Sunday, March 25, 2012

Momentum: Sexuality, Feminism, and the New Media

I am thrilled to be presenting "Senior Sex Out Loud" at Momentum in Washington, DC, March 30-April 1, 2012. My session is Sunday, April 1, noon to 1 pm.

But my own presentation isn't all I'm excited about -- the whole Momentum conference sounds amazing. The presenters list reads like a Who's Who of Sexuality -- outspoken sex educators, writers, bloggers, political activists, sex toy retailers, sex workers, and even celebrities like former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders!

Tess Danesi and Dee Dennis 
This conference is unique in many ways. It's truly grassroots, the product of two bloggers, Tess Danesi and Dee Dennis, who realized that  people who were devoting their work lives (and often personal lives) to making waves in sexuality, feminism, and the new media needed a place to gather, share ideas, have their voices heard.

I interviewed Tess about how Momentum came about and why it's so important now:

Who are Tess Danesi and Dee Dennis, and how did Momentum get started?
As Tied Up Events LLC, Dee and I produce MOMENTUM.  I was an accounting type person for over 20 years but have always been the go-to person when anyone I knew had a sex question. In August 2005 I started writing a blog, called Urban Gypsy, as a place to put the erotic fiction I'd been writing, and, well, that was the beginning of a journey that somehow wound it's way to this amazing conference. In February 2009, Dee and I attended a symposium, put together by therapist and best-selling author of Mating In Captivity, Esther Perel, called Sex in America: Can the Conversation Change? that planted the seed for MOMENTUM. We saw something we loved and we wanted more, much more, of it and we figured if we did, others must feel the same. 

Why do presenters and attendees consider Momentum such an important and prestigious event? 
 For presenters, MOMENTUM gives them the opportunity, not only to preach the messages about sexuality they are so passionate about, but to get together with fellow educators, therapists, writers and to cross-pollinate. It allows them to learn about areas they don't specialize in and expand their own knowledge. The cross-pollination we promote is unique to MOMENTUM. It's not a conference for just one discipline but is rather an interdisciplinary think tank where somehow, despite the fact that others may approach sexuality from a different perspective, everyone feels supported, like they've found their tribe, found others who get them and they leave feeling invigorated, energized and ready to take on the world.

Tess Danesi

As for attendees, why wouldn't they want to attend? With the list of prestigious, fabulous presenters we have gathered together, anyone with an interest in the world of intellectual sexuality would be crazy to miss this event. MOMENTUM is also unique in that while we consider it a feminist conference, we welcome sex workers and we welcome open talk, not rhetoric, about pornography. Our first concern is that everyone feel welcome and comfortable at MOMENTUM. You don't have to agree with everything you hear, we welcome healthy debate, but we ask everyone enter the conference with an open mind and most of all respect for every participant.

How lucky we are that Dr. Joycelyn Elders will be speaking! How did you approach her? What’s the story behind this?
We are crazy lucky to such an esteemed speaker as part of our closing plenary. I spoke to Dr. Elders on the phone and actually found myself holding back tears because how the hell did I get on the phone with Dr. Joycelyn Elders! It was mind blowing. We owe Lara Riscol, who along with Esther Perel and Dr. Elders, comprises our closing panel, for approaching Dr. Elders. Lara, an excellent journalist, and I met at MOMENTUM 2011 and have kept in touch.  Lara had met Dr. Elders at another convention and contacted her about being part of MOMENTUM and to our unmitigated delight, she said yes! To have both Esther Perel, who stoked the fires that resulted in MOMENTUM and Dr. Elders participate in MOMENTUM feels rewarding beyond mere words and my heartfelt thanks go out to both of them, and to Lara, for believing in this conference. 

I’m personally honored to be presenting “Senior Sex Out Loud.” Is this the first time Momentum has offered a session specifically about aging and sexuality? Why was it important to you to bring this topic to Momentum?
We're honored to have you! And yes, last year we didn't have anything on sex and aging. Personally, as a woman in my 50's, who, by the way doesn't feel like a senior anything (well most of time I don't), I know that things change. At least I'm educated about sexuality and these changes aren't unexpected, but with an aging population in a youth-centric culture, where many women still feel the need to lie about their age, and sexuality is still whispered about, people need acceptance of the facts of aging and knowledge to empower themselves. And like the title of your book, they need it out loud not whispered about like a dirty little secret.

What else would you like my readers to know?
We are so insanely blessed this year. Many of our presenters have written essays to be included in the first MOMENTUM anthology. It will be published as an e-book and available on Smashwords and Amazon. We hope it helps spread MOMENTUM's message beyond the walls of the conference. These are words that need to be heard and we are thrilled to be able to publish this work. And if that isn't enough, there's a foreword by Dr. Elders! It should be available by next week and we'll definitely be selling it at the conference.

If you can't come to Momentum this year, read the Momentum anthology by this year's speakers, available as a Kindle ebook.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Naked at Our Age: Best Self-Help Book Award from ASJA!

I just learned that Naked atOur Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex won the outstanding self-help book award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the nation's professional organization of independent nonfiction writers.


I actually broke into tears at the news. This is the greatest honor to have Naked at Our Age chosen as the best 2011 self-help book by ASJA: my professional peers and the writers I’ve admired (even envied!) my entire writing life.

I thank all of YOU who sent me your stories, asked questions, cheered me on, contributed expert tips, and shared news of Naked on your many networks. This was never a one-person project, and the award goes to everyone who helped make  Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex a reality.

The awards will be presented on Thurs. evening, April 26, as part of the members day opening the 2012 ASJA conference in New York City. I was told I’ll get to give an acceptance speech! My first personal red carpet event!

I’m so happy – not only for myself, but also because this award embraces and advances my mission to educate people about sex & aging, to normalize and celebrate older-age sexuality, and to help our generation resolve the challenges!

***

The 41st annual ASJA writers conference is at the Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, April 26-28. If you're a professional writer, or you'd like to be, this conference is the best investment you can make in advancing your career. You'll learn from editors and writers who earn their living in this profession, even in these turbulent times. Check out the myriad topics this year: Publishing for First-Time Authors, Fabulous Book Publicity and Marketing, Men's Markets, Women's Magazines, Writing about Politics, Writing from the Heart -- even Writing about Sex (my panel!). Besides learning from the pros during two days of informative sessions (three days for members), the networking with writers, editors, and agents is itself worth the price of admission. 


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Senior Sex and Exercise: New Year's Resolutions?

If your New Year's Resolutions include "get in shape" and "enjoy my sexuality," you can have it all -- a strong body, great sex life, and the surprising joys of midlife and later.

You know me here as a senior sexuality author and speaker, but I've also had a long career as a fitness professional and author of several books about health and fitness. My most useful exercise book --The Anytime, Anytime Exercise Book: 300+ quick and easy exercises you can do whenever you want! -- has helped thousands reach their goals with easy, instant exercises that fit into their daily life whereever they are, whatever else they're doing.

If you purchase The Anytime, Anytime Exercise Book  directly from my website, I'll autograph the book to you (or your gift recipient) personally. Just tell me how you'd like the book autographed in the comments box, and it will be on its way to you within two days.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Best Sex Writing 2012: book review


I love Best Sex Writing 2012, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel with guest judge Susie Bright, from Cleis Press. I always look forward to this annual series because it compiles the best non-fiction writing about sex published the previous year in magazines, newspapers, online sites, and books.

This is writing on the topic of sex -- it's not erotica. As  Rachel Kramer Bussel says in her introduction, "This is not a one-handed read, but it is a book that will stimulate your largest sex organ: your brain."

Rich with diversity of topics, points of view, writer backgrounds and styles, this is a book you'll read hungrily and carefully. As  Rachel Kramer Bussel  says,

What you are about to read are stories, all true, some reported on the streets and some recorded from lived experience, from the front lines of sexuality. They deal with topics you read about in the headlines, and some topics you may never have considered.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
In fact, I often found myself stopping to ponder an essay, halting the whirlwind of my brain absorbing new facts, new views, often new topics that had never been presented to me with such passion and insight before.

For example, in "Losing the Meatpacking District: A Queer History of Leather Culture," Abby Tallmer takes us back to the Meatpacking District of New York City's West Village from the 1960s through the mid-80s, when a "select group of queer and kinky people" roamed the streets where gay SM and sex clubs thrived. Categorizing herself as a femme lesbian, Tallmer let her boy buddies disguise her, complete with a sock in her pants and a fake five o'clock shadow, so she could get into the Mineshaft. She describes the scene:

I remember seeing a sea of nude, half-nude, harnessed and chained male bodies (the bottoms) and muscular men in full leather (the tops)... I remember all sorts of sounds: from the bottoms, cries and whimpers and gasps and moans and shrill but insincere pleas of "Stop!," tops barking orders at their slaves sternly or angrily or calmly... All the collective words and sighs were punctuated by the unmistakable sounds of flagellation -- wooden paddles striking flesh, the snapping of bullwhips slicing through the air and landing sharply on human targets... I stood there transfixed, thinking, This is what men do when women aren't around." 

In "Why Lying about Monogamy Matters," Susie Bright slams op-ed columnist Ross Douthat who wants us to believe that abstinence from premarital sex makes us (and him) really happy. She conveys his viewpoint as this: "There are Four Big Kinds of Sex: casual, promiscuous, premature, and ill-considered." In contrast to this "shaming, stunted fair tale," Bright  fought her upbringing that "Sex is so wrong, there's, like, a million ways to do it wrong and burn in hell forever") and now she thanks all the lovers she's ever had.


 In "Dating with an STD," Lynn Harris points out that "Statistically, your date is more likely to carry a sexually transmitted infection than to share your astrological sign." She quotes medical sociologist Adina Nack, PhD:

You should go out into the dating world assuming that the person you're with has already contracted something, even though they may not know it. Even if someone says, 'I'm clean--I've been tested for everything,' they're either ignorant or lying, because we don't even have definitive tests for everything.

I'm happy that senior sex is included this year! I'm proud that this year's anthology includes a piece I wrote: "Grief, Resilience, and My 66th Birthday Gift." This is an expanded version of an excerpt from Naked at Our Age about reaffirming my sexuality with a gentle stranger after the throes of grief left me unable to imagine pleasure, sexual or otherwise. I've been told it's a powerful piece of writing. I hope you agree.

I've just scratched the surface of what Best Sex Writing 2012 has to offer. I hope you'll read it and share your favorite parts in your comments here.

Read what other reviewers have to say about Best Sex Writing 2012 by clicking here.