Sexy Submissions for SXSW Give Interactive a Whole New Meaning!

When people typically hear about South By Southwest, they instantly think music festival. Which it is, certainly- there’s a massive week-long orgy of musical madness in Austin. But before that, there’s also SXSW Interactive, Film, and Education, three areas that have been seeing the slow but steady increase of panel proposals around the intersection of sexuality and these mediums. What’s was really great to see last year was multiple sex critical viewpoints being presented- Sex Nets: Pickup Artists vs Feminists, for example, or the debate about the results of online sexual communication like sexting or web porn in Sex on the Web: The Sabotage of Relationships?, or the screening of Scarlet Road, a documentary about sex workers and people with disabilities. And it just keeps getting better!

It’s important for the discussion of sex critical ideas to be actively happening outside of the realm of sex academia. Last year I presented on sex work and social media to a bunch of geeks I didn’t know (and a couple I did)- while many of them understood social media, some more vaguely than others, explaining how things like the NymWars and real name policies create barriers to sex workers, who need that level of privacy to be safe, was an area they hadn’t all considered before. I can’t count the number of times I’d ask if this app or that tech could be used for adult services and had the person stare blankly at me only to mumble “I…. never even thought of that”. Yet sex and tech have been entwined in multiple ways for some time! By encouraging frank, intersectional discussions of sexuality within other venues, we can begin to combat patriarchal, capitalist, racist, heterosexist and other oppressive attitudes about sexuality on multiple fronts!

With that, I wanted to take some time to bring attention to some of the proposals for SXSW 2013, because there’s some great ones and they need your vote to have a chance! 30% of the total score that gets a panel into the conference is via something called PanelPicker, and anyone can vote in it. I wanted to vainly signal boost the projects I have in the running, along with a few others that I think are amazing and worth your vote.

Principled Porn: Is DIY Changing the Industry?
Panel: Shine Louise Houston, Maggie Mayhem, Ned Mayhem, Kelly Shibari, Kitty Stryker

Porn prohibitionists assert that pornography is inherently destructive for both the performer and the viewer. Yet some studies suggest that with decreased institutionalized sexism in a society comes increased variety of pornographic imagery available and the increase of positive limpact on relationships. In the age of internet video and conscientious consumption, independent porn is getting a leg up- direct access to consumers is increasing questions about how work standards being applied to the world of XXX.

With the blogosphere reflecting an increasingly diverse audience for adult materials, how is this changing the perception of who is the exhibitionist and who is the voyeur? And is this impacting the way we interact with porn on a personal, professional and academic level?

These panelists, some working within and some outside of the mainstream industry, will examine how porn is produced, marketed, and consumed, and if a fair trade option is in our erotic futures.

50 Shades of Complicated-The Web, Feminism & Kink
Presented by Kitty Stryker

Kinky sex has always been a point of contention among feminists, with some arguing that it reflects and glamorizes patriarchal values and others that women should have the right to enjoy whatever sex they want. The internet has been a fierce battleground for this discussion, as women from all walks of life find themselves able to anonymously weigh in in front of a large audience. For the last year, “50 Shades of Grey”, a series born from fanfiction, has been tossed around as the greatest example of women openly being willing to admit to having kinky desires. But is this book the best gateway? Is it legitimizing submissive fantasies among women? Is that at the cost of delegitimizing other sexual preferences? And is that anti-feminist?

Kitty Stryker, founder of Consent Culture, will disentangle how this popular novel, the internet, and multiple feminist theories have made women’s desire for kink 50 shades… of grey area.

Open Source Sex Science and the PSIgasm Project
Presented by Ned and Maggie Mayhem

Our leading scientific institutions are failing to address sexuality with candor or rigor due to pressure from funding sources, journals, and cultural stigma. The resulting gaps in our collective understanding of human sexuality effect each of us, but are especially harmful to marginalized communities.

The PSIgasm Project is an open source hardware project aiming to create sophisticated, inexpensive DIY tools to record physiological data about the human sexual response. We cast custom silicone inserts embedded with sensors to monitor pressure, temperature, heat flow, and blood volume density. This data is streamed wirelessly to a computer and displayed in real time.

By taking the systematic investigation of sexuality out of academia and industry, we gain access to larger and more varied datasets and reduce our dependence on politically motivated funding sources. Crowd funding and DIY communities are now making this plausible on a large scale for the first time.

Mad Men to Magic Mike: Sex Work in Pop Culture
Presented by Tits and Sass

From the indecent proposal fielded by Joan Holloway on Mad Men to Channing Tatum’s semi-biographical role in Magic Mike, commercialized sex has been especially prominent in America’s cultural products over the last year. These portrayals filter into public consciousness and drive conversation, either giving people tools to talk about a sensational issue intelligently or teaching them that no intelligent discussion is needed. More than most populations, sex workers are subject to language and imagery that reduces them to punchlines and stereotypes. There aren’t jokes about dead waitresses in car trunks and no one suggested that Craig James killed five maids while at SMU, but the murder of prostitutes and strippers makes for frequest punchlines in Family Guy and 30 Rock. Lazy writing like this sustains the harmful, stigmatized environment sex workers navigate every day of their real lives. Let’s reject the standard tropes and establish better ways to talk about and depict sex work.

BedPost Confessions: The Sex and Tech Show
Interactive Performance with BedPost Confessions

Just between you, me, and the BedPost. Share your secrets and learn about the hidden world behind sexuality online. BedPost Confessions is a monthly Austin, Texas based show where performers represent a wide range of sexualities through storytelling and performance. At the BedPost Confessions: The Sex and Tech Show, stories will revolve around themes of sex in the digital age and the future of tech in sexuality. Sadie Smythe will explore the intricacies of meshing online meetings with real world encounters; Julie Gillis will talk about the eroticism of words on paper, not typed on a screen; Rosie Q will tell a fanciful story of a machine that turns music into sexual experience; and Mia Martina will reveal what happens at the clash of identities, or when your pseudonym needs a pseudonym. Audience members will be asked to anonymously share confessions centered on technology and sexuality, prompted by our questions below, which will then be read onstage by our producers.

Policy, Privacy and the Technology of Sex Work
Presented by Sabrina Morgan

Sexual commerce has a history of driving technological innovation: porn and early camera adoption, porn and VHS, porn and high-speed internet demand… While sexual media often fuels technological growth, the “oldest profession” is frequently in a position of either rapid adoption of — or reaction to — new technology.

Dodging law enforcement on one side and the very real risks of stalking, harassment, and outing on the other, modern sex workers are not just reacting to current tech trends but are strategically adopting new technology as a means to safeguard their anonymity, find new clients, and network with each other to advance the cause of sex workers’ rights.

This session will cover how current policy affects sex workers’ use of technology, how sex workers are using tech to preserve their privacy, and how sex workers, law enforcement, clients, and activists are interfacing with technology to change sex work as we know it.

Sex And Social Media
Panel: Lux Alptraum, Lena Chen, Deb Levine, Jessica Stoya

Can technology help society overcome social norms about sexuality? This panel connects experts from across the spectrum of sex education and adult entertainment to discuss how they use social media and other digital technologies to communicate with their respective communities and challenge the dominant sexual narrative. What sort of obstacles do we face when we talk publicly about sex–and what strategies can we use to battle censorship, shame, harassment, and other forces that work against the free flow of information?

Voting is from August 13-August 31st- all the presenters could use signal boosting via twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc, so if you see something you like and want to support, tell other people! We’d appreciate it, and the world will appreciate a healthier conversation about sex and technology. You can click on the titles of the presentations above to go to the PanelPicker for that event and vote for it!

Kitty Stryker

Kitty Stryker is a geeky sex worker, Burner, rabid writer and feminist activist with one high-heeled boot in San Francisco, California and one in London, England. In London, Stryker worked with the TLC Trust, an online organization connecting people with disabilities with sex workers experienced with emotional or physical limitations. She is the founder of the award-winning Ladies High Tea and Pornography Society, and was nominated by the Erotic Awards as Sex Worker of the Year for her charity and activism work. Now back in the States, Stryker has been presenting Safe/Ward, a workshop on combating entitlement culture within alternative sexual communities, along with being the PR rep for the Bay Area Sex Workers Outreach Project promoting sex worker rights. She has written for Huffington Post, Filament, and Tits and Sass, built a social media strategy for Cleis Press, and consults with sex workers about their online presence. In her copious free time, she enjoys switching things up with her two hot lovers. Read more from Stryker on her personal blog, Purrversatility.

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1 Response

  1. 08/31/2012

    […] Don’t forget that today is the deadline to vote for SXSW PanelPicker. Vote for Tits and Sass! And our friends. […]