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Building Bridges & Creating Change at LLC XVI

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m so happy to be heading to the annual Leather Leadership Conference in Nashville, TN this April! For those of you that aren’t familiar with LLC, it’s an annual conference that brings together people who help make the organization side of the community work – whether it’s volunteers, board members, education coordinators, educators, titleholders, event producers, vendors, or people who will be growing into those roles. It offers them (us!) a chance to work together for two days, to share their experiences, listen to new ideas, view poster presentations, and find the resources to help their group, event, business, or organization grow & develop in the coming years.
Here are the details of my class, Building Bridges & Creating Change:
Nothing can live in a vacuum – not even if it’s made of leather. Community building requires us to work with outside organizations, local businesses, and non-profits in order to do everything from raising funds for charities to letting novices know about safe spaces & techniques. At it’s best, those organizations can support us in our own mission, and can provide valuable allies in our efforts towards demystifying & decriminalizing our sexuality. Sarah Sloane, manager of The Pleasure Chest – Chicago and long-time kink educator & activist, will discuss concrete ways that activists, groups, and event board members can engage in building those connections with the non-kink world that they live in.
If you are at all involved in the “back end” of the alternative sexuality community, there is no place like LLC to get your network & education needs met. With three pre-conference sessions (one on adult sexual education that offers CE credits, and one on small publishing & self publishing taught by none other than Janet Hardy), classes from presenters including Rick Storer of the LA&M, Vivienne Kramer, Susan Wright, Mark Frazier, Allena Gabosch, and more and more and more…it’s going to be amazing.
If you are curious, or you think that LLC may be just what you’re looking for, please visit their website. Currently, registration is super inexpensive – only $89! There are also scholarships available for folks who can’t afford to pay for registration – if you’re interested, please drop a note to LLCNashvilleSROC@yahoo.com by 1/30/2012 with “scholarship” in the subject line for more info.
Hope to see many of you there – it’s going to be an amazing weekend in Nashville, TN!

 
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The Etiquette of the Screw

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Mistress Manners is guest writing my blog this week…

 

Vintage etiquette book colorRecently, I have been inundated by electronic mail, “tweet” messages, and penned missives from ladies, gentlemen, and gentlequeers who are uncomfortable with the lack of etiquette guides for their sexual encounters. While I must admit, I do not have the ability to write a tome dedicated to the arts of mannerly love, I am pleased to offer a few simple considerations to ensure that your next intimate acts (or, “the making of the beast with two backs”, as you young people call it these days) are polite, mannerly, and will likely yield repeated invitations from your host.

1. Be clean and prepared. Be freshly bathed, avoid heavy perfumes or colognes, and make sure that your underthings are clean and attractive. Your guests would appreciate a well laid table; your lover would likely feel the same way.

2. Always bring a “host gift” of safer sex supplies. These can be arranged in a lovely basket, made into a centerpiece, or placed into a foil wrapped box to add charm and attractiveness to the gift. Not arriving with a gift of barriers is akin to showing up to dinner without any food to contribute – it’s rude, and it places the burden on your host, which shows a lack of courtesy on your part.

3. Always ask permission before you touch anything, or wait until it is offered to you. “May I wrap my hand around your penis?” is far more mannerly than simply doing so, and until you and your partner know each other well enough to have a greater understanding of their pleasures and comforts, a cautious approach is best.

4. A gracious host will understand that even the most careful guest will occasionally have an accident, or need to end the evening early due to physical weariness. Be prepared to respond to these situations in a manner that shows respect and compassion. A nearby damp cloth or a promise of a future engagement can often soothe the guests’ sense of discomfort.

5. Try a bit of everything offered (unless you are certain that it is not to your taste), and if you decide you don’t like it, simply say no and direct to the top selections on the menu. Compliment your host honestly; saying that you loved their cunnlingual techniques when you didn’t is dishonest and does not give them the necessary feedback required for them to adjust their entertainment skills. Far better to compliment the things that you did love, even if it’s the basics, such as that their bedding was highly comfortable or that their choice of lube was sublime.

6. Finally, thank you notes are quite important, even in more intimate engagements. Sending your host a brief letter or card describing your pleasure at their invitation and in their company, as well as perhaps inviting them to be your guest at some future time (if you should feel so motivated to engage in further intercourse with them, both social and physical), both shows you to be a guest that they would enjoy having back into their homes, as well as expresses the gratitude that you should certainly feel after having been invited to join with them for an intimate evening.

 
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Blackout for SOPA

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

http://americancensorship.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter 2: The Morals of Being Immoral

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s so easy to be sex positive when the people you’re talking to are doing things just like you do. Talking about the sanctity of informed consent and seeing nods all around, or hearing agreement when talking about challenging our assumptions around gender is pretty darn affirming (and can lead to some pretty serious back slapping and ego boosting affirmation).

But when we get on the bus to head to the office, we’re surrounded by lots of conversation & concepts that aren’t what we are used to, in the rarified air of the sex positive community. Guys referring to pressuring their girlfriends or wives into sex, women who say they don’t have sex with condoms, people talking proudly about screwing around on their spouse without getting caught – it can leave folks with a sense of unreality. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own ethics that we forget that not everyone shares them.

Of course, these are the times when we feel smug and self-satisfied…the times that we pull our judgypants on and they fit us oh so well. Sometimes, we listen and think about how unenlightened they are. Sometimes, we text our friends or send out a tweet or status update talking about how the unwashed masses are so sex negative. But guess what? We have, at that point, totally missed the boat.

The crux of sex positive outreach to others is that we have to acknowledge that they have the right to have the kind of sex life that they choose, even if we do not agree with it. It’s about personal power & personal responsibility – and yeah, while they may be doing things that make us cringe, they have the right to do with their bodies whatever they choose to. Shaming or blaming them for their attitudes is just as bad as shaming them for their orientation or for their sexual interests in fetishes or multiple relationships. We do not know them, and we do not have the right to comment on the life that has brought them to where they are today.

What we can – and are, often, obligated to do – is to act on our own ethics in our conversations. We can listen to them without shaming, and talk about our own reality without making it holier-than-thou. We can answer questions about sexuality from our own perspective, and still leave room for them to choose to act based on what they evaluate as important. We can keep in mind that people have their own reasons for doing what they’re doing, which they are not obligated to share with us (or explain to us, unless we’re one of the people involved). And as long as we are not turning a blind eye to the abuse of another human being, we can give them the space (and perhaps, the non-judgemental information) to consider what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and come to their own decisions about how to live their life. After all, that’s what we want to have as well, isn’t it?

 
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Chapter 1, in which we discuss the economy of intimacy

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Jan 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

While chatting with one of my Most Dear People some months ago, our conversation started circling around how and why we select partners to play with or to date. My quantity-of-current-folks is pretty small, and has been since I decided some time ago that not everyone is A Good Fit for me. My partner is blessed with a large number of people that would like to play with hir, and has a significantly better ability than I do in separating out “play” from “relationship”, so zie’s enjoyed a wider range of play than I have in the past few years. We came down, though, to the same quality that we seek out in partners: Return on Investment.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “return on investment” (or ROI) relates to how much money / wealth you will accumulate based on your investment over time in any particular mutual

Extreme close up of a flower, showing stamen and small hairs on the inside of the petals

Intimacy, from ToniVC's Flickr stream

fund, or real estate, or what have you. In an ideal world, the return would always be higher than the initial investment – even a very safe, low risk account should gain us at least something above the amount we initially put in. The higher the risk – or the longer the investment period – the higher we want the potential rewards to be. So, carrying that a bit further – we become consumers who evaluate the risk versus rewards, or ROI, on all of our investments – whether that’s a job that we’re considering, a new home, or even – gasp! – a partner.

Each of us wants different things from partners – and people who engage in multiple levels of intimacy with multiple people will want something different from each one. Yet, we sometimes find ourselves opting for experiences with people who are not the fit that we want and need; we choose quantity over quality, or poor company over no company. The biggest question is: why? Why do we choose the people and experiences that we choose?

This is where the real crux of the question is: without evaluating what we want, and what is likely to bring us that result, we make choices that while, perhaps not foolish, are certainly not as fulfilling. Wanting to stave off loneliness with a dip into the gene pool is not a bad thing; what’s not so great is when we latch on to someone that is looking for more, or we bargain more than what we really want to offer in order to get the thing that we want to get. Likewise, there is no pain like the pain of starting something with a person whose desires, whether stated or unspoken, are diametrically opposite our own.

The first step that a financial counselor will give to a new investor is to determine what their goals are, and what they’re willing to risk to get those goals. That’s not a bad first step for intimacy, either.

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