SexPosCon Spotlight – Keynote Speaker Susan Wright, NCSF
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom about the Center for Positive Sexuality’s upcoming Sex Positive Conference. Susan has been invited to deliver the inaugural keynote speech titled Consent is the Foundation of Sexual Freedom. She expressed her excitement for the conference and the opportunity to gather with other sex positive professionals to discuss the serious issues facing us today.
We believe Susan is the perfect person to deliver the keynote as she is a dynamic speaker with years of experience defending the privacy and rights of consenting adults. I asked Susan how the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom came to be created in 1997. She explained how she had been working on a multi-year project for the National Organization for Women (NOW) to rescind their anti-BDSM policy. While working on the project she met women whose lives had been impacted severely by being exposed as kinky. These women lost of custody of their children and some even lost their jobs. She saw the need for a coalition of educators, health professionals, clinicians, and organizations with similar views on BDSM to work together to make change and 20 years later NCSF has over 70 partners including the Center for Positive Sexuality.
Susan and NCSF have been fighting government efforts to stifle our humanity and our right to love who we want and how we want. She believes when we allow populous ideals to bottle our autonomy we go down the path of the past where even basic human rights like housing, education, and food are infringed upon. A part of our basic human rights is sexual freedom so when our basic rights are called into question our sexual freedom is also scrutinized. Susan believes if sex positive professionals can emphasize the fact that sexual freedom is about consent we might dramatically shift perspectives. We can’t use the same tactics as the past. We have to be able to translate this message about consent to a broader audience. People fighting for racial justice, LGBTQ rights and sexual freedom are all movements fighting for the same thing essentially; that our human rights cannot be controlled by the government.
The mission for our first conference comes from one of the 8 Dimensions of Positive Sexuality which is to focus on the strengths, well-being and happiness of sexuality. Susan expressed how important this is because the positive aspects of sex are never talked about, only the problems. Focusing on the positive is empowering. It means we have control over own bodies, our own wants, needs, and desires. We’ve seen it empower and inspire people to embrace their unique individuality. As long as sex is still be referred to in a negative way people will always be afraid to explore and therefore stifle their own growth as sexual beings. This in turn creates shame which won’t just impact your bedroom choices but can affect your whole life. If people are empowered sexualy they are empowered as human beings.
Since Susan’s keynote is on consent I asked her to explain why she thinks consent is the foundation for sexual freedom. She revealed something I wasn’t expecting but is so true. We keep talking about the need for sex education while people who are opposed to sex ed are focused more on sexual acts. However what we ALL should be focused on instead is consent. Consent should be taught first before any level of sex education. Before you learn about the sexual functionality of the body, you need to know how to set limits, know your boundaries and understand how to respect other people’s boundaries and limits. This can be taught to anyone at any age. Teaching the ins and outs of sex doesn’t teach consent. Society has done a terrible job at teaching us how important consent is. It’s very clear in this day and age that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are the results of this. Unfortunately, when it comes to sex too often people are looking for the loopholes, the “What can I get away with” mindset. This is how we end up in a so called “bad situations.” We have the right to not be coerced or manipulated into sex which is why affirmative consent is so important.
Some people think having a consent conversation destroys the mood but getting clarity upfront can only enhance the experience and helps avoid any issues before they occur. Let’s explain to people that talking about your boundaries is sexy, it doesn’t take away from the excitement or spontaneity of sex. Build the anticipation, use it as foreplay to make sure the experience is mutually beneficial and in turn it will be more enjoyable for all involved. Let’s make consent the next big thing!
Everyone has their own meaning of what the term sex positive means to them. For Susan, being sex positive means not being afraid of sexuality. Feeling empowered to explore, to question, to learn new things as well as support others in doing the same. I couldn’t agree more. Susan Wright’s keynote at our conference is guaranteed to spark conversation. She is energetic, passionate, inspiring, and we’re so honored she is being featured at #SexPosCon.
Don’t miss our Sex Positive Conference coming up on May 18th and 19th in Burbank, CA.
Get registered for the event today at http://sexposcon.com
By LaTerra McDaniels – CPS Secretary