Its been a week since Portland, Oregon’s KinkFest 2012 ended, and I’m still thinking about all the amazing amount of things I saw, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted. The weekend conference and play time was a total sensory overload for this first time KinkFest attendee.
What is sticking with me, more than the content of some incredible workshops by very articulate and captivating women (Barbara Carellas, AnneMarie, Felice Shays) and more than the hundreds of people playing in the enormous dungeon, is that this space even exists at all.
From an early age, children are given ample instruction about how to use and move their bodies in their world. Children are enrolled in dance, sports, music lessons, beauty pageants, and academic programs where they are instructed how to perform. Never, are these children or adolescents really taught how to use their bodies for sexual pleasure.
For so many of our young people, their sexual education has either been one of violation and survival, fiction and fantasy, or non-comprehensive and limiting school based learning. The majority of young adults are learning from from pornography, where the mean age of first exposure to online pornography is about 14 years old for boys and girls and where upwards of 98% of 18 year old boys have viewed pornography online. (Citizen Link) Children who have an embodied experience of sex in their adolescence may be part of the 7-12% of girls or 3-5% of boys in grades 5-12 who have experienced sexual abuse. (RAINN) In schools, our nation has produced an entire generation of people raised on abstinence-only sex education (from 1981 to the present), where people from across the country are taught vastly different and often negatively biased information about sexual orientations, pregnancy or abortion options, and sexually transmitted diseases and infections. (SIECUS)
This means that young people begin to engage with each other sexually without ever having the opportunity to really explore what they want, what drives them to what they want, and how they can get the pleasure and fun they desire with consent and a full awareness of the potential outcomes of their actions. Then, these kids grow up to be the adults we are now (or the ones we work with or date or are married to, etc). And even as adults, our sexuality education is confined to the sex toy store, the internet, and to the conversations we have with our friends or lovers over cocktails.
Having a communal space where adults can learn, see, teach, and explore their sexuality, whatever flavor it may be, is absolutely necessary for our conscious development and pleasure. It gives us the opportunity to unlearn all the terrible things we were taught in school, in our religious institution or in our family about so many sex topics like masturbation, same sex relationships or desires, gender-fluidity, or something as simple and necessary to our survival and pleasure as our breath.
I encourage you to find the workshops, conferences, camp outs, or private practitioners in your area that call to you. It may be a bit overwhelming to walk into that workshop or conference for the first time, but it’s so worth it!
Originally written in March 2012