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Sex and media, politics and pop culture at Good Vibrations’ 2012 sex summit

Posted Oct 04 2012 12:16pm

From the battle over reproductive freedom to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, sex is dominating politics and headlines during this election year. Adult retailer Good Vibrations has gathered the brightest minds to explore our sexual state of the union at the Sex Summit on October 27th in San Francisco. Featuring an all-star line-up of authors, journalists, academics and pop culture commentators, this day-long conference will discuss the issues and implications in sex and the media, health, pop culture and politics.

Keynote speakers include author and research scientist Dr Debby Herbenick, award-winning journalist Brian Alexander, and sex therapist, author and lecturer Dr Marty Klein. Four panels will delve deep into four features of sex in society:

Panel 1 – ‘Regulating Pleasure: Sex, Politics & Censorship’

Sex is regarded differently from other elements of life and is arguably regulated more than anything else, whether it’s restrictions on sex education, limited definitions of relationships, censorship of sexual images, laws against certain kinds of sexual expression, or circumscribed civil liberties. The opening panel will explore some of the causes and effects of this social bias, including trends in censorship and sexual politics, and how some people are bringing a more sex-positive slant to this anti sex-playing field. Panelists include Marty Klein, Maggie Mayhem, Judith Levine, Carmen Vázquez, and moderator Dr Charlie Glickman.

Panel 2 – ‘Outspoken/Unsaid: Sex & Media’

How does the use of sex to sell products affect sexual attitudes? When movies and TV become substitutes for sex education, what happens to our relationships? Why does porn get blamed for becoming more explicit, while sexy images elsewhere get a pass? Our media experts will explore these and other questions and discuss what they see happening on our screens and in our publications. With Brian Alexander, Dr Mireille Miller-Young, Chauntelle Tibbals, Jaclyn Friedman, and moderator Abiola Abrams.

Panel 3 – ‘Pills, Profits & Pleasures: Sexual Health & Pharmaceuticals’

The increase in pharmaceutical and medical treatments for sexual concerns has shifted the definition of ‘sexual health’ even further towards a performance model. But for all of the challenges that sexual medicine creates, it also can have the potential to change lives and improve sexual experiences. This panel will explore how our sexual lives are shaped by medicalisation of the erotic body and the workings of the medical industry, what benefits and challenges medical science can offer, and how alternative perspectives can contextualise the pharmacological point of view. Wit Dr Debby Herbenick, Heather Corinna, Liz Canner, Yosenio V Lewis, and Dr Carol Queen.

Panel 4 – ‘Sexual Stargazing: Sex & Pop Culture’

Cultural attitudes about sex are changing faster than ever before and popular culture, fuelled by technological changes, helps create these shifts. This panel asks, what is it about celebrities that makes us so interested in their sex lives? Do we really want them to serve as role models? How can we use the contemporary folkways of mass culture to create different representations of sex? With Tracy Clark-Flory, Lynn Comella, Abiola Abrams, Emily Morse, and moderator Reid Mihalko.

‘We are eager to see how this phenomenal line-up of thinkers, writers, and activists will contextualise the role of sexuality in contemporary culture and politics, especially given the pre-election relevance of these issues. Sexuality is a major component of key political issues, and this country needs all the incisive analysis it can get,’ says Dr Carol Queen, Good Vibrations’ Staff Sexologist and Sex Summit co-curator.

The Sex Summit is part of a weekend of sex positive events, starting with QUICKIES, an indie Erotic Short Film Competition as an alternative forum for a broader exploration of ‘erotic cinema’.

To book tickets, visit  

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