This is Part 2 of my Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit experience… if you missed Part 1, click here to catch up.
Saturday: Morning Workshops and Luncheon
After a stop at the hotel breakfast buffet to fuel up and caffeinate myself, I headed to Saturday’s first session on Sex, Shame and Love with Charlie Glickman. Charlie talked about shame and love as opposites, with love bringing people closer together and shame pushing them apart. What I found interesting was the idea that too much love (co-dependence) can be as damaging as too much shame. It brought to mind a long ago relationship, and the way my partner wanted to be enmeshed in every aspect of my life.
Charlie taught us about the difference between healthy shame, which helps us recognize when we have hurt someone and need to make amends, as opposed to toxic shame. He talked about the importance of acknowledging and understanding shame to process it, rather than rushing to “fix it”. I walked out feeling remarkably calm and tranquil, with new strategies for dealing with the feeling of shame that my depression and anxiety can amplify. If you ever get the chance to hear Charlie speak, I highly recommend it.
The second morning session was one I was very excited to attend. Yes, All Genders was presented by Alex Morgan and Monique Darling. As a sex blogger, I want my writing to be gender-inclusive. I try to use neutral pronouns, to not conflate gender with anatomy, but I know this is something I need to be more conscious of. 1 Alex and Monique talked in detail about the challenges they have faced as sex educators, such as exercises that suggest dividing the class by gender, or discussions of female pleasure that are completely focused on the clitoris and vulva.
As difficult as those scenarios sounded at first, Alex and Monique made creative, inclusive adaptations that were also surprisingly simple. Instead of asking a class to split into “men and women”, they might ask that those who are feeling more feminine today join one group, those feeling more masculine join the other. They also stressed that it’s OK to make mistakes as you learn… to quote Alex “It’s about learning how to fuck up better together.”
After a busy morning, it was time for lunch. We heard an inspiring speech from Hardy Haberman, in which he compared seeing the future at the New York World’s Fair to seeing his own personal future in a Life magazine article. We pledged to carry what we learned home with us and use it to make the world a better place. And once again, we heard Ricci thank the bloggers for being at the Summit, and for spreading the word about Woodhull. From the very first session, and at every event, we felt welcomed and appreciated.
Senior Sex…and the Attack of the Marvin the Mansplainer
After lunch, Epiphora, Dizzy, Reenie, Lena, Penny and I attended Joan Price’s workshop Let’s Talk About Senior Sex. Joan is an energetic and engaging speaker and since we’re all “planning to be seniors one day”, her topic is of interest to people of all ages. She also managed to teach a room full of sex bloggers something that none of us knew: how to suck a condom onto a soft penis.
As progressive and amazing as most Woodhull attendees are, there was one notable (and laughable) exception during this session. Joan was telling us about one of her favorite vibrators, the Eroscillator. For those not familiar with this marvel, it’s an AC powered, wand style vibrator where the head rapidly moves in a figure 8 motion instead of just vibrating back and forth. It is expensive, but there’s truly nothing else like it… especially with the “soft finger” attachment (a.k.a. “the marshmallow”).
Or at least that’s my opinion. A gentleman interrupted Joan to tell her that he knew of a toy that “worked just as well” and it was only $46 on Amazon. Oh, and it runs on batteries so there’s no cord to get in the way.
Joan politely deferred his comment, saying that she hadn’t heard of the toy in question. He continued to press his case that the Eroscillator was too expensive, and that this is perfectly comparable. Bloggers around the room raised eyebrows. Serious side-eye was given. To no avail. He proceeded to pull the Amazon page up on his tablet to educate us foolish womenfolk.
Epiphora tried to gently explain that there is no way in this universe that a battery powered vibe at ANY price can match the Eroscillator in function or power. There are laws of physics, and they will not be broken. But, he said, the cheap vibe feels the same. You know, to his arm. This obviously invalidates the experience of over half a dozen clitoris owners with extensive experience testing clitoral vibrators.
The bloggers heaved a collective sigh on behalf of the mansplainer’s poor “lady friend” and left him to his delusions. Rather than disrupt Joan’s presentation further, we took our frustrations to Twitter, sparking a conversation of epic hilarity.
Pool, Pizza and Party Time
We headed down to the pool after sessions wrapped up. Dizzy, Lena and I came equipped with drinks, having made a quick stop at Luna’s Ninja Bar along the way. Dizzy had the brilliant idea of putting our beverages into lidded coffee cups so we could wander freely with them, I think she might be a bit of a ninja herself.
Penny was curious why we seemed so enthusiastic about our coffee on a hot 2 summer day, so Lena let her try some. She looked rather startled to find the “coffee” ice cold and cranberry flavored. But she recovered promptly from her surprise, and went back for another sip.
By the pool is also where I finally got to meet Beck, who almost didn’t make it to Woodhull due to automotive mishaps. I wish I’d gotten to spend more time with her, in the short interactions we had, she was sweet as can be. One more reason to look forward to next year!
After our pool time, the wonderful Smitten Kitten crew bought pizza for us. We were all starving after our busy day in sessions, and so the food was much appeciated. If I didn’t already love them after everything I’d learned about them at Woodhull, the pizza would have clinched it.
Liberty, Libations & Libido Gala and after party
Thanks to our “coffee” by the pool, and a detour by the hotel bar (where I had the pleasure of meeting Elle Chase) on our way down, I arrived at the gala feeling much more interested in dancing than I had been the previous night. As soon as the music started, I hit the dance floor with Bex and Lena. Buck Angel was out on the dance floor too, and then up on the stage, and things just got more interesting from there. Even the bloggers who had no desire to dance came out to take in the show and cheer him on. After a little more dancing, Lena helped me conquer my introvert nature to get my picture taken with Nina Hartley. I may be shy about revealing my identity, but this picture makes me so happy I had to share!
Despite our early enthusiasm for dancing (or at least for watching other people dance), the mostly introverted Blog Squad members reverted to their true natures and retreated to Piph’s room to hang out. Fancy clothes were abandoned in favor of comfortable clothes or pajamas. Bloggers happily sprawled out on the beds. The remainder of my vodka supply was consumed. Sharpie tattoos of sex toys were drawn. Epiphora introduced us all to Mr. Man, her beloved and discontinued dildo. Mandi and Piph bonded over their shared love of Hanson. I brought down my Rosa Rouge for those who were curious about its wondrous orgasm-inducing properties. We yapped for hours together, and we laughed a lot… loudly enough that hotel security had to shush us around 2am. Let this be a lesson to the world that “introverted” is not necessarily synonymous with “quiet”.
Somewhere around 3am, I realized that I should rest since I had to drive home the next morning. Since I’d be getting up earlier than most, I said my goodbyes as I headed out. Strangely, as tired as I was, I couldn’t sleep when I got up to bed. I stayed awake until 4:30, packing up my dildo suitcase and preparing for my inevitable departure. It felt like I was stuffing my recently liberated blogger persona into that suitcase, and I can honestly say I have never felt sadder with dildos in my hands.
Sunday morning dawned, and I could hear reality calling. My family was eagerly awaiting my return, and as much as I dreaded leaving Woodhull and the Blog Squad, I missed them something fierce. I messaged a few more farewells to those who are better at sleeping in than I am, and hit the road.
After the initial sadness of leaving wore off, I realized that (as sappy and cliché as this is going to sound) that Woodhull will always stay with me, just like the magic of summer camp in those books I loved as a kid. I feel it every day, even in the non-blogging part of my life. It’s in the care I take to use gender-inclusive language, it’s in the way I answer my children’s questions about their feelings and their bodies. It’s in the new perspectives I can see when I read the news.
From a Blog Squad point of view, my favorite “side effect” of going to Woodhull is that now I can hear my fellow bloggers’ voices in my head when I read their posts and tweets. While I miss interacting with them face to face, it’s comforting to know that a dose of Blog Squad silliness is only a tweet away. And of course, there are the priceless memories of our shenanigans… these are some of my favorites.
- Stuffing silicone brains into bags with Dizzy, Lena and Reenie.
- Lena attempting to defibrillate a mini Tantus Uncut with the Hello Touch X.
- Having a dildo swordfight with Lilly and Sexual Scientist in the Blogger Lounge. I’ve always wanted to try dildo fencing! (there is video, but it will remain private as we’re all camera shy).
- Mary and Harry’s Crackers the Cockatrice dildo being used as a coat hook at the pajama party after the gala.
- Geeking out with Bex over Torchwood and the vagina feelings it causes.
- Watching Penny snap pictures of my dildo collection.
- Lena pointing out that the hotel lamp design bore a strong resemblance to anal beads.
- Feeling proudly prepared when Lilly needed a Sharpie (to cross out the Pipedream logo on her lanyard) and I happened to have one handy in my bag.
- Reenie walking around waving her dildos, cheerfully asking everyone she met if they’d like to win one. I have never seen a more dedicated crusader spreading the word about fantasy sex toys!
- Getting to hold Lilly’s legendary Jar of Horrors.
- Talking with Epiphora about the art of requesting products to review, Pedro the Cactus and Tumblr’s extreme responses to a bathtub full of sex toys.
- The elevators. Every ride was an adventure. You never knew when Nina Hartley or Buck Angel might pop in, or when an unsuspecting non-Woodhull guest would suddenly notice Reenie was casually squishing a dildo, or when you’d find an elevator so thoroughly treated with air freshener that it no longer contained any actual air.
I truly can’t say enough about how wonderful my experience was, and how much I’m looking forward to next year. If you’ve enjoyed reading about the Sexual Freedom Summit and the awesomeness that is Woodhull, please consider making a donation to support the sexual freedom movement.
Woodhull was a huge event, and I couldn’t be everywhere at once (even though I wanted to be). Check out these posts for other perspectives:
- Woodhull’s SFS 2015 or, How I Overcame Fear – by Dizzygirl
- Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace: We Are Woodhull – by Lilly
- 5 Reasons Why Woodhull Was an Amazing Experience – by Penny
- Raising My Voice As Quietly As Possible – Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit – by JoEllen Notte
- Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2015 – by Mandi
- Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2015 – by Lena
- Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit – #SFS15 – by DeAnn
- Sexual Freedom Summit – Where I Learned of ‘Vagina Poison’ & More – by Ruby
- Woodhull’s SFS 2015: The Trip That Almost Wasn’t – by Beck
- Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2015: Best Conference Ever – by Dr. Jeana
- Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 2015 – by Russell J. Stambaugh, PhD, DST