Sexy Spring – For the Young, the Old and the Kinky


In a room full of librarians, information technologists and other
hyper-intelligent yet socially awkward types discussing sex, I learned
something about myself: Evidently, I’m what is known as a
"geek-chaser." The fifth annual Sexy Spring conference in Minneapolis
had something for everyone to explore, and at the Sunday workshop "I’m
with Einstein: Geek Fetishes Revealed," I realized that my fondness for
intellect and thick-framed glasses is common. Most fall for Superman. I
swoon for Clark Kent.

Sexy Spring is all about sex. It bills itself as a "radical, sex/body
positive sexual education skill-share and conference focused on
exploring the ways sex, sexuality, gender, relationships,
communication, health, our bodies and our choices affect our lives." If
it sounds like a mouthful, it should. Sexy Spring is an incredibly
diverse experience.

Everything is open to discussion: from kink to demystifying transgender
bodies and sexuality, from raising a family to making your own sex
toys.

In even the most enlightened sex education courses in schools these
days, students learn only about abstaining from sex and the
responsibilities of pregnancy, the mechanics of reproduction and body
parts, and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. Sexy Spring
picks up where the high school health teacher left off — with the
myriad ways that humans communicate, appreciate and contemplate sex and
sexuality.

Garrett Ferderber, a founding member of the Sexy Spring collective,
says the need is there for such a conference. "Sex is a positive force
in the world and we wanted to have sex education that is ongoing for a
lifespan," said Ferderber. "No other venues exist." And that’s why a
group of radicals came together five years ago to create that venue.

Attending a sex conference can be intimidating, but the experience is
overwhelmingly positive. Trained "vibes watchers" attend every function
to make sure everyone is respectful. The moderators are not
institutional experts but regular folks who have something to teach
based on their own experiences. Held in Ford Hall at the University of
Minnesota, the discussions feel more like friends sitting around a
dinner table than a classroom lecture.

Many of the workshops focused on relationships and communication. "A
Look at the Experiences and Perceptions of Relationships: What Happens
when Disability is Thrown into the Mix?" examined the unique issues in
relationships where one partner experiences disability and the other
doesn’t. "Hella Nervous" focused on shy kids, introverts and nervous
wrecks and how to improve communication and flirting skills. "Kids in
Community" centered on parents and prospective parents and aimed to
"address both the emotional and physical needs of families."

A more hard-hitting workshop was hosted by educators from the Smitten
Kitten, a retailer of adult sex toys and equipment in Uptown. "Making
Safer and Sexier Decisions with Your Sex Toys" imparted the dangers
associated with many sex toys on the market — many contain toxic and
potentially carcinogenic chemicals not disclosed to the customer. The
Smitten Kitten has pioneered the Coalition Against Toxic Toys, a
nonprofit that works to educate consumers.

Perhaps one of the more groundbreaking workshops was "What’s Your Kink
Got to Do with Your Shrink?: The intersection between alternative
sexual practices and psychotherapy." The workshop led participants on
issues of how to find a kink-friendly therapist and how to fight stigma
when talking about pathologically neutral sexual practices. It also
helped participants in talking with therapists about the line between
healthy and unhealthy sexual practices and how to identify the line
between the two.

Sexy Spring is run as a collective. The workshops, entertainment and
location are decided by those who show up. "We try to be open and
accessible to everyone," said Ferderber. Indeed, all it takes to
participate is to show up, be ready to learn and respect others’
experiences.

Ferderber said that they are continually looking for new faces to help
plan the event and create new workshops. "New people need to get
involved, shape it and make it work for them. And keep passing it on."

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To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • http://www.xanga.com/andrea_thatonegirl invalid-0

    Little-known aphrodisiac: intellectual conversation!