Sparking Conversations on Sexuality at CatalystCon East

This weekend I returned to CatalystCon for the second time – this one took place in Washington D.C./Arlington, VA. From the first evening reception to the closing keynote speech, delivered by Robert Lawrence and Carol Queen, everything was just as amazing as it was last year – maybe even more so now that I have come to know what to expect.

The conference began with a lively warm-up and social lubrication by Maria Falzone and shortly afterward, it was time for the opening keynote plenary, moderated by Tristan Taormino. I was one of the speakers, along with Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, Dr. Hernando Chaves, and Ducky Dolittle. Tristan came up with some interesting questions to get us started, and we spoke of what inspired us, the recent things we have done exemplifying our missions and commitment to change, and so much more. After we spoke, we took questions and comments from the audience, and we could tell everyone was motivated and ready for the next two days.

How can I possibly describe what came afterward? If I condensed my explanation, I’d say two days of brain-stimulating conversations, panels, introductions, and non-stop communication between sex-positive people from many walks of life. I attended panels on Sex Workers and Disability, Sex from the Trans Perspective, Polyamory, and Feminist Porn… and soaked it all in. I tried to go to completely different panels than I did at CatalystCon West, to get myself out of my familiar zone, and instead into realms where I don’t have much experience. Feminist Porn was the most crowded panel I attended, and I spent the entire time crouched down on the floor in the back of the room, shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. The aisles were full as we listened in awe to Constance Penley, Tristan Taormino, Dylan Ryan, and Sinnamon Love. Having just finished the Feminist Porn Book on the flight from LAX to DC, I was excited to hear more from these women. They did NOT disappoint. Each discussed their contributions to the book followed by an intense Q and A session lasting until the next panel came into the room.

I spoke on other panels as well – one on Measure B where I discussed the reality of the “condoms in porn” law with Tristan Taormino and Michael Fatterosi. Originally, when I was pitched the notion of this panel, I didn’t think that people would still be so concerned, or even consider it relevant. I was wrong. The audience intuitively understands it is much more than latex on film, it is a violation of our sexual rights as human beings and could echo repercussions far into the future, and far into our bedrooms.

The other panel I spoke on was Slut Shaming in a Sex Positive Community. Initially, we wondered about the interest in this topic, which isn’t frequently discussed, but it was nearly as packed as the Feminist Porn Panel.  In my background I have experienced Slut Shaming over the years in different degrees, but to hear it from everyone on the panel: Serpent, Femcar, Carol Queen, and Crysta Heart was comforting and reassuring. We opened up the discussion to audience questions and comments, and in that instant, started something that could have gone on for hours. We provoked thoughts; we started open dialogue; we may have even inadvertently started a disagreement/fight. I think it is a panel that must be repeated.

And the evening entertainment!
I went to Girl Gasms by Ducky Doolittle – Take it Like a Man with Charlie Glickman, and then surrendered my “Dirty Bingo” Virginity to Ducky loving every second up until the time I went to bed, knowing I had panels the next day.

I was also a guest on Tristan Taormino’s radio show, “Sex Out Loud,” and had an amazing conversation with one of my all-time inspirations. We also had a studio audience as we recorded, something I’m not used to with my show, but I actually really enjoyed. It was agreed we needed a part two to our discussion, and she may be on my show in the future.

One of the highlights of the weekend was getting #ccon trending on Twitter. Not only did CatalystCon have a hash tag, but each panel had an individual hash tag as well, so people who were unable to make the trip were still able to take part by following along as some of the panels were being live-tweeted by the audiences.

Again, I’m so honored to have been included in CatalystCon East, and even more honored to be included in such an amazing group of people onstage for the opening keynote speech. My sincere thanks goes out to the founder and organizer Dee Dennis, who took a risk having me appear last year, but did it anyway, and also to the notorious Girl Gang & The Evil Sluts who, along with Dee, are truly the glue collectively helping hold CatalystCon together. They also owe me some Nutella.

xo,
jd

The CatalystCon Opening Keynote Plenary Address

I’m about to fly to Washington DC in a couple of days for Catalyst Con East, where in addition to speaking in several sessions previously detailed, I’ll be on the panel for the CatalystCon Opening Keynote Plenary Address the night of Friday, March 15.

The panel will be moderated by the lovely Tristan Taormino (whose radio show I will be a guest on during the weekend).  My fellow panelists include Ducky Doolittle, Dr. Hernando Chaves, and Mireille Miller-Young.  I greatly admire each of the people I’m speaking with for their contributions towards modern sex education.

The Keynote is going to kickoff the convention and set the tone for the entire weekend.  We’ll cover an array of topics including battles over sex education, reproductive rights, gay marriage, obscenity, and pornography, and how each one plays a role in politics and society.  Of course each topic will be covered in more details during CatalystCon’s over 40 sessions.

For more information about CatalystCon East, visit the website at www.CatalystCon.com.  I’m sure I’ll be tweeting about all the informative sessions and amazing speakers throughout the three days, so check out @thejessicadrake.  I’m also looking forward to posting a recap of the convention when I’m back home in LA.

xo,
jd