Highlights from CatalystCon West 2015

Dusk light with dramatic clouds in downtown Los Angeles,California

LA/Burbank hosts CatalystCon West 2015

Catalyst Con is so refreshing I could raise my arms to skies and scream, “Love Fest!” That’s because it is a rare thing to be in the company of people who are presenting or attending a national conference in sexology who represent so much diversity of backgrounds: Academics, professionals, sex educators, branded experts, street smart learners, and sex workers of all stripes…..what I learned last year was to honor the term “sex worker” as any among us who work with sex/uality with our clients, our students, our unique audiences, in groups, one on one, or virtually. Thus, I proudly proclaimed last year that I was indeed a “sex worker” as a clinical sexologist, sex coach and so much more….

This year was not that much different, as we shared the speaker podium, coffee break chats, and big room events with an amazing array of people from all over the continent, all eager to celebrate sexual freedom, diversity and learning from one another. Oh, and of course to feel that titillatingly special vibe of the “sex-positive” movement together.

Here are some highlights and observations:
The opening evening plenary talk on sex positivity proved to be an eye opener and a fascinating dialogue about what’s up sexually today for trends and new views. Moderated by Tristan Taormino, famous author/media pro, she demonstrated great skills at eliciting thoughts and viewpoints on the panel comprised of Alex S. Morgan, sex educator and trans speaker; Chris Donaghue on his non-hetero-normative views about sexuality; Jenny Block about her experiences as a writer/blogger and Lesbian often mistaken for being a hetero, which provoked a heated discussion; and Mireille Miller-Young speaking about porn research and women of color’s perspectives. [I have removed my original commentary about PC….please read my next blog post.]

Our talk on Success 101 was a wonderful success with a full crowd attending. We hosted a 70 minute presentation of the top 3 strategies for success in business–Dr. Robert and I showed inspiring slides, role modeled how to do it, then invited some demos from the room about how to position yourself when you are asked what you do. The answer is a crafted, carefully planned systemic message, not a quick flick of the tongue. We loved sharing our “insider secrets” about how to be a successful sex expert; and most of this talk is the theme of 50% of the upcoming GROW training right here in Los Angeles. Repeating again in March 2016. Info is here.

I had time to attend two other interesting talks. One on Shame, with Amy Jo Goddard and Marci Baczynski; in it they presented their views of how we shame ourselves, feel shame and potentially shame others. It was a didactic and interactive exploration of the topic and elicited some powerful reflections and sharing. I wish it could have had more care-taking for the deep emotional response that even glancing at the highly charged topic of shame for ourselves or in our work in sexology may provoke. This is a deep dive into one of the aspects of “PC” around which I hope more dialogue can happen in future conferences.

Another fascinating panel was on a new book that focuses on the study of porn from a research perspective, along with narratives about the industry itself. The presentation was “New Views on Pornography: A Roundtable Discussion” with contributors from the world of academe, the adult industry, lawyers and other great thinkers. I loved this presentation; it brings pornography into the front lines for academic exploration and humanizes its “discourse”. Oh yeah, there’s another buzzword of our times. Plus let’s not forget talking about the “narrative!” It intrigued me, a person who did her doctoral dissertation in 1993 on the influence of the gender of the porn director on the content/approach of a film, by looking at 44 films released over 11 years from 1980-1990, half made by women and the other half made by males who won awards for their productions. I found that the formulaic approach dominated, not the gender of the director; and that despite the pioneering contributions made by Candida Royalle, who was also part of my study, the result was that porn was porn, with the same content and approach and really porn was made to get men off. Today we see sea changes galore in the realm of porn, and this panel ignited my inner researcher to explore even more and buy the book! If this interests you, too, the book is available now here.

It was delightful to see familiar faces in friends, colleagues and SexCoachU students from all over….It was a privilege to host two Tributes to my dear friend, Candida Royalle, who passed away just before the conference began. You can read about her here and see some very poignant photos.

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