ChoiceWords Blog

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Sex and Bad Ass Brown Girls: Netroots Nation 2013

Posted by

June 28, 2013

NNsista

Netroots Nation provided panels, trainings, and plenaries that seemed to appeal to everyone. The two panels that I couldn’t miss were ‘Free your Ass: Defining and Creating a Progressive Sexual Culture’ and ‘Ask a Sista: Black Women Muse on Politics, Policy, Pop Culture, and Scholarship. When I first read about the panel and how it combined progressives and sex liberated rhetoric I knew I had to attend. The panel also included Choice USA Executive Director Kierra Johnson, and any discussion with Kierra is thought provoking and always worth attending. There were also other amazing and notable speakers as well; artist Favianna Rodriguez, Women Action and the Media executive Director Jaclyn Friedman, past panelist and progressive voice William Winters, and new to the panel this year was sex educator and relationship coach Marcia Baczynski.

This panel resonated so much with me because it was relatable, and didn’t just discuss the general consensus of sexual culture today…prevention and protection. It even brought up, dare I say it – pleasure – and what it means to sexual health, education, and sex positivity. One of the most important questions that I felt the panelists were asked was, if there were such a thing as a progressive sexual culture, what it would look like, and how it would be? I thought Kierra really shared some amazing points when discussing how society as a whole tries to make things about sex that are about anything but. She also shared a vision for a progressive sexual culture with sexually satisfied people that have the right to pleasure, and to discover how you obtain that pleasure. I had seen some of Favianna’s artistic work, but truly became a fan of her on this panel because she discussed embracing aspects of otherness and ignoring the perpetuated virginity norm. I respected this so much because often people are criticizing other people for having the sex they want to be having themselves. The key to this idea and the discussion in general is consent, which once brought up by Marcia had everyone stopping to think. Not just the consent to actual sexual acts, but discussing boundaries with your partner, and knowing what you as an individual will and will not accept.

One point that I would be remiss not to state was acknowledging how our bodies are battlegrounds for multiple issues and not just sex. Trayvon Martin came to my mind and the discussion immediately because it wasn’t just a murder, but an attack on an African American man because of how he looked and what he was wearing. Favianna brought up the dehumanization of men of color, and I think this is imperative to understanding how the sexual culture for all people of all races and ethnicities is constructed. The discussion at this panel was so honest and definitely turned the “societal norms” on their heads. I can honestly say that I didn’t hear one person leaving that panel and not wanting to fuck shit up, and change the narrative around sex.

The second panel ‘Ask a Sista’ didn’t hold anything back, and the panel was so popular it was trending at #1 and then #2 in the nation on Twitter. The speakers were Charlene Carruthers author at RH Reality Check, Cheryl Contee from Jack and Jill Politics, Kimberly ‘Dr. Goddess’ Ellis activist and President at Fierce Star Media, Writer Lauren Brown Jarvis, and Jennifer Daniels. Some topics that I felt were truly powerful were, when do we move from consumers and become creators? This came to the table because people of color are using and thriving in technology and as specifically stated by the panel lead Caucasians in smart phone penetration, but don’t even make up anything but very low percentages of those employed in some of the biggest social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. They also brought up the issue of access and how that affects education and the public school system as a whole for communities of color. The atmosphere was lively and no topic was off the discussion board.

The diversity of Netroots, or should I say the lack thereof became a hot topic during the question and answer section of the discussion, and the answers given by panelists and the audience alike; accessibility and cost, were the same answers given in the Youth Caucus as to why there wasn’t a lot of young people at Netroots. A coincidence? I think not.
I really believe these panels resonated with me so much because they related to the intersecting identities that I face every day as a woman of color and a young person fighting for reproductive justice in this progressive framework. When we stop othering each other, embrace our differences as strengths and really see sex as more than a half- assed Biology lesson and something that should be consented, enjoyed, and pleasure-able, we will be a better society, a stronger nation, and ready to deal with the numerous other issues that are plaguing this nation as a strong united front.
If you weren’t able to attend but are interested in reading about some of the notable moments and quotes of the panel, go on Twitter and check out #nn13sex, #askasista, and #nn13.

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Sex and Bad Ass Brown Girls: Netroots Nation 2013”