Sex::Tech was my first conference experience. Financial constraints always work against me as most conferences occur in far flung lands with hefty registration fees.
But Sex Tech offered $25 registration for students and was in downtown San Francisco, a measly $6 BART ride away from my house!
Friday morning kicked off with Logan Levkoff moderating a youth panel on sex education. The biggest messages? Speak honestly to youth, don’t assume they’re all having sex, talk about sex in a spectrum, and talk with your kid not at your kid.
We also got to see the promotional videos for the SayWhat? Contest. Watch them here and listen to the winning entries.
Throughout the conference, a man clutching fistfuls of markers took graphic notes at the panels. He was awesome, local and I hope he attends next year.
I collect out-of-touch and strange health pamphlets. The CDC table was a wealth of cringe-worthy sex and drug info pamphlets like “Before You Date an Older Guy”, “Abstinence and Oral Sex” and my favorite, the awkwardly titled “Sex, Alcohol and Other Drugs.” Teens today, getting all jacked on hits of STD.
National Prevention Program Panel
The panel started with Tina Hoff and Jason Rzepka from MTV’s GYT (Get Yourself Tested) campaign. I love, love, love how they utilized a major media presence and a cross-platform approach to reach youth and encourage testing, conversation, and sex education. MTV’s condom PSAs influenced me heavily as a teen and encouraged me to become what I am today. I am beyond stoked to see them continuing their work.
Then there was an awkward moment, courtesy of this video:
Protect yourself from guys because they are inherently douchebags? Sexist, sexist, sexist messages. And really, women engage in just as much crude talk.
During the Q&A I stepped up to the mike and addressed both Larry Swiader of Sex Really (organization that made the video above) and Tom Subak of Planned Parenthood Online Services.
My message/question? While birth control is certainly empowering to women, with that power comes a disproportionate amount of responsibility. Most birth control options are for women and we are the ones bearing the burden of their effects, cost and administration. Sending the message that men are untrustworthy jerk-offs only exacerbates the inequality.
The room exploded into applause. Several people recognized me over the next couple of days and I engaged in some great conversations about gender disparities in reproductive health.
Feminist Sex Educator Panel
I got to hear about The Line Campaign as well as Heather Corrina. I found a new hero in her, especially after the following quote: “It’s the story of my life. ‘I need this thing. Oh, the thing doesn’t exist. Shit. I guess I have to create it.’ ” And that, ladies and gents, is how Scarleteen came to be.
Social Media Rockstars
By far my favorite panel of the weekend. Marc Blinder (Context Optional, social marketing), Beth Kanter (nonprofit consult), Bobby Jones (Alloy Access, branding company), and Ryan Wilson (Idea Crossing, idea competitions) gave fantastic presentations of using social media for activist work and ways to spark innovation. I have a little crush on Bobby Jones after his presentation on technology and youth movements. Super Inspiring.
How To Make and Market Digital Video for Sexual Health
Really cool youth-created video project called “Somethin’ to Think About.“
I had big plans to promote my thesis site but I was so wrapped up in the presentations that I never got around to it. So, I’ll promote it again, right now…