Education and Activism
- Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed
with Cara G*
In recent decades, disability activists and scholars have argued that it’s our collective responsibility to build societies that enable all kinds of people to feel welcome. Many of us believe that “universal access” is a human right. In many places, it’s now against the law for “public” spaces, especially newly built ones, to be inaccessible to people with disabilities… Yet, far fewer people pay attention to “private” spaces, where barriers to access exist, but are often hidden. How do activities and relationships deemed “personal” (like sex and kink, for example) fit into ideas about accessibility?
This workshop invites folks with different lived experiences of disability and impairment (and allies) to learn from one another. Together, we will share ideas, experiences, and best practices, from negotiating in-the-moment needs to longer-term strategies.
How can we engage with others, who may vary in their awareness of and sensitivity to disability issues – from conference and play party organisers to friends to first dates to play/sexual/romantic partners? What possibilities exist for us to support one another in dismantling barriers we collectively and individually face? How can we (co-)create better environments that foster desire, intimacy, and pleasure?
I’m a kinky, queer-identified PhD student diagnosed with a pervasive, sometimes-disabling chronic condition; my research, as well as my own complicated embodied experiences negotiating physical and social situations, deeply inform my interest in these topics. I look forward to facilitating conversations that allow us to explore our needs and experiences in relation to discussions happening elsewhere, from classrooms to social media to pop culture. Together, let’s do our best to think and feel towards safer and sexier and more inclusive, joyous, and just possibilities – in our communities, conferences, bedrooms, dungeons, and other places where we might play, fuck, live, and love.
Alternatives to Monogamy
For many years, western culture and media has portrayed having romantic exclusivity and ‘one true love’ as an ideal to strive for in our love lives. There’s nothing wrong with monogamy, but what if we stopped assuming monogamy as a default for relationship dynamics? With limited representation or education on alternatives, how do we know what a healthy non-monogamous relationship looks like? What are the other options, and how do we begin to explore them?
In this lecture/discussion based class we’ll explore the different relationships styles other than monogamy such as open relationships, swinging, polyamory, and relationship anarchy. You can expect to discuss boundaries, agreements, jealousy, healthy communication and more!
Beautism and Sexuality: How Society’s Representation of Beauty and Image Impact Sexual Self-Expression
with Cathy Vartuli, Erin Tillman and Jimanekia Eborn
Sexuality is core to self-identity. Its easy to think that desire is authentic to that identity. And yet the impact of how someone compares to social beauty standards, and how their potential partners measure up can have a profound effect on how confident and desirable the interaction appears.
For better or worse, how we interact with others, who we find attractive, and who we choose, or wish would choose us, for sexual interactions is largely influenced by what society says is beautiful. Those not seen as beautiful by those standards are all too often deemed non-sexual or second rate. And those who fit the standards are generally over-sexualized and have challenges being seen as a whole individual.
Becoming aware of the lenses we use to view ourselves and potential partners, and the ways that subjective value is applied is the first step to breaking free and discovering the preferences each individual has. Understanding the difference between social expectations and status, and what is actually attractive to the individual can allow freedom and authentic connection. Allowing individuals to explore what is desirable to them while discovering potential partners that might be dismissed otherwise.
We explore the challenges and strictures of beautism as it impacts sexual expression across racial, ableist, sizeist and age divides and share personal experiences and insights from different perspectives.
Beyond Yes and No: A Discussion on the Nuance & Cultural Impact of #MeToo in the Age of Consent
moderated by Dawn Serra, with Dr. Kim Tallbear, Erin Tillman and Jimanekia Eborn
The #MeToo movement, started by Tarana Burke over a decade ago, has gained tremendous cultural traction in recent months. But when consent conversations are often boiled down to binaries and oversimplified ideals, many of us are left feeling confused, angry, and lost within the systems and experiences of trauma, power, and oppression.
Join us for this nuanced closing panel that will invite complex and interesting questions about intergenerational trauma, dating and hook-up culture, and the voices that are often silenced by this growing movement. This panel does not promise to be exhaustive in it’s scope or to offer simple solutions to increasingly complex problems, but it will be a place for all of us to use the skills we learned throughout the conference to sit in conversation with each other around a topic that will continue to impact our personal lives in ever-more present ways.
with Cherish Dorrington, Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti, and Shadeen Francis
Shame has existed for as long as people have been having sexual relationships. Let’s spend some time discovering how powerful shame has been in controlling our sexual freedom and expression. Three panelists discuss the origin of shame, the language of shame and ways to shed the shackles of shame from your life.
But Wait, There’s More! Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Ability and MORE with Sexuality and Desire
with Melody Anne and Yoseñio V. Lewis
They look so good and cause that familiar thump, thump, thump in your jeans. You want to do more than have casual chat with them…and then the fear comes up. What about the difference? Will they say no because of it? Will you shy away from asking or pleading because of it? Will a mutual opportunity for connection be lost because all involved are confused/unaware of how to acknowledge/address the difference? What happens when desire bumps up against race, class, ability, kink interest, health (mental and physical) or healthcare access and/or changes to the political climate? Join us as we explore the intersections of race, class, ability and more with sexuality and desire.
• KA POW the notion that race has to be fetishized!
• PUNCH up the connection between desire and class/politics!
• SPLAT the taboos surrounding sexuality, disability and illness!
• KRUSH the fear of mental health or political implications distancing desire!
We want to have an exciting, thick, rich, pulsating conversation on the intersections of race, class, ability, health and politics with desire and sexuality. Bring your questions, bring your desires, bring your address books!
ALL are welcome!
*Note this session will run long, and is therefore scheduled before the lunch hour. You will still have 40 minutes to get lunch before the next session starts.
Consent in the Wild
with Marcia Baczynski
Consent is a much-needed hot topic right now. As leaders and relationship radicals, we are on the cutting edge of undoing the legacy of misogyny and conquest in the sexual realm and building consent culture.
The gap between the mainstream and sex-positive consent culture is wide, and sometimes it can seem impossible to close it without feeling clumsy, overly formal or even legalistic.
In this workshop, we’ll dive in deep to what consent means in the bedroom, then bring it back to real world experiences, exploring how to “do” consent culture “in the wild.”
We’ll get practical about:
* How to make consent communication steamy and sexy
* What it means to consent to something you haven’t tried yet or don’t know much about
* What to do you do when you or your partner isn’t good at saying no
* How to incorporate space to change your mind
* How to “do” consent with partners who aren’t talkers
You’ll leave with new ideas for consent-based flirting, sensual exchange and bedroom play that are fun, sexy and desire-oriented.
Facing the Monster Under the Bed: Navigating Sex & Relationships While Coping with Depression
with JoEllen Notte and Shadeen Francis
The effects of depression and its treatment can wreak havoc on relationships. From sexual side effects to day-to day-interactions, depression can feel like it changes who our partners are, especially to the uninitiated. The result? Unhealthy relationship dynamics, partners on both sides of the equation who aren’t supported, and ableist stereotypes like “don’t stick it in the crazy”.
We will examine society’s impulse to desexualize the mentally ill, the observed pattern of advice that creates a partner vs. partner dynamic when dealing with depression, how to ensure both partners get the support they need while still holding the space for the partner dealing with depression, and the ableist notion that people dealing with mental illness should remove themselves from the dating pool until they “get it together”.
Using information from JoEllen’s research and upcoming book, we will analyze these patterns and offer alternative strategies, explaining step by step what each means and how they work. This exploration of alternatives will include a discussion of the possibilities for sexual function within periods of depression from the research of relationship therapist Shadeen Francis. Additionally, we will include a section on resources that will give them tools to connect with after they leave the session.
From Survival Mode to Sacred Mode: How to Heal Reactivity and Create Sacred Relationships
with Little Woo
In emotionally involved relationships, we often end up seeing the best AND the worst in ourselves and others. From the smallest arguments to the largest conflicts, we can experience each other’s temporary knee-jerk reactions and old wounds with shocking intensity. It is very intimate to witness a person’s genuine emotions and reactions when they are under great duress.
In this seminar, we’ll look at the 3 basic “Survival Modes” and examine the true causes of our most stressed-out behaviors. Learn to recognize your dominant Survival Mode, its benefits and how it fuels tension, stress or conflict in your relationships.
Then we’ll look at the 3 essential “Sacred Modes” to see how they can help you reduce damaging reactions, honor your heart’s higher calling and create deeper relationships.
Determine which Sacred Mode inspires you the most at this time and apply what you learn today towards your personal and business relationships!
Though we are a highly technological and intellectual society, we are still wired to react from our emotional core. Thus it is part of our higher purpose to evolve our emotional intelligence through the intimacy and vulnerability of close relationships.
This seminar reveals how to turn conflict into an opportunity to grow your mutual love and understanding. Being able to respectfully address even the most embarrassing or unpleasant conflicts with other human beings brings tremendous depth, healing and harmony to all your relationships.
Fumbling, Failing, Fucking Up, and Finally Feminism
with Mason Jenkins
I researched changes that would happen to my body, if and when I could access testosterone and begin my gender transition. I expected acne, awkward voice re-calibration and a hairy back. I was not expecting to change how I thought of and treated women. Awareness of gender inequity, consent and my own self-worth were all areas that I fumbled, failed and fucked up in. It took “becoming a man,” to start my journey as a feminist.
I was 19 and I was in University. I was beginning to unravel the mystery of my gender identity, but did not have the tools, language or resources to do so. I was attempting to fit into the “lesbian” label, as it fit the best amongst the identities I had access to. I would go to the bar. I would drink a lot of alcohol. I would “hit” on as many femme women as I could. I was a novelty for straight ladies, who would approach me for sexual experimentation. This was in the era of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” which was equally demeaning and helpful to my cause.
Age 21. I have achieved my goal of accessing testosterone. My physical characteristics are seen as stereotypically masculine. I am referred to as my new gender consistently. Life is good.
But the scene plays again. I go to the bar. I drink a lot of alcohol. I “hit” on as many femme women as I can…
Join Mason Jenkins as he discusses gender inequity, male allyship, toxic masculinity, consent and his own learning and unlearning as a past of power and privilege.
Group Sex Demystified
Voyeur, exhibitionist or both, group sex appeals to us for so many varied reasons, and for every one of those reasons, there is a genre of group play to satisfy that craving.
This class will examine the broad definition of group sex, help clarify what we desire as individuals and explore how to get it. Whether you are interested in someone joining you and your partner, being the unicorn, or attending some type of event or party this class will cover it. We will discuss negotiation, communication, safety, fears and obstacles, and gain tips on how to make our experiences as hot and satisfying as possible.
Healing from Sexual Harm: Our Role as Community Leaders
with Meagan Lee Filteau
Join us in a facilitated discussion about consent and sexual assault that is focused on bringing our communities together.
As community leaders during this cultural tipping point:
• How will we continue to support the experiences, emotions, and decisions of people who have been impacted by sexual assault?
• How can we also facilitate behaviour change that educates, promotes growth, and fosters community and responsibility?
• How can we foster ally-ship, without widening divides?
Let’s bring our ideas together with the intention of supporting our communities in taking accountability and healing.
How professional cuddling changes individual lives and social landscapes
with Yoni Alkan, DHS
Professional Cuddling is slowly getting more public recognition. It is bringing change into individual’s lives, and the more we shift from “Oh, I heard about this…” to “Oh, I know someone who’s a Cuddler!” the more effect it is having on our social landscape.
We will discuss what is Professional Cuddling, and how it brings discussions about consent to the forefront, while letting people connect to their bodies and their fellow humans. We will also see what the future might hold for this professional community and its clients.
Humor In Sex Ed: The Value In Laughter In Releasing Shame and Trauma, And the Art of Using It Appropriately
with Cathy Vartuli and Jimanekia Eborn
When dealing with sexuality, especially the taboo aspects of sexuality, trauma, fear and shame can shut the brain down and put the client into a flight, fight, freeze mode where learning and growth is hard and survival mechanisms kick in. Humor can be an effective tool to break the cycle and allow powerful growth and healing. Laughter can bring perspective and can introduce a sense of safety and ease to the learning process.
Using humor in appropriate doses and in ways that are responsive to the clients needs can be challenging without guidelines and understanding. Misuse of humor could potentially retrigger shame and fear and break down communication.
When and where is it appropriate to use humor when educating clients on sexual education and when helping them through trauma and fears. How do you know when to introduce humor when dealing with the deep shame around taboo subjects of self-expression or abuse? While many in the sex-positive education and healing world use humor, creating a conscious understanding of how and when to implement this tool can add confidence and strength to the technique.
We’ll share guidelines and best practices for working with clients with different needs and interests, from casual interest to deeply rooted trauma. We’ll discuss types of humor and when each might be appropriate, and share personal experiences and learning points. We’ll also show how to clean up missteps around humor with clarity and ease.
Kinky: An Intro to Playing with Shadows
with Sara Blaze, Stella Harris and Victor Salmon
Kink and BDSM have had increased media attention recently and perhaps have caught your eye too. In this session three experienced kinksters will discuss safety, consent, and negotiation along with all the terms and tools you need to know. You’ll learn not just the “how” but the “why” of kink including show-and-tell and even tastings and you’ll leave with ideas for how to introduce kink into your own play right now!
Want to dig even deeper? You’ll learn where to get more information, including how to get involved in your local kink scene.
Learning From the Green Monster
with Cherish Dorrington
Jealousy. Whether we live lives of monogamy, consensual non-monogamy or kink, our relationships will encounter the green monster. This workshop will explore what jealousy is and is not, what we typically do, when it shows up, and what might be a more joyful way to manage and grow through it. I’ll aim to give participants some constructive information, along with new skills, in order to learn what messages jealous feelings are trying to send and how to make that work for, rather than against, personally and relationally. Suitable for any experience level.
Red Erotic and Indigenous Erotic Lit
with Janet Rogers
Mohawk author Janet Rogers will present pieces from the collection Red Erotic and talk about producing Indigenous erotica within Indigenous community. She will share the celebrations, and conceived taboos within culture and what the present and future could look like for Indigenous erotica. She will perform the poem Make Me with a soundtrack and props.
Rewrite Your Body Story: Embracing Nourishment, Pleasure, & Community As a Path to Embodiment
with Dawn Serra
What if the stories you’ve been given about your body are not yours to carry any longer? What was it like to exist in your body as a young person before the judgment and the separation of self happened? This tender and inviting session will ask what you’re ready to release, what you’d like to embrace, and what it means to nourish yourself on your terms (while acknowledging that many of us are in bodies that experience ongoing trauma and oppression).
We exist in a society built on fat phobia, diet culture, body shame, and desirability politics. We will explore the concept of movement and food as nourishment for our joy and pleasure. We’ll dive into what it means to find pleasure in a body that we might have complicated feelings around.
We’ll also talk about ways we can cultivate community and healthy boundaries that help us heal some of the stories we’ve carried. From media diets to compassionate selfies, this is a space for you to challenge the myths and reconnect with your body in more playful, curious, and meaningful ways.
Resurrecting Sex – Awakening to and Liberating From Repressed Sexual Shame
with Trevor Warren
Thousands of years of powerful sex-negative conditioning has left a wake of largely unconscious repressed sexual shame in our purportedly sexually liberated culture.
The taboo messages we’ve received from religion, culture and our families about sex have left us struggling to find a ways to express our full sexual selves in healthy and acceptable ways.
In the absence of a healthy relationship with our sexuality we are faced with two primary consequences. The first is an array of perverted expressions of this most powerful sexual drive including rape, sexual assault, infidelity, incest, objectification, and porn addiction. The second is the foregoing of the many emotional, relational, mental and health benefits associated with a healthy sex life.
In this talk we will explore the unconscious nature of sexual shame, it consequences and what you can do to embrace your own inner sex-activist. Together we can help our society resurrect sex back to its natural and celebrated status. We will learn how to create a culture of sexually liberated beings who enjoy a fuller, more authentic full-spectrum expression of our sexual selves.
Sex Positive Parenting
with Sara Blaze
The pervasive ideology is that we need to protect and/or prevent children from sex and sexuality – by making it a taboo topic, promoting abstinence or passing the responsibility of sex education to the public school system. This ideology is flawed, not only because there are clear correlations between abstinence education and teenage pregnancies (as an example), but also because of lost opportunities to educate children young about consent, communication and setting healthy personal boundaries. How do we go about raising children in sex positive environments? We will cover some of the benefits of spearheading this topic directly with your children and also discuss some of the potential pitfalls.
The Monogamy Hangover
with Mel Cassidy
When Monogamy is challenged – be it through cheating, a breakup, or the opening of a relationship – an internal struggle can ensue as we attempt to reconcile the new reality with the monogamy fantasy we’ve held. That struggle can result in feelings of shame, an experience of being emotionally frozen. It might interrupt our flow of communication with our loved ones, and it can lead to unconsciously self-sabotaging actions within our relationships.
This experience is what I call The Monogamy Hangover.
In this mini workshop we will dive into understanding how to recognise the toxic dimensions of monogamy, and explore how we can detox from the cultural scripts that can continue to influence and direct us even when we are seeking to explore non-monogamy, or conscious monogamy.
The Power of Pleasure: Masturbation For Healing and Creation
with Angela Thurston
Our sexuality is the most energetically charged area of our bodies. It is the container of our creativity, it provides nourishment to our entire being and it is a portal of wisdom. The ways in which we use these powers of creation and healing are very individual and are not limited to the conception of children. Our sexual energy is very dynamic and powerful and can be used for the inception, gestation and creation of any personal or professional intention.
It is common knowledge that when we engage in the ritual of self pleasuring and orgasm we release dopamine, opioids/endorphins and oxytocin; we dissolve physical tension and stress; we strengthen our muscular system, which in turn supports our organs; we experience deep, intimate self-love; and we learn how to commune, journey and co-create with spirit. What isn’t so commonly spoken about is the ability for us to use masturbation for the purposes of healing and creation.
There is no power greater than that of our orgasms and when we bring attention and conscious awareness to the efficacy of our masturbation practice we can successfully plant and nourish the seeds of our desires, heal and intentionally use the juice, energy and potency of our orgasms.
In this session you’ll learn how to utilize the juice, energy and potency of your orgasmic pleasure, directly impacting the ways in which you nourish your relationships, finances, careers, health, and creative endeavours.
When we commit to a self pleasuring meditative practice — weaving in the element of orgasmic intention — it becomes possible for us to heal and infuse our desired life outcomes with the creative force of our pleasure. Directly impacting how we engage with the world, and how the world engages with us.
The War on Toxic Toys
with Meagan Lee Filteau
Keeping on top of all the information (and misinformation) about safely using the things we put in, on, and around our genitals isn’t easy- even if you’re a sex educator. What kind of lube is on that condom? Will it harm that vibrator? Which dildo will melt everything else in the drawer into a pool of sex toy sludge? In a lawless industry where companies lie while filling their products with poison and their pockets with money, knowledge is the only thing that stands between the consumer and toxic toys. Arm yourself with the most up-to-date facts on material safety, lube compatibility, and industry myths, and join the ranks of those who demand better of their sex toys.
The Wisdom of Whores: Sex Work as Education and Activism
with Aurora May and Ki Bournes
Whorephobia, criminalization and the victim narrative of sex work obscure and dismiss the transformational role whores have played throughout history and today as educators and activists.
Join service providers, sensual bodyworkers and whores, Ki Bournes and Aurora May, to learn how sex work can be a powerful vehicle for cultural change and personal growth in sexual expression and fulfillment.
Most of us in North America, if we had any sex education at all, received a fear based lecture: Don’t get pregnant, don’t get an STI, don’t get sexually assaulted! A more effective way to teach and learn about sex involves pleasure and direct experience, which is what sex workers provide.
Sex work offers the potential for providers and clients to subvert heteronormative gender roles and acquire advanced skills in pleasure based consent, embodiment, safer sex protocols, and creative sexual expression.
This workshop also explores how we could upgrade the law, working environments and societal views of sex work to better support the transformative benefits that sex work can offer and reduce harms currently fostered by our dysfunctional system.
This workshop is experiential and will include hands-on, clothes-on opportunities to participate in activities Aurora and Ki use daily with their clients. Participation in all activities is optional.
Why Is Sex a “Thing”? Making Good Relations for a Decolonial World
with Dr. Kim Tallbear
Settler-colonial states like Canada and the US developed their societies and government systems along with theories of what is “natural.” They also center ideas of private property. These concepts were violent toward Indigenous peoples, people of African descent, women, children, the differently abled, queer folks, and many others. What is deemed to be “natural” and who gets to control that aims to keep often straight, white, property-owning men on top! Nature and property are key to how settler society conceptualizes and manages sexuality.
Dr. TallBear, also known as the Critical Polyamorist, explains how the very notion of “sexuality” (like “nature”) makes webs of relations into objects to be controlled. She draws on particular Indigenous ideas to offer an alternative conceptual framework. She suggests disaggregating this thing we call sex into practices of being in “good relation,” thus paradoxically also de-centering “sex” as a special (although for many of us quite enjoyable) way of relating and nurturing. In
short, a more sex-liberated society is a society in which we create more consensual and better “sex” without necessarily calling it sex at all.
Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed
with Alex S. Morgan
While trans rights are making huge strides globally at present, most sexual health and pleasure resources for adults still reference “male” and “female” sexuality in ways that link genitals with gender experience. Transgender men, women, and non-binary individuals–as well as their partners–are left out of sexuality workshops, in part because educators aren’t sure how to best address their needs without alienating a general audience.
Over the course of the past three years, recently-transitioned sex educator Alex S. Morgan has treated North America as their lab, testing different approaches, terminology, and methods of increasing accessibility for trans, genderqueer, and questioning seekers of adult sex education (as well as their partners).
In a society that often does its best to divorce trans people from their bodies and reinforces the message that trans people are unworthy of love, treating trans bodies as normal and desirable, and trans pleasure as important and worth discussing, is a revolutionary act. From best practices in choosing inclusive language to adapting exercises to reduce the odds of triggering dysphoria, Alex will share what’s worked across North America.