Sex Talk Matters: A look at the World of Sexology at the Inaugural Sexology Summit
Sex talk at the dinner table matters. It matters more than ever to talk about periods, std’s, reproductive justice, or sex work ( to name a few but there’s a wide range of topics friend, pick something) over a roast and potatoes. The things you were taught to shy away from but deal with on a daily basis…talk about it. Sex is more than just the art of humping. There is a global injustice that is disproportionally affecting minorities all in the stigma of sex.
We are looking at an undeniable shift in society. People are demanding their rights & educating themselves on topics that don’t only relate to them.
There’s anger for the way power dynamics have subjected us to a world that stands on racism, misogyny, and homophobia. These systemic placements impact sex more than you can imagine. A natural instinct manipulated.
To understand how to engage in Sex Talk over a meal and beverage we have to see sex on a larger scale: Sex is PLEASURE. I see that as the ultimate goal. When everyone can reach that euphoric feeling of pleasure.
That pathway is in sex activism and human rights. Sex is sex work along with workers rights. Sex is LGBTQ+. Sex is shame free. Sex is slutty without the putrid affects of patriarchy. Sex is understanding the body…the desires of the body.
Sex is consent & boundaries. Sex is communication. Sex is Foreplay. Do you see where I’m going? Sex is not simply the Birds & the Bees, which btw implies sex is for reproduction…
A look into the world of Pleasure Professionals
It’s not often that you see a space booked for sex talk. But on March 10-11th in Washington D.C at the Eaton Hotel the Inaugural Sexology Summit for Pleasure Professionals was held to share space and expand knowledge about what we know of sex.
The Sexology Summit was created by the innovative Reba Thomas, a sex educator and pleasure professional who also founded Sexpert Consultant LLC. Her platforms allows you to book a sexpert or become a certified sexpert yourself. Along with Co-Chair Ianessa Humbert an expert in swallowing and swallowing disorders.
This event gathered activist, sex workers, doctors, poets, artists, students, healers, and many more walks of life who give space for the voices that get muted (many of which are ourselves). Actively working toward the deconstruction of societal shame. Facing the necessary shadow work that it takes to take on the painstakingly pleasurable role of a pleasure professional.
Something has to be said about how extremely refreshing this all was. My experience before March 9th at the pre-party, I had only knew of Pleasure Professionals online. Of course I was awkward at first. I sat alone with a coca-cola calling my partner to ease my nerves.
So you can imagine my thrill when I ran into a familiar face, Erica Smith, who specializes in compassionate sex education especially for those who suffer from Religious Trauma.
We joined a group of others who specialized in some form of sexology or pleasure and it was nice to sit at a round table and talk about sex. The greatest thing about this experience is that we were ready to talk. We were ready to do the work. We were ready to hold ourselves and others accountable.
Sex Has been Stripped & Not in a Sexy Way
A huge portion of this work dissects the way sex has been weaponized against minority groups. This way, you can create space for a more sex-positive society and further away from a fear mongering state (which often results in death, suicide/lasting trauma, and the promotion of rape culture.) We have to disrupt the very system that takes advantage of minority groups, shamelessly capitalizing on our trauma and bodies.
While I missed a lot of great panels the first day gathering interviews with speakers, I did get the chance to enjoy the 2nd day panel…still unable to attend the after party due to having a flight to catch. None the less I got to sit in on Decolonizing Sexual Health, Medicine, & Education where sex therapist Dr. Donna Oriowo brought us into a thought provoking space.
She poses the question “If you have ever used the words you’re being dramatic raise your hand.” A majority of the attendees raise their hand. She follows up with “If you’ve ever said that shit for yourself…raise your hand.” Again, a majority raises their hand.
Ending with “can I ask you something? Is pain not dramatic? Mental pain, emotional anguish, physical discomfort. But we gaslight ourselves cause our country has already gaslit us into believing that our pain is not actually dramatic.” Before going into their own personal story of how medical practitioners failed them during a life threatening moment.
Power dynamics that disproportionately affect Black and Brown women
When asked to speak about “Black women’s maternal health and how colonization still robs Black women and Black children about their lives” by Black & Gay former pastor Cory L. Scott, Steph Zapata, sex educator & the organizer of R.I.S.E, says that “we must acknowledge the heroic title we bestow on certain figures. “
Leading into the history of the man credited as the father of genecology James Marion Sims, who in fact, after asking someone in the audience to tell them what he actually had to do to earn this title…utilized Black women’s bodies to medically develop his instruments.
Zapata goes on to elaborate that “he does this unethically, without consent, and without anesthesia, because he believed that Black women or Black people with uteruses’ could not experience pain the same way as their white counterpart. [….] Fast forward to present day to the embarrassing as a developed country to have the rate of Black maternal health that the U.S has.”
Concluding that doctors are still not believing Black people but rather accusing folks as “drug seekers, that you’re being hyperbolic, and that you’re being hysterical.”
Within the United States alone, Black women are nearly three times as likely to die from a maternal cause as their white counterparts: The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. The 2020 rate for white women was 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Rights within the U.S are constantly being taken away, examples include the overturn of Roe v. Wade or how the Fl. Gov. Ron DeSantis is targeting the LGBTQ community in Florida from the “say no to gay” laws or how the Florida Bill will be affecting periods…and yes this man is getting ready to run for President. It is so imperative for the growing interest of Pleasure Activism.
Activism in Sex Work & Ethical Porn
Mahx Capacity the founder of Aorta Films an award winning adult film subscription company that highlights ethical queer porn, held a discussion on Resisting Gentrification along with Amber Mallery, ASECCT & ISEE certified sex educator. Mahx inspired me greatly throughout this event, with their insight and progressive mindset.
Something that really stood out is their mention of that the root of “…racism, classism, and white supremacy…” is embedded in the “mainstream [is starting to] appropriating the trendiness of selling sex without offering material of protection to folks that are on the front line.”
Sex work is at the center of many important issues of our time, not just pleasure and labor but also incarceration, housing, public health that is sort of linked by sex work. I think porn can act as a radical anti gentrifier where it can be a trojan horse to bring those issues into popular discussion.Mahx Capacity
In short, Mahx mentions how sex is glorified and capitalized under the guise of health & wellness but society completely neglects the “sex workers who have been on the front line for years to get our work talked about as labor rather than as entertainment or as an inherent part of our being as femme identified people.”
Being anti-sex work further silences the oppressed, affecting some of the most vulnerable groups including trans women, immigrants, the disabled and WOC. As of now. prostitution is criminalized in all 50 states but 10 counties in Nevada. Unreported violent crimes increase as sex workers risk incarceration. It is quite common for police to also engage of violent or coercive behavior towards sex workers.
A little on Becoming a Pleasure Professional
As you can see, the sexology summit touched largely on ethics and decolonizing sex and while these topics are heavy and necessary, remember this is also largely based in pleasure. There are many parts of this industry that bring joy from helping people feel safe in their bodies to living in your authentic desires.
The summit held many parties, a few meditative wind downs, or sessions of arts & crafts/ writer workshops to dirty talking. It was packed with pockets of appreciation, as people would gather after panels thanking speakers for their time and knowledge.
Becoming a Pleasure Professional is a limitless path. We have mentioned filmmakers, therapist & counselors, and public speakers. Whether you want to directly work with clients or speak on a podcast there’s a space for you. Your experience and voice is needed as we push the conversation forward. Be mindful of your mental health as heavy topics do arise. Knowing your boundaries, stepping away while rooting for others, seeking therapy, or even a little self care can go a long way.