Cory Silverberg will join Esther Perel, Amy Sohn, Leonore Tiefer and Ian Kerner for a conversation called "Sex in America: Can The Conversation Change?" The symposium is co-sponsored by the Huffington Post and Open Center and will take place in New York City on Friday, February 20th. Click here to register.
Rbryanh wisely reminded
me, in response to my post last week, that telling anyone to shut up is no
way to start a conversation. Rbryanh's comment got me thinking about the question our panel is meant to be addressing. If the question is "can the conversation change?" I think we need
to start by asking, which conversation are we talking about?
After all, we're not all having the same conversation. In the U.S. our conversations shift based on race, class, gender, sexual identity and orientation, and any number of other ways
we identify/separate ourselves from each other.
I don't think we need to have quantitatively more sex conversations. I think we need to shift the content of these conversations to address the interests of individuals and not
corporations or contrived political entities, and most importantly we need to start sitting down at each others' tables and getting involved in sex conversations that might, at first, not seem
like they are about us at all.
With that in mind, here are some conversations already happening that I wish more people would get involved in.
Sex and Money. We desperately need more critical, and less politically charged, conversations about the intersection of sex and money in America. Ironically
(I think it's irony) individuals who have the most grassroots experience of this, those who pay for sex and those who get paid for sex, tend to have the least amount of influence on
public discourse about sex and money. That's changing, thanks in part to sex worker run projects like Bound, Not Gagged, writers
like Audacia Ray and academics like Laura Agustin. But there's still a ways to go.
Sex and the Family. Our families should be talking about sex. Sex education, sexual politics, sexual health, and when and how sex moves from something we need to be
protected from to something that's supposed to be good for us. Conversations are
happening, there are
organizations trying to help, and thankfully those who are doing it occasionally offer
guidance for the
rest of us.
Are We Sexual? It's a common refrain amongst my fellow sex educators that all humans are sexual. But there are some very thoughtful articulate humans who are arguing
this point, not from a religious or moral perspective, but from their individual lived experience. The conversation
asexuals are having ostensibly about themselves are really about all of us.
Working Together Without Being Together. It's a huge problem that those who agree that sexuality can be a positive force in our lives find it almost impossible to
engage in critical discussion with each other. For many whom identity as "sex positive" it feels as if the only people you can debate are those you identify as "sex negative". And
honest discussions of race and class and the
body are largely absent among the loudest conversations on the sexual left. We've
got to work together to expose these binaries and not just chastise those who want to keep us chaste.
And we've got to do it in public.
Of course these conversations reflect my personal areas of interest and the lack of diversity in my own networks. If you've got conversations you want to start, or you've already
started and you want people to join in, let everyone know in the comments section.